Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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08-Nov-2017 00:25:37
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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Today and tomorrow, the Secretary-General will be leading the semi-annual meeting of the UN system Chief Executives Board for Coordination, which brings together, under his leadership, the Executive Heads of 31 UN system organizations.

In keeping with the Secretary-General’s vision for a UN system that is coherent, agile and strategic, the Board is meeting in retreat mode to allow for candid and forward-looking discussions in three distinct areas:

Focusing on the state of the world and multilateralism, the Board will deliberate on salient trends, emerging opportunities and challenges in current world affairs and their impact on the United Nations system.

Secondly, the Board will hold a discussion on frontier issues and challenges emanating from global mega-trends and technological advancements in four distinct areas – artificial intelligence; cyberspace; biotechnology; and impact of technological applications on peace and security – with a view to identify specific entry points for UN engagement and to determine focus areas where the UN system can add value.

The Secretary-General's vision is to bring all relevant actors – governments, the private sector, the scientific community, international organizations and civil society – together “to make sure that the power of science, the power of technology and the power of innovation are a power for good to make a better world and for the benefit of us all.”

Finally, the Secretary-General will present to the Board his proposals for UN reform in the areas of management, peace and security, and the repositioning of the UN development system.

The Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, is scheduled to speak at the Security Council in consultations this afternoon on the humanitarian situation in Yemen.

We continue to be extremely worried about the situation in the country, where seven million people already face famine. We can only imagine what will happen if the ports and entry points are not opened to both humanitarian and commercial traffic.

The UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Ukraine, Neal Walker, today said he is deeply concerned about the impact of stepped up clashes in eastern Ukraine near water, electricity and gas infrastructure as winter begins.

He warned that any disruption of essential services could have grave consequences for millions of Ukrainians, who may need to flee their homes in search of heat and shelter.

Mr. Walker reminded all parties to the conflict of their obligation to respect civilian infrastructure and to protect civilians, stressing that any intentional disruption of access to quality water supply or critical heating systems is a clear violation of International Humanitarian Law.

At the UN Climate Conference in Bonn, negotiations have started and have been focusing on the operating manual that will guide implementation of the Paris Agreement and the way the dialogue will take place at next year’s Conference in Poland that will look at progress.

The host country, Germany, announced a $58 million pledge for the Adaptation Fund, which supports vulnerable communities in developing countries so they can adapt to climate change. The Fund aims to mobilize $80 million this year.

The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Burundi, Michel Kafando, visited Bujumbura last week, where he met with Government officials, the Ombudsman, the Archbishops of Bujumbura and Gitega and the diplomatic corps in the country.

He discussed the East African Community-led Inter-Burundi Dialogue, the humanitarian and socio-economic situation, as well as proposed constitutional amendments recently endorsed by the Council of Ministers.

Mr. Kafando also travelled to Dar Es Salam, in Tanzania, and consulted with the Facilitator of the inter-Burundi dialogue, Benjamin Mkapa, on the way forward.

Last month, he had also met in Brussels with exiled opposition leaders.

The Envoy is expected to brief the Security Council on 20 November.

An innovative debt-swap initiative between the Russian Federation and Mozambique has unlocked a commitment of $40 million, which will be used by the World Food Programme (WFP) to support Mozambique to provide school meals for 150,000 children over the next five years.

This debt swap is the largest in WFP’s history. In addition to providing debt relief for Mozambique, it will free up new resources for development and support expansion of the National School Feeding Programme.
Despite Mozambique achieving its Millennium Development Goal of halving the number of hungry people in the country, nearly a quarter of its people face chronic food insecurity or malnourishment.

The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, today condemned the killing of a media worker during an armed attack on the offices of Shamshad Television in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Tuesday.

Ms. Bokova also extended her sympathy and support to the staff of Shamshad Television, who resumed broadcasting quickly after the terror attack.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is recommending that farmers and the food industry stop using antibiotics routinely to promote growth and prevent disease in healthy animals.

The new WHO recommendations aim to help preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics that are important for human medicine by reducing their unnecessary use in animals.

In some countries, approximately 80% of total consumption of antibiotics is in the animal sector, largely for growth promotion in healthy animals.

Over-use and misuse of antibiotics in animals and humans is contributing to the rising threat of antibiotic resistance.

Some types of bacteria that cause serious infections in humans have already developed resistance to most or all of the available treatments, and there are very few promising options in the research pipeline.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Government of Ecuador today presented a new handbook to improve the safety for workers in the banana farming sector.

The banana sector serves as an essential source of employment and income for thousands of rural households in developing countries. But attempts to lower production costs often leads to disastrous consequences on the rights of workers and on the environment.

For example, banana plantations use 10 times more pesticides than conventional plantations in developed countries.

The new manual includes a wide range of guidelines covering topics like the proper handling, storage and use of pesticides, measures for adequate personal protection – including first aid in emergency situations – hygiene standards, information on ergonomic risks, ways to stop gender-related violence and other human rights abuses.

Jan Beagle, Under-Secretary-General for Management, visited South Sudan last week, from 30 October to 2 November 2017, in order to hear directly from managers and staff serving in the field how Headquarters can better support UN field missions to deliver on their complex mandates in challenging environments.

Ms. Beagle engaged directly in dialogue with management and staff at all levels, including in town hall gatherings, with a focus on field-oriented policies and systems in the context of the Secretary-General’s reform strategy which aims for a nimbler, more responsive and accountable organisation.

While in South Sudan, Ms. Beagle met with Special Representative David Shearer and managers and staff in all parts of the mission, including military and police. She held talks with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Deng Alor Kuol, Minister of Cabinet Affairs, Martin Elia Lomuro and other senior Government officials. In Juba and Malakal, Ms. Beagle viewed a range of programmes including the riverine unit on the Nile and the mine action service, as well as centres for the protection of civilians.

Ms. Beagle also visited the Regional Service Centre Entebbe (RSCE) in Uganda on 3 and 4 November.

The Syrian Arab Republic has paid its regular budget dues in full, becoming the 140th Member State to do so.
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