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Small Island Developing States meet in Bahamas to take stock of progress towards the 2030 development agenda

  • 20 February 2017 |


The Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Symposium, organized by the Government of Bahamas with support of the United Nations, focusing on the specific development challenges faced by SIDS, will kick off on 21 February 2017 in Nassau, the Bahamas. 

The three-day Symposium will take stock of how SIDS can fast track towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and the SAMOA Pathway – a global commitment which highlights the unique development needs of SIDS due to their particular vulnerabilities, including to the impact of climate change.

At the Symposium, participants, including high-level government and UN officials, will also discuss partnerships for development, the role of public institutions as well as the need to mobilize information and communication technology, and strengthen monitoring and statistical capacities.

For more information on the Symposium, please visit: http://bit.ly/2kh6Fch. Join us online by using the hashtag #SIDSSymposium2017. The Symposium will be streamed live: http://bit.ly/2kR2pwc


Speakers will include:  

  • H.E. Mr. Perry G Christie, Prime Minister, the Bahamas
  • Mr. Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, UN



PAHO Director to visit Guyana for new country cooperation strategy

  • 07 February 2017 |

Georgetown, Guyana, 5 February 2017 (PAHO/WHO) — The Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, plans to visit Guyana from Feb. 5 to 8 to meet with high-level government officials and sign a new strategy for technical cooperation in health.

Her visit will include working meetings and courtesy visits with Prime Minister, Hon. Moses Nagamooto, First Lady Sandra Granger and Minister of Public Health, Hon. Dr. Volda Lawrence and her staff. 

Dr. Etienne will be accompanied during her visit by PAHO Chief of Staff Dr. Merle Lewis and PAHO/WHO Representative in Guyana Dr. William Adu-Krow.

A top subject for discussion will be the reconstitution and relaunch of Guyana’s National Non-communicable Diseases Commission, which PAHO/WHO considers especially important since noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) account for 70% of deaths in Guyana. Other subjects that are expected to be discussed include universal health coverage and health financing, tobacco control legislation, health systems strengthening, human resources in health, and the health of women, adolescents, and older adults.

During her visit, Dr. Etienne is also scheduled to meet with Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Carl Greenidge, Minister of Finance, Hon. Winston Jordan, and Deputy Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community Secretariat (CARICOM) Dr. Douglas Slater, among others. Her agenda also includes a visit to a health center.

The country cooperation strategy (CCSs) that is expected to be signed is a mutually agreed instrument to guide PAHO’s work in the country. PAHO CCSs, which are developed with each PAHO Member State, are aligned with country priorities and also with the work plans of the World Health Organization (WHO), PAHO, the United Nations and other collaboration platforms, which facilitates an intersectoral approach to priority health problems. The agreements also incorporate core PAHO principles such as the right to health, equity, solidarity and diversity. 

Guyana is one of eight “key countries” where PAHO places greater emphasis on its technical cooperation to ensure that equity gaps are closed.  

About Dr. Etienne


official photo of PAHO DirectorDr. Carissa F. Etienne, a native of Dominica, was elected Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) on September 2012. From March 2008 until 1 November 2012, Dr. Etienne served as Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Services at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. Prior to that, as Assistant Director of PAHO from July 2003 to February 2008, she led five technical areas: Health Systems and Services; Technology, Health Care and Research; Health Surveillance and Disease Management; Family and Community Health; and Sustainable Development and Environmental Health.

During her tenures at WHO and PAHO, Dr. Etienne led the efforts to renew primary health care and to strengthen health systems based on primary health care, promoting integration and improved functioning of health systems. She has also spearheaded policy directions for reducing health inequalities and advancing health for all through universal coverage, people-centered care, the integration of health into broader public policies, and inclusive and participatory health leadership.



United Nations in Trinidad and Tobago supports efforts to end Child Marriage

  • 17 January 2017 |

Monday 16 January 2016 - The United Nations System in Trinidad and Tobago (UNTT) welcomed the resurgence of the debate on child marriage in Trinidad and Tobago and reaffirmed its support for all efforts to end this practice. the UN in T&T  said that it was looking forward to "Trinidad and Tobago’s adoption of a bill that would protect girls from child marriage and promote gender equality, for such action could enhance the well-being of its citizens and advance achievement of its sustainable development vision".

