Morocco Recalls its Ambassador in Nigeria for Consultation

Rabat – Morocco has decided the immediate recall of its ambassador in Abuja for consultation, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.“Contrary to the allegations made by Nigerian authorities to the ambassador of HM the King in Abuja and local media, the Kingdom of Morocco confirms, in the clearest and strongest terms, that there has never been a phone conversation between HM King Mohammed VI and the President of this country,” the ministry pointed out in a statement.“HM the King has actually declined the request of the Nigerian government because it is part of the internal electioneering and this country’s fundamentally hostile positions with regard to the territorial integrity of the Kingdom,” the statement said. “The Kingdom of Morocco expresses its astonishment and denunciation to these unethical practices that are contrary to the spirit of responsibility that must prevail in relations between States,” the ministry added.“Accordingly, the Kingdom of Morocco has decided the immediate recall of the ambassador of HM the King in Abuja for consultation”, the statement concluded.MWN With MAP read more

UNSG Personal Envoy to brief Security Council on Western Sahara

Rabat – The United Nations Personal Envoy to the Western Sahara, Christopher Ross, will brief the UN Security Council on Western Sahara next Wednesday.This comes after the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon released his annual report on the situation in the Western Sahara last Friday.In the report, Ban Ki-Moon summarized the latest developments regarding the question of Western Sahara and called on the different parties in the conflict to “continue their cooperation with the United Nations human rights mechanisms and OHCHR, by facilitating OHCHR missions to Western Sahara and the refugee camps near Tindouf, with unrestricted access to all relevant stakeholders.” The UN Chief also praised the “positive steps that Morocco has taken on the protection of human rights,” including the adoption of a new code on military justice and the accession to the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against torture, while calling for “independent and impartial understanding” of human rights in the Western Sahara.He also called for the registration of the population living in the Tindouf camps.“I note continuing questions about the number of refugees requiring assistance. These highlight the need to address the registration of the refugee population,” the UN chief said in paragraph 77 of his annual report.It is the first time the UNSG’s annual report on the territorial dispute has included a recommendation calling for a census in the Tindouf camps.Conducting a census in the camps has been a longstanding request from the Moroccan government, which has long accused Algeria and the Polisario of inflating the number of people said to be living there.Ban Ki-Moon’s Personal Envoy Christopher Ross has made two trips to the region: one in February and the second in March.Ross’ visit the region was made possible after Ban Ki-moon reassured King Mohammed VI last January that he had no intention to alter the mandate of the MINURSO. read more

UNHCR Chief Hails Moroccan Immigration Policy

Geneva – UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi hailed on Friday the immigration policy launched in 2013 by King Mohammed VI, in accordance with Morocco’s international commitments in terms of immigrants’ rights.During a meeting with Morocco’s permanent representative in Geneva, ambassador Mohamed Aujjar, the UN official lauded the Moroccan initiative to review and update laws governing immigration and asylum.Grandi voiced satisfaction with the good relations between Morocco and the UNHCR, and stressed his readiness to work together with the Kingdom in order to further cooperation ties. He highlighted the regularization operation for illegal immigrants and refugees which was officially launched by Morocco in Nov. 2013, recalling that this operation was crowned by the regularization of 5,000 Syrian refugees’ situation.Aujjar, for his part, reiterated Morocco’s support for the UN agency to fulfil its humanitarian mandate in the camps of Tindouf and around the world.He also underlined the pressing need to conduct, by the UNHCR, a headcount for the Tindouf populations, in conformity with its mandate, to help evaluate the real needs of the camps’ inhabitants and avoid humanitarian aid embezzlement.With MAP read more

Morocco Achieved Successful Reforms on Democracy and Governance Peruvian MP

Lima – Morocco achieved, under the leadership of King Mohammed VI, successful reforms which have contributed to reinforcing democracy and governance in many areas, said Peruvian MP Victor Andres Belaunde.The pertinent reforms carried out by the Kingdom over the past years were undertaken with vision, transparency and maturity given the fact that Morocco is aware of the importance of peaceful and moderate change which could have a positive impact and lead to an openness on the rest of the world, he told MAP on the sidelines of the inauguration ceremony of Peruvian president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, which was held recently in Lima.The Peruvian MP described as “a positive step” the decision of Morocco to return to the African Union, adding that this return will be beneficial not only for the Kingdom, but also for Latin American and Peru. “Morocco will be an interlocutor with which we share viewpoints and through which we will build bridges of cooperation and dialogue with other African countries,” he underlined.With MAP read more

