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UN: 18 October 2008 – Meeting today in Canada, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and French President Nicolas Sarkozy underscored the need for swift and decisive measures to be taken on the current financial crisis.

They agreed in talks on the sidelines of the 12th Francophonie Summit in Québec City that a global initiative should be undertaken urgently to address the impact of the turmoil on all nations, especially the world’s poorest people.

Following their meeting, Mr. Ban sent the French leader a letter in which he voiced support for Mr. Sarkozy’s proposal, put forth in his capacity as European Union (EU) President, to convene an expanded, emergency meeting of the Group of Eight (G-8) industrialized nations to tackle the problem.

The Secretary-General also expressed his appreciation to Mr. Sarkozy for extending an invitation to the heads of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to take part in the event.

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UN: 17 October 2008 – There is no time to waste in the fight against poverty, the Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro warned as she led a gathering at the United Nations to symbolically stand up against poverty today, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

“We join millions around the world today standing up against hunger and malnutrition; Standing up against deaths from preventable diseases; Standing up against poor living conditions,” Ms. Migiro told participants.

The event at UN Headquarters is part of the global “Stand Up and Take Action against Poverty” campaign, involving some 67 million people – or about 1 per cent of the world’s population – in over 2,000 events across more than 100 countries this weekend.

The campaign is aimed at mobilizing support to fight against poverty and call on world leaders to deliver their commitments to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the internationally agreed targets to halve extreme poverty and address other social ills by 2015.

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UN: 14 October 2008 – People in different countries and even within the same State or city face strikingly different health outcomes because of vast inequalities in both access to health care and the amount they have to pay for that care, according to a new United Nations report, which calls for an overhaul of the way such assistance is provided worldwide.

The annual World Health Report, launched today by the World Health Organization (WHO), finds that the inequalities are now much greater than they were 30 years ago and that too often health care is treated as a commodity on which a profit can be made.

It recommends a return to so-called “primary health care,” a more holistic approach developed in the 1970s where general practitioners, family doctors or nurses perform tasks that these days are frequently carried out by specialists.

In far too many cases, people who are well-off and generally healthier have the best access to the best care, while the poor are left to fend for themselves,” WHO said in a press release accompanying the report’s launch.

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UN: 7 October 2008 – An Egyptian professor and a Portuguese author will each receive this year’s Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced today.

Professor Gaber Asfour and the writer Adalberto Alves were chosen on the recommendation of an international jury that considered 33 candidates presented by 20 countries, according to a press release issued by UNESCO.

Dr. Asfour, who teaches at several Arab, European and United States universities and is the current head of the National Translation Foundation in Cairo, plays a key role in disseminating Arab culture around the world, UNESCO noted.

“His highly original literary criticism has gained international recognition,” the agency said. “A champion of intercultural dialogue, he has promoted values such as women’s rights, respect for others, creative diversity and tolerance.”

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NEW YORK, New York, October 6, 2008 (ENS) – By the end of this year, more than half of the world’s population will live in urban areas for the first time in human history, and it is no coincidence that climate change is now at the forefront of international debate, the top United Nations habitat official said to mark World Habitat Day.

Anna Tibaijuka serves as executive director of UN-HABITAT, the agency which promotes socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities and adequate shelter for all. "Cities consume upwards of 75 percent of all energy and contribute to an equally substantial amount of greenhouse gas emissions. Cities must therefore be an integral part of any mitigation efforts," she said on World Habitat Day, which is observed on the first Monday in October each year.

In his speech on world habitat day, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon said that The theme of this year’s World Habitat Day is “harmonious cities”. Our rapidly urbanizing world cannot claim to be harmonious if slum-dwellers do not enjoy opportunities to find jobs and improve their living conditions. Nor will it be harmonious if the growth and expansion of urban areas comes at the expense of the natural environment.

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UN: 21 September 2008 – Teaming up with a range of actors, from artists and students, to cell phone companies and chess enthusiasts, the United Nations is celebrating the International Day of Peace, which this year holds special meaning since 2008 also marks the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“We know that human rights are essential to peace,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message to mark the Day, which is observed every year on 21 September.

“Yet too many people around the world still have their rights violated – especially during and after armed conflict. That is why we must ensure that the rights in the Declaration are a living reality – that they are known, understood and enjoyed by everyone, everywhere,” he stated.

Mr. Ban kicked off this year’s celebration of the Day at the traditional peace bell ringing ceremony in New York on Friday, joined by four UN Messengers of Peace. During the event, the Secretary-General sent a text message for peace, as part of a UN campaign that urged cell phone users to compose peace messages to be published on a website and delivered to world leaders gathered for the General Assembly this week.

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UN: 19 September 2008 – With a press of a button, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, flanked by four world-renowned personalities who help promote the aims of the United Nations, kicked off this year’s celebration of the International Day of Peace by sending a text message appealing for non-violence.

Mr. Ban’s text message read: “On 21 September, the International Day of Peace, I call on world leaders and peoples around the world to join forces against conflict, poverty and hunger, and for all human rights for all.”

The effort is part of a UN campaign that urges cell phone users in the United States to compose peace messages to be published on a website and delivered to world leaders gathered for the General Assembly next week.

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UN: 16 September 2008 – The new President of the General Assembly today kicked off the 63rd session of the 192-member forum with a call to democratize the United Nations so that it can deal more effectively with the world’s most pressing problems and ensure that the voices of a few do not overwhelm the views of the majority of others.

Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, a former foreign minister of Nicaragua, pledged in his opening address to the session to dedicate his year as President to representing the interests of “the dispossessed of the world” and fostering solidarity between peoples and Member States.

“I am aware of the great expectations which the vast majority of the dispossessed inhabitants of our threatened planet have placed in the United Nations to bring them peace, security and to defend their right to life and to full development,” he said. “We must not fail them.”

Mr. D’Escoto told delegates that he had taken up the post “at this difficult time for humanity,” citing a series of deep problems, including widespread hunger and poverty, the impact of climate change and unequal access to water.

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UN: 16 September 2008 – Progress on the stalled Doha round of trade liberalization talks would not only boost the world economy but also confidence amid current economic and financial uncertainties, such as those being witnessed in the United States banking sector, the head of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said today.

“We are witnessing a confluence of different crises this year,” Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi told the annual session of UNCTAD’s governing Trade and Development board, which is currently meeting in Geneva.

“As for Doha, we need this one multilateral effort to be completed successfully. Then we could face these other difficulties with a more optimistic perspective,” he added.

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UN: 15 September 2008 – Marking the first-ever United Nations International Day of Democracy, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed today how crucial that form of government is to bettering the lives of people worldwide.

In an address to a General Assembly event marking the inaugural Day, Mr. Ban noted that democracy has its detractors, who believe that it has failed to help people or that it is propelled by interfering foreign influences.

“This makes it all the more essential that we always explain the rationale of our mission: that experience has taught us, time and again, that democracy is essential to achieving our fundamental goals of peace, human rights and development,” he said.

Acknowledging that these targets cannot be imposed from outside, the Secretary-General said that countries, backed by the people, must take ownership.

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