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UN lauds G-20 decision to exempt agency’s food purchases from export restrictions

Article / Review by on November 4, 2011 – 6:29 pmNo Comments

UN lauds G-20 decision to exempt agency’s food purchases from export restrictions

4 November 2011 

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed the decision by the Group of 20 (G20) major economies to ensure that the agency’s humanitarian food purchases do not face export restrictions or extraordinary taxes, saying the move would ensure vital food assistance continues to reach people in need.

UN lauds G-20 decision to exempt agency’s food purchases from export restrictions

“Today WFP purchases most of its humanitarian food in 70 different nations, and it’s critical that this food reaches the vulnerable,” said Josette Sheeran, the agency’s Executive Director. “This declaration by the G-20 will ensure that the humanitarian pipeline will flow even during a food crisis.”

The decision was taken during the two-day summit of G-20 leaders in Cannes, France, which ended today.

During the 2008 food price crisis, export restrictions threatened WFP’s ability to provide a lifeline of support to hundreds of thousands of people who were struggling to access food for their families, the agency said.

Participating in the G-20 summit, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the leaders to remain united and steer the world towards a stable global economy and help developing countries achieve their poverty reduction and social development goals.

He stressed the need to raise development funding and urged the G-20 nations to explore all possible options – public, private and innovative sources of financing – to help poor countries achieve their Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the 2015 deadline.

Sustainable energy is the key to addressing three great challenges – poverty, climate change and re-invigorating economies, Mr. Ban emphasized, calling on leaders to facilitate the attainment of universal energy access, improve energy efficiency, and double the use of renewable energy by 2030.

Mr. Ban welcomed the discussion on climate change by the G-20 leaders and called for the launch of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) at the UN Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, next month.

Separately, the Secretary-General met yesterday with Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, to discuss issues covered at the summit, with the UN chief highlighting the importance of unity of purpose on development and finding innovative sources of financing to fund it.

They also discussed the Middle East peace process and the Palestinian membership issue following the decision by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) earlier this week to admit Palestine as a full member of the agency.

Mr. Ban urged both Israel and the Palestinian Authority to exercise restraint and expressed his intention to continue working with both sides and other interested parties to find a solution for their dispute.

He reiterated his deep concern at the recent decision by the Israeli Government to accelerate the building of new apartments in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. He also underlined his support for the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinians to have a viable sovereign State.

While noting that the admission of Palestine into UN specialized agencies was a decision for Member States, Mr. Ban expressed his concern over the potential impact that it would have on the work of those organizations for millions of people around the world.

Mr. Ban and Mr. Al Nahyan also discussed the situation in Yemen and Syria, with the Secretary-General voicing his appreciation of the efforts of Arab countries to find solutions to crises in the two countries. Their discussions also touched on the situation in Iran.

At another meeting earlier today, the Secretary-General and the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, discussed the Cyprus issue and progress in the UN-facilitated reunification talks, as well as the remaining challenges.

Their discussions also touched on Syria and efforts to resolve the crisis there, with Mr. Ban stressing the need for the international community to speak with one voice on the issue.

Mr. Ban also briefed Mr. Erdogan on his recent visit to Libya, and discussed UN support for the recent elections in Tunisia. Among other issues discussed were Turkey’s relations with Israel, the Middle East peace process, Palestinian membership in UNESCO, and the regional conference on Afghanistan held in Istanbul earlier this week.

On the margins of the G-20 summit, Mr. Ban also attended working sessions on financial regulation; agriculture, energy and commodity price volatility; and climate change and corruption. He also participated in a session on global governance and priorities of the Mexican G-20 presidency next year.


Cannes, France

4 November 2011

Readout of Secretary-General’s participation at G20 Summit

At the G20 Summit in Cannes, on 3 and 4 November, the Secretary-General urged the G20 leaders to deliver united leadership to address the urgent problems of the world economy and welcomed the efforts at the Cannes Summit in this regard.

The Secretary-General called on leaders to address long term challenges by accelerating progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and uniting behind a common vision of sustainable development at the Rio +20 summit next year. The Secretary-General also encouraged the G20 leaders to contribute to a new, post-2015 development agenda based on the principles of sustainability, equity and inclusion. Accordingly, he urged leaders to set out sustainable development goals that could pick up where the MDGs leave off.

The Secretary-General said he was encouraged by the G20’s commitment to advancing the development agenda set out in Seoul. He said that by advancing its agenda on infrastructure, human resources development and resilient growth, the G20 could and should present an explicitly pro-youth vision for the future, particularly with respect to education and employment opportunities.

The Secretary-General pledged that the United Nations will play its full role on development. He said the UN would continue to broker multi-stakeholder partnerships to achieve the MDGs, such as the successful efforts on women’s and children’s health, on food and nutrition security, and on sustainable energy.

The Secretary-General emphasized that development requires financing and urged the G20 countries to explore all possible options, public, private and innovative sources of finances for development. In this context, he said he hoped that the G20 leaders would seriously consider the options presented by Bill Gates, in his report to the G20, to broaden the funding base for today’s very real development needs.

On food security, the Secretary-General welcomed the G20’s commitment to a comprehensive approach that encourages sustainability, promotes resilience, benefits smallholders and protects the vulnerable. He urged leaders to make sure that their commitments lead to concrete actions.

The Secretary-General also said that sustainable energy was the key to unlocking three great challenges: reducing poverty, reducing the risks of climate change and re-charging economies. The Secretary-general called on leaders to achieve universal energy access, double energy efficiency improvement, and double the share of renewable energy, all by 2030. He introduced his “Sustainable Energy for All” initiative involving leaders from business, finance, government, and civil society. He was gratified that the G20 leaders welcomed the initiative in their Declaration.

