Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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13-Sep-2018 00:15:59
Briefing by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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In Accra today, the Secretary-General spoke at the funeral of former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, calling him an exceptional global leader who was also someone virtually anyone in the world could see themselves in. Like few in our time, he said, Kofi Annan could bring people together, put them at ease, and unite them towards a common goal for our common humanity.

The Secretary-General said that Kofi Annan was courageous, speaking truth to power while subjecting himself to intense self-scrutiny. And like his predecessor Dag Hammarskjold, he had an almost mystical sense of the role of the United Nations as a force for good in a world of ills.

Secretary-General Guterres recalled his friendship with Kofi Annan and added, “Now that I occupy the office Kofi once held, I am continually inspired by his integrity, dynamism and dedication.”

As we face the headwinds of our troubled and turbulent times, the Secretary-General said, let us always be inspired by the legacy of Kofi Annan -- and guided by the knowledge that he will continue speaking to us, urging us on towards the goals to which he dedicated his life and truly moved our world. His full remarks are online.

The Secretary-General will meet with the President of Ghana and also with the UN Country team before leaving the country today.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, Michael Keating, briefed the Security Council this morning, his final briefing ahead of the end of his tour of duty next week.

Also addressing the Council on Somalia this morning was the Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, who visited the country last month. She noted that women have made progress in Somalia, including a jump in women's representation from 14 to almost 25 per cent in parliament, an agreement by the Federal Government on a sexual offences bill and the first-ever prosecution of female genital mutilation. However, serious challenges remain – laws relating to gender are often ignored, female parliamentarians are often marginalized, and Al Shabaab courts continue to kill women violently.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for South Sudan, David Shearer, welcomed yesterday’s signing in Addis Ababa of a revitalized peace agreement by all parties to the conflict.

In a statement, Mr. Shearer noted that while the signing of the peace agreement is a single step on the road to enduring peace, it is the one that lays the foundations for all that must follow.

He particularly acknowledged the efforts of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development and the Governments of Sudan and Ethiopia, who have championed negotiations over the past few months and shown true leadership in bringing the parties together to sign a new agreement.

Highlighting a continued lack of trust between the parties, Mr. Shearer stressed the need for the engagement of the UN and the international community in assisting genuine reconciliation and peacebuilding.

He added that a genuine commitment to peace and concrete actions to implement the agreement would encourage the people of South Sudan to move back to their homes to lead lives that are safe and self-reliant.

The Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, will meet with senior officials from Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and the United States tomorrow in Geneva. The Special Envoy will host a joint meeting with the seven delegations at the Palais des Nations.

Meanwhile, the UN continues to be concerned about the safety and protection of three million women, children and men in Idleb and surrounding areas, with intermittent artillery shelling continuing to be reported in southern rural Idleb, southern rural Aleppo and northern rural Hama.

Since the beginning of September, thousands of people have been displaced, following a recent escalation of hostilities in north-west Syria.

The UN urges all parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law, and to take constant care to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, including humanitarian personnel and assets.

Today, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, Lise Grande, said the situation in Hodeidah has deteriorated dramatically over the past few days and that families are absolutely terrified by the bombardment, shelling and airstrikes.

“People are struggling to survive,” said Ms. Grande. More than 25 per cent of children are malnourished; 900,000 people in the governorate are desperate for food and 90,000 pregnant women are at enormous risk.
She added that parties to the conflict are obliged to do absolutely everything possible to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure and ensure people have access to the aid they are entitled to and need to survive.

The Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ursula Mueller, will visit China from 14 to 21 September.

While in China, she will meet with Government officials, as well as representatives from NGOs, civil society and academia, to discuss China’s role in the global humanitarian system.

In Beijing, she will also give a speech on humanitarian action at the Institute of South-South Cooperation of Peking University.

From 18 to 19 September, Ms. Mueller will be among speakers at the 12th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Tianjin. She will use this opportunity to raise awareness on innovation and data in the humanitarian sector and join other speakers in discussing China’s evolving role in global humanitarian affairs.

This morning, in Geneva, there was a high-level panel discussion to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

The High Commissioner for Refugees, Michelle Bachelet, said that the “odious scourge” of genocide, as the Convention itself describes it, remains both a threat and a reality in the 21st century.

Seventy years on from the adoption of the Convention, she said that we must take stock of the gravity of recent acts, such as those perpetrated against the Rohingya and Yazidis, and we must do everything possible to hold those responsible to account.

Also speaking at the discussion was Adama Dieng, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide.

He said that genocide is not an accident, nor is it inevitable. He said that it is our inaction or our ineffectiveness in addressing the warning signs that allows it to become a reality.

Mr. Dieng noted that 149 States have ratified or acceded to the Convention, appealing to the Member States that have not done so to prioritize its ratification by its 70th anniversary on 9 December of this year.

On Saturday, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will launch an online platform dedicated to European World Heritage sites and sustainable travel. The platform features 34 selected World Heritage sites spread across 19 European Union countries, and it has been developed in collaboration with National Geographic.

The new platform seeks to encourage people to travel beyond the major tourist hubs, staying longer, and experiencing more of what the local region has to offer.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today announced the appointment of Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana of Indonesia as Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). She will succeed Shamshad Akhtar of Pakistan to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for her commitment and dedicated service to the Organization. The Secretary-General is also appreciative to Mr. Hongjoo Hahm who will continue to serve as Acting Executive Secretary until Ms. Alisjahbana assumes her position.

Ms. Alisjahbana is currently Professor of Economics at Universitas Padjadjaran in Bandung, Indonesia, a position she assumed in 2005.
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