Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

Preview Language:   English
20-Nov-2018 00:10:47
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The Secretary-General has accepted the resignation of Erik Solheim, the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

Mr. Solheim’s resignation is effective Thursday, 22 November.

The Secretary-General is grateful for Mr. Solheim’s service and recognizes that he has been a leading voice in drawing the world’s attention to critical environmental challenges, including plastics pollution and circularity; climate action; the right of environment defenders; biodiversity; and environmental security.

He has led advocacy at the highest levels of government, business and civil society to drive the transformational change needed to make a real difference in the lives of people and promote the cause of environment.

The Deputy Executive Director of UNEP, Ms. Joyce Msuya of Tanzania, will be appointed as Acting Executive Director while the Secretary-General launches a recruitment process, in consultation with Member States, to find a successor to Mr. Solheim. Ms. Msuya will be granted all the necessary support to ensure a smooth transition.

This morning, the Secretary-General addressed the Security Council on Peace and Security in Africa, and he stressed the importance of the UN’s partnership with the African Union and African Member States to collective efforts for peace. African countries provide nearly half of all Blue Helmets.

He added that he is encouraged by African support for his Action for Peacekeeping initiative – so far signed by 42 African countries and 150 overall – which aims to refocus peacekeeping around more realistic mandates; to make missions stronger and safer; and to mobilize greater collective support for political solutions, and for well-equipped, well-trained troops.

Earlier today, the Secretary-General appointed Miguel Ángel Moratinos Cuyaubé of Spain as High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations.

Mr. Moratinos succeeds Nassir Abdulaziz al-Nasser of Qatar, to whom the Secretary-General expressed his deep gratitude for his vision and leadership.


Mr. Moratinos has a long and distinguished career, committing himself to international relations and development cooperation, including as Spain’s Foreign Minister.

The UN Mission in Afghanistan tweeted this morning that it is outraged by today’s deadly bombing in Kabul which occurred as communities across the country are marking a day of special religious significance.

The Mission said there are credible reports of heavy civilian casualties and that human rights teams are establishing facts.

The UN family extends its deepest condolences to the many families affected.

The Humanitarian Coordinator in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kim Bolduc, strongly condemned the killings of two aid workers with the international NGO, Food for the Hungry.

The two humanitarian workers were likely killed by unidentified armed men last Thursday in Moba territory in Tanganyika Province.

Ms. Bolduc said that targeting of humanitarians while they are doing their work is a grave violation of international humanitarian law.

The Commissioner-General for UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, Pierre Krähenbühl, praised the Agency’s donors in Amman today for collectively helping to reduce the $446 million shortfall in its budget this year. He said that, since January, donors contributed or pledged an additional $425 million, bringing UNRWA’s shortfall down to $21 million.

Thanks to additional contributions, the Agency was able to open the 711 schools on time, preserving the right to education for 530,000 girls and boys.

Mr. Krähenbühl also asked donors who had pledged but not yet disbursed additional funding to do so urgently.


Today, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC, released two publications that state that success in tackling the global climate crisis can be achieved, but only if public and private sector actions are urgently stepped up.

The Talanoa Dialogue Synthesis Report draws from experiences put forward this year by government and non-government representatives on how they are experiencing and tackling climate change, while the Yearbook for Global Climate Action takes account of some 9,000 commitments from 128 countries and more than 6,000 businesses, representing $36 trillion in economic activity.

In a statement issued on International Children’s Day, a group of UN child rights experts – Marta Santos Pais, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) on Violence against Children; Virginia Gamba, the SRSG for Children and Armed Conflict; Renate Winter, Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child; and Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, the Special Rapporteur of the UN Human Rights Council on the sale and sexual exploitation of children – urged Governments around the world to ensure priority attention to the realization of the rights of the child and to accelerate efforts for implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history.

Today is Africa Industrialization Day. This year, the Day focuses on promoting regional value chains and underscores how industrial development in local pharmaceutical production contributes to healthy lives and well-being.

In his message, the Secretary-General said that inclusive and sustainable industrial development is critical for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Africa. He added that the development of a competitive pharmaceutical manufacturing sector in the continent can help promote better health and well-being and sustainable economic growth.

The Secretary-General also reaffirmed the UN’s strong commitment to promote Africa’s industrial development as a key driver for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

In response to a question regarding migrants in Mexico, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General is following the evolving humanitarian situation in Tijuana and Mexicali in northern Mexico with concern.

He recognizes the efforts of the Government of Mexico to provide access to the asylum system for persons in need of international protection, but also acknowledges the efforts of local authorities and civil society to provide shelter and essential humanitarian assistance.

People travelling with the caravans need to cooperate and to listen carefully to available information on the legal pathways available to them. The UN agencies already on the ground can provide technical advice.
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