Syria; Myanmar; World of Work Report; SG Report on HIV/AIDS

Syria: U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon condemned on Monday “terrorist bomb attacks” in the Syrian cities of Damascus and Idlib, and noted that while there had been security improvements in areas monitored by U.N. observers, he was “gravely concerned” by the continued violence.

During a historic address to Myanmar’s parliament, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today emphasized the importance of partnerships – amongst the country’s political leadership as well as with the international community – in helping the Asian country advance its process of national reconciliation and democratic transition. In his speech to the parliament – the first ever by an outside guest – the UN chief also outlined a four-point agenda for action to advance national reconciliation and the democratic transition at “this historic moment.”

The U.N. chief also praised democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s leadership.  Her National League for Democracy Monday backed off a demand for changes to a constitutional oath required of members of parliament. The tactical retreat came as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed the Burmese parliament, in a show of support for democratic reforms initiated by the new, nominally-civilian government that took office last year.

World of Work Report:
The global employment situation is alarming, says a new United Nations report released today, which also warns that recovery is not expected any time soon.  The World of Work Report 2012: Better Jobs for a Better Economy – published by the UN International Labor Organization (ILO) – says that around 50 million jobs are still missing compared to the situation that existed before the global economic crisis.  It also warns that the global jobs crisis is likely to get worse due to several factors, including the fact that many governments, especially in advanced economies, have shifted their priority to a combination of fiscal austerity and tough labor market reforms.

The report also argues that if a job-friendly policy-mix of taxation and increased expenditure in public investment and social benefits is put in place, approximately two million jobs could be created over the next year in advanced economies.

SG report on AIDS:
The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has issued his first report on HIV to the UN General Assembly since the 2011 High Level Meeting on AIDS. In the report, he highlights the urgent need to achieve immediate, tangible results and for the AIDS response to be smarter, more strategic, more efficient, and grounded in human rights.

The report, ‘United to End AIDS: Achieving the Targets of the 2011 Political Declaration’, outlines that 2.5 million deaths are estimated to have been averted since 1995 due to the increase in access to antiretroviral therapy—and 350 000 new HIV infections averted in children. It also underscores the gains made in HIV prevention with new infections at their lowest levels since the peak in the mid-2000s.

However, the report also warns that considerable gaps persist in access to HIV services, particularly for people at higher risk of exposure to HIV. Punitive laws, gender inequality, violence against women and other human rights violations continue to undermine national AIDS responses and declines in funding have the potential to jeopardize the capacity to expand access to HIV services and sustain progress over the coming years.