Child marriage – defined by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) as a formal or informal marital union engaged in by a person under age 18 – violates human rights and threatens the health and prospects of, in particular, young girls. In this way, it slows progress towards gender equality, and towards ending poverty – in all circumstances and at all levels; and it undermines all dimensions of sustainable development.   

It has been shown that child marriage undermines the rights of freedom of expression, protection from all forms of abuse, and protection from harmful traditional practices identified in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).  It deprives the girl child of an education, exposes her to violence and abuse, and can lead to complications related to pregnancy and childbirth that are life threatening for both mother and baby – contravening State obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

 These violations against children’s human rights and opportunities for personal development, also slow achievement of globally established Sustainable Development Goals, particularly as they relate to ending poverty, ensuring good health and well-being, attaining quality education and realising gender equality. Failure to achieve such goals can also directly undermine national development aspirations.  



 Learn more about  the UN and Child Marriage  extdoc




New UN manual aims to address management of violent extremists in prison

  • 16 January 2017 |

16 January 2017 – Highlighting the challenges brought on by and the need to address violent extremism and radicalization in prisons, the United Nations agency mandated to prevent international crime and assist criminal justice reform unveiled a new manual that offers practical advice on managing violent extremist prisoners, disengaging them from violence and facilitating their social reintegration upon release.

The Handbook on the Management of Violent Extremist Prisoners and the Prevention of Radicalization to Violence in Prisons, launched today by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) aims to strengthen key components of prison management, including training of prison staff, risk management and rehabilitation efforts.

“It also cautions against generalized assumptions regarding a very complex topic, as well as against 'quick fix solutions' when it comes to the management of violent extremist prisoners,” said UNODC in a news release announcing the manual.

In addition to loss of life and economic damage, violent extremism – a challenge confronting many countries around the world – can divide communities and give rise to increasingly reactionary and extremist views. On top of these challenges, management of such violent elements who end up in custody of the State is equally important and urgent.

Speaking at the launch, the Deputy Executive Director of UNODC, Aldo Lale-Demoz, drew attention to the need to integrate interventions for violent extremist prisoners in broader prison reform efforts.

“Overcrowding, poor prison conditions and infrastructure, insufficient prison management capacity as well as corruption, for example, are all factors which will poison attempts to effectively prevent and counter violent extremism in prisons,” he said.

Also at the launch event, held in the Austrian capital, Vienna, participants underscored the importance of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners – informally dubbed the Nelson Mandela Rules – for prison management.

They added that the overarching framework equally applied to violent extremist prisoners.

The Standard Minimum Rules constitute the universally acknowledged minimum standards for the management of prison facilities and the treatment of prisoners. Originally adopted by the UN Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders in 1955, the revised Rules were launched in October 2015.


This story was originally posted on the UN News Centre link goes to a UN website


2016 Year in Review: Challenges and milestones for the international community

  • 29 December 2016 |

28 December 2016 – The year 2016 was a challenging one for the international community, with the conflict in Syria worsening despite efforts to end the fighting, escalating violence and insecurity in South Sudan and Yemen, and a five million increase in the number of refugees worldwide.

Yet 2016, the hottest year on record, was also marked by critical breakthroughs, such as the historic Paris Agreement on climate change entering into force faster than any other UN treaty, Colombia clinching a historic peace deal to end 50 years of civil conflict, and governments as well as stakeholders from the private sector agreeing on a plan to control carbon dioxide emissions from international aviation. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) also came into force this year, with calls for greater efforts towards their implementation.

Also this year, which marks his last at the helm of the United Nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon apologized to the people of Haiti for the world body’s role in failing to properly address the cholera epidemic that has claimed the lives of at least 9,000 Haitians since 2010. In addition, he announced a $400 million two-track plan to stem the outbreak and provide long-term support for those affected.

Serious challenges remain on the international community's agenda – especially in Syria, South Sudan and Yemen – with Secretary-General Ban calling for unity and consensus among UN Member States in order to resolve these and other conflicts around the world.

