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Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, says the UN will embark on a new course to tackle challenges in 2008. Top among these are development, health and terrorism.
“The United Nations has proven, at various stages of its history, that it is capable of remaking itself to rise to new challenges,” he told the world body’s five regional groups.
Mr. Ban said that since the midpoint to the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), “we face a development emergency with millions trapped in poverty and going hungry.”
He previously said that sub-Saharan Africa would not be on track to achieve any of the eight MDG. A meeting is scheduled for September in which efforts will be made to bridge the implementation gap.
Change would have to come within the UN itself, according to Mr. Ban. He noted that “we need a more coherent, focused and reinvigorated approach” to respond to new challenges in peacekeeping with rising complexity, risk and scale.
Mr. Ban said that the immediate priority is the war-ravaged Darfur region of the Sudan, where a joint UN-African Union force of 26,000 troops has been deployed. With this deployment, the UN is faced with the vast demands of conducting such an operation.
In the realm of politics, 2008 will not be easy for the world body, the Secretary General said. Among the challenges the UN will face are the fragile Middle East peace processes, Iraq’s emergence from conflict and Kosovo’s future status.
At a January 7 press conference held at the UN headquarters, Mr. Ban looked back at 2007 as a year filled with immense challenges, with a number of peacekeeping missions being undertaken.
“We must build on this foundation,” he said. “Protecting our planet and its people—our global commons—require our best efforts…This requires sustained and coherent international action beyond what nations or markets can provide by themselves. That is why I believe so strongly in the United Nations. Only the United Nations can take on the issues that affect us all, that shape the fate of the Earth and its peoples.”