Dr. Natalia Kanem of Panama as new Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund

New York, October 3, 2017 – Following consultations with the Executive Board of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres announced today the appointment of Natalia Kanem of Panama as the Fund’s new Executive Director. Dr. Kanem succeeds the late Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin of Nigeria. 

A champion of a life of dignity for all, Dr. Osotimehin was admired globally for his leadership of UNFPA and for his immense and invaluable advocacy for the world’s women and girls. 

Dr. Kanem brings to the position more than three decades of strategic leadership and management in the fields of medicine, public health, international peace and development, human rights and social justice applying her expertise in direct programme implementation, mission advocacy, and building strong local, national, international and donor partner alliances. She currently serves as Acting Executive Director of UNFPA. Prior to this position, she was Deputy Executive Director (Programme) and earlier UNFPA Representative in the United Republic of Tanzania (2014-2016). 

Prior to joining the United Nations, Dr. Kanem was Senior Associate at the Lloyd Best Institute of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago (2012-2013). Before that, she was founding President of ELMA Philanthropies Services (2005-2011), a private institution focusing primarily on children and youth in Africa. She served The Ford Foundation from 1992 to 2005 in various capacities, including:  Deputy Vice President and Senior Director of the Peace and Social Justice Programme; Senior Director of the Office of Management Services; Representative for West Africa (based in Lagos and Dakar); and Programme Officer in the Nigeria office for Women’s Reproductive Health and Sexuality. Dr. Kanem began her career in academia with the Johns Hopkins and Columbia University schools of medicine and public health.

Dr. Kanem holds a Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude in History and Science from Harvard University; Doctor of Medicine from Columbia University; Certification in Tropical Medicine from Walter Reed Army Institute of Research; and Master of Public Health in Epidemiology from the University of Washington.

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s full address to the 72nd Session of the UN GA

Friday, September 21, 2017 – The President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Ghana (E) Address Akufo-Addo, on Thursday, September 21 addressed the general debate of the 72nd Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.  Read full address.

In the meantime, here is a the Readout of the Secretary-General’s meeting with H.E. Mr. Nana Dankwa Akufo-Addo which took place on the same day:

The Secretary-General met with H.E. Mr. Nana Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana. The two leaders exchanged views on the situation in the Republic of Ghana and the sub-region. They also discussed the challenges of terrorism and violent extremism.

The Secretary-General expressed appreciation for President Akufo-Addo’s engagement and commitment, as co-chair of the group of 17 eminent Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) advocates, to the SDGs.

The Secretary-General commended the Republic of Ghana for its contribution to the resolution of the post-electoral crisis in the Republic of The Gambia.

EU and UN team up to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls

New York, 20 September 2017 – A new initiative, known as the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative to end all forms of violence against women and girls has been launched in New York.

The Initiative is an expression of the same political will that was demonstrated by the international community in adopting the SDGs, with standalone Goal 5 on Gender Equality and specific targets on ending violence against women and girls, as well as mainstreaming of gender equality across the entire SDG framework. A press release issued by the EU and the UN states that the partnership will focus on several areas of major concern such as trafficking in women and girls; sexual and economic (labour) exploitation; domestic and family violence; sexual and gender-based violence; as well as femicide. 

It is so named as it brings focused attention to this issue, moving it into the spotlight and placing it at the centre of efforts to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Visit the Initiative website for further information: http://www.un.org/en/spotlight-initiative/index.shtml

“We are here to serve…” UN SG to the 72nd Session of the GA

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

ADDRESS TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
New York, 19 September 2017

[Trilingual, as delivered]

I am here in a spirit of gratitude and humility for the trust you have placed in me to serve the world’s peoples.

“We the peoples”, and the United Nations, face grave challenges.

Our world is in trouble.  People are hurting and angry.  They see insecurity rising, inequality growing, conflict spreading and climate changing. 

The global economy is increasingly integrated, but our sense of global community may be disintegrating.

Societies are fragmented.  Political discourse is polarized.  Trust within and among countries is being driven down by those who demonize and divide.

We are a world in pieces.  We need to be a world at peace.

And I strongly believe that, together, we can build peace.  We can restore trust and create a better world for all.

