Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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17-Jan-2019 00:17:12
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The Secretary-General is pleased to announce the appointment of Ms. Sima Samar of Afghanistan and Mr. Juan Gabriel Valdés of Chile to his High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation. Ms. Samar and Mr. Valdés succeed Michelle Bachelet and Mr. José Manuel Ramos-Horta, to whom he is grateful for their valued expertise during their membership on the Board.

Ms. Samar is the Chairperson of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), and, among other roles, previously served as the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Sudan.

Mr. Valdés is a former Foreign Minister of Chile, the former Permanent Representative to the UN in New York and, most recently, Ambassador to the United States. He’s also previously served as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Haiti, and led a strategic review of the UN peacekeeping force in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).

The High-Level Advisory Board was established in September 2017 to provide the Secretary-General with advice on mediation initiatives and back specific mediation efforts around the world.

Our humanitarian colleagues inform us that, following fighting between two non-state armed groups in parts of northwest Syria in early January, which reportedly resulted in the death and injury of civilians, Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham have reportedly expanded their control in the area.

The United Nations continues to support the millions of people in need throughout northwest Syria, with assistance provided from across the border in Turkey. While the full implications of Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham’s control are not yet clear, the UN and partners are closely following developments to ensure that independent, impartial and principled humanitarian action continues.

The United Nations continues to remind all parties of their obligations under international humanitarian law to take all measures to protect civilians and to ensure safe, sustained and unimpeded humanitarian access to all those who need it.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, has expressed concern about credible reports of the use of excessive force, including live ammunition, by State security forces against protestors across Sudan over the past month.

Demonstrations have taken place in cities across Sudan since 19 September [December] 2018; the Government says 24 people have died in the course of the protests, but according to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), other credible reports suggest the death toll may be [nearly] twice as high. Many others have been injured, while authorities say they have arrested more than 800 in connection with the demonstrations.

In a statement today, Ms. Bachelet called on the Sudanese Government to protect the exercise by all people – regardless of their political affiliation – of their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. She also urged all sides to refrain from the use of violence.

Today, Michael Bloomberg, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Climate Action, announced the founding members of the Climate Finance Leadership Initiative, who will help facilitate the private financing objectives of the Paris Agreement.

Mr. Bloomberg will work closely with the founding members in their efforts to accelerate investments in clean energy and climate solutions around the world.

The members of the Initiative are: Thomas Buberl, CEO of the French insurance company AXA, John Flint, CEO of HSBC bank, Hiro Mizuno, Executive Managing Director and Chief Investment Officer of Japan’s Pension Investment Fund, Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon, and CEO of the Italian company Enel, Francesco Starace, and the CEO of Australia’s investment firm Macquarie [Shemara Wikramanayake].

The United Nations in Colombia today strongly condemned the attack committed against the General Santander National Police Academy in Bogotá, which left several fatalities and dozens injured.

“It is an unacceptable criminal act which goes against the efforts the country is making to steer away from violence and work with its people to build a more prosperous and peaceful future,” the UN Office in Colombia said.

The United Nations in Colombia expressed solidarity with the families of the victims and the National Police and wished a speedy recovery to all those who were injured in this criminal act. We join this condemnation of this attack.
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