|© UNICEF video|
|The UNICEF Executive Board met at United Nations headquarters in New York for its second regular session of 2006.|
By Rachel Bonham Carter
NEW YORK, USA, 5 June 2006 – UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman set a determined tone today at the start of the UNICEF Executive Board’s second regular session of 2006, focusing on the urgent need to address crises that threaten the lives and well-being of children around the world.
Ms. Veneman opened her address to the Executive Board at United Nations headquarters on a sombre note, paying tribute to the Director General of the World Health Organization, Lee Jong-Wook, who died suddenly last month. “Dr. Lee was a true champion for children’s health, an outstanding leader and a good friend,” she said. “The children of the world were better for his time on Earth, and he will be greatly missed.”
Turning to the session’s agenda, Ms. Veneman outlined the discussions planned for the week ahead and spoke firmly about the funding shortfall for UNICEF’s response to ‘forgotten’ emergencies.
"Many of our emergency appeals remain under-funded, leaving children critically vulnerable,” she said. “This is morally unacceptable given our mandate, your clear commitment and the global capacity to respond that has been demonstrated in the past.
“UNICEF's Emergency Programme Fund is critically overstretched, greatly limiting our ability to provide urgent emergency funding within hours of a disaster,” continued Ms. Veneman. “We want to begin a discussion with the board on a number of sensible measures to improve UNICEF's emergency-response capacity.”
UNICEF’s Deputy Executive Director, Kul Gautam, followed with a presentation on the Annual Report of the Executive Director. This year’s report outlines UNICEF’s progress from 2002 to 2005 in its five priority areas: early child development, girls’ education, immunization, HIV/AIDS and child protection.
“Delegates are happy with what we reported in terms of some of the specific results,” explained Mr. Gautam. “But they have expressed concerns – which we share – that while overall income is very good, we need to get governments and others to contribute more unrestricted regular resources so UNICEF will have more flexibility to support programmes for children.”
Other key issues on the board’s agenda this week include:
Ms. Veneman noted that this session of the Executive Board was opening on the 25th anniversary of a report that outlined, for the first time, the nature of the disease that later came to be known as AIDS.
“We can all be proud that UNICEF is a leader in changing misperceptions about HIV/AIDS and about giving a voice to the voiceless – the children who are infected and affected by the virus,” she said. “It is in this spirit of advocacy and result-based approaches to the problems of the world’s children that UNICEF has operated for nearly 60 years.”
9 June 2006
‘Frank dialogue’ on closing day
6 June 2006
Post-crisis transition strategy presented