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UN in the News

Drugged Out

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As published in Time Magazine, 30 May 2011

It is easy to miss the spirit gate that guards the entrance to Phiyer, a remote village in northern Laos. Half submerged in weeds beside a field of towering sugarcane, the simple wooden structure resembles a set of miniature rustic goalposts. Look closely, however, and you will notice it is strung with roughly carved swords and assault rifles made of bamboo. The villagers believe the gate wards off disease and evil spirits.

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Great expectations

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As published in Thanh Nien News, 20 May 2011

Duong Trung Quoc was all set to hang up his parliamentary boots this year, but a lack of younger representatives has made him a candidate in the National Assembly elections yet again.

However, the seasoned legislator, who turns 64 this year, has no plans to take it easy.

Instead, he wants to make sure that the parliament addresses the rising wealth disparity that has bogged down the nation's development over the last few decades.

Quoc said the prevailing Land Law desperately needs a major shakeup, otherwise it would just continue to fuel social inequality that has rendered an increasing number of farmers landless.

"My colleagues and I have repeatedly urged amendments [to the Land Law] but our calls have fallen on deaf ears. Loopholes in the law have enabled profits to accrue only to certain interest groups and pushed more people into stark poverty."

Vietnam: Sea-level rise could "displace millions"

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Boat on the Mekong River
Millions along the Mekong could be affected

As published in IRIN news, 20 May 2011

For centuries, residents around Can Tho, a city of 1.1m people in southern Vietnam, just 0.8m above sea level, have depended on flood cycles to grow crops.

However, experts warn there is a possibility that sea levels will rise in the delta region around Can Tho due to climate change, causing devastating floods that will displace millions and destroy those crops.

Can Tho is in the wider Mekong Delta, a rice-growing region that spans southern Vietnam and is home to 18 million people. More than half of Vietnam's rice is produced in the delta, as well as 60 percent of its fish and shrimp.

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Inflation in Vietnam will push more into poverty

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As published by Reuters News on 10 May 2011

Poverty will rise in Vietnam as a result of soaring inflation this year so the government must stay the course on price-busting policies, John Hendra, head of the United Nations mission in the country, said on Tuesday.

A UN study showed that poverty increased by 2.1 per cent after Vietnam's last bout of high inflation in 2008.

That year, inflation peaked near 28 per cent in August. Last month, the annual rise in the consumer price index hit 17.5 per cent - its highest level since December 2008 - and it is still going up.

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Vietnam's minorities more likely to be poor: UN

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As published by the Associated Press, 10 May 2012

Vietnam's minorities are far more likely to live in poverty than the rest of the population, the UN said Tuesday, singling out the northwest, where ethnic Hmong rallied for autonomy last week.

John Hendra, outgoing chief of the UN's Vietnam mission, told reporters that around half the people from ethnic minorities existed at poverty levels.

"One in two ethnic minorities now are likely to find themselves in poverty," against one in 11 for the rest of the population as a whole, Hendra said.

A World Bank report in 2009 said Vietnam's 53 minority peoples, who are distinct from the majority Kinh, numbered nearly 10 million out of the 86-million-strong population.

Hendra said ethnic areas were among those with the "most persistent and stubborn" poverty, with access to health, maternal mortality rates and nutritional levels far worse then other parts of the country.

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Page 9 of 17

Spotlight

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The Secretary-General's Message on World Day Against Trafficking In Persons

 

30 July 2015 - Around the world, criminals are selling people for profit.  Vulnerable women and girls form the majority of human trafficking victims, including those driven into degrading sexual exploitation.

Trafficked persons are often tricked into servitude with the false promise of a well-paid job. Migrants crossing deadly seas and burning deserts to escape conflict, poverty and persecution are also at risk of being trafficked.  Individuals can find themselves alone in a foreign land where they have been stripped of their passports, forced into debt and exploited for labour.  Children and young people can find their lives stolen, their education blocked and their dreams dashed. It is an assault on their most basic human rights and fundamental freedoms.


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The Secretary-General's Message on World Youth Skills Day

 

15 July 2015 - I welcome this first-ever commemoration of World Youth Skills Day.  On July 15th each year, the international community will underscore the value of helping young people to upgrade their own abilities to contribute to our common future.

While overall more young people have greater educational opportunities than in the past, there are still some 75 million adolescents who are out of school, denied the quality education they deserve and unable to acquire the skills they need.

We may see an understandably frustrated youth population – but that picture is incomplete.  With the right skills, these young people are exactly the force we need to drive progress across the global agenda and build more inclusive and vibrant societies.


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The Secretary-General's Message on World Population Day


11 July 2015
- Not since the end of the Second World War have so many people been forced from their homes across the planet. With nearly 60 million individuals having fled conflict or disaster, women and adolescent girls are particularly vulnerable.  Violent extremists and armed groups are committing terrible abuses that result in trauma, unintended pregnancy and infection with HIV and other diseases.  Shame and accountability rest squarely on the shoulders of the perpetrators who wage cowardly battles across the bodies of innocents.


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The Secretary-General’s Message on the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illegal Trafficking

 

26 June 2015 - In September, leaders from around the world will meet at the United Nations to adopt an ambitious new sustainable development agenda to eradicate extreme poverty and provide a life of dignity for all.  This ambition, while achievable, must address various obstacles, including the deadly harm to communities and individuals caused by drug trafficking and drug abuse.

Our shared response to this challenge is founded on the international drug control conventions.  In full compliance with human rights standards and norms, the United Nations advocates a careful re-balancing of the international policy on controlled drugs.  We must consider alternatives to criminalization and incarceration of people who use drugs and focus criminal justice efforts on those involved in supply.  We should increase the focus on public health, prevention, treatment and care, as well as on economic, social and cultural strategies.  


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The Secretary-General’s Message on the International Day of Yoga

 

21 June 2015 - During a visit to India this year, I had the opportunity to practice yoga with one of my senior advisors.  Although he happened to be a son of the country, I might equally have done the same with many other colleagues from different parts of the world.  Yoga is an ancient discipline from a traditional setting that has grown in popularity to be enjoyed by practitioners in every region.  By proclaiming 21 June as the International Day of Yoga, the General Assembly has recognized the holistic benefits of this timeless practice and its inherent compatibility with the principles and values of the United Nations.

Yoga offers a simple, accessible and inclusive means to promote physical and spiritual health and well-being.  It promotes respect for one’s fellow human beings and for the planet we share.  And yoga does not discriminate; to varying degrees, all people can practice, regardless of their relative strength, age or ability.