Heat Wave to Hit Morocco This Week

Rabat – A heat wave is expected to hit several regions of the Kingdom next week, with high temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in some regions.Temperatures between 38 to 44 degrees Celsius are forecasted for Marrakech, Aoussered, Oued Eddahab, Essmara, Assazag, Tata, Zagora, Guelmim, Fquih Ben Salah, Settat, Taroudant and Kelaâ des Sraghna starting Monday until the end of the week, announced the National Directorate of Meteorology (DMN) in a special bulletin.Meanwhile Ouezzane, Sidi Slimane, Meknes, Moulay Yacoub, Fez, Khemisset, Kenitra, Ben Slimane, Berrechid, Rhamna, Youssoufia, Chichaoua, Sidi Bennour, Safi, Essaouira, Agadir-Ida ou Tanane, Inezgane-Ait Melloul, Chtouka ait Baha, Tiznit, Sidi Ifni, Errachidia, and Tan-Tan will see temperatures between 33 and 38 degrees Celsius. Starting Sunday, May 14, the extreme south of the country, particularly Aousserd, had already recorded temperatures of 37 to 41 degrees Celsius, noted the same source.High temperatures are expected to persist until at least May 20, DMN announced, indicating that by that time, further forecasts will have been announced. read more

60 Moroccan Students Receive Prizes In Belgium

by Chloé Koura                                                                                 Rabat – The Moroccan consulate in Belgium has held a prize ceremony for students in the Moroccan community who have shown academic talent throughout the year.Out of 500 competing students and the 168 who were successful in the competition, 60 were awarded prizes of excellence on Sunday evening. The competition was organised by the Moroccan embassy’s national education co-ordination service. The students take classes in Arabic, Islamic education (especially in relation to civic rights, tolerance and coexistence), Moroccan history and geography.In a speech during the ceremony, the Moroccan ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg Mohamed Ameur congratulated the students and their parents, and encouraged them to continue to learn about their motherland in order to preserve their identity. Also in attendance was the Consul General, a representative of the Hassan II Foundation of MRE, and certain officials of Moroccan origin.Almost 6,000 students across Belgium benefit from the Hassan II Foundation’s educational programme, a programme that was originally started to help Moroccans living abroad.As of 2006, Belgium had 249,583 Belgian Moroccans, and a survey by the King Baudouin Foundation showed that 55% of them consider themselves to be more Moroccan than Belgian. read more

Spanish Police Arrest Moroccan for Glorifying Terrorism

Rabat – Spanish police arrested Tuesday in the municipality of Torre Pacheco (Murcia- southeastern Spain), a Moroccan citizen for his alleged involvement in indoctrination and apology of terrorism on behalf of Daesh terror organization, said a statement by the Spanish Interior Ministry.The individual, 31, was active on the internet since 2004, by regularly publishing contents supporting openly Daesh, said the same source.The suspect shared on the internet the content of this terror organization inciting to jihad, as well as photographs and videos showing executions of American soldiers by jihadist shooters, the statement added.According to the Spanish Interior ministry, “the person nabbed in Murcia had been involved for three years in a process of dangerous radicalisation, to such an extent that he could participate in terrorist acts.” Since the beginning of 2015, a total of 269 suspected terrorists have been arrested by the Spanish security services or in collaboration with foreign countries. read more

Swiss museum laments Facebook ban of images of naked statues

GENEVA — A Geneva art museum says Facebook has banned using images of a nearly-naked Venus statue and a nude, kneeling man that it had hoped to post on the social media platform to promote an upcoming exhibit.The Museum of Art and History used Twitter to say it had wanted to promote the 3-1/2 month run of “Caesar and the Rhone” that opens Friday using the two images, but Facebook “prevented us from it, because of their nudity.”The museum put the images on Twitter on Friday with the French word for “censored” over their private parts, adding: “Maybe it’s time that this platform changes its policy for museums and cultural institutions?”Facebook didn’t immediately respond to an email from the Associated Press seeking comment.The Associated Press read more