I will focus today on seven threats and tests that stand in our way.  

For each, the dangers are all too clear.  Yet for each, if we act as truly united nations, we can find answers.

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Africa at the UN General Assembly

Accra, 14 September 2017 – In an effort to increase engagement by Africans in this year’s General Assembly, the Department of Public Information of the United Nations Africa Section is creating tools to to reach us with information. Find attached the promotional flyer. The goal is to elicit public interest in GA proceedings, particularly during the debate between 19 September and 22 September. A dedicated webpage (http://www.un.org/africarenewal/africaga2017) dubbed “Africa @ the UN General Assembly” has been created to provide visibility to Africa’s participation.  

For Africans, including the media, not directly participating in events in New York, the “Africa @ the UN General Assembly” is expected to be a one-stop source of information. Statements by African leaders, policy makers and social change activists and other pertinent reports will be uploaded on the webpage and on social media outlets, such as Twitter, Facebook and Flickr. Video clips and short interviews will also be publicised.

Please visit the site regularly for more up to date information on GA proceedings.

The Secretary General’s remarks at the opening of the 72nd session of the General Assembly

New York , 12 September 2017 – Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me begin by once again congratulating our new President of the General Assembly Miroslav Lajčák.

He and I have had good discussions in recent months about our shared hopes for this session.

I have no doubt the Assembly is in very capable hands. 

His experience, his vision and his wisdom, are recognised by all of us that have the privilege to know him. I also welcome President Lajčák’s choice of theme for the year to come: “Focusing on people: striving for peace and a decent life for all on a sustainable planet”.

I look forward to working together for progress on all our areas of work.

Our world faces serious threats — from the proliferation of nuclear weapons to global terrorism, from climate change to inequality.  

We also face major challenges, from migration to the unintended consequences of technological advances, such as cyber attacks.

People around the world are rightly demanding change and looking for governments and institutions to deliver.  
We all agree that the United Nations must do even more to adapt and deliver.  That is the aim of the reform proposals that this Assembly will consider.  

I look forward to working with you, distinguished delegates, to strengthen our Organization to better support the Member States and to produce better results for the people we serve.

One key change, within and beyond the United Nations, must be to empower the world’s women and girls.

Yesterday, I launched a roadmap for achieving gender parity throughout the United Nations, at all levels.  I appeal to you to put forward women candidates for vacancies.  Parity at the UN will improve performance at the UN. 

Despite today’s conflicts and the grinding daily impact of poverty, I remain convinced that this is far more an era of transformational potential.

May the 72nd session of the General Assembly take bold steps to seize those opportunities as we continue to serve “we the peoples”.

Thank you.

72nd session of UN General Assembly opens tomorrow

Accra, 11 September 2017 – The seventy-second General Assembly of the United Nations will open tomorrow, Tuesday, 12 September, 2017.  The Assembly’s annual general debate, when Heads of State and Government and other senior national representatives gather to present their views about pressing world issues, will open a week later, on Tuesday, 19 September, and run through Monday, 25 September. The Secretary-General will also present his report on the work of the Organization immediately prior to the general debate.

United Nations Headquarters Building with Flags

The theme for the seventy-second session’s general debate is, “Focusing on People: striving for peace and a decent life for all on a sustainable planet” as proposed by the President-elect of the seventy-second session, H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajčak of Slovakia, upon his election on 31 May 2017.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is expected to address the General Assembly on Thursday, 21 September 2017.  Prior to his address, President Akufo-Addo will meet with UN Secretary-General António Guterres and the group of 17 eminent persons serving as Sustainable Development Goals Advocates on 17 September 2017.

These events will take place at United Nations Headquarters in New York and will be followed by a high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly on the appraisal of the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons on 27-28 September 2017. During this meeting, high-level representatives are expected to assess achievements and challenges in the implementation of the Plan of Action.

For updates and further information, please visit the General Assembly website (http://www.un.org/en/ga/)

Nelson Mandela International Day marked in Accra with a Clean-up Exercise and a public durbar

Accra, 18 July 2017 – The United Nations Information Centre, Accra, in partnership with the South African High Commission and the Ministry of Inner City and Zongo Development commemorated this year’s Nelson Mandela International Day with a clean-up exercise at Nima, one of Accra’s most poverty endemic suburbs.

