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U.N. to Celebrate ‘World Toilet Day’

1:22 PM, Jul 25, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
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The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution to mark "World Toilet Day." The day will be celebrated November 19.

"The amusement and laughter likely to follow the designation of 19 November as 'World Toilet Day' would all be worthwhile if people’s attention was drawn to the fact that 2.5 billion people lacked proper sanitation and 1.1 billion were forced to defecate in the open, the General Assembly heard today," a U.N. press release reads.

“Ending open defecation will lead to a 35 per cent reduction in diarrhoea, which results in over 750,000 deaths of children under five years of age every year,” Singapore’s representative said as he tabled a draft resolution on Sanitation for All, one of four adopted by consensus today.  Apart from establishing World Toilet Day, the text also urged Member States and the United Nations system to encourage behavioural change, to introduce policies that would increase sanitation among the poor, and to accelerate progress towards attaining Millennium Development Goal 7.

Tajikistan’s representative, speaking also on behalf of Finland, Thailand and Hungary — the Steering Committee of the Group of Friends of Water — underlined the need for accelerated, bolder action on sanitation.  He also called for expansion of the water agenda beyond securing water, hygiene and sanitation for all, to address other matters, like water-resource management, water quality and wastewater.

The Assembly went on to adopt a draft resolution on multilingualism, which emphasized the paramount importance of equality among the six official languages of the United Nations.  It underlined the need for full implementation of the resolutions establishing arrangements for the official and working languages of the United Nations, as well as the Secretariat’s responsibility for the equitable integration of multilingualism into is activities.

By other terms, the Assembly emphasized the importance of making use of all the official languages and of ensuring their full and equitable treatment in all activities of the Department of Public Information, with a view to eliminating the disparity between the use of English and that of the other five.  It reaffirmed the need for full parity among the six official languages, and for linguistic diversity on all United Nations-related materials on the web, in documentation and conference services, in human resources management, as well as in United Nations field offices and peacekeeping operations.

Taking up a draft titled “Causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa” (document A/67/L.59/Rev.1), the Assembly called upon the United Nations system and Member States to support peace-consolidation mechanisms and processes, to assist in post-conflict countries, to support efforts by African countries to promote political, social and economic inclusion, to support the African Union and to deliver expeditiously on commitments to ensure the full and speedy implementation of the political declaration on Africa’s development needs, as well as implementation of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).

Nawaf Salam ( Lebanon), Acting President of the Assembly, then announced that consideration of the draft resolution “New Partnership for Africa’s Development:  progress in implementation and international support” (document A/67/L.57/Rev.1) would be postponed for one week.

Also today, the Assembly elected Timor-Leste, by acclamation, as a Vice-President representing the Group of Asian States for the Assembly’s sixty-eighth session, following the resignation of the representative of Uzbekistan.

The General Assembly will reconvene at a time and date to be announced.

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