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UN: 12 September 2008 – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today called for accelerated efforts to save young peoples’ lives as new figures indicate that the rate of deaths of children aged under five continues its long-term decline around the world.

The mortality rate has fallen by some 27 per cent since 1990, according to statistics released by UNICEF. Last year there were 68 deaths for every 1,000 live births, compared with 93 deaths nearly two decades earlier.

, Bolivia, Laos and Nepal have made particularly impressive advances, more than halving their mortality rates since 1990. This also ensures they are on track to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) that calls for a two-thirds reduction in child deaths by 2015.

But UNICEF noted in a press release that the improvements have been felt worldwide. In industrialized countries, there is now an average of just six deaths for every 1,000 births. In Africa, the continent with the worst rates, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique and Niger have slashed their death rates.

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UN: 12 September 2008 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived at work at United Nations Headquarters this morning in environmental style, taking the “Solar taxi” – a fully solar-powered car – from his home in New York to the Secretariat building.

Mr. Ban’s green commute, which he described as a “fantastic experience,” occurred as part of his efforts since taking office to raise awareness about climate change and to promote environmentally-friendly technologies.

“I hope that this Solar taxi, one of the alternate sources of energy, can give some good messages to the people around the world that we need to be creative, we need to be practical,” he told reporters upon arriving at work.

“I hope I can enjoy another ride,” Mr. Ban said, adding that he waved at pedestrians on the streets of New York from the Solar taxi during his commute.

The vehicle, which is sponsored by Switzerland, is currently in New York as part of a worldwide journey that included a stop in Bali, Indonesia, last December for the landmark climate change negotiations.

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London: (Agencies: 10/9/2008): The most brilliant minds should be directed to solving Earth’s greatest challenges, such as climate change, says Sir David King. 

The former UK chief scientist will use his presidential address at the BA Science Festival to call for a gear-change among innovative thinkers. 

He will suggest that less time and money is spent on endeavors such as space exploration and particle physics.

He says population growth and poverty in Africa also demand attention. 

The  festival is being held this year in Liverpool.

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UN: 4 September 2008 – The United Nations cultural agency announced today it will help Egypt build an innovative underwater museum in the Bay of Alexandria on the site of archaeological remains thousands of years old.

The idea for a museum, located by Cleopatra’s Palace and the mythical 3rd Century B.C. Alexandria Lighthouse, also known as Pharos, comes amid the growing recognition of the importance of underwater cultural heritage.

The first-of-its kind museum will be partly above water and partly submerged where visitors will be able to see archaeological artifacts on the seabed, according to a press release from the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

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UN: 3 September 2008 – Top United Nations officials have highlighted the important role played by civil society in advancing human rights around the world, as a major United Nations conference bringing together some 2,000 representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from 90 countries got under way in Paris today.

The annual conference, organized by the UN’s Department of Public Information (DPI), is usually held in New York. This year’s event is taking place in Paris to mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted in the French capital in 1948.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a video message to the conference, noted that human rights have been at the core of the UN’s work since 1948.

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UN: 2 September 2008 – Governments and aid donor partners need to make greater efforts in tackling gender inequality if they are to successfully combat global poverty, the United Nations and the European Commission (EC) stressed today at a high-level forum in Accra, Ghana.

“Over a billion women worldwide continue to be trapped in poverty,” the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) Director, Inés Alberdi, told the 3rd High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness.

“Where women can’t thrive, national development strategies and progress towards the Millennium Development Goals [MDG] are in jeopardy. There can be no aid effectiveness without a focus on gender equality.”

Including women’s ministries and gender equality advocates in national development and aid delivery planning increases the effectiveness of aid assistance, according to UNIFEM, the EC and the UN International Training Centre of the International Labour Organization (ITC/ILO).

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UN: 1 September 2008 – Navanethem Pillay today began her duties as the top United Nations human rights official, taking over a growing office that now has 1,000 staff working in 50 countries.

Ms. Pillay, a renowned jurist from South Africa, was appointed the new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in July by the General Assembly, on the recommendation of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. She became the fifth High Commissioner since the office was created in 1993.

Since 2003, Ms. Pillay has served as Judge on the International Criminal Court (ICC). Based in The Hague, Netherlands, it is the first permanent independent court set up to try cases of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Prior to that, she served, as both Judge and President, on the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), which she joined in 1995.

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UN: 31 August 2008 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today paid tribute to the accomplishments of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), co-recipient of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize, as he marked its 20th anniversary.

“Anniversaries are an opportunity to look forward by taking stock of the past,” he said in an address to the body’s 29th session in Geneva which runs until 4 September. “In the case of the IPCC, we have many milestones to celebrate.”

Mr. Ban hailed the Panel’s numerous achievements, such as its groundbreaking Second Assessment Report in 1995 that provided the foundation for the Kyoto Protocol, the legally binding regime for reducing greenhouse gas emissions whose first-round commitments end in 2012.

“Most recently, last year’s Fourth Assessment Report put to rest any lingering doubts on climate change – it established that climate change is real, it is happening, and that human activity is the primary driver of this phenomenon,” he said.

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UN: 28 August 2008 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today highlighted the progress made since the holding of a landmark United Nations human rights meeting in 1993, while calling for a redoubling of efforts to ensure that everyone around world is able to enjoy their rights.

“The World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna marked a watershed in the way we understand human rights, and how we act on them,” Mr. Ban noted in a video message on the 15th anniversary of the meeting.

Some 7,000 participants, including academics, treaty bodies, national institutions and representatives of more than 800 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), participated in the gathering, held in the Austrian capital in June 1993.

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UN: 27 August 2008 – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has called on South Asian governments to strengthen their laws to tackle child trafficking, a neglected form of the wider scourge of human trafficking.

Although there are few reliable estimates of the true scope of child trafficking in the region, UNICEF says that most South Asian nations are countries of destination, origin and transit in a new report launched today.

Trafficking children in the area are exploited both sexually – in such guises as prostitution, sex tourism and child pornography – and for labour to work on farms and as domestic servants, among others. The agency says that trafficking is not only committed by organized crime, but that friends, relatives and even parents can be complicit.

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