This is the News in Brief from the United Nations
Negotiating a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East
On Monday, Secretary-General António Guterres told the first session of the conference on establishing a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Weapons of Mass destruction that “first and foremost”, such zones put “a permanent end to the possibility of nuclear conflict in a given region”.
Moreover, they provide tangible security benefits and enable groups of States to contribute to global norms and disarmament progress.
“All these motives are salient to the region of the Middle East, where the overall situation remains a serious concern for the entire world.
“Complex civil wars rage on, involving well-equipped non-State armed groups and terrorist organizations as well as regional and international military powers”.
For his part, the President of the UN General Assembly, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, underscored that when it comes to global security threats, dialogue is imperative to find consensual agreements.
Noting existing threats of nuclear war, he pointed out that there are approximately 15,000 nuclear weapons stockpiled in nine countries, with hundreds capable of being launched within minutes.
“Multilateralism is our only way forward on this issue; as such, nuclear disarmament is a top priority of the United Nations”, he upheld.
Aid-dependent countries must direct national development priorities
And turning to development, the world’s most impoverished nations, least developed countries, or LDCs, should proactively guarantee that external finance is directed to national development priorities.
According to the 2019 report of the UN Conference on Trade and Development, UNCTAD, that is the best way to manage their aid dependency and eventually escape.
Among other factors, due to persistent shortfalls in their domestic savings, LDCs account for 15 of the 20 most aid-dependent countries in the world according to the report.
“For LDCs to attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and escape aid dependency, they need external finance that is targeted at the structural transformation of their economies,” said UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi.
To make this possible, LDCs should take ownership of their development agenda and manage external development finance to align with their national development priorities.
UN, African Union make significant joint commitment to global health
And finally, on the drive towards universal health coverage, the World Health Organization, WHO, and the African Union (AU) Commission cemented their mutual commitment to global health by signing an historic agreement on Monday.
In Geneva, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and AU Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at WHO Headquarters to expand their relationship and cooperation in this arena.
“The Memorandum of Understanding we have signed today is an important step towards formalizing the cooperation between WHO and the African Union and to implementing the Addis Ababa Call to Action,” said the WHO chief.
At the signing ceremony, both officials stressed that the deepened partnership will help enable the necessary political support and country-level implementations to improve the health and well-being of people across the African continent.
Liz Scaffidi, UN News