Friday, August 22, 2014

65th General Assembly Opens under Swiss Presidency


Today the 65th session of the General Assembly opened under the Presidency of Switzerland.

This year marks the sixty-fifth anniversary of the United Nations, and the General Assembly will face a heavy agenda including a high-level meeting on the Millennium Development Goals, the ongoing review of the Human Rights Council, and a third year of intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform.

General Assembly Opens 65th Session A wide view of the General Assembly during the first meeting of its sixty-fifth session under the presidency of Joseph Deiss (on screens).

The President of the General Assembly is H.E. Mr. Joseph Deiss of Switzerland, a career Swiss politician who has previously held high-level positions including President of the Swiss Confederation, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Economic Minister, in addition to a period as a Member of Parliament. In his first statement, officially opening the 65th session of the General Assembly, President Deiss emphasized his faith in the United Nations and the General Assembly, and stressed that the United Nations Charter gives the General Assembly a central role as “the pre-eminent forum for global debate.” He outlined an ambitious set of goals, including the achievement of the MDGs; returning the United Nations to its rightful place at the center of global governance; and the promotion of sustainable development  (click here for the complete text of the opening statement).

Afghanistan, represented by Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, will serve as a Vice President of the 65th GA. This is the second time that Ambassador Tanin will play this role; he previously served as Vice President of the 63rd GA from 2008-2009.

Ambassador Tanin Opens UN African Meeting on the Question of Palestine in Rabat

H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, Vice President of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and Head of the Delegation of the Committee, today chaired the first day of the UN African Meeting on the Question of Palestine in Rabat, Morocco. Ambassador Tanin will chair the two-day meeting, which is convened by the Committee under the theme of “Strengthening the support by African States for a just and lasting solution of the question of Jerusalem.”

The meeting was opened by on Mr. Taib Fassi-Fihri, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation for Morocco, who welcomed the participants and expressed pride at his country’s being the host for this year’s African Meeting on Palestine. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also had a statement, which was delivered on his behalf by Bader Al-Dafa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for West Africa. In it the Secretary-General stressed the importance of a negotiated peace in which the question of the permanent status of Jerusalem would have to be resolved.

In his opening statement, Ambassador Tanin called for a resolution of the status of Jerusalem that would allow East Jerusalem to be the capital of a future Palestinian state. He asserted that unilateral attempts to annex or otherwise influence the status of Jerusalem would prevent the finding of a sustainable negotiated solution. He said that any solution would have to include provisions ensuring the freedom of religion of inhabitants, and unhindered access to holy sites. He condemned any action taken in contravention of the Geneva Conventions and called for the parties to the convention to take action in those instances.

The opening session also included a keynote presentation by Mr. Ahmed Qurai, a representative of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Following that, the first plenary which included presentations by experts and a further discussion on the issue of the status of Jerusalem. The Meeting will continue on Friday with two additional plenary sessions before closing at the end of the day on Friday.

Before the opening of the Meeting, Ambassador Tanin and the rest of the Delegation called on Mr. Fassi-Fihri to express their gratitude to Morocco for hosting the Meeting and for its long-time support of the Palestinian people.

Mr. Fassi Fihri, Ambassador Tanin and Mr. Ahmed Qurai later held a press conference that stressed the need for a fair and just resolution to the question of Jerusalem in any sustainable negotiated peace in the Middle East.

For the full report of the first day, click here.

UNODC Reports Major Drug Abuse in Afghanistan

KABUL, 21 June 2010 – A survey on Drug Use in Afghanistan, issued today by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, shows that around one million Afghans (age 15-64) suffer from drug addiction. At eight per cent of the population, this rate is twice the global average. “After three decades of war-related trauma, unlimited availability of cheap narcotics and limited access to treatment have created a major, and growing, addiction problem in Afghanistan,” said UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa.

“The human face of Afghanistan’s drug problem is not only seen on the streets of Moscow, London or Paris. It is in the eyes of its own citizens, dependent on a daily dose of opium and heroin above all – but also cannabis, painkillers and tranquilizers,” said Mr. Costa.

“Many Afghans are taking drugs as a kind of self-medication against the hardships of life. Significantly, many of them began taking drugs as migrants or refugees in camps in Iran and Pakistan,” noted Mr. Costa. Yet, instead of easing pain, opiate use is causing even greater misery: it creates behavioural, social and health problems, crime, accidents, and loss of productivity in the workplace. Injecting drug use, as well as sex traded for drugs or money, spread HIV and other blood-borne diseases.

During the past five years (in 2005 a similar survey was done), in Afghanistan the number of regular opium users has jumped 53 per cent, from 150,000 to 230,000 while the number of heroin users has increased from 50,000 to 120,000, a leap of 140 per cent. “In Afghanistan the growth of addiction to narcotics has followed the same hyperbolic pattern of opium production,” observed Mr. Costa.

One of the most shocking statistics in this report is the number of parents who give opium to their children; as high as 50 per cent of drug users in the north and south of the country. “This risks condemning the next generation of Afghans to a life of addiction, ” said Mr. Costa.

The report reveals a major shortage of drug treatment. Only ten per cent of drug users surveyed had received any form of drug treatment, although 90 per cent of them felt that they were in need of it. “More than 700,000 Afghans have no access to drug treatment. I invite the nations that support Afghanistan’s efforts to curb drug cultivation to help it as well overcome its drug-related health crisis,” said Mr. Costa. He called for much greater resources for drug prevention and treatment in Afghanistan, as part of mainstream healthcare and development programmes.

“Much has been said, and written, about Afghanistan as a leading producer of drugs, causing health havoc in the world. It is time to recognize that the same tragedy is taking place in Afghanistan, that has now become a leading consumer of its own opium,” said Mr. Costa.

For further information contact:

Tara Ali or Jelena Bjelica

External Relations, UNODC

Mobile: (+93) 795 643 820 or (+93) 796 520 857

Email: tara.ali@unodc.org or jelena.bjelica@unodc.org

Strategic Communication and Spokespersons Unit

United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)

Kabul, Afghanistan

Tel: 079 000 6121; +39 083 124 6121

http://unama.unmissions.org

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