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UN sets up task force in lead-up to General Assembly special session on AIDS

UN sets up task force in lead-up to General Assembly special session on AIDS

Secretary-General Kofi Annan today set up a new task force aimed at harnessing the momentum building towards the June special session of the General Assembly on HIV/AIDS, according to a United Nations spokesman.

The task force, which will bring together the UN agencies involved in the fight against the epidemic, was set up during a teleconference convened by the Secretary-General.

Spokesman Fred Eckhard reported that Mr. Annan had named Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette to head the task force, which will meet weekly. The Secretary-General himself will attend those meetings periodically, Mr. Eckhard added.

During the teleconference, the Secretary-General heard the views of the various UN agencies concerning different aspects of the AIDS problem.

After reviewing recent developments, the Secretary-General told the heads of UN agencies that the goal is to "increase the political energy that is now progressing so well," and to transform it into action in the remaining seven weeks before the special session, Mr. Eckhard said.

The Secretary-General also announced that he had asked former Canadian Ambassador to the UN Stephen Lewis to work with a core group of African leaders in the follow up to the Abuja Declaration on AIDS and other infectious diseases, which was adopted by African Heads of State in the Nigerian capital last week.

A former Canadian Permanent Representative to the UN, Mr. Lewis also served as Deputy Executive Director of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) until last year. He is now an Adjunct Professor at York University in Canada.

Mr. Lewis also currently works as a special advisor to both Dr. Peter Piot, the Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS), and to the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).