HIGHLIGHTS OF PRESS BRIEFING BY BRENDEN VARMA, SPOKESPERSON FOR GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT MIROSLAV LAJČÁK
RURAL WOMEN NEED OUR SUPPORT, PRESIDENT TELLS COMMISSION
- This morning the President addressed the opening segment of the 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women.
- He lauded the Commission for having used its voice and convening power to push women to the top of the international agenda.
- On this year’s theme, “Empowering Rural Women and Girls”, he said rural women are not always on our television screens or in our headlines. That is why we need a platform, like the Commission, to shine a spotlight on the challenges they face.
- Citing examples from Kenya and India, he said rural women do not need our help in finding solutions. What they need is our support, in turning their ideas into reality.
- Asked why the President’s speech in the Commission had “ignored the historic oppression of women by colonial powers, occupation and foreign domination”, the Spokesperson noted that issues such as women’s rights, women’s empowerment and gender equality were of the utmost importance to the President. His speech today had focused on rural women because that was the theme of the Commission’s current session.
MIGRATION TALKS RESUME IN NEW YORK
- The second round of intergovernmental negotiations on the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, resume today. They will last four days.
- The issues to be discussed will be: differentiation between irregular and regular; differentiation between migrants and refugees; implementation and capacity-building; and follow-up and review.
U.N. GEARING UP TO LAUNCH INTERNATIONAL WATER DECADE
- As per General Assembly resolution 71/222, Member States decided to proclaim the period from 2018 to 2028 as the International Decade for Action on “Water for Sustainable Development”.
- The launch event for the Water Decade will be held on 22 March at United Nations Headquarters.
- The provisional programme for that event is now available online.
SECURITY COUNCIL REFORM IN THE HANDS OF MEMBER STATES
- Asked about the prospects for Security Council reform and whether the “the stalemate would continue forever”, the Spokesperson said that the process was in the hands of the Member States.
- For his part, the President wished to see a credible process and meaningful progress, and would do whatever Member States allowed him to do. The Spokesperson added that the President had appointed two co-facilitators for this Member States-driven process, the Permanent Representatives of Georgia and the United Arab Emirates, and that the Intergovernmental Negotiations were continuing.
PRESIDENT STANDS FIRMLY AGAINST SEXUAL HARASSMENT, EXPLOITATION, ABUSE
- The Spokesperson was asked whether sexual harassment allegations at UNICEF would be raised during the President’s meeting today with the new UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, and whether the President felt that UNICEF had handled the allegations properly.
- The Spokesperson responded that it would not be for the President to weigh in on how UNICEF was or was not handling given situations. Today’s meeting was an introductory meeting. It was being held so that the President and Executive Director could meet each other and inform each other about their respective areas of responsibility.
- For the President’s part, he stood very firmly against sexual harassment, as well as sexual exploitation and abuse, and supported a zero-tolerance policy in that regard.
PRESIDENT DISCUSSES PEACE & MULTILATERALISM WITH NOBEL LAUREATE
- Asked what would be discussed in the President’s meeting today with former Finnish President and Nobel laureate Martti Ahtisaari, the Spokesperson later informed the journalist, after the meeting took place, that the topics were sustaining peace, conflict prevention, mediation and the importance of multilateralism.
PRESIDENT SUPPORTS TWO-STATE SOLUTION FOR ISRAEL AND PALESTINE
- The Spokesperson was asked why the President was not speaking out against “violations” of the resolution on Jerusalem adopted by the General Assembly’s tenth Emergency Special Session on 21 December 2017. The Spokesperson replied that the President’s position on the matter was clear; he had outlined it in the General Assembly plenary on 29 November during a meeting on the Question of Palestine.
- The President had repeatedly expressed his firm belief that there was no alternative to the two-State solution, by which both Israel and Palestine would live side by side in peace, security and mutual recognition. The President also believed that all final status issues should be negotiated by Israelis and Palestinians.
- The Spokesperson added that the President had acted in an open and transparent manner to resume the tenth Emergency Special Session, after receiving a request from Member States. In that context, he had a very specific role, which he had exercised in December.
- Regarding the resolution adopted by the tenth Emergency Special Session, it had served as a very important expression of political will from the majority of Member States, and it was up to Member States to now take its recommendations on board.