The United Nations General Assembly is sponsoring a three-day "High Level Meeting" on AIDS aimed at assessing progress over the past five years. More than a dozen heads of state and some 100 ministers are scheduled to participate. First Lady Laura Bush is heading the U.S. delegation and is expected to attend sessions on Friday, when a political declaration is expected to be adopted. Also attending the meeting are more than 1,000 representatives of civil society and the private sector. During the conference, a report on efforts by member states to combat the epidemic will be presented and governments will consider recommendations on how to scale-up HIV prevention, treatment and care in order to possibly attain universal access to treatment by 2010.
Darfur Assessment Mission
Despite confusing statements by some Sudanese officials, U.N. officials say a U.N. Peacekeeping Assessment Mission is expected to head to Khartoum late this week. U.N. troubleshooter Lakhdar Brahimi had meetings last week with the Sudanese president and others opening the way to cautious optimism about the prospects of a transition from an under-equipped African Union peacekeeping effort to a larger, better-equipped U.N.-led operation. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan told reporters Tuesday that he believed such a U.N. force could be ready in four months. Much, however, will depend on how quickly member states contribute troops to the proposed mission. However, it is still far from clear if Sudan will eventually give the green light to the U.N. operation.
Security Council trip to Sudan
To help coax the Sudanese government into saying yes to the mission, Security Council diplomats are departing this Sunday for a week-long visit to Sudan. The mission will be headed by British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry and his French counterpart. The trip includes meetings with key officials in the capital city of Khartoum and visits to Darfur and Juba in the south, as well a trip to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to meet with African-Union officials regarding the transition to a U.N. force.
Before they head to Sudan, Security Council members will take part in an annual two-day retreat with Annan to discuss their work.