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					                        United Nations
               Economic and Social Commission
                      for Western Asia
                    Weekly News                                                    Issue 30/52
                                                                                 19 July 2004
Preparations for the Tunisia Phase of the World Summit on Information Society
                       ESCWA, represented by Mr. Mansour Farah, Team Leader of the World Summit on
                       Information Society, participated in the first preparatory committee (PreCom-1) meeting
                       for the second phase of the World Summit on Information Society, which was held in
                       Tunis from 24 to 26 June 2004.
                        Participants at the meeting included delegates from 122 states and a large number of
                        representatives of international organizations, NGOs and accredited private sector
institutions. The ambassador of Latvia at the U.N in Geneva Janice Carclins was elected as president of the
preparatory committee for the Tunis Phase of the summit and led the discussions held during the meeting.
These discussions resulted in stressing the need for the second phase of WSIS to focus on implementing the
plan of action of the Geneva phase as well as financial mechanisms and internet governance issues. Although
the output of the Tunis Summit is not yet clearly determined, the preparatory process for the Tunis phase was
outlined and the venue and dates of the PreCom-2 were set to be in Geneva from 17 to 25 February 2005.
Mr. Farah also took part in the coordination meetings of the UN Regional Commissions (RCs) held on the
sidelines of the PreCom-1 to coordinate efforts, devise a common strategy and agree on common projects and
related action. The RCs prepared a joint statement that was presented during the plenary meeting stressing
the importance of regional dimension and outlining the main interregional activities in support of the Tunis
summit, including the organization of regional conferences and launching of a partnership project for
measuring the information society.

UN Officials From the Region Meet at ESCWA
The Ninth Meeting of the United Nations Regional Coordination Group (RCG) was
held on 23 June 2004 at the United Nations House in Beirut. The meeting
agenda focused on two main issues: increased collaborative support for the
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and peace building process and recovery
at the regional level.
With respect to the UN support to the achievement of the MDGs in all Arab
countries, participants reconfirmed the need for increased knowledge sharing,
coordination and collaboration among the United Nations Agencies at the regional level in dealing with regional
specificities. They assigned a lead agency for each MDG with a view to facilitating the use of coherent and
accurate data and pertinent analysis in regional reporting and promoting collaborative initiatives.
As for peace building process and recovery, participants emphasized the importance of a ground assessment of
the situation in the region to have its voice heard, its future read, in addition to promoting the adoption of a
regional perspective regarding its issues and strengthening cooperation among stakeholders.

Joint workshop for ESCWA and the University of Balamand
                  Within the context of ESCWA national and regional activities to promote partnerships
                  between universities, cooperation was established with the University of Balamand (UOB)
                  through which ESCWA, represented by Mr. Mohamad Mrayati, Regional Advisor on Science
                  and Technology, is rendering advisory services.
                 In line with this, a workshop entitled “Building Research & Development Partnerships in
                 Lebanon and the Region” was organized on 9 July 2004. Participants in the workshop
                 included the International Association of Science Parks (IASP); Italian Science Park (AREA);
                 Arab Union of Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture; Chamber of Commerce and
                 Industry of Tripoli; United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO); United
                 Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); and Lebanese LIRA
Program. The workshop concluded with the adoption of concrete projects to achieve these partnerships.
                                              Facts and Figures
Did you know?
       That the national income remained the same in the Arab region for the past 29 years.
       That the population in the Arab region is expected to double in the next 29 years to reach 614 million.
       That the Arab region is currently going through a demographic transition from high to low mortality and
       fertility rates, whereby the working age population increases relative to the dependent population,
       thereby lowering the dependency ratio and creating a unique opportunity for economic growth.
       That in 2003, the adult literacy rate for Arab women was found to be significantly lower than that of
       men at 51% and 73% respectively.
       That in 2000-2001 the net enrollment ratio in secondary education in the Arab countries was 54.1%.
       The highest ratio was observed in Bahrain at 86.5% and the lowest in Mauritania at 14.9%.
       That in 2000-2001 the gross enrollment ratio in tertiary education in Arab countries averaged 19.7%.
       The highest ratio was observed in the Libyan Arab Jamahirya at 49% and the lowest at 1% in Djibouti.
       That in 2000, the lowest share of women in the labour force largely prevailed in the higher-income
       countries of the Arab region such as the United Arab Emirates at 13%. Conversely, women constituted
       43% of the labour force in the Comoros, Somalia, and Mauritania.
       In 2001 youth (15-24) unemployment rate was 35.3% for women and 24.5% for men. These rates
       were greater than those prevailing in other regions including sub-Saharan Africa where the total youth
       unemployment rate was estimated at 11.9% in 1999.

                                             Upcoming Events
 19-23 July           Workshop on International Economic and Social Classifications
 Beirut, Lebanon

Children on the brink                                                             New Publications
                       On the occasion of the 15 AIDS Conference           Using Technology to Create Job
                       held in Bangkok-Thailand, the United Nations       Opportunities and Alleviate Poverty
                       Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United States                             E/ESCWA/ICTD/2004/1
                       Agency for International Development               ESCWA
                       (USAID) and the Joint United Nations               published a
                       Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) issued a            study on “Using
                       report entitled “Children on the brink 2004”.      Information and
                       The report calls for free provision of medicines   Communication
                       for the AIDS epidemic to lower the number of       Technologies
                       parents dying of this disease and to lower the     (ICT) to Create
                       number of orphan children in Africa, which will    Employment
reach 17 million by the end of the year 2010.                             and Alleviate
                                                                          Poverty” that
In an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC),          focuses on main
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged the United States       areas where
to fight this disease with the same commitment it is showing in           such technologies can play an effective
financing its war against terror.                                         role.
Thailand, Uganda and Cambodia are considered to be the most               Given the prominence of agriculture in
successful developing countries in fighting AIDS. The number of           some ESCWA member countries, this
orphans caused by AIDS has increased from 11.5 million to 15              study presents a comprehensive
million between 2001 and 2003, most of them in Africa. It also            analysis of relevant ICT applications in
caused the death of 20 million people so far.                             rural communities.
UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy said, “The report specifies
the best arrangements to help those children, which is saving the
lives of their parents, securing their education and reinforcing laws
and policies that protect children from exploitation.”

                            ESCWA Tel: 00 961 1 981 301 Fax: 00 961 1 981 510
               United Nations House, Riad El-Solh, P.O. Box 11-8575, Beirut 2023 6501, Lebanon