HIGHLIGHTS OF PRESS BRIEFING BY BRENDEN VARMA, SPOKESPERSON FOR GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT MIROSLAV LAJČÁK
PRESIDENT CHANGES TRAVEL PLANS, HEADS TO SLOVAKIA FOR SWEARING-IN CEREMONY
- As announced last week, the President was supposed to be in Brazil today to address the World Water Forum.
- However, the Slovak Government submitted its resignation last Thursday. The new Prime Minister invited President Lajčák to serve in the new Government – and continue his role as Foreign Minister.
- President Lajčák therefore needs to be in Bratislava tomorrow morning – for the swearing-in ceremony.
- As a result, he had to cancel the Brazil leg of his visit to South America. He will be back in the office on Thursday.
- The original arrangement will continue. Mr. Lajčák will be fully devoted to his responsibilities as President of the General Assembly – while his responsibilities as Foreign Minister of Slovakia will be covered by an Acting Minister until the end of his United Nations mandate. There will be no change in that regard.
- Asked whether Slovak law required the President to be in Slovakia for the swearing-in ceremony, the Spokesperson said it was not his place to explain the laws of Slovakia. He stated that the President’s presence in Bratislava had been required, which is why the President had changed his travel plans.
PRESIDENT WRAPS UP TRIP TO COLOMBIA
- The President ended his trip to Colombia on Saturday.
- In Bogotá, he met with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. They discussed the Colombian peace process, United Nations-Colombia collaboration, regional dynamics, the Sustainable Development Goals, United Nations reforms and migration.
- President Lajčák thanked President Santos for agreeing to attend the High-level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace that he will convene on 24 and 25 April in New York.
- The President also travelled to the western town of Totoró to visit indigenous communities and a unique United Nations interagency project, which works to build peace and support sustainable development through strengthening local leadership, bolstering social cohesion, empowering rural women, improving food security and building agricultural capacities.
- He cited the project as an inspiring example of the kind of grassroots peacebuilding and cooperation that is needed in post-conflict societies.
- Asked whether Venezuela had been raised in the meeting with President Santos, the Spokesperson reiterated that regional dynamics had been discussed.
INFORMAL MEETING ON SYRIA MECHANISM TO BE CONVENED NEXT MONTH
- On Syria, the President received a letter from the Permanent Representatives of Liechtenstein and Qatar – on behalf of 56 delegations.
- The letter requests the President to convene an informal debate of the General Assembly to allow the Head of the International Impartial and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Persons Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law Committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011 (IIIM) to present her report — followed by a discussion by the United Nations membership.
- Following that request, the President has decided to convene an informal meeting of the General Assembly on Tuesday, 17 April, at 10:00 a.m. in the General Assembly Hall.
REVITALIZATION GROUP TO BE BRIEFED BY COMMITTEE CHAIRS
- The Ad Hoc Working Group on the revitalization of the work of the General Assembly will be holding its second thematic meeting tomorrow.
- The Chairs of the Main Committees will brief the group on best practices and lessons learned – with a view to improving the Main Committees’ working methods.
VENEZUELA: NO ACTION CURRENTLY UNDERWAY ON ELECTORAL OBSERVATION MISSION
- Asked for updates related to an electoral observation mission in Venezuela, the Spokesperson confirmed that there had been a verbal request from the Venezuelan Government to the President during a meeting. That request had been studied.
- On 13 March, the President’s office had informed the Permanent Mission of Venezuela to the United Nations that it had determined that the requested electoral observation mission was currently a matter for the Secretariat – as demonstrated by the recent meeting between Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman and a Venezuelan delegation.
- Any further action by the General Assembly would require an initiative from Member States, and thus far, no such initiative had been taken.