Download complete speech: Priorities of the United Nations
UN Under-Secretary-General for Communication and Public Information, Mr. Kiyataka Akasaka was the guest speaker. Mr. Akasaka has a long, distinguished career serving the international community and UN. He is a published author and co-author of books and articles. Mr. Akasaka explained the main priorities of the UN: to maintain peace and security (first priority), promote environmental, economic and social development, preserve and promote human rights. Climate change is an emerging priority. Problems continue in Darfur, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote de Ivoire, Liberia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, and Gaza. Since last December the Middle East is a hot zone. Iran, Iraq. Myanmar, Sri Lanka, North Korea, Haiti. The list goes on. Mr. Akasaka explained today's announcement from the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Sudan's President. This is the first time an incumbent president of any country has been indicted. In Sudan the political and humanitarian situation is very difficult. The UN expects Sudan's government to address peace and security in accordance with Security Council resolutions. The conflict between Hamas and Israel continues. People of Gaza, schools, factories, buildings and trees were bombed. They need to reconstruct their lives. The situation is delicate in Iraq still, worsening in Afghanistan. We are worried about the situation in Myanmar, Burma. The human rights situation is not what we would like to see. Mr. Akasaka continued; North Korea is a problem. Many Japanese people are worried that North Korea will launch a missile. At any moment tensions could worsen in that part of the world. Mr. Akasaka explained that the UN worries about all these problems to maintain peace and security. The world is getting safer, more prosperous. But we still have to face the problems. According to Mr. Akasaka, the UN needs NGOs' help to raise awareness. Are the Japanese people aware of the people suffering in these places? He wondered. NGOs need to raise awareness about these situations. The second UN priority is development. The financial crisis is deteriorating development progress everywhere. The UN leadership worries about achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. We have less than six years to reduce the number of people living on less than one dollar a day by half. Mr. Akasaka asked how anyone can live on a dollar or less a day. Access to primary education is improving but in Africa 70 million children are not in school. The number is staggering. The third objective, to maintain gender equality is improving, but girls are discriminated against. In many African countries the targets will not be reached. The other objectives: infant mortality, maternal mortality the situation is really serious. Half a million pregnant women die every year. And infant mortality, in Africa many children die of diarrhea, malaria, measles. All are preventable. In many countries clean water is not available; one in six people cannot get clean water. Two billion people have no access to sanitation. Currently 33 million people are living with HIV. In 2007, more than 2.7 million people were newly infected by AIDS. 20 ml people have died. AIDS is among the Top 10 killers in world and one of top killers in Africa. 67% of AIDS cases are in Africa. Mr. Akasaka stressed, we must address all those goals. Third priority is human rights. Last year the UN celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, raising awareness. Still, terrible human rights violations continue. In DRC, women and girls are being raped, gang raped as a tool of war. 30% of these rape victims are infected by HIV/AIDS. How can this stop? The UN issues statements condemning these acts. The SG campaigns against violence against women. NGOs need to help. This violence must stop. Attention needs to be brought to these terrible violations of human rights. The other priority is climate change. Mr. Akasaka informed the group that Kyoto 2 will meet in December in Copenhagen. An international agreement will be reached. To get countries to live up to their agreements, NGOs, Civil Society and media must hold countries accountable for their commitments. Next year there will be a review of NPT, nonproliferation treaty. It's a dream to live without nuclear warheads, but actually, even Dr. Henry Kissinger emphasizes the importance of this. Mr. Akasaka stressed that our help is needed to bring world peace and to make the UN stronger.