Volunteers clearing refuse on the streets of Nima

More volunteers cleaning up

The clean-up exercise, which was carried out along parts of the major streets in Nima was successfully executed, thanks to Zoomlion Ghana Limited and members of the Nima Neighbourhood Watchdog Committee and other local groups and organisations, with the support of staff of UNIC Accra, the South African High Commission and Group Five, a South Africa Construction firm operating in Ghana.

The purpose of the clean-up exercise was to encourage the residents of Nima and the general public to devote at least 67 minutes of their time to live the Nelson Mandela legacy.  The exercise attracted several market women, commercial drivers and some residents of the community.

In his address, the Minister of Inner City and Zongo Development, Bonifice Abubakar Siddique, noted that, “We chose to embark on this event in Nima because it exhibits conditions that resonate with the theme of this event- ‘Action Against Poverty’.

He further proposed that all the partners, under the leadership of the South African High Commission, consider the development of a Senior High School (SHS) to serve the children of the Nima community.  He added that when built, the SHS, the first in the community, would be named after Nelson Mandela.

The South Africa High Commissioner to Ghana, H.E Ms Lulama Xingwana, said throughout his Presidency, Nelson Mandela focused on solutions to end hunger and inequality nationwide. He pushed for equitable distribution of farmland and agricultural development, pointing to the fact that freedom necessitates basic human rights.

On her part, the National Information Officer of the United Nations Information Centre in Accra, Ms. Cynthia Prah, admonished the school children among the gathering to work hard towards achieving their dreams as future leaders.

UNMISS Bids Farewell to Deputy Special Representative Eugene Owusu

New York. 14 July, 2017 – Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Eugene Owusu, has been farewelled by friends and colleagues as he leaves the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) after two years of service.

Eugene Owusu speaks at the launch of the South Sudan Humanitarian Response Plan for 2017.

Mr. Owusu, of Ghana, was appointed to the post by former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in May 2015.

At a farewell ceremony, Mr Owusu’s contribution to the Mission and the country was recognised by members of the South Sudanese Government, humanitarians, UNMISS personnel and the Ghanaian community.

As well as Deputy Special Representative, Mr Owusu also serves as UN Resident Coordinator, Humanitarian Coordinator, and Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in South Sudan.

The acting Representative for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in South Sudan, Vincent Parker, said that Mr Owusu had expertly managed that challenging mix of senior leadership responsibilities.

South Sudan’s Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Hon. Hussein Mar Nyuot, said that, often in countries in crisis, those leading humanitarian issues were accused by governments of being “saboteurs”. However, Mr Owusu’s “remarkable” efforts, diplomatic skills, and strong leadership had been greatly valued by the Transitional Government of National Unity.

Mr Owusu said it was important for all of those working towards peace in South Sudan to look beyond the challenges of today and to be driven by the opportunities ahead.

“We must continue to be the positive agents of change that this country needs,” he said. “I have absolute faith in the indomitable spirit of this country and its people. We must unleash the potential of the people of South Sudan to live a life of peace, prosperity and dignity.”

UN Secretary-General to Launch SDGs report 2017

Accra, 13 July 2017 –The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, will officially launch the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Report 2017 at the opening of the High-level segment of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC) on Monday, 17 July.

This year’s report provides a global overview of the current state of the implementation of the SDGs.  The report is based on latest available data for indicators in the proposed global framework and indicate areas of progress and areas where more action needs to be taken to achieve the Goals.

The report will be presented at a press conference on the same day in New York and can be followed live on the United Nations Web TV at http://webtv.un.org/ .

Meanwhile the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), the central platform for reviewing progress on the implementation of the SDGs at the global level, is underway in New York until 19 July.  Member states, civil society, the private sector and other stakeholders are gathering at the Forum to review the successes, challenges and lessons learned on achieving the SDGs.  During this Forum, 44 countries are expected to present their Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) or plans to achieve the Goals.

The theme for this year’s Forum is “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world”.