Moroccos Education Ministry Suspends Dialogue With Contractual Teachers

Rabat – The Ministry of National Education, Vocational Training, Higher Education, and Scientific Research said in a statement that it has “suspended the meeting to be held on Tuesday, April 23, 2019, with the coordinations that most represent of teachers.” The education ministry noted that it made on the grounds that striking teachers “breached the obligations” they agreed to in the April 13 meeting of returning to work on Monday, April 15. The Coordination of Teachers “Forced into Contracts” (CNPCC), however, blames the education ministry for “flagrantly violating” the April 13 agreement. Read also: Moroccan Contractual Teachers Threaten ‘Blank Year,’ Extend ProtestThe teachers’ groups asserted in a statement that the ministry breached the April 13 agreement by “continuing to take legal actions [dismissals] against striking teachers, especially those working in academies in the southern region, and did not postpone professional qualifying examinations.”In response, teachers continued to strike and decided to press ahead with protests until April 25 or longer, threatening to push for a “blank year” of not returning to work for 12 months. The education ministry also denied CNPCC’s claim that the ministry broke its promises. “Contrary to what has been said, the ministry adhered to what was agreed by suspending all administrative and legal measures taken against teachers.” The legal measures include the payment of suspended wages, the re-examination of the situation of suspended teachers, and the postponement of professional qualifying examinations.Read also: Moroccan Contractual Teachers to Keep Striking Until April 25The ministry concluded that there is “no way it could engage in dialogue in the absence of the minimum requirements to negotiate a serious and responsible solution.”It added that it would “resume dialogue on the condition that teachers return to work.” Teachers’ representatives and the education ministry have held several meetings to work out a solution. Contractual teachers have been rallying the streets of Moroccan cities since February 20, demanding to be hired into the public sector, the abolishment of fixed-term contracts, and for the government to end “discrimination” between contractual teachers and public sector teachers. read more

May could face call for government of national unity in UK

LONDON — A British lawmaker says the U.K. may have to try a government of national unity if Prime Minister Theresa May cannot break the impasse over the country’s withdrawal from the European Union.Former Education Secretary Nicky Morgan’s comments came a day after Parliament rejected May’s divorce deal for a third time, rebuffing the prime minister’s plea to “put aside self and party.”The House of Commons will vote Monday on a variety of alternatives in an attempt to find an idea that can command a majority, but May’s government is considering a fourth vote on her deal.Morgan told the BBC that a cross-party coalition might be the only way to break the deadlock if Parliament were to agree on an alternative and May refused to accept it.The Associated Press read more

New Zealand initiates bill to ban guns used in terror attack

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand’s government has introduced a bill to ban the types of weapons used by a terrorist to kill 50 people at two mosques.Police Minister Stuart Nash said Monday that if lawmakers pass the bill as expected, the new law will take effect April 12, less than a month after the March 15 attacks. The bill follows a government-imposed ban on sales of the weapons.The bill bans “military-style” semi-automatic guns and high-capacity magazines. It also bans semi-automatic shotguns that can be fitted with detachable magazines and pump-action shotguns that can hold more than five rounds.It doesn’t ban guns often used by farmers and hunters, including semi-automatic .22-calibre or smaller guns that hold up to 10 rounds, or shotguns that hold up to five rounds.The Associated Press read more

