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What should President Obama include in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly?

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The Obama Agenda at the United Nations

President Obama’s official agenda for the UN Summit will be released sometime tomorrow. Yesterday, at an address at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs Esther Brimmer gave something of a thematic overview of the issues and messages that the United States will be pushing next week.  Her full remarks are below. A couple of things stand out.

1) Nuclear non proliferation and disarmament still top the agenda.  Last year, the president chaired a meeting of the Security Council dedicated to the topic–which was historic for the fact that it was the first time an American president chaired a Council meeting in person.  This year the focus will be less thematic, and more narrowly trained on building support for Iran sanctions. EG:

While progress has been made, we are also focused on the issue of enforcement. One of the factors critical to realizing the President’s goal of a nuclear free world is compliance with international obligations, and the need for consequences when these agreements are violated…

Iran has repeatedly failed to live up to its own commitments and continues to violate its obligations under UN Security Council Resolutions, the NPT, and its IAEA Safeguards Agreement. It has also failed to address the fundamental concerns related to its nuclear program. In June the Security Council responded by adopting Resolution 1929 which strengthens sanctions on Iran. Following its adoption, we have witnessed enhanced measures to hold Iran accountable, including robust EU sanctions, and then follow-up action from Canada, Australia, Japan and South Korea.

While the door is still open to engagement and diplomacy, we will continue to increase pressure on Iran’s leaders to fulfill their obligations and cease their irresponsible behavior. We are strongly urging other states to join a growing international consensus to ensure that the sanctions in Resolution 1929 are fully implemented.

2) This will not come as surprise to many of us who follow these things closely, but do expect the Obama administration to tout two new U.S. development programs during the MDG summit: Feed the Future and the Global Health Initiative.  Feed the Future is a program that will commit $3.5 billion over the next three years to help select countries fight the root causes of hunger. The Global Health Initiative is a 6 year, $63 billion program to help select countries improve their health systems and promote other global health priorities. Expect both to feature prominently in remarks by American officials as evidence that the Obama administration is committed to the MDGs.

Here is Brimmer’s speech. I will post a transcript when it’s available.

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The mHealth Alliance and the Millennium Development Goal Summit

Our friends at the mHealth Alliance pass along this note from the most recent issue of the  Alliance’s monthly e-newsletter, mPulse.

Next week in New York City, world leaders and heads of business and development groups will convene for the 2010 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Summit.  The MDGs set out ambitious targets for reducing disease and mortality worldwide by 2015.  In addition to combating the most harmful infectious diseases for adults and children, the goals focus on ending poverty and hunger, improving maternal and child health, increasing access to education for all children, and promoting environmental sustainability.

Due in large part to the increasing ubiquity of mobile devices, technological innovation can accelerate progress in achieving the MDGs, especially for women’s health, which is crucial to the improvement of the overall health of developing nations.  As mentioned in an earlier issue (Vol. 2., Issue 5) of mPulse, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently assembled the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health.  The Strategy will be launched formally during the MDG Summit.

The MDGs and the Global Strategy both call for the use of technological innovation and public-private partnerships to improve health outcomes globally.  To harness the tremendous opportunity mHealth presents for improving the health and wellbeing of women and children, the mHealth Alliance and a set of international partners have developed a very specific mHealth plan to produce the impact on maternal and newborn health the Global Strategy envisions.

The Maternal and Newborn mHealth Initiative recommends the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs), especially mobile, throughout maternal and child health programs to empower women and their healthcare providers with information, support and access to higher levels of care.  Mobile devices also can make data collection and monitoring efforts more accessible, efficient, and accurate.   The Initiative will be discussed at meetings of the United Nations Digital He@lth Initiative, the UN’s Broadband Commission, and a series of other events next week.  In addition, check out the Global Health Magazine Online for our op-ed, further covering the Initiative and a high level view of the current space within Maternal and Newborn Health and mobile based innovation.

