Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

Preview Language:   English
05-Dec-2018 00:17:49
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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This morning in the Security Council, the Secretary-General spoke at a debate on peacebuilding and sustaining peace and that meeting was chaired by the President of Côte d’Ivoire, Alassane Ouattara.

The Secretary-General said that Côte d’Ivoire’s own experience showed that peace and development went hand in hand. The Secretary-General said that we needed to adopt an approach that was holistic which addressed potential triggers of instability such as inequality and climate change. He also said that approach needed to be more inclusive, led by national and local actors. The Secretary-General stressed the role of partnerships – with regional and sub-regional organizations, and with international financial institutions, to safeguard development gains, strengthen resilience and build local capacities to prevent and respond to conflicts.

The Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission tomorrow will sign a joint declaration on the partnership between the two organizations. That ceremony should take place at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow and if you’re interested I think we can give you, we can share with you embargoed copies of what will be signed.

In Geneva, the initial roundtable meeting on Western Sahara convened by the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, Horst Köhler, got underway today.

Delegations from Morocco, the Frente POLISARIO, Algeria and Mauritania are present for this initial meeting which is scheduled to last until tomorrow.

The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) Force Commander, Major General Stefano Del Col, today chaired a regular Tripartite meeting with senior officers from the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Israeli Defense Forces at the UN position in Ras Al Naqoura. This included discussions on IDF activities south of the Blue Line looking for suspected tunnels.

The meeting, which had been scheduled before yesterday’s start of the IDF’s operations on the northern front, provided a forum to present and discuss issues related to the ongoing IDF activities to ensure that overall calm prevails in the weeks ahead.

Major General Del Col emphasized the critical role of the UN forces’s liaison and coordination mechanisms in mitigating tensions through continuous communications. He encouraged both sides to avoid misunderstandings and ensure that security and stability along the Blue Line is maintained and reinforced.

The Force Commander stressed the importance of ensuring that UNIFIL has full access to all locations along the Blue Line, and he appealed for the support of the parties in reducing the high level of rhetoric. At the meeting, it was also agreed that UNIFIL would send a technical team to Israel on 6 December to ascertain the facts.

On Syria, the UN continues to receive disturbing reports of ongoing hostilities affecting the civilian population in Syria’s south-eastern Deir Ezzour Governorate.

Yesterday, airstrikes in the Hajin and Abu Kamal areas were reportedly killed and injured several civilians, including women and children. Ongoing clashes in Hajin town and surrounding areas are reportedly continue to place further civilian lives at risk.

The United Nations and its partners have been unable to access the areas in recent weeks due to the active hostilities. Previous assistance to the internally displaced people in the Gharanij and Bahra areas was delivered in October, when assistance to 5,000 people was provided.

The UN continues to call for safe, sustained and unimpeded humanitarian access to all people in need, and for all parties to the conflict to ensure the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure, in line with their obligations under international humanitarian law.

On Yemen, yesterday, senior officials from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) visited Taizz City as part of an effort to scale-up [aid] operations in the area.

Although the security situation is improving in the city, humanitarian needs remain high and the city remains divided by a frontline, which means that civilians must travel hours on a long rural road to cross from one side to another.

Water and sanitation related needs are particularly high, while health facilities are operating under capacity and the electricity grid needs to be restored.

The main road from Taizz to Aden is closed due to the conflict, with commodity prices pushed higher and higher due to difficulties in access.

Hundreds of families have returned to their homes to damaged neighbourhoods in recent months and urgently require shelter, water, sanitation and other emergency support.

In Katowice, Poland, today the World Health Organization (WHO) launched a report which says that meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement could save about a million lives a year worldwide by 2050 through reductions in air pollution alone. The report also estimates from leading experts also indicate that the value of health gains from climate action would be approximately double the cost of mitigation policies at the global level, and the benefit-to-cost ratio is even higher in countries such as China and India.

In the 15 countries that produce the most greenhouse gas emissions, the health impacts of air pollution are estimated to cost more than 4 per cent of their GDP while actions to meet the Paris goals would cost around 1 per cent of the global GDP.

More information on the website of the World Health Organization.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, spoke today in Geneva ahead of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

She said that, in the decades since its adoption, the Declaration has underpinned countless beneficial changes in the lives of millions of people across the world, permeating some 90 national Constitutions and numerous national, regional and international laws and institutions.

But, as Ms. Bachelet pointed out, 70 years after its adoption, the work the Universal Declaration proposes is far from over and never will be.

She noted that, while we are born ‘free and equal,’ millions of people have their dignity trampled and their rights violated on a daily basis.

The International Organization today released a report which estimates that 164 million people worldwide are migrant workers. This represents a 9 per cent rise since 2013, when the number was 150 million.

The report says that 58 per cent of migrant workers are men and 44 per cent are women. ILO said that women still face discrimination because of their gender and nationality, reducing their employment opportunities in other countries.

The report also notes that nearly 61 per cent of migrant workers are to be found in North America, Northern, Southern and Western Europe and in the Arab countries.

Today is World Soil Day. This year’s theme is ‘Be the Solution to Soil Pollution’. Soil pollution degrades our soils, poisons the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe. Most of the pollutants originate from human activities, such as unsustainable farming practices, industrial activities and mining, untreated urban waste and other non-environmental friendly practices. The theme draws attention as to how governments and business [can] help ensure food security.

Today is also International Volunteer Day. In a tweet, the Secretary-General thanked the more than 1 billion volunteers worldwide for dedicating their time, skills and passion to make the world a better place.

This year, the Day celebrates volunteer efforts that strengthen local ownership and the resilience of the community in the face of natural disasters, economic stresses and political shocks.

Ghana has become the 150th member to pay its budget dues in full.
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