Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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09-Aug-2018 00:17:05
Briefing by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The Secretary-General, following consultations with the Chairs of the regional groups of Member States, has informed the General Assembly of his intention to appoint Michelle Bachelet of Chile as the next United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Ms. Bachelet most recently served as President of Chile, and you will recall that was appointed in 2010 as the first Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (known as UN Women).

The nomination now goes to the General Assembly for its consideration.

The Secretary-General is on his way back to New York, after having participated in the 73rd Nagasaki Peace Ceremony in Japan, becoming the first United Nations Secretary-General to do so.

In his remarks, he said that, sadly, 73 years on, fears of nuclear war are still with us. Millions of people live in a shadow cast by the dread of unthinkable carnage.

The Secretary-General said that the total elimination of nuclear weapons remains the highest disarmament priority of the United Nations. He said that we must let Nagasaki and Hiroshima remind us to put peace first every day; to work on conflict prevention and resolution, reconciliation and dialogue, and to tackle the roots of conflict and violence.

Earlier today, the Secretary-General met with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono. He visited the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum and the National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb before speaking to the press.

The Secretary-General told reporters that he was deeply humbled and deeply impressed by the hibakusha, or the survivors of the atomic bombs. He expressed his admiration for the people of Nagasaki for their enormous resilience to build a vibrant community that is the city of today.

In a statement, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, said that he was deeply alarmed by the recent escalation of violence between Gaza and Israel, and particularly by the multiple rockets fired towards communities in southern Israel.

He noted that the collective efforts of the international community have prevented the situation in Gaza from exploding until now. If the current escalation is not contained immediately, he warned, the situation can rapidly deteriorate with devastating consequences for all people.

Mr. Mladenov added that we will continue working hard to ensure that Gaza steps back from the brink, that all humanitarian issues are addressed and that Egyptian-led efforts to achieve intra-Palestinian reconciliation succeed.

This morning, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Burundi, Michel Kafando briefed the Security Council.

He said that the promulgation of the new Constitution and the announcement by the President of Burundi that he would end his mandate in 2020 were key elements in the efforts to resolve the crisis in the country. He called on the Government and political actors to seize this opportunity to create a new environment that would consolidate national unity and peace.

Mr. Kafando also noted that the security situation remained calm and that Burundian refugees continued to return voluntarily to their country. He added that many high level delegations and international organizations had visited the country – showing, he said, the willingness of Burundi to improve its relations with the international community.

The Security Council then held consultations on the situation in Burundi.

Today, the United Nations and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent are delivering food, nutrition, non-food items, and water and sanitation hygiene supplies for 35,000 women, children and men in need of assistance in Arbin and Zamalka in East Ghouta.

Humanitarian conditions in East Ghouta remain dire, with severe damage to civilian infrastructure and insufficient services for the estimated 200,000 people living in the area.

While East Ghouta was last reached with an inter-agency convoy on 2nd July, sustained access to the area, where needs are reportedly high, continues to prove a challenge.

The United Nations urges all parties to allow safe, sustained and unimpeded humanitarian access to all in need.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, says it is gravely concerned about reports of the forced return of a Zimbabwean asylum-seeker by Zambia to his country of origin.

A senior Zimbabwean politician expressed the intention to seek asylum in Zambia at the border yesterday. It is reported that the authorities handed him over to his country of origin today despite a court order to the contrary.

Refoulement or forcibly returning refugees and asylum-seekers to their country of origin is a serious violation of international refugee law. UNHCR calls on Zambia to investigate this reported incident urgently.

Today, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) welcomed Thailand’s decision to grant citizenship to three of the boys and their football coach who were recently rescued from a cave in Chiang Rai.

The agency said that by granting them citizenship, Thailand has provided them with a formal identity that will pave the way for them to achieve their aspirations and to participate as full members of society.

UNHCR said several million people are known to be stateless worldwide and can find themselves without access to basic rights and services, and many times cannot work or contribute to the societies in which they live.

It added that the act by the Thai government is an example of how a State can quickly aid people to resolve this issue, and urged all countries hosting stateless populations to help eradicate this “entirely avoidable blight on humanity.”

Today is the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples. This year’s theme is “Indigenous peoples’ migration and movement.”

In his message for the Day, the Secretary-General said that indigenous peoples have a profound spiritual connection to their lands and resources. However, many have been forced to migrate due to climate change, violence and conflict, and displacement by authorities without their consent.

He called on Member States to protect the rights and identities of indigenous peoples and to adopt later this year the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration which seeks to protect the rights of vulnerable migrant groups.

Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Miroslav Jenča started his visit in Male today to discuss the preparations for the presidential elections taking place in Maldives on 23 September. He underlined to all interlocutors the utmost priority of ensuring peaceful, fair and transparent elections.

Mr. Jenča met with President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom as well as Government Ministers. He was encouraged by the Government’s commitment to ensure credible elections and further discussed ways and additional efforts to build a level playing field for fair electoral competition.

He also exchanged views with the Joint Opposition presidential candidate Mr. Ibrahim Solih and his running mate Mr. Faisal Naseem, emphasizing the critical role of the opposition in the democratic political process.

With the Elections Commission Chair, he exchanged views on maintaining the Commission’s impartiality, the voter registry, unimpeded space for campaigning, equal access to media, complaint resolution and both domestic and foreign observation.

Mr. Jenča stressed that genuine and inclusive political parties dialogue was the only conducive way to build a peaceful, prosperous and stable democracy. He will meet with civil society and diplomatic representatives tomorrow.

Today the Maldives has paid its regular budget dues in full. This payment takes the Honour Roll total to 115.
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