Moroccos Counterterrorism Efforts Reduce Level of Terror Threats

Rabat – A report on crimes related to terrorism in Morocco shows that Morocco’s counterterrorism strategy is bearing fruit as the level of threat related to terror crimes has stabilized over the past two years.The report, released by the Moroccan Public Prosecutor’s Office, was accompanied by a second report on the execution of criminal policy. The second report shows that 337 suspects appeared before the General Prosecutor’s Office at the Rabat Court of Appeal in 2018 for their alleged involvement in terror crimes, compared to 358 in the previous yearQuoting the report, Maghreb Arab Press (MAP) said that 66% of the cases went to trial while only 14% did not. The report shows that 107 judicial proceedings, the highest number of cases, were carried out for inciting terrorism. Trials for extreme violence and manufacturing and possession of weapons were the second most prolific crime, with 19 trials apiece.The list of crimes also includes the financing acts of terrorism, with 18 judicial proceedings, and involvement in terror groups which resulted in 13 judicial cases.According to the report, “although Morocco has been the subject of terror threats like other countries, [the North African country] has managed to defeat the majority of terror plans aimed at causing serious harm to public order.”The report also recalled that Morocco has dismantled several terror cells throughout the year.In 2015, Morocco introduced the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ), an agency which has significantly reinforced Morocco’s security policy.The role of the BCIJ, which is the main body in charge of fighting terrorism, is well recognized. Several reports have cited the agency’s achievements in counterterrorism and its international collaboration to fight the issue.The 2018 US Department report praised Morocco’s efforts, saying that the country has a “comprehensive counterterrorism strategy that includes vigilant security measures, regional and international cooperation.”The BCIJ works in collaboration with Morocco’s General Directorate for National Security (DGSN), while the General Directorate for Territorial Surveillance (DGST) works with BCIJ to conduct border inspections at airports.The report explained that Morocco’s record in countering terrorism was made possible thanks to the BCIJ as well as the National Criminal Police Brigade and the Royal Gendarmerie.BCIJ has carried out several significant operations in the first six months of 2019, arresting a number of ISIS-linked terror suspects.The latest arrest was on June 25, when BCIJ dismantled a four-member terrorist cell in Al Haouz in the Marrakech-Safi region.Read also: Morocco’s BCIJ Raids 2 Farms Used by Terror Cell, Seizes Chemical Products read more

German government halves 2019 growth forecast to 05

BERLIN — The German government has slashed its 2019 economic growth forecast for the country for the second time this year and is now predicting growth of only 0.5%.Wednesday’s forecast halves the 1% estimate the government presented in late January, when it cut its forecast from 1.8%. It follows a string of downgrades by economists and other groups.Economy Minister Peter Altmaier predicted growth of 1.5% in 2020.Prospects for Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, have been weighed down by weaker growth elsewhere and by the after-effects of its own weak performance at the end of last year, when it was dragged down largely by one-time factors related to new car emissions standards.Last year, gross domestic product expanded by 1.4%.The Associated Press read more

Most actively traded companies on the TSX

The Canadian Press Some of the most active companies traded Tuesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange:Toronto Stock Exchange (16,669.40, up 92.12 points).Encana Corp. (TSX:ECA). Energy. Up 26 cents, or 2.61 per cent, to $10.24 on 10.6 million shares.Bombardier Inc. (TSX:BBD.B). Industrials. Up 11 cents, or 4.03 per cent, to $2.84 on 9 million shares.Crescent Point Energy Corp. (TSX:CPG). Energy. Unchanged at $5.89 on 8.4 million shares.Baytex Energy Corp. (TSX:BTE). Energy. Up eight cents, or 2.68 per cent, to $3.07 on 7.5 million shares.Aurora Cannabis Inc. (TSX:ACB). Health care. Down 15 cents, or 1.22 per cent, to $12.17 on 6.1 million shares.Enbridge Inc. (TSX:ENB). Energy. Up 77 cents, or 1.54 per cent, to $50.61 on 6 million shares.Companies reporting:Teck Resources Ltd. (TSX:TECK.B). Up 21 cents to $33.01. Teck Resources says it is less exposed to uncertainties on Chinese coal imports after shifting more sales to India. The reduced reliance decreases the likelihood of import disruptions currently happening with Australian shipments to China. The cause of the increased scrutiny and import delays — which contributed to a 25 per cent reduction in coal imports from Australia in February — is unclear, but some have speculated on political motives as tensions increase between the two countries.BRP Inc. (TSX:DOO). Up $1.47 or 3.5 per cent to $43.08. The chairman of recreational products maker BRP Inc. is stepping down, ceding the head spot to longtime president and chief executive Jose Boisjoli. Laurent Beaudoin’s retirement follows his departure last year from Bombardier Inc., which BRP was spun off from in 2003. His son Pierre is nominated as a director for the first time. Meanwhile, Boisjoli’s total compensation increased 12 per cent last year to around $8.8 million. read more

