Heads of UN agencies meet in Kenya on implementing Millennium Summit goals

Heads of UN agencies meet in Kenya on implementing Millennium Summit goals

With top officials from all parts of the United Nations system gathered in Nairobi for a coordination meeting, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today the fact that the event was being held in Africa underscored the importance of the world body's response to the continent's needs.

Recalling that last year's UN Millennium Summit had pledged to address war, poverty and environmental pollution, Mr. Annan said, "Nowhere in the world are those challenges more acute than here in Africa, so it is more than fitting that the entire UN family should be meeting here to discuss how we can work most effectively for the implementation of the Millennium goals."

Without action, international targets would "hardly do more than express a wish or an aspiration," the Secretary-General stressed during a press conference. He observed that the impact of those targets would depend on an "unprecedented effort" by Member States and the UN family. "We, the family, are here to discuss how each of us can best play our part, and we are here to discuss how we can spur our Member States to play theirs to the full," he said.

Noting that the ultimate responsibility in ensuring that the Millennium goals translate into reality rests with Member States, Mr. Annan expressed hope "that as the UN system meets here in Nairobi, an equally lively debate is also taking place in capitals about how we can meet our obligations and commitments."

During his press conference, Mr. Annan was asked to react to the decision by United States President George W. Bush to reject the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions. "I regret the US decision, but I think that gives us one more reason to fight in a more determined manner to bring environmental issues into focus," the Secretary-General replied. "We need to take steps to halt climate warming -- it is a fact."

Twenty of the 25 UN agencies, funds and programmes are represented at the highest levels at the two-day meeting of the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC), which meets twice a year.

Over the course of this morning's session, the participants discussed the need for a mobilization of all actors against AIDS in Africa. A substantial part of the meeting tomorrow is expected to focus on ways of strengthening system-wide support for sustainable development on the continent.

After the morning session, the Secretary-General spoke with some 2,000 UN staff working in Nairobi. He also met briefly with two of the aid workers who had been just released from captivity in north Mogadishu, Somalia.

According to a UN spokesman, the two remaining captives -- British nationals Bill Condie and Roger Carter -- have been visited on a regular basis by a local staff officer of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), who reported that they are in stable condition.