General Debate; The Sudans; Nuclear Testing; Polio; MDG Advocacy; Rural Women

General Debate: The GA Debate continued today, most notably with speeches by Netanyahu and Abbas. Netanyahu utilized a fairly controversial diagram, emphasizing the need for a “red line” to prevent Iran from furthering its nuclear program. The “future of the world” is at stake if the red line is not held strong, he said. Abbas drew attention to the “racist Israeli settlement” of Palestine in his speech, stressing the need for a two-state solution, though there needs to be a “new approach” to get there. For another day, Middle Eastern leaders remained the focus of the GA.

The Sudans: The SG congratulated the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan today for signing agreements on security, the common border and economic relations during talks in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. The talks were designed to enable the two nations to fulfill their obligations under a so-called roadmap aimed at easing tensions and normalize the relations between the two countries. Ambassador Susan Rice issued a statement noting that the agreements “demonstrate the impact that strong, united action by the UN Security Council can have on some of the world’s most challenging situations.”

Nuclear Testing: Speaking at the Sixth Ministerial Meeting of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty this morning, the SG noted that there is a direct link between ending nuclear testing and eradicating nuclear weapons. During the meeting, Mr. Ban repeated his call to the eight States yet to ratify the Treaty to do so, adding that they are failing to live up to their responsibility as members of the international community.

Polio: The SG, Heads of State, Bill Gates and others met during a High-level meeting on polio eradication today. Several countries renewed their commitments to ending polio in the three countries in which it remains: Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. The presidents of all three countries were in attendance, demonstrating their commitment to ending the disease. Multiple financial commitments were made, including one from the Islamic Development Bank, a new donor to the polio eradication effort, within a three-year $227 million financing package to Pakistan, while Rotary International announced additional funding of $75 million over three years to GPEI.

MDG Advocacy: The MDG Advocacy Group met yesterday, calling for intensified efforts to achieve the MDGs in the run-up to their 2015 deadline. The Group used the event to urge the international community to step up efforts for the final three years.  The meeting was led by the MDG Advocacy Group co-chairs, Australian Prime Minister Gillard and Rwandan President Kagame. 

Rural Women: today the Rome-based UN food agencies (FAO, WFP & IFAD) and UN Women announced a joint program to accelerate progress on the economic empowerment of rural women.  This new 5-year program will facilitate more coordinated UN system actions in line with “Delivering as One” objectives.  The four overarching goals of the program are 1) improved food and nutrition security; 2) increased income to secure rural women’s livelihoods; 3) enhanced leadership and participation of rural women; and 4) gender-responsive policy environments.  It will be implemented in Ethiopia, Guatemala, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Nepal, Niger and Rwanda. The governments of Liberia, Brazil, Canada and the Netherlands partnered on the launch which featured remarks by Liberian President Johnson Sirleaf, Michelle Bachelet, Ertharin Cousin, José Graziano da Silva and Melanne Verveer, among others.