Statistics Canada reports trade deficit shrank to 32 billion in March

The Canadian Press OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says the country’s merchandise trade deficit shrank in March as exports, led by the energy sector, rose faster than imports.The agency says the deficit for March amounted to $3.2 billion compared with $3.4 billion in February.Economists had expected a deficit of $2.45 billion, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.The change came as Canadian exports rose 3.2 per cent to $49.0 billion as exports of energy products rose 7.7 per cent to $9.6 billion in March and motor vehicles and parts gained 5.6 per cent at $7.7 billion.Meanwhile, imports rose 2.5 per cent to $52.3 billion, as consumer goods posted the largest increase.Imports of consumer goods rose 6.7 per cent in March to a record $10.9 billion, boosted by imports of clothing, footwear and accessories. Imports of motor vehicles and parts rose 4.9 per cent to $9.9 billion. read more

Technology stocks push the market lower Dow falls 140

NEW YORK — A broad slide by technology companies pushed U.S. stocks lower in morning trading on Wall Street Monday, extending losses into another week.The U.S. decision to ban technology sales to China’s Huawei hammered the technology sector, particularly chipmakers. Investors are worried that the move could crimp sales for companies with revenue heavily tied to China. Broadcom and Qualcomm are both suppliers of Huawei’s and each get at least half their revenue from China. Their stocks, along with Micron Technology and Xilinx fell sharply.The ban is also adding more anxiety to a market worried about further escalations in the trade war between the U.S. and China. Both sides have gone back and forth raising additional tariffs on goods. The uncertainty is putting a dent in investor confidence and has pushed stocks lower for the last two weeks.Consumer-related stocks also fell heavily, led by Amazon and a smattering of other companies, including Nike and Starbucks.T-Mobile and Sprint were among the few companies to make gains. An expected favourable regulatory decision is going to speed up their $26.5 billion merger.Utilities and energy were the only sectors to post gains as investors looked for less-risky holdings. Utilities typically benefit when investors are concerned about a slowdown in economic growth and want to put their money into safer holdings.Companies are nearing the end of the latest earnings season. The results have not been as bad as Wall Street feared, with profit in the broad S&P 500 index contracting less than 1%. Home repair and supplies behemoth Home Depot will report its quarterly results Tuesday and retail giant Target will report results Wednesday.KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index fell 0.8% as of 10 a.m. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 139 points, or 0.6%, to 25,622. The technology heavy Nasdaq composite fell 1.6%.GOOD CONNECTION: T-Mobile and Sprint appear closer to completing a $26.5 billion merger after the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission said he plans to recommend approval of the deal.T-Mobile rose 6% and Sprint surged 25.6%.The deal would position the companies to deploy a 5G network that would cover 97% of the U.S. population within three years of the closing of the merger and 99% of Americans within six years.CHIPPED SALES PROSPECTS: Chipmakers fell broadly as the sector deals with the fallout from The U.S. ban on technology sales to Huawei.The U.S. government says that Chinese suppliers, including Huawei and its smaller rival, ZTE Corp., pose an espionage threat because they are beholden to China’s ruling Communist Party.Qualcomm, which gets about 65% of its revenue from China, fell 5.4%. Broadcom, which gets nearly half of its revenue from China, fell 4.4%. Intel fell 1.7% and Xilinx fell 5.9%.Damian J. Troise, The Associated Press read more