Meanwhile, at the United Nations, the former Prime Minister of Portugal and UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, was selected as the new UN Secretary-General and pledged to move away from fear and focus on rebuilding trust globally.The “UN Year in Review 2016,” produced by the UN Department of Public Information, takes a look at the milestones and challenges that marked the past 12 months.




Haiti: UN’s new approach on cholera puts people at heart of the response

  • 30 November 2016 |

30 November 2016 – The response to cholera in Haiti will be a “long and thorough battle,” but the United Nations will stand by the Haitian people and authorities, Stéphane Dujarric, the Spokesman for the Secretary-General, on the eve of the launch of the Organization's new approach to tackling the epidemic in the country.

The new approach was announced last August and will be launched by Secretary-GeneralBan Ki-moon to the UN General Assembly on Thursday, 1 December. It includes rapid interventions in areas where cases are reported and the prevention of future high-risk public health crises.

The new approach on cholera also focuses on people and proposes the establishment of a program of material assistance and support to Haitians directly affected by the disease.

“This is an approach that goes to the root of the problem with long-term investments in the sanitation facilities that the country needs to eradicate cholera; short-term investments to halt the progression of cholera; and, most importantly, putting people and communities affected by cholera at the heart of our efforts,” Mr. Dujarric said in an interview with the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) FM Radio.

“The United Nations must listen to the Haitian people, must listen to the communities that have been affected by this disease,” he stated, adding that consultations with communities will be of great importance. “Only communities will be able to explain what they need and how we can help them.”

The new strategy will also include an individual approach, the Spokesman continued. It will require a precise identification of the victims of cholera and their family members, and a funding threshold to establish “a lump sum for each death” due to cholera, but he warned that this part of the strategy “will take much longer.”

“We know very well, and the Secretary-General knows very well, that the United Nations has a moral responsibility to the people most affected by the cholera epidemic. We regret the terrible suffering endured by the Haitian people as a result of the epidemic,” said Mr. Dujarric.

According to UN estimates, the programme is expected to cost about $400 million over the next two years. “It is not an insurmountable sum, and the Secretary-General is very hopeful that the General Assembly and the international community will show solidarity and will be there to help Haiti at a time when aid is needed,” the Spokesperson said.

“The most important in the long term is a sustained investment in the health network in Haiti to ensure that water distribution is at a level where water saves and feeds and water no longer poisons as we have seen with cholera,” he concluded.

The cholera outbreak in Haiti began in October 2010. It has affected an estimated 788,000 people and claimed the lives of more than 9,200. Concerted national and international efforts since then have resulted in a 90 per cent reduction in the number of suspected cases. This number remains high, however, and recent outbreaks show the continued vulnerability of the population to the disease, which is preventable and treatable.


As Cuba mourns passing of former President Fidel Castro, Ban offers condolences, UN support

  • 28 November 2016 |

26 November 2016 – Speaking on behalf of the United Nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon this morning extended condolences to the Cuban people and to the family of former President Fidel Castro Ruz, who passed away overnight at the age of 90.

“At this time of national mourning, I offer the support of the United Nations to work alongside the people of the island,” Mr. Ban told reporters in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, where he is attending the Global Sustainable Transport Conference. He offered his particular condolences to Cuban President Raúl Castro Ruz.

Fidel Castro served as Cuba's President from 1976 to 2008.

Recalling vividly his meeting with former President Fidel Castro during a visit to Cuba in January 2014, Mr. Ban said the two had held a lively discussion that covered developments around the world, sustainable development and climate change.

“Under former President Castro, Cuba made advances in the fields of education literacy and health. I hope that Cuba will continue to advance on a path of reform and greater prosperity,” the Secretary-General concluded.

statement issued later in the day by Mr. Ban's spokesperson in New York noted that former President Castro was an emblematic figure of the Cuban revolution, prominent in Latin America and influential in world affairs.

“As Prime Minister, President, Commander of the Cuban Armed Forces and First Secretary of the Cuban Communist Party, his role at the helm of Cuba spanned nearly 50 years, during which he left a major imprint on his country and on global politics,” the statement said, adding: “His revolutionary ideals left few indifferent. He was a strong voice for social justice in global discussions at the UN General Assembly and international and regional forums.”


