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The head of the United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO) today praised the leaders of the Group of 20 (G20) industrialized nations for recognizing the importance of the need to spur economic recovery and generate employment.

In a statement issued yesterday in Toronto, Canada, the leaders said that they have agreed on the steps to be taken to “ensure a full return to growth with quality jobs, to reform and strengthen financial systems, and to create strong, sustainable and balanced global growth.”

The heads of the countries, said ILO Director-General Juan Somavia, have struck a “delicate policy balance between continuing the stimulus plans and a growth-friendly fiscal consolidation process differentiated for and tailored to national circumstances.”

But ultimately, he said, the impact of the G20 gathering in Toronto will hinge on whether the agreement is implemented “in a balanced manner” at both the national and regional levels.

“Building confidence is not only about calming financial markets,” Mr. Somavia stressed. “It is also about citizens feeling confident that leaders are implementing policies in a fair way.”

He also underscored the significance of the commitment made by the G20 leaders to enhance access to financial services for the poor and to boost financing for small- and medium-sized enterprises in developing countries.

At a working dinner over the weekend, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the heads of the G20 nations that he understood the concerns over rising budget deficits and public debt.

But he stressed that “under any circumstances we must not balance budgets on the backs of the world's poorest people.”

Mr. Ban underlined that the world cannot depend on recovery led by consumption alone, but rather that investments must be mobilized to ensure today's recovery and tomorrow's growth.

He called for stepped-up investment in agriculture and other sectors as part of the ILO's Global Jobs Pact, which was adopted and received strong support during the G20 summit in the United States city of Pittsburgh in September last year. It urges measures to maintain employment and to avoid deflationary wage spirals and worsening working conditions.

Accra / Ghana/ Africa / Modernghana.com

26 June - Drug abuse and illicit trafficking hold back achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and should be fought as part of an overall policy to wipe out social ills, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today.

“Our work to achieve the MDGs and fight drugs must go hand-in-hand. In seeking to eradicate illicit crops, we must also work to wipe out poverty,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message marking the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, observed each year on 26 June.

Under this year's theme of “Think Health, Not Drugs,” Mr. Ban noted that significant health challenges stem from drug abuse – including the spread of HIV through injecting drugs. One of the eight MDGs includes reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS.

The MDGs also target environmental sustainability, which is threatened by drug trade effects such as coca cultivation in the Andean Rainforest or chemical runoffs from cocaine labs.

In his message, Mr. Ban noted that illicit drug trade undermines governance, institutions and societal cohesion. Drug traffickers typically seek routes where the rule of law is weak, and as a result, drug-related crime “deepens vulnerability to instability and poverty.”

Mr. Ban called on Member States in his message to become parties to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, which adopted in 2000, includes three protocols against human trafficking and illicit manufacturing and trafficking of firearms.

The convention and protocols fall under the jurisdiction of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which announced in its new World Drug Report 2010 that amphetamine-type stimulants and prescription medications are increasingly becoming the drugs of choice globally.

In the report, UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa also cited the rise of cocaine in West Africa and South America.

In his speech today, Mr. Ban linked the booming trade of cocaine and other drugs to increased corruption and insecurity which threaten the sovereignty of States.

“That is why the United Nations is putting a stronger emphasis on enhancing justice and fighting crime in peace-building and peacekeeping operations,” Mr. Ban said.

Accra / Ghana/ Africa / Modernghana.com