Press Releases

    17 December 2002


    NEW YORK, 16 December (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Fifth Asian and Pacific Population Conference (ministerial segment), delivered by Kim Hak-Su, Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), in Bangkok today, 16 December:

    It gives me great pleasure to send my greetings to the Fifth Asian and Pacific Population Conference, which has been convened under the auspices of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in cooperation with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). I would like to thank the Government and people of Thailand for hosting this important event; it is quite appropriate that this important conference take place in Thailand, a country that is recognized as one of the world’s success stories for its comprehensive population programme and its determined efforts to stem the spread of HIV/AIDS.

    Since the first Asian Population Conference in 1963, the region has achieved commendable progress in lowering fertility and reducing mortality rates, in increasing the longevity of men and women, and in reducing poverty through economic growth. Significant gains have also been made on the economic, social and political fronts during this period.

    However, much more needs to be done. Many countries still have large numbers of people living in abject poverty. In large parts of the region, deprivation prevails, with too many women and girls kept out of the development process, and illiteracy thwarting the efforts of millions of women and men for economic and social development. The Asia and Pacific region is one where the HIV/AIDS epidemic threatens to devastate previously uninfected societies, and where child and maternal mortality claim so many lives unnecessarily. It is also a region where populations are ageing rapidly and where the number of adolescents and youth is reaching its peak.

    Population issues are at the heart of these challenges. The Millennium Development Goals, particularly the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, cannot be achieved if questions of population and reproductive health are not squarely addressed. And that means stronger efforts to promote women's rights, and greater investment in education and health, including reproductive health and family planning.

    Fortunately, we have a number of instruments to guide our work -– not only the Millennium Development Goals, but also the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Platform for Action of the Fourth World Conference on Women. I hope your Conference will provide new impetus for the full and thorough implementation of these blueprints, and thereby advance the population and development agenda for the twenty-first century. In that spirit, please accept my best wishes for the success of your important deliberations.

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