4 June 2010Boosting maternal health and developing ways to overcome and respond to diseases such as HIV/AIDS will be the focus of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s upcoming visit to Washington and five African countries starting on Monday. In Washington, Mr. Ban will open the Women Deliver 2010 conference, which is the largest-ever gathering on maternal health, drawing 3,500 participants from 140 countries, according to organizers.The three-day event, starting on Monday, will focus on the theme, “Delivering solutions for girls and women,” underscoring the need for maternal and reproductive health to be a top priority.Participants are expected to discuss how the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – eight anti-poverty and other socio-economic targets with a 2015 deadline – will not be reached without investment in women. They are also set to confer on how the world can achieve the MDG on improving maternal health if governments and donors commit the necessary funding now.While in the United States capital, Mr. Ban will speak at the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria. He is also scheduled to meet with Senator John Kerry and hold talks with the National Association for Evangelicals.Later on Monday, the Secretary-General will make the second of his three scheduled visits to Africa in the course of a month, travelling first to South Africa to discuss the MDGs and attend the start of the World Cup soccer tournament.He will also visit Burundi, Cameroon, Benin and Sierra Leone, before returning to New York on 16 June.Last weekend Mr. Ban visited Malawi and Uganda, where he addressed the first-ever review conference of the International Criminal Court (ICC).For the court to have the reach it needs, it must have universal support, he said. “Only then will perpetrators have no place to hide.”So far 111 countries have become parties to the Rome Statute that established the ICC, while 37 others have signed but not yet ratified it. But some of the world’s largest and most powerful countries, including China, India, Russia and the United States, have not joined.The Secretary-General’s third visit to Africa will be to Gabon, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where a UN peacekeeping mission – known as MONUC – has been in operation for 11 years.Last week, the Security Council agreed to transform the operation into a stabilization mission in the coming weeks, authorizing the withdrawal of up to 2,000 UN military personnel by 30 June from areas where security has improved enough to allow their removal.
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