HIGHLIGHTS OF PRESS BRIEFING BY BRENDEN VARMA, SPOKESPERSON FOR GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT MIROSLAV LAJČÁK

PRESIDENT BACK IN NEW YORK, CHAIRS WATER DECADE LAUNCH EVENT

  • The President is back in New York. His High-level event to launch the International Decade for Action, “Water for Sustainable Development”, 2018–2028, is ending today.
  • There are currently 48 speakers on the list. When they are done, the President will deliver closing remarks.
  • The President will then be opening the exhibit “Water Action Decade – Countries’ Perspectives” – today from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Delegates Entrance.
  • The exhibit will focus on Sustainable Development Goal 6, which deals with access to clean water and sanitation. It will feature water-related photography from 12 different countries.
  • That will be followed by slide projections of water-related images and messages on the United Nations building – from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

 

PRESIDENT MEETS WITH OFFICIALS FROM AFRICA, MALDIVES, NEW YORK, U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY

  • The President will host a lunch today for the African Group here at Headquarters. The goal is to exchange positions, ideas, and insights on the relationship between the United Nations and Africa.
  • Also today, the President met with Penny Abeywardena, New York City’s Commissioner for International Affairs, to discuss cooperation between the General Assembly and the City of New York.
  • He also met with UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, who is in town today. The main topics for discussion were the two Global Compacts for Migrants and Refugees, as well as the Rohingya issue.
  • The President also met today with the Foreign Minister of the Maldives.

 

PRESIDENT TO HEAD TO BRUSSELS AND PRAGUE

  • The President will be leaving this weekend for Prague, Czech Republic, and will be there from 25 to 26 March. There he will address the opening of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Preparatory Meeting entitled “Towards sustainable, resilient and inclusive societies through participation of all”.
  • While in Prague, the President is expected to meet with Czech officials, including the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister; and the President of the Chamber of Deputies in Parliament.
  • From Prague, the President will head to Brussels, Belgium, on 26 March, where he is planning to meet with officials from European institutions, the Foreign Minister of Belgium and the UN Country Team.

 

PRESIDENT VISITS “ARK OF RETURN”, HONOURS THOSE WHO FOUGHT AGAINST SLAVERY

  • The President will not be able attend the General Assembly’s commemorative meeting on Monday to mark the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
  • Therefore, this morning, he visited The Ark of Return on the United Nations Visitors Plaza, which serves as a Permanent Memorial to Honour the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
  • There, the Permanent Representative of Jamaica, who also serves as the Chair of the Permanent Memorial Committee, explained the monument’s significance to the President.
  • Following his visit, the President said: “The Ark of Return speaks of human dignity. It’s about people – more than 18 million Africans denied their humanity for over 400 years. Uprooted, sold as chattel, exploited, forced into labour. It’s about people who fought bravely against this atrocity. On this International Day, we acknowledge the tragedy; consider the legacy; lest we forget.”

 

SECURITY COUNCIL REFORM EFFORTS ONGOING

  • Asked for updates on Security Council reform, the Spokesperson said that the Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN) were still ongoing. The Co-Chairs of the process, who were the Permanent Representatives of Georgia and the United Arab Emirates, remained engaged and in contact with Member States as they worked to move the process forward.
  • Asked whether the process would conclude by the end of the President’s term, the Spokesperson said he could not predict what would happen by the end of the 72nd He would, however, continue to report on developments as they occurred.
  • He later added that the next informal IGN meeting would be held on 27 and 28 March.

 

NO TIMELINE SPECIFIED FOR MYANMAR ENVOY APPOINTMENT

  • The Spokesperson was asked about General Assembly resolution A/RES/72/248, by which the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to appoint a special envoy on Myanmar. He was asked what the President would do to ensure that the appointment happened “in a timely manner.”
  • The Spokesperson said that the General Assembly did expect the Secretariat to act in accordance with the resolution but also noted that the resolution had not specified a timeline for appointment.
  • For his part, the President had never commented on when the envoy should be appointed. In that regard, questions on timing should be directed to the Secretariat, the Spokesperson said.