Saudi Arabia on Friday requested that the UN General Assembly add the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to its list of observer missions for the upcoming 61st session in September, noting that a humanitarian branch of OPEC has been providing assistance to developing countries for over 30 years.
According to a memorandum written by Saudi Ambassador to the UN 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 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.
Over the past four years, OPEC has given $186 million in loans and $29 million in grants 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 for 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.
The General Assembly will vote shortly on this Saudi initiative along with other initiatives during the 61st session.