Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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09-Sep-2019 00:19:24
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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During an event to mark the International Day against Nuclear Tests, the Secretary-General called upon all States to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, otherwise known as the CTBT.

In the 21st century, nuclear testing is simply not acceptable, he said.

It is not acceptable to destroy and contaminate the environment, or for local populations to suffer from radioactive fallout and other nuclear byproducts.

The Secretary-General reminded Member States that, despite wide support, the Treaty has not yet entered into force.

It is not acceptable to prevent the treaty’s entry into force, he said, and to withhold a valuable restraint on the qualitative and quantitative proliferation of nuclear weapons and a practical step towards their total elimination.

Let us join together to make the most of this occasion to renew our commitment to outlaw all nuclear tests, for all time in all places, the Secretary-General said.

In a statement issued over the weekend, the Secretary-General welcomed the exchange of prisoners and detainees that took place between the Russian Federation and Ukraine on 7 September and commended all those who brought this to fruition, including President Volodymyr Zelensky and President Vladimir Putin. He hopes that this important humanitarian act could serve as a positive step towards strengthening confidence among all, enabling regular and constructive dialogue at all levels with a view to paving the way to an eventual settlement of the conflict in the eastern part of the country.

The Secretary-General urges all relevant parties to take further measures in this spirit, to ensure continued momentum in the ongoing peace efforts by the Normandy Four, the Trilateral Contact Group, the OSCE and other actors, including by ensuring a durable ceasefire, easing humanitarian conditions along the contact line, and enabling progress in the implementation of the Minsk Agreements.

The Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, is on her way back to New York after speaking at the opening plenary of the 14th Conference of Parties to the Convention to Combat Desertification, which took place today in New Delhi, India.

She told the delegates that the scientific data shows that the massive effort to fight desertification and land degradation is painfully overdue. She added that a quarter of our greenhouse emissions comes from land degradation, while a million species face extinction, threatening ecosystems that provide everything we eat, drink and breathe. The lives of half of the people on this planet are affected by desertification, land degradation and drought, she warned.

What’s worse, the Deputy Secretary-General said, is that the unhealthier our land becomes, the more dangerous the side effects will be. The efforts to combat this problem will be massive, she added, but together we can get it done.

Speaking at a luncheon on climate change afterwards, she said that citizens around the world are demanding that we as leaders take bolder action to address the climate emergency. Young women and men are imploring us to lead and deliver on our promises of a clean and just transition towards a greener future. We cannot let them down, she said.

On The Bahamas, our humanitarian colleagues said UN agencies conducted assessment missions in Abaco Islands over the weekend and will continue in the coming days. Across Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama, airports and seaports are increasingly becoming operational. However, access to those impacted remains challenging, due to damaged roads and infrastructure.

The World Food Programme (WFP) said that 14,700 individual ready-to-eat meals have been delivered to the islands.

UNICEF said that over the weekend, a plane carrying nearly 1.5 tons of lifesaving supplies arrived in Nassau. The shipment includes over 400,000 water purification tablets, several 5,000-liter tanks for at least 2,000 people; and at least 1,000 jerry cans. UNICEF said it was able to access Abaco on Friday and the team there said it witnessed widespread devastation and destruction. Schools and hospitals are flattened; houses and roads have collapsed; with cars and boats hanging in trees. UNICEF is urgently appealing for $4 million to scale up its humanitarian response.

Meanwhile, for its part, the World Health Organization launched a $3.5 million appeal to cover short-term health care and other needs. The appeal includes $1.3 million to restore healthcare delivery in affected areas, $500,000 for surveillance to detect and manage disease outbreaks, and $800,000 for safe access to water, emergency sanitation and control of diseases.

The Security Council is holding an open meeting today on peacekeeping and was briefed by Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations.

He said that peacekeeping is an essential multilateral tool for preventing conflict, reducing the risk of relapse and reaching sustainable peace, noting that the Secretary-General launched his Action for Peacekeeping initiative over a year and a half ago.

Mr. Lacroix said that political solutions, which are a prerequisite to sustainable peace, are at the center of this agenda.

He pointed to the example of the Central African Republic, where the UN Mission there has taken advantage of its stronger political mandate and robust security posture of its peacekeepers to create an environment that led the Government and main armed groups to signing a peace accord in February.

Mr. Lacroix stressed that the UN remains fully committed to improving peacekeeping, but that the journey has just begun and cannot be taken alone.

We informed you yesterday, on Yemen, that the members of the Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC) for the implementation of the Hudaydah Agreement held their sixth joint meeting on Saturday and Sunday, aboard a UN vessel in open waters off Hudaydah.

In a statement issued today, the RCC members reaffirmed their commitment to the Hudaydah Agreement and previous understandings, and they activated the Ceasefire Enhancement and De-escalation Mechanism that was agreed upon at the last RCC meeting held in July. On this basis, a Joint Operations Centre is being established and activated in the UN Mission in Hudaydah’s facility. The Centre includes Liaison and Coordination Officers from both parties, in addition to UN Liaison and Coordination Officers.

The Joint Operations Centre will work on de-escalation and address incidents that occur in the field by maintaining direct communications with field liaison officers deployed on the fronts of Hudaydah governorate.

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) welcomed the visit by Riek Machar, the Chairman of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army - in Opposition. He arrived in Juba this morning to meet with President Salva Kiir.

David Shearer, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, said that this visit is a welcome step in the peace process as the deadline of the extended Pre-transition period approaches.

He voiced hope that the meeting will be the first of many between the leaders to build confidence and trust to establish a Revitalized Government of National Unity on 12 November.

Earlier today, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said climate change represents a threat to human rights of a scope we have never seen.

During remarks delivered at the opening of the 42nd session of the Human Rights Council, the High Commissioner said the economies of all nations; the institutional, political, social and cultural fabric of every State; and the rights of all people will be impacted.

There is still time to act, she added, but the window of opportunity for action may be closing.

The UNICEF installation, unveiled this weekend in the North Lawn of the UN Headquarters, shows the devastating scale of child deaths in conflict zones in 2018. The display features 3,758 backpacks in rows reminiscent of a graveyard, each one representing the loss of a young life to conflict.

According to UNICEF, the installation, which will run through 10 September, is a message to world leaders as children in many parts of the world are returning back to school and just days ahead of the annual General Assembly.

Once the installation is taken down, the backpacks will continue their journey to support children’s education.

More than 12,000 children were killed or maimed in conflict zones last year, the agency said. This is the highest number since the UN started monitoring and reporting grave violations.

Today, we would like to thank our friends in Belarus for their payment to the regular budget, which brings us to 117 Member States who have paid their dues in full.

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