UN Secretary-General welcomes the outcome of the Climate Change Conference (COP22) in Marrakech, Morocco.

  • 18 November 2016 |

18 November - The Secretary-General welcomes the outcome of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP22) that concluded today in Marrakech, Morocco. 

At the Conference, Governments, many represented at the highest level, issued the Marrakech Action Proclamation. This, as well as decisions adopted in Marrakech, powerfully reaffirms continued strong global support for the Paris Agreement on climate change and demonstrates the determination of all governments to implement the agreement as quickly as possible. 

The Secretary-General notes that all countries understand that climate action is essential for their security, economic prosperity and the health and well-being of their citizens. Global cooperation rooted in strong national action is essential, the Secretary-General noted, saying that no country, irrespective of its size or strength, is immune from the impacts of climate change, and no country can afford to tackle the climate challenge alone. 

In Marrakech, Parties advanced on the rule book for the implementation of the Paris Agreement. The agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016, years ahead of expectations. As of today, 111 countries, accounting for more than 75 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions have ratified the agreement. 

The Secretary-General applauds the bold leadership shown by many of the world’s most vulnerable countries, many of whom are in Africa, to strengthen their ambition and to move as quickly as possible toward a one-hundred-percent clean energy, climate-resilient future. 

As the global thermostat continues to rise, the Secretary-General renewed his call for all countries and all sectors of society to significantly increase their ambition and redouble their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He also called on developed countries to deliver on their pledge to mobilize 100 billion dollars per year by 2020 in support of climate action by developing countries.

Background on the UNFCCC: The international response to climate change


One month after Hurricane Matthew, needs in Haiti remain ‘vast,’ UN reports

  • 07 November 2016 |

4 November 2016 – As Haiti struggles to recover from the massive destruction wrought by Hurricane Matthew, which pummelled the tiny island one month ago today, the United Nations warned that while its seems as if “the world has moved on,” Haiti’s needs are vast, exemplified by the nearly 600,000 children being stalked by disease, hunger and malnutrition and in need of assistance.

“One month after the hurricane, life for more than half a million children in Haiti is still far from back to normal,” said Marc Vincent, Haiti Representative for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in a news release. “Too many children are still homeless, hungry, out of school and in danger. We are scaling up our response and are determined to help as many of them as possible as fast as we can.”

UNICEF said there have been at least 1,000 suspected cholera cases among children in the past month. Out of 219 cholera treatment centres in the country, 18 have been damaged in the worst-hit departments of Grand’Anse and South, further complicating efforts to contain the disease.

11 04 2016HealthCentre

The total destruction the Category 4 storm inflicted on crops, food stock and livestock in some of the worst affected areas have left over 800,000 people in need of immediate food assistance and more than 112,000 children at risk of acute malnutrition.

An estimated 50,000 children have been left homeless and are staying in temporary shelters. Another 3,500 children living in institutions need help accessing nutrition, water and sanitation services.

Up to 80 per cent of hospitals and health centres in Grand’Anse have lost their roofs. An additional seven health centres in Grand’Anse, four in South and three in Nippes are no longer operational.

More than 700 schools have been affected and about 86 schools have been used as temporary shelters, causing school disruption for at least 150,000 children.

UNICEF is working with national and other partners to provide basic assistance to the most vulnerable children. They are providing 100,000 people a day with safe water, organizing a cholera vaccination campaign that will be launched next week to immunize up to 900,000 people, and providing cholera prevention kits that contain water purification tablets, soap and oral rehydration salts. Between 100 and 200 kits are distributed every day.

In addition, they are delivering an integrated package of services to prevent and treat malnutrition among children under five as well as pregnant and breastfeeding mothers living in the hurricane affected areas, replenishing vaccines and restoring the cold chain so that routine immunization can resume in the health centres that are still operational and in mobile clinics, and distributing emergency medical supplies to 18 health centres.

Joint actions also include setting up mobile child friendly spaces where vulnerable children and families can receive psychosocial support, and training 60 volunteers to staff them, and repairing 22 schools and distributing school-in-a-box and early childhood development kits so that children can resume their learning as soon as possible.

