Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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13-Apr-2018 00:21:13
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The Secretary-General will leave New York for a visit to Saudi Arabia tonight.

He will address the Arab League Summit and is expected to meet with His Majesty King Salman and His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman. He will also hold bilateral meetings with Arab leaders on the sidelines of the Summit.

In Riyadh, he will attend the 16th meeting of the United Nations Counter Terrorism Centre Advisory Board, where he will deliver remarks at the opening session of the meeting. He will be accompanied by Vladimir Ivanovich Voronkov, Under Secretary-General of the UN Counter-Terrorism Office.

We expect the Secretary-General to be back in New York on 18 April.

The Secretary-General, speaking in today’s open meeting of the Security Council, said that the Middle East region is facing a true Gordian knot – different fault lines crossing each other and creating a highly volatile situation with risks of escalation, fragmentation and division as far as the eye can see with profound regional and global ramifications.

He said he was outraged by the continued reports of the use of chemical weapons in Syria and reiterated his strong condemnation of the use of chemical weapons by any party to the conflict, under any circumstances. The Secretary-General said that the Fact-Finding Mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) should be granted full access, without any restrictions or impediments to perform its activities. He noted that the Syrian Government has requested it and committed to facilitate it. The first team of the OPCW is already in Syria. A second is expected today or tomorrow.

The Secretary-General said that, in his recent letter to the Security Council, he appealed to the Security Council to fulfil its duties and not give up on efforts to agree upon a dedicated, impartial, objective and independent mechanism for attributing responsibility with regard to the use of chemical weapons. He stands ready to support such efforts.

He also spoke about the Israeli-Palestinian situation and the conflict in Yemen.

Nickolay Mladenov, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, condemned today’s arson attack and desecration of a mosque in the occupied West Bank village of A’qraba near Nablus.

He said that the incident must be thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice. Such attacks have the potential to further inflame an already volatile situation.

This afternoon at 2:55 pm, the Secretary-General will speak at the General Assembly on the occasion of the Commemoration of the International Day of Reflection on the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

He is expected to call on Member States to unite in renewing our collective resolve to prevent such atrocities from ever happening again.

He will also say that, as the Rwandan people have shown, reconciliation is possible, even after a tragedy of such monumental proportions.

Yesterday, the Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed spoke at a Memorial for Winnie Mandela held in the Abyssinian Baptist Church in the Harlem neighborhood.

She said that Winnie’s connection with Harlem showed that community mobilization was not just about what happened in Soweto -- it was about every community, everywhere. “It was not just a struggle to wage in the corridors of power – but through people power at the grassroots.”

She added that Winnie Mandela was the daughter of Africa who embodied the proverb “When you strike a woman, you strike a rock”.

The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, earlier today, where, together with the African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smail Chergui, he presented a briefing on their joint visit to Sudan and the Central African Republic to the AU’s Peace and Security Council. Mr. Lacroix is scheduled to have further meetings with the African Union Commission to discuss various areas of the AU/UN partnership on peace and security in Africa.

The Assistant-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, Bintou Keita, will visit South Sudan from 15 to 19 April. She will discuss with the UN Mission in the country (UNMISS) and the Government of South Sudan the implementation of Security Council resolution 2406, adopted last month, as well as recommendations made by the “Dos Santos Cruz Report” on improving the security of UN peacekeepers. She will also discuss with the national authorities UN support to the peace process, as well as how we can jointly address the catastrophic scale of sexual violence against women and girls currently prevalent in the country.

Ms. Keita will then travel to Ethiopia, where she will attend the Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa in Bahir Dar from 21 to 22 April and the 2nd High-Level Women Leaders Forum for Africa’s Transformation in Addis Ababa from 24 to 26 April. She will also meet with Ethiopian officials, senior African Union and UN officials, members of civil society and other interlocutors. Discussions on further operationalizing the partnership between the UN and the AU in the context of the Secretary-General’s new A4P (Action for Peacekeeping) initiative will be at the heart of her visit to Addis Ababa.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that donors today pledged US$528 million to support the delivery of urgently-needed humanitarian aid to millions of people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The announcements were made at a humanitarian conference in Geneva co-chaired by the United Nations, the European Union and the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mark Lowcock, said that the Government of the DRC is providing leadership on the crisis response, while the UN is supporting the Government in playing that key role for its people.
The conference was attended by 54 countries, in addition to numerous regional organizations, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations. Announcements were made by 22 Member States and organizations for humanitarian action in 2018.

The UN and partners require $1.68 billion to provide life-saving and protection assistance to 10.5 million people in the DRC this year. The UN is working in close partnership with the Government of the DRC, and discussing a follow-up event to today’s conference at a time and a place convenient to the Government.

Today, the Secretary-General is appointing Lieutenant General Elias Rodrigues Martins Filho of Brazil as Force Commander of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, known as MONUSCO.

He succeeds Lieutenant General Derrick Mbuyiselo Mgwebi of South Africa, and the Secretary-General is grateful for his dedicated leadership as head of the MONUSCO military component.

Lieutenant General Martins Filho has had a distinguished military career with the Brazilian Armed Forces spanning more than 35 years.

The United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Miroslav Jenča completed his visit to Pakistan on 13 April. He held meetings with Foreign Secretary Ms. Tehmina Janjua and Special Secretary Ms. Tasnim Aslam in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 12 April. He also met with representatives of the diplomatic community and members of the United Nations Country Team.

Mr. Jenča underlined in his conversations in Islamabad that Pakistan’s commitment to fostering multilateralism and cooperation is important for peace and stability in the region and beyond. He welcomed the decision of Pakistan and Afghanistan to increase cooperation through the implementation of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS).

Mr. Jenča reiterated that the Secretary-General is concerned about the heightening tensions along the Line of Control between India and Pakistan. He echoed the Secretary General’s calls for maximum restraint and efforts to de-escalate the situation. Any outstanding issues between the two countries should be addressed through peaceful means.

Today the Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake, is in Mexico City attending a seminar to take action on the Sustainable Development Goals organized by the UN Development Programme and the Mexican Government’s Institute of Youth.

On Monday, she will be travelling to London to deliver the keynote address at the Commonwealth Youth Forum, and on Thursday she will be in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, where she’ll take part in the closing of the European Youth Conference.

A new report released today by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs warns that short term investments are impeding progress on the Sustainable Development Goals and calls on countries to make long term investments and ensure everyone has access to financing services.

The report, “Financing for Development: Progress and Prospects” says that the current system rewards investors that prioritize short-term profits and long-term investments such as infrastructure projects are shelved in favour of short-term priorities. Small businesses and women remain excluded from the financial system, and the lack of long-term investment also means that major risks, such as those from climate change, are not incorporated into decision-making.

Jamaica has paid its regular budget dues in full. This brings the Honour Roll to 78.
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