New UN communications chief outlines priorities for 2007

Delivering his first major policy address since assuming the top United Nations communications post earlier this year, Under-Secretary-General Kiyotaka Akasaka today described efforts to reorient the Department for Public Information (DPI) both structurally and programmatically, and said priority attention would be paid to peace and security, climate change, development and human rights. Mr. Akasaka told the UN Committee on Information, meeting in New York, that DPI aims to reform in a stable manner. “We must build on the gains made in the past, while remaining attentive to the demands of the media, to changes in the Organization’s priorities, and to new and revised mandates given to us by Member States,” he said. The Committee, which began its 2007 session today, examines the UN’s public information policies and activities in light of international relations concerns. Consisting of 110 member States, it is also tasked with the promotion of a more equitable world communications order to strengthen peace and international understanding.Opening the session today, Committee Chairman Rudolf Christen of Switzerland said that the meeting coincided with a “new phase” at the UN, under the leadership of the new Under-Secretary-General. The Department of Public Information was the Organization’s “loudspeaker,” he said, but that loudspeaker must be used to create a clear and coherent message. Under-Secretary-General Akasaka said DPI has made steady progress in meeting its mission and explained that its activities would continue to become more strategic, echoing the directive put in place by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon when he took office in January. Citing the example of the General Assembly’s 2006 High-level Dialogue on Migration, he said an analysis of the media coverage of that event showed that the key messages on the UN’s role on migration framed by DPI were picked up by journalists more than 90 per cent of the time. He also pointed to the wide reach of the UN’s website, which receives over 50 million unique visits annually. In addition, over 300 million people now have access to UN Radio programmes, many of which are now available on the Internet. Mr. Akasaka also described several new outreach programmes, including one on the Holocaust. “The observance in the General Assembly Hall this year included representatives of various communities who were targeted during the Holocaust, as well as students who will carry their message of tolerance and hope to future generations.” The Department is now focusing on four priority themes: peace and security; climate change; development and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of global antipoverty targets; and human rights, he said. Drawing attention to the work of the UN Information Centres (UNICs) operating in various countries, he said: “They give our global messages a local accent – and as a result they bring the UN closer to the people it serves.” Reflecting on his own career path, which included work at several international organizations and led to his appointment in March as Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, Mr. Akasaka said he had long been familiar with the UN’s work through his travels. “At each place, I discovered amazing stories of people striving to make lives better. Behind those stories often lay the light footprint of the United Nations and its staff. I always admired the commitment and dedication of those people – the unsung heroes – who stood guard between enemy combatants, built tents for refugees, vaccinated children against deadly diseases, and brought food and water to the needy,” he said. “Now I have the opportunity to tell the story of the United Nations to the whole world. It is an amazing opportunity and a remarkable challenge.”Following Mr. Akasaka’s presentation, delegations began their discussion of UN information issues. Katharina Ahrendts of Germany, speaking on behalf of the European Union, began the debate by commending DPI’s efforts to develop a more strategic approach in spreading the Organization’s message, welcoming the new system of regional hubs within the network of information centres. On behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, Pakistan’s Sarukh Amil said the information centres were vital to the flow of information and helped bridge gaps between developed and developing countries and called for adequate funding for them. He also welcomed efforts to increase awareness of UN peacekeeping efforts. Peacekeepers often produced “huge success stories” and it was important to tell their stories globally and locally. 30 April 2007Delivering his first major policy address since assuming the top United Nations communications post earlier this year, Under-Secretary-General Kiyotaka Akasaka today described efforts to reorient the Department for Public Information (DPI) both structurally and programmatically, and said priority attention would be paid to peace and security, climate change, development and human rights. read more

Ban Kimoon urges action to help worlds 26 billion people lacking sanitation

Mr. Ban told the first preparatory meeting for the International Year of Sanitation, which will be marked in 2008, that “access to sanitation is a fundamental issue of human dignity and human rights, and also of economic development and environmental protection.”An estimated 2.6 billion people – including about 980 million children – worldwide do not have access to basic sanitation services, a statistic Mr. Ban described as “simply unacceptable.” Instead they are forced to defecate in bags, buckets or roadside ditches, causing serious health risks to themselves and others.Mr. Ban urged the participants at today’s meeting, held at UN Headquarters in New York, to make the most of the opportunity provided by the official Year to generate “real, positive changes” for those without sanitation.“Efforts by UN agencies are just one part of the equation. Real change demands resources, commitment, policy changes and other concrete steps by governments, civil society and all stakeholders.”Access to sanitation “is deeply and inextricably connected to virtually all the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), in particular those involving the environment, education, gender equality and the reduction of child mortality and poverty.”The MDGs are a series of anti-poverty targets which world leaders agreed in 2000 to try to work towards, and they include a commitment to halve by 2015 the proportion of people without access to basic sanitation. Yet if current trends continue, the number of people without basic sanitation will only drop to 2.4 billion by 2015.Today’s meeting was held after the General Assembly voted in December last year to designate 2008 as the International Year of Sanitation. Participants included representatives of UN Member States, UN agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), academics, civil society groups and the private sector.The meeting heard improved sanitation facilities could have dramatic effects, from reducing diarrhoea-related deaths among young children by more than one third to speeding up economic development in countries where poor sanitation is a key cause of lost work and school days.The Prince of Orange, Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, who is Chairperson for the UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation, told the meeting that it is important to translate the general goals of the Year into measurable targets that include concrete plans and detailed figures.“What do we want to achieve by the end of 2008, and how do we achieve it?” he asked.UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director Ann M. Veneman said in a message to the meeting that young people are especially vulnerable to diseases caused by a lack of proper sanitation, with unsafe water and bad hygiene and sanitation thought responsible for the deaths of 1.5 million children under the age of five every year.Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs José Antonio Ocampo added his voice to the calls for accelerated action. He called the lack of access to sanitation a “silent humanitarian crisis” because it is a problem so many people are too shy or embarrassed to discuss openly. 7 May 2007The world is lagging seriously in its efforts to slash the number of people who lack access to decent sanitation, leaving too many people deprived of basic dignity, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, calling for concrete measures from United Nations Member States, civil society groups and others in the year ahead to remedy the problem. read more

