Safe road traffic is a desideratum of governments and civil society all over the world, notably as crossing borders by road continues to be unacceptably costly and dangerous for many road users.
Confronted with the growing challenge of road traffic injuries worldwide, the highest echelons of the United Nations system have mobilized to support efforts to resolve the international road safety crisis. The United Nations General Assembly included this subject on its agenda and considered it for the first time in 2003 when it adopted two resolutions, the first, 57/309, on 22 May 2003, and the second, 58/9, on 5 November 2003.
On 14 April 2004, the United Nations General Assembly, in a special plenary meeting aimed at better high-level understanding of the extent of the problem of road traffic injuries, adopted a third resolution (58/289), entitled Improving global road safety. This was preceded by the launching by the World Health Organization and the World Bank of the World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention, stressing the urgent need for Governments and other key sectors to redouble their efforts to prevent road death and injury,
In 2005 the United Nations General Assembly once again addressed road safety and adopted a fourth resolution (60/5 of 26 October 2005) in which it expressed its concern at the continued increase, in particular in developing countries, in traffic fatalities and injuries worldwide and the limited capacity in those countries to address road safety problems. The General Assembly explicitly linked road traffic injuries and mortality to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals encouraging Member States to strive to reduce their rate in order to achieve the goals.
At the same time, the resolution welcomed the progress made in establishing new initiatives taken by the competent United Nations agencies and their international partners in this domain. This resolution stressed the importance of the improvement in the international legal road traffic safety norms, and welcomed in this regard the work of the UNECE Working Party on Road Traffic Safety, encouraging Member States to adhere to the 1949 Convention on Road Traffic and the 1968 Convention on Road Traffic and Convention on Road Signs and Signals, in order to ensure a high level of road safety in their countries.
Most recently, United Nations General Assembly addressed the subject in resolution 62/244 entitled Improving global road safety adopted on 31 March 2008, in which inter alia it recognized the work of the United Nations regional commissions and their subsidiary bodies in increasing their road safety activities and advocating for increased political commitment to road safety, and the continuing commitment of the UNECE to global action in the elaboration of safety-related global technical vehicle regulations and amendments to the Convention on Road Traffic and the Convention on Road Signs and Signals.
Within these global mandates UNECE strives to ensure that all United Nations Member States fully understand the extent to which the adoption of a rational and systematic approach to the management of road safety can improve the lives of their people and their economies.
Aiming to the creation of a coordinated and widely understood road traffic system, UNECE addresses the main components of road traffic safety: infrastructure, vehicle, and human factor, through the elaboration of clear and simple to implement legal and technical norms and standards.
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