SG on Rio/Post-2015 Development; Syria; Middle East; Global Fund; and more

SG on Rio/Post-2015: Appealing for flexibility in reaching agreement on a final outcome document, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon today, emphasized the need for Member States to agree on launching a process to establish Sustainable Development Goals ahead of the Rio+20 conference while also announcing the appointment of three co-chairs to his High-Level Panel on Post-2015 Development Planning.

“We should agree on launching a process to establish Sustainable Development Goals that build on the Millennium Development Goals … find better ways to measure progress that goes beyond Gross Domestic Product …and advance action to improve people’s lives through decent work, social protection and the empowerment of women and young people,” the UN chief said in his address to the UN General Assembly.

In reaffirming his commitment to accelerate progress on the post-2015 development agenda, Mr. Ban announced the appointment of His Excellency President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia; Her Excellency President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia; and His Excellency Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom to his High-Level Panel on Post-2015 Development Planning.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned a bomb explosion which occurred in the vicinity of a convoy of UN observers in Syria today, injuring several Syrian soldiers accompanying the delegation, Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said today.

The observers, part of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS), were on their way from Damascus for a visit to the southern city of Dar’a, under Syrian army escort. They had crossed a military checkpoint on the road approaching the town when the improvised explosive device detonated, shortly before midday. Meanwhile, in its news release, UNSMIS said that, so far, it has 113 personnel from 38 countries, including 70 Military Observers and 43 civilian staff members, on the ground.

Middle East peace process
: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today stressed the importance of averting any further deterioration in the condition of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody who are on hunger strike, and urged everyone concerned to reach a solution to their plight without delay.

More than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners began an open-ended hunger strike two weeks ago, on 17 April – Palestinian Prisoners Day – to protest against unjust arrest procedures, arbitrary detention and bad prison conditions, according to the UN human rights office (OHCHR).

UNICEF is warning of grave violations of child rights in northern Mali, where they are confronted not just by the food crisis in the wider Sahel region but also by displacement and the effect of an armed rebellion.

According to UNICEF, more than 300,000 people from the north, half of them children, are now displaced elsewhere in Mali or in neighboring countries. Meanwhile, the insecurity is hampering the delivery of aid to those who remain.  Recent reports say women and girls are being kidnapped and children are being recruited into the armed groups, the agency noted. Landmines have already killed several children.

Global Fund/UNAIDS
: The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) welcomed today’s announcement by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria that an additional US$ 1.6 billion will be available for new commitments over the next three years.

Resources available for HIV from international sources have been declining in recent years, hampering countries’ efforts to scale-up programmes. Many countries responded to the shortfall with an increase in domestic spending for HIV. The volatility of resource availability has slowed the provision of HIV prevention and treatment services.

Barbados Declaration:
Twenty small island developing nations have announced new actions to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and end poverty, as they wrapped up a sustainable energy conference organized by the United Nations and the Government of Barbados.

The “Barbados Declaration” calls for universal access to modern and affordable renewable energy services, while protecting the environment, ending poverty and creating new opportunities for economic growth, according to a news release issued by UNDP. The declaration – adopted ahead of next month’s Rio +20 conference— includes an annex with voluntary commitments of 20 small island developing States (SIDS) to take actions toward providing universal access to energy, switching to renewable energy and reducing dependence on fossil fuels. The declaration also recognized the importance of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, launched by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last September.