Finally, the Secretary-General welcomed the discussion on climate change by the G20 leaders as well as their work to build on his High-level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing (AGF). The Secretary-General called for the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to be launched at the Climate Change Meeting in Durban, South Africa, in December. The Secretary-General also called on all governments to help find a compromise solution in Durban for the Kyoto Protocol in order to maintain the important institutions associated with it, and the rules-based system, while securing a comprehensive climate agreement.

The Secretary-General commended the year-long efforts of the French Presidency and urged the leaders to continue to stay firmly united behind a short-term recovery agenda without losing sight of the longer term sustainable development issues facing the world.

Ban Ki-moon is the eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Ban Ki-moon
Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Ban Ki-moon is the eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations. His priorities have been to mobilize world leaders around a set of new global challenges, from climate change and economic upheaval to pandemics and increasing pressures involving food, energy and water. He has sought to be a bridge-builder, to give voice to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, and to strengthen the Organization itself.“I grew up in war”, the Secretary-General has said, “and saw the United Nations help my country to recover and rebuild.  That experience was a big part of what led me to pursue a career in public service.  As Secretary-General, I am determined to see this Organization deliver tangible, meaningful results that advance peace, development and human rights.”Mr. Ban took office on 1 January 2007. Highlights of his tenure have included:

Promoting sustainable development
One of the Secretary-General’s first major initiatives was the 2007 Climate Change Summit, followed by extensive diplomatic efforts that have helped put the issue at the forefront of the global agenda.  Subsequent efforts to focus on the world’s main anti-poverty targets, the Millennium Development Goals, have generated more than $60 billion in pledges, with a special emphasis on Africa and the new Global Strategy on Women’s and Children’s Health.  At the height of the food, energy and economic crises in 2008, the Secretary-General successfully appealed to the G20 for a $1 trillion financing package for developing countries and took other steps to guide the international response and protect the vulnerable and poor.

Empowering women
The Secretary-General pressed successfully for the creation of UN Women, a major new agency that consolidates the UN’s work in this area.  His advocacy for women’s rights and gender equality has also included the “Unite to End Violence against Women” campaign, the “Stop Rape Now” initiative, the creation of a “Network of Men Leaders” and the establishment of a new Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict.  Within the UN itself, the Secretary-General has increased the number of women in senior management positions by more than 40 per cent, reaching the highest level in the Organization’s history.

Supporting countries facing crisis or instability
The Secretary-General has sought to strengthen UN peace efforts, including through the New Horizons peacekeeping initiative, the Global Field Support Strategy and the Civilian Capacity Review, a package of steps to improve the impact of the 120,000 United Nations “blue helmets” operating in the world’s conflict zones. A mediation support unit, along with new capacity to carry out the Secretary-General’s good offices, have been set up to help prevent, manage and resolve tensions, conflicts and crises.  Accountability for violations of human rights has received high-level attention through inquiries related to Gaza, Guinea, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, legal processes in Lebanon and Cambodia, and advocacy for the “responsibility to protect,” the new United Nations norm aimed at prevent and halt genocide and other grave crimes.  He has also sought to strengthen humanitarian response in the aftermath of mega-disasters in Myanmar (2008), Haiti (2010) and Pakistan (2010), and mobilized UN support for the democratic transitions in North Africa and the Middle East.

Generating new momentum on disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation
The Secretary-General has sought to rejuvenate the disarmament agenda through a five-point plan, efforts to break the deadlock at the Conference on Disarmament and renewed attention to nuclear safety and security in the aftermath of the tragedy at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

Strengthening the UN
The Secretary-Generalhas introduced new measures aimed at making the United Nations more transparent, effective and efficient.  These include heightened financial disclosure requirements, compacts with senior managers, harmonization of business practices and conditions of service, the adoption of International Public Sector Accounting Standards, and continued investments in information technology and staff development.

The Secretary-General was born in the Republic of Korea on 13 June 1944.  He received a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Seoul National University in 1970. In 1985, he earned a master’s degree in public administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.At the time of his election as Secretary-General, Mr. Ban was his country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade. His 37 years of service with the Ministry included postings in New Delhi, Washington D.C. and Vienna, and responsibility for a variety of portfolios, including Foreign Policy Adviser to the President, Chief National Security Adviser to the President, Deputy Minister for Policy Planning and Director-General of American Affairs.Mr. Ban’s ties to the United Nations date back to 1975, when he worked for the Foreign Ministry’s United Nations Division. That work expanded over the years, with assignments that included service as Chairman of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization and Chef de Cabinet during the Republic of Korea’s 2001-2002 presidency of the UN General Assembly.  Mr. Ban has also been actively involved in issues relating to inter-Korean relations.The Secretary-General speaks English, French and Korean. He and his wife, Madam Yoo (Ban) Soon-taek, whom he met in high school in 1962, have one son, two daughters and three grandchildren.  Since 2007, Mrs. Ban has devoted her attention to women’s and children’s health, including autism, the elimination of violence against women, and the campaign to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS.


> United Nations (UN).

The General Assembly in session. Photo credit: UN / Eskinder Debebe The United Nations was established on 24 October 1945 by 51 countries committed to preserving peace through international cooperation and collective security. Today, nearly every nation in the world belongs to the UN: membership totals 192 countries.

When States become Members of the United Nations, they agree to accept the obligations of the UN Charter, an international treaty that sets out basic principles of international relations. According to the Charter, the UN has four purposes:

  • to maintain international peace and security;
  • to develop friendly relations among nations;
  • to cooperate in solving international problems and in promoting respect for human rights;
  • and to be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations.


* The above story is adapted from materials provided by United Nations (UN)
** More information at United Nations (UN)

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