Minister Cowen addresses UN General Assembly on the fight against HIV/AIDS
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Brian Cowen T.D., today addressed a special meeting of the UN General Assembly in New York on the global fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
In his address, Minister Cowen said that Ireland will prioritise work on HIV/AIDS in the development agenda of our Presidency of the EU in 2004. He announced “we will host an international conference on AIDS/HIV in Dublin during the Presidency, bringing together Ministers from the EU, Eastern Europe and Central Asia to discuss the fight against HIV/AIDS on the European continent. We hope this meeting will foster a new sense of continental cooperation to deal with the epidemic in our region”.
Mr. Cowen also called for a new international forum, under the auspices of UNAIDS, to discuss how to deliver HIV/AIDS life-saving drugs in poor countries. “I believe we need a new international forum, under the auspices of UNAIDS and its co-sponsors, where donors, developing countries, NGOs and the pharmaceutical industry can share views and practical experience. It is only through such international cooperation that treatment regimes can be provided in a way which strengthens rather than overwhelms health systems.”
Mr. Cowen also reconfirmed Ireland's strong support for the fight against HIV/AIDS “Within the framework of the massive increases in Ireland's ODA spending in recent years ….. the volume of our ODA committed to HIV/AIDS programmes has increased ten-fold to over €40m in 2002.”
During his attendance at the UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS, Mr. Cowen met with Mr. Julian Hunte, the Foreign Minister of the Caribbean island of St Lucia, and current President of the UN General Assembly. Mr. Cowen presented a cheque for €50,000 to Mr. Hunte from Development Cooperation Ireland in support of St. Lucia's fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS. The Caribbean region has the second highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rates outside of sub- Saharan Africa and the epidemic is continuing to spread rapidly in the region. St. Lucia is putting a national HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment regime in place and is urgently seeking support from the international community.
Note for Editors:
Minister Cowen travelled to New York on Sunday 21 September to take part in the United Nations General Assembly “Ministerial Week”.
While at the United Nations, Minister Cowen will undertake an extensive round of European Union Troika Meetings. Ireland participates now in such Troika meetings as the incoming Presidency of the Union from 1 January 2004. Troika meetings will take place this week with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, China and Sri Lanka as well as with key regional partners including the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Non-Aligned Movement and the various South and Central American regional groups – the Rio Group, the San Jose Group, Mercosur and the Andean Community. The EU Troika will also meet with the President of the Iraqi Governing Council. With his EU Ministerial colleagues, including those of the ten EU candidate countries, Minister Cowen will take part in meetings with the United States and the Russian Federation.
Minister Cowen will also have a number of bilateral, one-on-one meetings including with the President of Albania and the Foreign Ministers of the Russian Federation, Canada, Iran, Egypt, Israel, Ghana and Andorra, as well as the President of the UN General Assembly, Julian Hunte of St. Lucia.
On Monday, 22 September, the Minister addressed the UN High-Level Plenary Meeting on HIV/AIDS.
On 23 July, Secretary General Annan wrote to the Member States of the UN, urging that they be represented at this year's General Debate at Head of State or Government level as an affirmation of the collective will of the UN Member States to find solutions to the problems of our time. Ireland has responded to this appeal and the Taoiseach will deliver the national statement to the General Assembly on Thursday 25 September.
The full text of Minister Cowen's speech is available at www.irlgov.ie/iveagh.