Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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31-Oct-2018 00:23:56
Briefing by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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As we speak, the Secretary-General is at Park East Synagogue in Manhattan at the invitation of Rabbi Arthur Schneier to attend an event entitled, United Against Hate: Inter-Religious Leadership in Solidarity with Pittsburgh. Also in attendance are Cardinal Timothy Dolan; Archbishop Demetrios, Primate, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America; and many other religious and local political leaders.

The Secretary-General just delivered remarks. He expressed his solidarity with the Jewish community of Pittsburgh and the world over, as well as the people of the United States. Anti-Semitism, he said, is the oldest form of hatred and discrimination in the history of the world. He told the audience that we must not only stand up and combat anti-Semitism, but we also be firm against the new rise of neo-Nazi ideas which we are seeing taking hold in many parts of the western world. He said there is not only a rise in anti-Semitism but also in persecution and attacks on other religious groups, as well as refugees and migrants. Diversity, the Secretary-General said, is richness and not a threat. But to make diversity work, we need investment in education and social cohesion.

The Secretary-General also took time to praise the work of HIAS, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, which had been singled out by the killer in Pittsburgh. HIAS, Guterres said, is a fantastic organization that stands for everything that is good in society. Later this afternoon, there will be a photo op in the Secretary-General’s office for his meeting with Mark Hetfield, the CEO of HIAS. The Secretary-General was keen to invite Mr. Hetfield to personally express his solidarity with the organization.

On Thursday, the Deputy Secretary-General will travel to Seattle to meet with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and its Co-Chairs to discuss global health and the UN reforms.

The Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, welcomes the recent calls for the immediate resumption of the political process and measures to reach a cessation of hostilities in Yemen.

The Special Envoy will continue to work with all parties to agree on tangible steps to spare all Yemenis the disastrous consequences of further conflict and to urgently address the political, security and humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

He urges all concerned parties to seize this opportunity to engage constructively with the current efforts to swiftly resume political consultations to agree on a framework for political negotiations and confidence-building measures - in particular, enhancing the capacities of the Central Bank of Yemen, the exchange of prisoners and the re-opening of Sana’a airport.

The Special Envoy is encouraged by the positive engagement of the Government of Yemen and Ansarullah and will continue to work with all concerned parties in the region to reach an inclusive political settlement to end the conflict in Yemen.

Meeting with President Maithripala Sirisena today, the UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka conveyed that the Secretary-General is following the developments in the country very closely and with concern.

As per his statement of 28 October, the Secretary-General calls on the Government to respect the democratic values, uphold the rule of law and ensure the safety and security of all Sri Lankans. He urges the parties to address the situation in a peaceful manner.

Noting Sri Lanka’s stated commitment to human rights, justice, and reconciliation, the United Nations stands ready to continue our cooperation and support in this regard.

The Security Council held an open meeting on Ukraine yesterday afternoon.

Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo said that there has been little progress in talks to end the fighting, with the conflict in Ukraine now in its fifth year.

She stressed that the Minsk Agreements form the only agreed framework for a negotiated peace in eastern Ukraine and that the UN urges all parties to avoid any unilateral steps that could deepen the divide or depart from the spirit and letter of them.

Ms. DiCarlo said that it is time for renewed and constructive action by all concerned to overcome the apparent impasse in diplomatic negotiations.

Also briefing the Council was Ursula Mueller, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, who said that millions of men, women and children continue to face dire humanitarian consequences in Europe’s forgotten armed conflict.

She underscored that these impacts are deepening as the situation becomes more protracted, noting that more than 3,000 civilians have been killed and up to 9,000 injured since the start of the conflict.

Ms. Mueller said that more than 3.5 million people will need humanitarian assistance next year, but that funding has steadily declined over the years.

Today is World Cities Day. This year’s theme is Building Sustainable and Resilient Cities.

In his message, the Secretary-General said that how our cities develop will have significant implications for realizing the future we want. He warned that rapid urbanization can strain local capacities, contributing to increased risk from natural and human made disasters. But hazards do not need to become disasters. The answer is to build resilience, he said, to storms, floods, earthquakes, fires, pandemics and economic crises.

This year, the main celebrations are being hosted by the city of Liverpool in the UK, and back here there will be a special event at 1:15 p.m. in Conference Room 11 on Inclusive and Resilient Cities for Sustainable Families organized by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

In addition, DESA also launched a report which says that three in five cities worldwide with at least half a million inhabitants are at high risk of a natural disaster.

I have the following personnel announcement to make. The Secretary-General is announcing today the appointment of Nóirín O'Sullivan of Ireland as the Assistant Secretary-General for Safety and Security. Ms. O’Sullivan succeeds Fadzai Gwaradzimba of Zimbabwe, to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for her commitment and dedicated service to the Organization.

As deputy to the Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security, Ms. O’Sullivan will be responsible for the day-to-day overall management of the Department and supporting the Under-Secretary-General in the overall leadership and management of the Department.

Ms. O’Sullivan has over 36 years of experience in the international law enforcement and security environment, and most recently held the position of Garda Commissioner of An Garda Síochána in Ireland.

And I just have another announcement.

The Secretary-General announced today the appointment of Geir O. Pedersen of Norway as his Special Envoy for Syria. The Secretary-General takes this opportunity to reiterate his deepest gratitude to Staffan de Mistura of Italy for his concerted efforts and contributions to the search for peace in Syria.

Mr. Pedersen brings to this position decades of political and diplomatic experience, having served both in government and United Nations capacities, most recently as Norway’s Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China and as Permanent Representative of Norway to the United Nations.

Mr. Pedersen served the United Nations in various roles, including as Special Coordinator for Lebanon and as Personal Representative of the Secretary-General for Southern Lebanon. He also worked as Director of the Asia and Pacific Division in the Department of Political Affairs.
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