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20 Jul, 2011

Pursuit of Happiness Should Have Greater Role In Development Policy – UN Member States

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1. Pursuit of Happiness Should Have Greater Role In Development Policy – UN Member States

2. UN Contest For Best Campaign To End Violence Against Women Opens For Voting

3. Politicians Alone Cannot Create Peace, UN Official Says At Middle East Media Forum

4. Scientists Open Conference On Endangered Species

5. Global Aid For Trade Efforts Vital For Boosting Development


1. Pursuit of Happiness Should Have Greater Role In Development Policy – UN Member States

Jul 19 2011, (UN News) –  The General Assembly today called on United Nations Member States to undertake steps that give more importance to happiness and well-being in determining how to achieve and measure social and economic development.

In a resolution adopted without a vote, the Assembly invited countries “to pursue the elaboration of additional measures that better capture the importance of the pursuit of happiness and well-being in development with a view to guiding their public policies.”

The resolution said “the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal” and embodies the spirit of the globally agreed targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Member States also welcomed the offer of Bhutan, which for many years has used gross national happiness rather than gross domestic product (GDP) as a marker of success, to convene a panel discussion on the theme of happiness and well-being during the Assembly’s next session, which begins in September.

The resolution notes that the GDP indicator “was not designed to and does not adequately reflect the happiness and well-being of people in a country,” and “unsustainable patterns of production and consumption can impede sustainable development.”

Meanwhile, the Assembly today also adopted a resolution stressing the importance of equality among the six official UN languages – Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.

2. UN Contest For Best Campaign To End Violence Against Women Opens For Voting

Jul 19 2011  (UN News) – Public voting is under way in a United Nations contest aimed at finding the best advertising campaign to promote awareness in Europe about the battle to defeat gender-based violence, which affects more than two out of every three women worldwide.

More than 2,700 entries from 40 European countries – prepared by both creative professionals and ordinary members of the public – have been submitted in the contest, and three winners will be selected, either by a seven-member jury of experts or by votes from Internet users.

One of the three prizes being awarded in the “VOTE to Say No – UNiTE to End Violence against Women” competition will go to the campaign which receives the most public votes, and Internet users have until 31 July to vote.

The competition is an initiative of the UN Regional Informational Centre for Western Europe (UNRIC) in Brussels, other UN Information Centres (UNICs) across Europe and the UN Entity for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (UN Women) and is designed to boost the global effort to end violence against women.

“Joining in the efforts to stop violence is everybody’s responsibility. Governments, private enterprises, civil society groups, communities and individual citizens can all make essential contributions. Men and boys must be active in encouraging respect for women and zero tolerance for violence,” said Michelle Bachelet, the Executive Director of UN Women.

According to the UN, up to 70 per cent of women have experienced violence at some point in their lives. The extent of the problem prompted Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to launch the global campaign “UNiTE to End Violence against Women” in 2008.

“We live in a world of violence. Violence against women is all the more intolerable because of the contradiction between love and brutality, the rejection of equality,” said Jacques Séguéla, Vice President of advertising company Havas and one of the jury members. “There will never be enough of us to mobilize against this scourge that neither time nor modernity has managed to defeat,” he added.

Afsané Bassir-Pour, the Director of UNRIC, praised the enthusiasm with which Europeans joined the competition on the WeCanEndPoverty campaign last year.

“Because the subject of this year’s competition is, alas, a real tangible issue for every nation, we can expect the same enthusiasm and creativity to put the spotlight on it,” she said.

3. Politicians Alone Cannot Create Peace, UN Official Says At Middle East Media Forum

Jul 13 2011 (UN News) — The United Nations communications chief today called on those involved in traditional and social media to explore how they can help foster a climate conducive to peace in the Middle East.

“It is important to remember that peace is not something that politicians alone can create. Journalists and artists have a critical role,” said Kiyo Akasaka, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information.

In his closing remarks to the International Media Seminar on Middle East Peace, which ended today in Budapest, Mr. Akasaka said he hoped the participants at the two-day meeting will be inspired to consider further how obstacles to a permanent agreement between Israelis and Palestinians can be overcome through their work.

The annual two-day seminar, organized by the UN Department of Public Information (DPI), brought together scholars, activists, journalists, writers, theatre producers, musicians and bloggers for a dialogue aimed at enhancing understanding between peoples and achieving a just and lasting peace based on a two-State solution.

This year’s event was on the theme of “Prospects for Peace: Understanding Current Challenges and Overcoming Obstacles,” and took account of the dramatic changes in the political landscape in the region, including the increased role of new media such as Twitter and Facebook in fostering political change.