Stay tuned for a recap on announcements made in support of the Global Strategy at the UN MDG Summit.  You can follow events in New York through the UN Foundation, Mashable and 92Y Social Good Summit at: http://mashable.com/un-week/.  Discussions and decision-making supporting collaboration between the technology, health, development, policy, and research communities will continue during the mHealth Summit, taking place November 8-10, 2010 in Washington, D.C.

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Jimmy Carter on the MDGs (Video)

From the Millennium Campaign:

In remarks broadcast Sunday, September 12, 2010, on the nationally-syndicated Day1 program, the 39th President of the United States, Jimmy Carter, calls upon the faith community to take action against global hunger by supporting the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). “The Millennium Development Goals target poverty, hunger, and disease,” President Carter explains, “while encouraging universal primary education and fairness for women and girls.” The MDGs “are backed by global consensus, and have the strong support of all the world’s major religious groups.”

 

Video:

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ICC Proscutor in DC; State Department Previews UN Week; Jeffrey Sachs on the Line

It will be a busy day of meetings around the Washington, D.C. diplomatic circuit.

1)This morning, the head prosecutor is in Washington, DC for a talk at the Woodrow Wilson Center. Prosecutor Louis Moreno Ocampo will give a talk: “The International Criminal Court and Africa,” which should be interesting because, well, all of the ICC’s open investigations are taking place in Africa.

2) Then, it is over the Johns Hopkins for a briefing by the Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs Esther Brimmer, who will preview the Obama administration’s activities during UN week.

3)Finally, Jeffrey Sachs is hosting a media briefing with RESULTS, an anti-poverty and anti-hunger non profit, about the MDGs.

This is all to say, that the blogging will be light this morning, but the twittering heavy. Follow us @undispatch. And tweet us any with questions you want asked.

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Michelle Bachelet to Head UN WOMEN

The Secretary General tapped former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet to be the first head of UN WOMEN.   This is a new UN agency to that the UN hopes will raise the profile of gender and women’s issues at the UN. It will oversee four UN entities: the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the UN Division for the Advancement of Women, The Office for the Special Advisor on Gender Issues, and the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women. Back in March I wrote a pretty thorough account of the significance of this reform:

To the outsider, this may seem like obtuse bureaucratic reshuffling. But many in the NGO community are hopeful that it could lead to tangible improvements in the lives of women around the world. “The gender architecture of the UN is very fragmented,” says Colette Tamko of the NGO Women’s Environment and Development Organization. “There has been only limited resources to work on gender programs.” Limited resources has translated into limited global progress on gender-specific issues, like the Millennium Development Goals of reducing maternal mortality and increasing girls’ access to primary education.  “There is too much of a disconnect between lofty goals of the UN and a capacity to see them through,” says Kathy Hall of the UN Foundation. (Disclosure)

The proposed new UN body, currently reffered to as the “Composite Gender Entity” is meant to bridge the gap between what UN member states say are priorities for gender equality and the UN secretariat’s ability to deliver. According to NGO officials with whom I spoke, this means significantly ramping up technical assistance to help developing world countries improve womens’ access to health care, education, and economic opportunity

Bachelet is a smart pick to run this new organization. She is exactly the kind of global figure who can draw attention to these issues by her very presence, and is also someone capable of bridging the north-south divide that so-often hiders the work of the UN.   She was initially considered a front runner for the spot, but for reasons I never fully understood, rumors swirled that she was no longer considering the appointment.

Bachelet becomes the second former head of state to take up a leadership position under Ban Ki Moon at the UN. Former New Zealand PM and current UNDP Chief Helene Clark is the other.

Here is Ban making the announcement this morning.

SG: Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen

Thank you for coming at such short notice.

Today, I am delighted to announce the appointment of Ms. Michelle Bachelet, former President of Chile, as the head of UN Women, the newly created UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, established on 2 July by the General Assembly Resolution.

As you know, the creation of UN Women is the culmination of almost four years effort and today’s announcement has been made possible thanks to the hard work of the Member States and the many partners who share our commitment to this agenda.

This has been a top and very personal priority of mine and I therefore take special satisfaction in this appointment. Nearly four years ago, I took office determined to see the merging of the four separate gender entities into one powerful, dynamic and effective entity. UN Women will promote the interests of women and girls across the globe.

