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United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to Keynote Rotary International's 100th Annual Meeting
Date:6/21/2009

BIRMINGHAM, England, June 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will speak on 21 June at the Rotary International Convention to recognize the humanitarian service organization for its leadership role in polio eradication and for its work in support of the UN Millennium Development Goals.

(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20090621/DC35745 )

Ban's remarks are scheduled for the plenary session that begins at 9:45 a.m. in the LG Arena of the National Exhibition Centre, where about 20,000 Rotary club members from more than 150 countries are convening 21-24 June. He also will receive the Polio Eradication Champion Award, the highest recognition Rotary bestows to heads of state, health agency directors and ministers, and other leaders who have made significant contributions to polio eradication

Ban's appearance at Rotary's largest annual meeting further demonstrates the close ties maintained by Rotary and the UN dating back to 1945, when Rotary members helped to draft the UN Charter.

The Secretary-General is attending the gathering to express his appreciation to Rotary International and all of its members. "I thank each Rotarian who has given time and effort to polio eradication for your tireless work -- and I ask you to continue." He will also express confidence that working together, we can eradicate polio. This accomplishment "will stand as an eternal testimony of Rotary's vision that a just world is feasible in our lifetime."

In 1988, Rotary and the United Nations Children's Fund became spearheading partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, along with the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Working in concert with national governments, the initiative has pushed polio to the brink of eradication, reducing the number of cases by more than 99 percent worldwide. But the crippling, sometimes fatal disease still threatens children in parts of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. To date, Rotary has contributed US$800 million and countless volunteer hours to immunize more than two billion children in 122 countries. Rotary is currently working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to raise an additional $550 million in vital funds needed to finish off polio for good.

In recent years, Rotary has pledged its support for the UN Millennium Development Goals, an eight-point blueprint for reducing extreme poverty, hunger and disease worldwide by 2015. In October 2008, Rotary International President Dong-Kurn Lee reaffirmed Rotary's commitment to reduce child mortality rates -- the fourth Millennium Development Goal -- in New York during a forum convened by Ban.

"We have brought the world closer to the end of a disease (polio) and to the achievement of the fourth Millennium Development Goal," Lee said. "We have created partnerships that will endure and will yield benefits far beyond the elimination of one disease."

Scores of other Rotary club-supported projects worldwide aim to provide safe water and sanitation, reduce illiteracy, promote maternal health, prevent diseases, protect the environment, and foster grassroots economic development -- all issues covered under the Millennium Development Goals.

The convention is hosted by the Rotary Club of Birmingham with support of 58 clubs in the West Midlands. It is expected to pump 20 million pounds Sterling into the local economy. Birmingham was also the site of Rotary's 75th convention in 1984.

Often described as a mini-United Nations due to Rotary's internationality and diversity, the convention will transform the National Exhibition Centre into a kaleidoscope of energy, color and excitement as Rotary members participate in a broad agenda of plenary sessions, workshops and other activities focused on how Rotary clubs help improve communities worldwide through volunteer service. Displays showcasing hundreds of Rotary's humanitarian and education projects and programs are open daily throughout the convention at the aptly named House of Friendship exhibition area.

Members of the media are welcome to attend any Rotary convention event. Media must check in at the convention press center at NEC for press credentials. Advanced registration is available.

Rotary is a global network of business and professional leaders who provide humanitarian service and help to build goodwill and peace in the world. There are more than 1.2 million Rotary members in over 33,000 clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical regions.

Journalists can obtain media credentials at the Convention Press Center at the NEC, Piazza One. For more information, contact: Rotary Convention Press Center (opens 20 June) at 0870 76 11503, 0870 76 11504, 0870 76 11518.


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SOURCE Rotary International
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