MDGs progress; Global Conference on Women; UN Senior appointments; and more

Progress on MDGs: With the deadline for achieving the MDGs fast approaching, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon today announced five major achievements toward realizing those goals, while underscoring the vital role partnerships for development play in tackling the remaining challenges.

“Today, I am gratified to tell you that we can report broad progress,” said the Secretary General. From halving the number of people living in extreme poverty, nearly halving the number of deaths from tuberculosis and significantly reducing the number of malaria deaths, “working together, governments, the United Nations family, the private sector and civil society can succeed in tackling the greatest challenges,” he added.

Mr. Ban also highlighted achievements in gender parity in primary education, the significant improvement in the lives of 100 million slum dwellers and the halving of the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water.

Global Conference on Women
:  The President of the GA announced today a joint proposal with the Secretary-General for the convening of a Global Conference on Women by the UN in 2015, 20 years after the last women’s summit in Beijing.

“Given that women make up half of humanity and given the importance and relevance of women’s issues for global progress, it is high time that such a world conference is convened,” said the spokesperson for the PGA.

Building on the Forward-Looking Platform of Action adopted in Beijing and the enthusiasm of civil society, particularly women’s organizations, they believe that such a conference “could tackle emerging issues, in particular those relating to women and political participation, UN Security Council Resolution 1325 that deals with women and peace and security, equal access to decent work and to decision-making and the involvement of rural women and girls,” said the statement.

UN Senior Appointments:
The United Nations today announced a number of senior-level appointments, including a new Special Adviser on Africa, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs and head of the Economic Commission for Europe.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has selected Maged Abdelaziz of Egypt, who has served as that country’s Ambassador to the UN since 2005, as his new Special Adviser on Africa.

For the position of High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Mr. Ban has selected Angela Kane, who since 2008 has served as the Under-Secretary-General for Management.

It was also announced that Nicholas Haysom of South Africa will move to the post of Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (Political) for the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

In addition, Yeocheol Yoon of the Republic of Korea, also of the Secretary-General’s Executive Office, has been selected as the new Chief of Protocol.

The Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States for Syria today called for an immediate end to the killings and warned against the use of force to bring an end to the crisis.

“I hope no one is thinking very seriously of using force in the situation. I believe any further militarization will make the situation worse,” Kofi Annan said at a joint press conference in Cairo with the Secretary-General of the Arab League, Nabil El-Araby.

Meanwhile, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos is currently in Syria, meeting with officials in Damascus as well as visiting areas such as Homs, which has been the scene of the latest escalation of violence.

The head of the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) stressed today that although the security situation in Haiti has improved in recent years, there is still an urgent need for police reform to ensure peace and stability in the country.

Mariano Fernández Amunátegui, who is also the SG’s Special Representative in Haiti, said that despite the progress achieved in the past eight years, the police force still needs to be strengthened and consolidated so it can continue to keep public order, protect vulnerable groups and combat organized crime. In addition, he emphasized that the security situation in the country runs the risk of quickly deteriorating without political leadership and called on the Haitian Government to appoint a new Prime Minister as soon as possible.

He also noted that MINUSTAH and the HNP will work on a five-year plan that seeks to optimize a method to continue with police training and reform and consolidate current forces.