Mr. Akasaka emphasized that this year’s gathering was very important because of the ongoing stalemate in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. “We need a push. We need negotiations to be started. This sort of seminar, I hope, will be helpful in producing the atmosphere conducive for re-opening negotiations,” he stated in an interview with UN Radio.

He added that the event was also significant in light of the ‘Arab spring’ – the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt and pro-democracy movements taking place elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa – and its implications for the peace process.

“There was, some pointed out, a very strong view that democracy was only found in the State of Israel. But now that the democratization is in the making in many Arab countries, the perception of the world about the Arab people and the Arab world may significantly change,” he noted, adding that this could have positive repercussions for Palestine.

The role of the media, particularly social media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, in transforming societies in the region was also highlighted by participants, as was the role of the creative community, including writers, poets, musicians and artists.

4. Scientists Open Conference On Endangered Species

Jul 18 2011  (UN News) — Scientists from around the world gathered in Geneva today for the opening of a meeting of the United Nations-backed international organization aimed at stopping trade in endangered species. This year’s conference will focus on fish, and reptile leathers, according to the organizers, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

CITES said around 200 scientists from some of its 175 member states, as well as intergovernmental bodies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), would discuss reports on such topics as  the trade in sharks and the implementation of shark protective programmes, the efforts to control sturgeon stocks in Caspian range States and the use of reptile skins for fine leather products.

The scientists will also look at developments in the field of artificially propagated hybrids of orchids, according to preparation materials for the week-long conference, which ends on Friday.

CITES is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. It is administered by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in Geneva.

5. Global Aid For Trade Efforts Vital For Boosting Development

Jul 19 2011 (UN News) – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today appealed to donors to maintain their support for “Aid for Trade” efforts to help developing countries, especially the poorest, accelerate development and benefit from global economic growth.

Aid for Trade is an initiative launched by the World Trade Organization (WTO) six years ago to help developing countries, particularly the least developed, develop the necessary trade-related skills and infrastructure to carry out and benefit from WTO agreements and to expand their trade.

“Aid for Trade reflects the international community’s commitment to help developing countries participate actively in the world economy and to ensure that these countries can also gain from world growth,” Mr. Ban said in his remarks to WTO’s Third Global Review of Aid for Trade, held in Geneva.

He said that Aid for Trade is a crucial building block of the global partnership for development, and applauded the international community’s efforts to mobilize resources under this category. Today Aid for Trade accounts for as much as one-third of official development assistance (ODA).

“However, all is not well,” Mr. Ban pointed out. “As we all know, this is a time of economic uncertainty. Budgets are tight. But difficult fiscal conditions are no excuse for letting up our efforts; they underscore the need for collective action.”

Noting that the annual rate of increase for Aid for Trade has slowed sharply, he urged the donor community not to fall short of the present level of Aid for Trade.

“Going forward, it is also essential to ensure that the Aid for Trade does not displace existing development assistance,” he added.

The Secretary-General also stressed the need to pay attention to the unique needs of the least developed countries (LDCs) and make sure they are not left behind. Also, he emphasized the need to fully utilize the potential for Aid for Trade to advance food and nutrition security.

“In all our efforts, let us remember that meeting our development goals is ultimately about building self-sufficiency and helping people help themselves,” he stated.

“Together, let us advance our shared goal of ensuring that the international system works best for those who need it most.”

Mr. Ban also noted that in an age of integration and interconnection, initiatives such as Aid for Trade have to be looked at along with other interlinked issues such as climate change, food crisis, global health and gender empowerment, as well as other development objectives, including the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Next year’s UN conference on sustainable development, to be held in Rio de Janeiro in June, will provide an opportunity to do just that, said the Secretary-General, who has made sustainable development the world body’s top priority for this year.

Sustainable development was also a topic of talks held today between Mr. Ban and Micheline Calmy-Rey, the President of Switzerland. They discussed the work of the Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability, of which the President is a member, and Mr. Ban was pleased to hear that the Panel’s work is progressing, his spokesperson said.

The panel, set up last August, is tasked with finding ways to lift people out of poverty while tackling climate change and ensuring that economic development is environmentally friendly.

They also discussed assistance to the new nation of South Sudan, Swiss support for peacebuilding initiatives in Africa and Haiti and the Swiss role in various mediation efforts.

The two-day Global Review of Aid for Trade, which opened on Monday, is aimed at assessing what has been achieved since the initiative was launched in Hong Kong in 2005. The forum brings together senior officials from the WTO, the World Bank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), as well as dozens of international trade organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and private corporations.