Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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10-Sep-2018 00:18:45
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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This afternoon, the Secretary-General will deliver a major address on climate change at UN Headquarters, speaking to an audience of young people, business leaders, journalists and diplomats on the eve of the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco and the annual gathering of world leaders for the General Assembly.

The Secretary-General will emphasize the need for greater ambition and stronger leadership in addressing what he has called “the defining threat of our time”.

In Bangkok, the Climate Change Conference ended on Sunday with an urgent call for accelerated climate action.

The Executive Secretary of UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Patricia Espinosa, said that the Conference had resulted in “uneven progress” on the guidelines to implement the Paris Agreement, and she said this “underlines the urgent need for continuing work in the coming weeks.”

This morning, the Secretary-General addressed the Security Council on Corruption in Conflict. Noting the prevalence of corruption in all countries, rich and poor, North and South, developed and developing, he highlighted estimates by the World Economic Forum that show the cost of corruption to be at least 2.6 trillion US Dollars, or 5 percent of global Gross Domestic Product.

The Secretary-General noted that corruption could be a trigger for conflict, and added that the consequences of corruption in times of conflict can be especially devastating, as they can affect the most basic needs and exacerbate hunger and poverty.

The Secretary-General said people across the world continue to express outrage at the corruption of their leaders, and at how deeply corruption is embedded in societies. He called on leaders everywhere to listen, to nurture a culture of integrity and to empower citizens to do their part at the grass roots.

Martin Griffiths, the Special Envoy for Syria, is traveling to Muscat. After that, he will likely visit Sana’a and Riyadh to continue his consultations on Yemen.

Mr. Griffiths spoke to reporters in Geneva on Saturday and said that he had had three days of fruitful consultations with the Yemeni Government delegation. He added that, although he did not manage to meet with the Ansarullah delegation, he would go to Muscat and hopefully Sana’a to meet with the Anasarullah leadership.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) remains extremely concerned about the situation of three million civilians in Syria’s Idlib, where an intensification of fighting has resulted in death, injury and displacement, as well as in the destruction of civilian infrastructure.

The recent escalation of air and ground-based attacks in southern rural Idlib and northern rural Hama governorates has reportedly resulted in dozens of casualties.

From 1 to 9 September, more than 30,000 people were displaced in the areas where air strikes were reported, with the majority of the displaced moving into northern Idlib, and to communities close to the Syrian-Turkish border. About half of the displaced people were reportedly staying in camps, 30 per cent were hosted by local families, 15 per cent were in self-settled camps or camp-like structures, with the others renting accommodation.

The UN and its partners continue regular humanitarian deliveries to Idlib from across the border in Turkey, despite the difficult operating environment. In addition, pre-positioning of assistance inside Idlib as well as in surrounding areas continues.

The UN reminds all parties to take all necessary measures to safeguard civilian lives and to protect civilian infrastructure, as required by international humanitarian and human rights law.

The Secretary-General’s Special Adviser, Abdoulaye Bathily, will travel to Antananarivo, Madagascar, from 18 to 25 September to continue facilitation efforts, engage with stakeholders on the ground and take stock of the electoral and political process before the 7 November presidential polling.

Over the weekend, the Secretary-General welcomed the designation on Friday of Rivo Rakotovao, Speaker of the Malagasy Senate, as acting President of Madagascar, and reiterated the commitment of the United Nations to continue to support the electoral process leading to a peaceful, credible and inclusive poll.

Over the weekend, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Ján Kubiš, condemned the recent violence and riots in Basra, as well as attacks on government, political parties and media offices and others.
He said that these acts of violence have nothing to do with the people’s rightful demands for services, jobs and against corruption and work against their very legitimate rights and expectations of dignified peaceful life.

Mr. Kubiš said he fully supports the legitimate demands of protestors pursued in peaceful ways, and also urged authorities to ensure law and order and to take firm action against the instigators of violence.

In a meeting yesterday, the Special Representative met with women leaders, former Members of Parliament and others to press for the robust participation of women in negotiations for government formation and for holding key ministerial posts in the next Cabinet.

Mr. Kubiš stressed that the meaningful participation of women in the political process means the success of democracy in Iraq and the realisation of a truly inclusive and representative Government that serves the needs and interests of its people.

Over the weekend, Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock and High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi wrapped up a three-day visit to Pakistan, where they highlighted the progress made by the Government in responding to people’s needs in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, including helping nearly 5 million people return to their areas of origin.

During their visit, they met with Prime Minister Imran Khan and other Government officials, donors, leaders and staff of United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations, as well as with formerly displaced people.

Mr. Lowcock said that, while Pakistan remains at high risk of natural disasters and exposure to climate-related events, the country has made laudable progress in preparedness.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the two UN officials saw firsthand the innovative use of cash in response to displacement and returns.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, spoke to the Human Rights Council in Geneva today in her first speech to that body as High Commissioner, and she discussed her vision for her office and her specific human rights concerns.

Over the weekend, she issued a statement saying that she is extremely concerned that an Egyptian court’s confirmation of 75 death sentences on Saturday did not result from a fair trial, and the sentences, if carried out, would therefore amount to “a gross and irreversible miscarriage of justice”.

She also pointed to the stark contrast between Egypt’s mass trials and a recent law that effectively grants members of the security forces complete immunity for crimes they may have committed.

The High Commissioner said that she hopes that the Egyptian Court of Appeal will review this verdict and ensure that international standards of justice are respected by setting it aside.

Under the leadership of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Ministry of Health, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and its partners are scaling up the response to the Ebola outbreak in Butembo, a city of around one million people in North Kivu Province where a patient died last week. WHO says the case was detected quickly, and the response is already in place and expanding.

More than 60 WHO experts are currently in Butembo setting up key operations. An Emergency Operations Centre is also being built in the city and is expected to be operational early this week. A mobile laboratory is now operational and has begun to accept samples and conduct diagnostic tests for the Ebola virus.

Over the weekend, the 24-year old Dutch inventor and UN Environment Champion of the Earth, Boyan Slat, launched an ocean cleanup system expected to tackle 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic marine debris.

The system, which was deployed in San Francisco, consists of a 600-meter long floater that sits at the surface of the water and a tapered three-meter deep skirt attached below, which catches plastic debris.

For now, the system will undergo some trials, before travelling 1,000 nautical miles to what is known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Forty-two countries, including major troop and police contributors to UN Peacekeeping and Security Council members, have now endorsed the Declaration of Shared Commitments on UN Peacekeeping, part of the Secretary-General’s effort to renew political support for UN peacekeeping operations.

We thank Estonia, Jordan, Bangladesh, Guinea, Slovenia, Finland, Monaco, Germany, Indonesia, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Philippines, Ireland, Slovakia, Latvia, Malta, Hungary, Capo Verde, Comoros, Nigeria, the Republic of Korea, Georgia, Albania, Tunisia, Rwanda, Nepal, South Sudan, Zambia and Morocco for endorsing since our update last week and for their strong commitment to peacekeeping.

The Secretary-General calls on all Member States to join in endorsing the Declaration before 14 September, ahead of the High-level Event on Action for Peacekeeping on 25 September. He calls on them to take the collective action needed to strengthen peacekeeping.

Zambia has paid its dues as a UN Member State in full, becoming the 130th to do so.
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