United Nations, Asharq Al-Awsat- Saudi Arabia on Friday requested that the U.N. General Assembly add OPEC to its list of observer missions for the upcoming 61st session in September, noting that a humanitarian branch of the organization has been providing assistance to developing countries for over 30 years.
According to a memorandum written by Saudi Ambassador Fawzi Shobokshi, the OPEC Fund of International Development has contributed to developing countries in times of need, including to Algeria and Iran after earthquakes, and has given money in the form of loans, including over $5.95 billion committed and over $3.74 billion disbursed for 2005 alone.
“The activities of the Fund are indeed of interest to the General Assembly, as the sphere of cooperation between the Fund and the United Nations has grown remarkably broader and more integrated,” wrote Shobokshi.
“The participation of the Fund as an observer at the proceedings of the General Assembly would enhance further cooperation between the United Nations and the Fund and facilitate the work of the Fund as an intergovernmental international development organization,” Shobokshi said.
The fund has already given grants and loans to a number of U.N. agencies, including UNICEF, UNESCO, and the World Meteorological Organization.
Over the past four years, $186 million in loans and $29 million in grants have been made available for global food and agricultural aid, including $200,000 to eradicate the tsetse fly.
About $65 million in loans and $19 million in grants have been given over the past four years regarding health initiatives including polio eradication campaigns in Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad; a UNICEF grant for water sanitation in North Korea; $1.35 million for the elimination of the Guinea worm in Africa; and grants to promote employment of the disabled.
The OPEC fund has also given $32 million over the past four years to fight HIV/AIDS globally.
There are currently over 50 observer missions at the United Nations who do not have permanent offices there. The General Assembly will vote shortly on this Saudi initiative along with other initiatives during the 61st session.