UNICEF requires over $23 million through the end of the year to meet children’s humanitarian needs following the hurricane, including for the cholera response. So far, it has received a mere $6 million.

Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told reporters in Geneva that, according to the latest figures from the authorities in Haiti, Matthew has so far caused 546 deaths and left 438 people injured.

He said that needs are vast, especially in the areas of quality water, education, shelter, child protection, health and nutrition. A total of 1.4 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, and an estimated 40 per cent of them are children. The UN emergency humanitarian appeal for $120 million is far only 33 per cent funded.

Haiti needs support to restore, rebuild health services

Haiti needs support to restore and rebuild its health services at various levels, ranging from cholera treatment centers to community health centers to major hospitals, according to Dr. Jean-Luc Poncelet, the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) representative in Haiti.

In the country’s South, “the government faces challenges in restoring health facilities in affected areas and urgent repairs to restore functionality have been identified,” he said.

In Sud Department, 28 per cent of health facilities sustained severe damage and eight per cent are closed, while in Grand’Anse, 43 per cent of health facilities were severely damaged and seven per cent are closed. Of the 74 cholera and acute diarrhea treatment facilities in Haiti, 34 are fully functional, while 40 sustained various levels of damage.

11 04 2016Haiti

Restoring health services to a functional level requires not only fixing structures, but providing electricity and water and sanitation, as well as helping many health workers who themselves have been severely affected by the hurricane’s destruction, according to the Haiti Ministry of Public Health.

“The major needs are to renovate existing health structures with durable repairs, to increase humanitarian assistance to rural areas, and to improve water quality and sanitation,” Mr. Poncelet said.

The latest figures from the Haitian government show that 175,509 Haitians are still living in shelters, while more than 1.4 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.

PAHO/WHO teams identified five priority areas of action for the health sector, estimating that $9 million in emergency funding is needed to carry out essential activities.

These priorities are: restoration of health care delivery capacity and access to health services in the most affected areas; increased epidemiological surveillance to support early detection and timely management of disease outbreaks; intensification of vector-control and protective environmental health measures in impacted areas; rapid and effective response to cholera outbreaks in affected communities; and support for efficient coordination of humanitarian assistance and management of information to effectively address the most urgent humanitarian needs.

A vaccination campaign is planned to start Nov. 8, targeting 820,000 people in 16 communes affected by Hurricane Matthew and that have reported cholera cases or deaths. To prevent additional cholera cases, which are likely to increase in the rainy season from now until December, it is also important to advance on water purification, health promotion, and sanitation at the same time.

Bettina Luescher, spokesperson for the World Food Programme (WFP), said that the agency has delivered food to 400,000 people, as part of its work to support the Government in its work. The situation is dire on the ground, with huge logistical challenges, but together with its partners WFP has reached people by truck, helicopter and boat.

Some 140,000 people are still displaced and living in temporary shelters. The food situation is worrisome: in areas hit by the hurricane crops have been destroyed, along with livestock and seeds, local markets are running out of food and the prices of imported goods are rising.

The planting season is supposed to happen this month and will be affected, which meant in turn that the next harvest, in the early months of 2017 will be affected. WFP aims to reach 800,000 people. In order to do that, it has appealed for $58 million overall and still needs $40 million urgently.


Ban urges all parties in Venezuela to reduce polarization and engage sincerely in dialogue process

  • 02 November 2016 |

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the Vatican’s joining of the ongoing initiative by former Heads of State and Government to promote dialogue between the Government of Venezuela and the country’s political opposition, under the auspices of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).

According to a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban also called on all national actors to take tangible measures to reduce polarization and to engage sincerely in the dialogue process.

Underscoring the importance of adhering to the rule of law and the Constitution and ensuring respect for human rights, including freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly, the UN chief further called on all Venezuelans, regardless of their political perspective, to exercise those rights responsibly.

“Above all,” noted the statement, “the Secretary-General reiterates his strong conviction that the Government and the opposition should make concerted efforts to focus on the country’s current challenges, including to effectively address the socio-economic needs of the country, for the benefit of the Venezuelan people.”

In the statement, the Secretary-General also welcomed the expressions of support for the UNASUR initiative from the international community.


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