Antipoverty goals still achievable but greater effort needed – Ban Kimoon

Addressing the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in Geneva, Mr. Ban said the mid-point progress report on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – which was released today – contained encouraging messages.“Countries in Africa and elsewhere are demonstrating that rapid and large-scale progress on the MDGs is possible,” Mr. Ban said, referring to the set of eight development objectives which world leaders have agreed to work towards by the target date of 2015.This week’s ECOSOC meeting is focusing on two of the objectives: cutting extreme poverty and hunger in half, and building the global partnership for development.The Secretary-General urged a “strong and sustained effort” towards the targets. “Advancing on these two items is essential for human uplift, and it underpins our entire UN development agenda… Needless to say, millions of lives quite literally hang in the balance.”He called on the leaders of poor States to ensure they have national development strategies in place that focus on job creation, productivity, practical steps for increasing investments in key areas and improving access to markets.But “all of this will simply not occur without adequate financing, much of which has to flow from a strengthened global partnership for development,” the Secretary-General warned, noting that progress towards the Goals has so far been too slow in some countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.Mr. Ban said wealthy nations must keep their promises to eventually spend 0.7 per cent of their gross national product (GNP) on official development assistance (ODA) to poorer countries and “address the disparities in the global trade regime which handcuff so many developing nations.”He stressed the importance of a successful conclusion to the current so-called Doha round of trade negotiations.“Existing trade barriers, agricultural subsidies and restrictive rules on intellectual property rights reinforce global inequities – and they make a mockery of our tall claims to eliminate hunger and poverty from our world.” 2 July 2007The world’s shared goals for fighting poverty and other economic and social ills remain achievable in most countries, but only if political leaders in rich and poor nations take urgent and concerted action, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today. read more

Iraq top UN envoy voices hope that list of Baghdad governorate candidates

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative Staffan de Mistura welcomed the submission of names of candidates for the position of Director of the GEOs by the Council to the Independent High Election Commission (IHEC), an independent electoral authority consisting of nine members.Noting that body has yet to receive the list of candidates for the Baghdad offices from the Council, Mr. de Mistura – who also heads the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) – said that “there is a need to finalize the selection process to enable IHEC to start planning for for voter registration.”Due to the recent unrest in Baghdad, the deadline for the submissions has been extended.The Special Representative said that to move the process forward, UNAMI will forward its recommendations directly to the IHEC, which in turn will slecting acting Directors for the two Baghdad GEOs, pending a final decisions by the Council.The IHEC is scheculed to begin interviewing the listed candidates on 27 April. After the selection process is finalized and the 7-day period to contest reuslts is over, it will announce the names of selected GEO Directors.UNAMI has finished intervieiwing candidates for the Ninewa GEO, and intends to submit its recommendations to the Council shortly.In his latest quarterly report on UNAMI to the Security Council made public yesterday, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wote that the holding of credible governorate elections later this year could in the long run serve to underpin the legitimacy of democratic governance, calling on the Council of Representatives to “urgently pass a governorate elections law” to conduct the elections as smoothly and as fairly as possible. 26 April 2008The top United Nations envoy to Iraq today expressed hope that an agreement can be reached in the Council of Representatives on the list of candidates for the Baghdad governorate election offices (GEOs) for the upcoming elections. read more