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The week in review
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Saturday, 26 July 2003
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The UN Security Council heard its first full update report on Iraq July 22 since it recognized the U.S.-run Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), with many members applauding the new Iraqi Governing Council as a step towards the restoration of sovereignty and also stressing a prominent UN role. Meanwhile, the top UN envoy for Iraq and a member of the newly established Iraqi Governing Council both called for a speedy end to the military occupation and the full restoration of the countrys sovereignty.

Presenting a report on implementation of the action plan to the UN economic and social council meeting in Geneva, Anwarul Chowdhury, UN high representative for least developed countries (LDCs), singled out AIDS, debt and rich countries farm subsidies as the major obstacles to reducing poverty. The plight of the worlds poorest countries has shown little improvement overall since a new UN plan of action was launched in Brussels in May 2001. Half or more of the 718 million people living in LDC -11 percent of the worlds population-live on less than $1 a day. Though some LDCs grew rapidly last year, such as Angola (10 percent), Chad (11.3 percent) and Mozambique (12 percent), at least 15 countries suffered a drop in per capita income in 2002, Mr. Chowdhury said. Jong Wook Lee, a South Korean who has been named WHO director general, said the organization will train a cadre of young epidemiologists to battle outbreaks like SARS, emulating a program that has long helped the U.S. play a leadership role in public health. WHO has traditionally focused more on convening independent experts for technical reviews and providing advice to its 192 member countries than serving as a rapid-response, action-oriented organization.

Malawi will have the first seat in the UN General Assembly Hall reserved for it after the African country was selected by Secretary-General Kofi Annan in a drawing to determine the seating arrangements for the upcoming session of the UNs chief legislative body.

Mr. Annan July 22 appointed Nitin Desai, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, as his Special Adviser for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), which aims to bridge the digital divide between rich and poor.

IMF & WORLD BANK ROUND-UP: Development experts from the OECD met July 22 to discuss the economic reconstruction of Iraq ahead of a meeting of donor nations in October. Richard Manning, head of the OECDs Development Assistance Committee, said no decisions were taken since the IMF and the World Bank have yet to complete their assessment of Iraqs post-war needs. The results are expected to be made known in October.

AIDS might have already pushed South Africa to the brink of a progressive economic collapse, notes a new World Bank study, released internationally July 23. "If nothing is done to combat the epidemic...a complete economic collapse will occur in three generations," the bank said in the report, entitled "The Long-run Economic Costs of AIDS: Theory and an Application to South Africa." The bank said the pandemic would have a far greater economic impact than previously thought. Shanta Devarajan, a co-author of the new research findings and the chief economist of the World Banks Human Development Network, said countries facing an HIV/AIDS epidemic on the same scale as South Africa could face economic collapse within several generations, with family incomes being cut in half, if nothing was done quickly to fight the epidemic.

Delegates from the oil industry and the Clean Air Initiative-a World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB)-linked organization-met for the first time July 21 to discuss measures to clean up heavily polluted Asian cities, where air pollution kills over 500,000 people every year. Among companies attending the meeting were Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch/Shell Group, BP PLC and ChevronTexaco Corp.. In a statement, the oil companies said they were committed to helping reduce air pollution caused by the regions "rapid growth in mobility."

The World Bank has announced that the current director of its office for south and central Europe, Andrew N. Vorkink, will be replaced by Anand K. Seth. Vorkink will be the director of the banks office for Turkey. The appointments of the
new directors for the two said departments take effect on August 15.
 
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