Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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16-Feb-2018 00:24:18
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The Secretary-General is in Germany today where he delivered a keynote address at the opening ceremony of the Munich Security Conference. He said that over the past year there had been two qualitative changes that made the global security situation worse. For the first time since the end of the Cold War, we face a nuclear threat. He said that it was essential to maintain pressure on the DPRK to create an opportunity for diplomatic engagement on the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean peninsula within a regional framework, and for the US and the DPRK to hold meaningful discussions.

The second change relates to the broader Middle East, which he said had turned into a Gordian knot, with different interconnected fault lines that had created a quagmire. He warned of the absence of a common vision in the region and said that even if interests are contradictory, the threats these conflicts represent would justify some efforts to come together.

Turning to cyber-security, the Secretary-General called for a serious discussion about the international legal framework in which cyberwars take place.

Concluding his speech, the Secretary-General said that Governments and others have been unable to manage human mobility. He warned that this had created mistrust and doubts about globalism and multilateralism. This is a reason to unite, he said, stressing the need to affirm that global problems can only be addressed by global solutions.

The Secretary-General also had several bilateral meetings on the margins of the conference, including with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, French Defense Minister Florence Parly, among others.

Today, the Secretary-General is announcing his decision to appoint Martin Griffiths of the United Kingdom as his Special Envoy for Yemen.

Mr. Griffiths succeeds Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed of Mauritania, to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for his commitment and dedicated service.

Mr. Griffiths brings extensive experience in conflict resolution, negotiation, mediation and humanitarian affairs.

Mark Lowcock is scheduled to visit Tokyo on 20 February on his first mission to Japan as Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.
While in Japan, Mr. Lowcock will meet with Government officials to discuss the country’s key role in international humanitarian affairs, including in disaster risk reduction and emergency response, and as a donor to humanitarian action worldwide.

He will also meet representatives of Japanese NGOs and the private sector, and participate in a public seminar on global humanitarian priorities and new policy approaches at the UN University in Tokyo.

The World Food Programme said today it is energizing two key elements of its emergency operation to prevent famine in war-ravaged Kasai in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: cash distributions to the most vulnerable and specialist support to check acute malnutrition in women and young children.

Since the launch last week of the cash initiative, 38,000 people have received the equivalent of US$15 each for a month, enough to meet their basic food needs. The intention is to more than double that reach in the coming weeks.

Recent airlifts from France have also enabled a significant scale-up of WFP’s nutrition interventions in Kasai: 56,000 malnourished children treated in January, up from 21,000 in the final quarter of last year.

Assessments show that 3.2 million people, a quarter of the region’s population of mostly subsistence farmers, are desperately short of food, in a context of continued funding constraints, an upsurge in fighting between pro- and anti-government forces and a rapid deterioration of the already poor road network due to the rainy season.

The UN Refugee Agency today expressed dismay over recent additional restrictions at border crossing points in Hungary that have further reduced access for asylum-seekers and refugees.

For the past few weeks, UNHCR has observed that Hungarian authorities are, on average, only allowing two asylum-seekers a day to enter the country through the two “transit zones” at the border with Serbia. Since asylum-seekers who attempt to cross the razor-wire border fences are automatically removed, the agency said Hungary has practically closed its borders to people seeking international protection, in clear breach of its obligations under international and EU law.

UNHCR also called the Government of Hungary to withdraw a proposed bill that would deprive people fleeing war, violence and persecution of vital support from NGOs and civil society.

The World Health Organization is announcing today a new high-level commission, comprised of heads of state and ministers, leaders in health and development and entrepreneurs. The group will propose solutions to accelerate prevention and control of the leading killers on the planet – noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) like heart and lung disease, cancers, and diabetes.

The WHO Independent Global High-level Commission on NCDs is co-chaired by President Tabaré Vázquez of Uruguay; President Maithripala Sirisena of Sri Lanka; President Sauli Niinistö of Finland; Veronika Skvortsova, Minister of Healthcare of the Russian Federation; and Sania Nishtar, former Federal Minister of Pakistan.

Seven in 10 deaths globally every year are from noncommunicable diseases, the main contributors to which are tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diets, and physical inactivity.

The Food and Agriculture Organization launched today a comprehensive guide on the integrated pest management of the Fall Armyworm on maize.

Fall Armyworm is an invasive pest affecting millions of hectares of maize across most of Africa, mainly crops in the hands of smallholder farmers.

By early 2018, only 10 out of the 54 African states and territories - mostly in the north of the continent - have not reported infestations by the invasive pest.

Central and Southern Africa are particularly on high alert, as the main maize growing season is currently underway in these regions.

Based on a learning-by-doing approach and designed for Farmers Field Schools, the guide is packed with hands-on advice.

It provides support for a correct identification of this new foe for African farmers, and offers options to manage it in an integrated, ecological and sustainable way.

The Human Rights Office welcomed the news that El Salvador has freed a woman from prison where she was serving a 30-year sentence for “aggravated homicide” after her baby was stillborn.

This is a positive development that could pave the way for the release of other women who are in a similar situation.
In this regard, the Human Rights Office urged the authorities to continue to review the cases of at least 25 women still serving similarly long sentences in connection with pregnancy complications or abortion-related offenses.

It also reiterated the call that El Salvador should comply with its international human rights obligations and lift the absolute prohibition on abortion.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, urges Iran to stop violating international law by executing juvenile offenders. He notes a surge in the number of juvenile offenders being executed in Iran and calls on the country to abide by international law and immediately halt all executions of people sentenced to death for crimes committed when they were under 18 years old.

Already, during the first month of 2018, three people – two male and one female – have been executed for crimes they committed when they were 15 or 16 years old. The High Commissioner reiterates that the execution of juvenile offenders is unequivocally prohibited under international law, regardless of the circumstances and nature of the crime committed.

The United Arab Emirates has paid its dues in full for 2018, bringing the Honour Roll to 51.
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