Ms. Bachelet brings to this critical position a history of dynamic global leadership, highly honed political skills and uncommon ability to create consensus and focus among UN Agencies and many partners in both the public and private sector.

I am confident that under her strong leadership, we can improve the lives of millions of women and girls throughout the world.

Next week, we will host a special summit on the Millennium Development Goals. Women and children will be at the very core of our final push to realise the goals by the deadline of 2015.

Thank you very much.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, can you tell us more about the process leading up to the appointment of Michelle Bachelet? There were some rumours that she didn’t want the position, and then changed her mind. And then also, can you talk a little bit more about what you hope she can accomplish in the immediate term?

SG: First of all, this process started as soon as the General Assembly adopted the Resolution, asking me to appoint the head and establish this organization.

We opened this process to the Member States and all NGOs and the civil community. We have received 26 distinguished candidates from all around the world. We have constituted a selection panel headed by the Deputy Secretary-General, Dr. [Asha Rose] Migiro, and also composed of senior advisors – Under-Secretaries-General, and also outside panel members. The process has been very transparent, and very objective, and fair.

As a result of this selection process, I was recommended to interview myself three finalist candidates, whose names I am not going to announce for their privacy. I have interviewed them personally last week, and I decided with the unanimous consent of all the panel members. I am very pleased that former President Michelle Bachelet will bring a wealth of experience, global leadership, and global stature, in first of all establishing this new UN Women entity, and bring to it a real force to meet the expectation of many women and girls and children around the world. I am sure that under her strong leadership we will have a very strong new UN Women entity.

The General Assembly asked me that this new agency should be fully operational by 1 January 2011, next year. We have a little more than three and a half months. I will discuss this Sunday, when I appoint her formally, how we can make the process very speedy, so that we can appoint and recruit staff and we have to have our agendas. Basically we have all these structures in place. Now it is a matter of how we can speedily implement these structures and policy and visions.

I will do my best, working closely with Ms. Bachelet, to make this entity fully operational as soon as possible, meeting the expectation of so many millions and millions of women and girls around the world. I ask all the Member States and civil community leaders, and governments, and business communities, to render their full support and cooperation.

Thank you very much.

UPDATE: UN Foundation Chief Tim Wirth’s statement on the appointment:

Washington, D.C. (September 14, 2010) – United Nations Foundation President Senator Timothy E. Wirth issued the following statement on the appointment of the new head of UN Women:

“The appointment of Chile’s former president Michelle Bachelet as the head of UN Women—the United Nations’ new entity for women and girls—is proof that the UN is making smart moves to improve its operations and the lives of people around the globe. As UN Foundation Founder and Chairman Ted Turner said in a letter to Bachelet, the decision ‘sends a clear signal to the world that women’s issues and rights will have both a strong voice and skilled ear on the global stage.’

“Bachelet, who ended her service as her country’s first female president in March 2010, has distinguished herself as a champion for those who do not always have a voice. She was instrumental in pushing for a stronger network of social protections for Chile’s poorest and advocating for laws dealing with violence against women. In her new role, Bachelet will be responsible for elevating the rights and needs of women and girls across the globe, including the 330 million women who comprise the world’s working poor.

“By harnessing the United Nations’ collective impact and reach to advance the rights and needs of women and girls under one entity and the strong leadership of a skilled manager, UN Women will greatly strengthen the UN’s work in the area of gender equality and women’s empowerment. It will ensure that women’s issues are included in all aspects of the UN’s work. The creation of UN Women will improve programs that directly address the human rights violations and challenges to individual, community, and national development that result from gender inequality.

“We applaud Bachelet’s appointment as a critical move in helping move us closer to achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which include such global issues as gender equality (MDG 3), reducing child mortality (MDG 4) and improving maternal health (MDG 5). Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s choice will ensure that the important UN conventions regarding women’s rights fulfill their maximum potential and help focus the UN’s ongoing work on behalf of women and girls. We look forward to working with Bachelet and UN Women to ensure that the voices of all women and girls are heard and that improving their lives is at the center of global efforts to create a better world.”

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