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

NELSON MANDELA’S TEACHINGS NEEDED MORE THAN EVER

  • This morning, the General Assembly observed the Nelson Mandela International Day.
  • In his remarks, President Lajčák said that, even though Nelson Mandela is no longer with us, his teachings are. And we need them – now, more than ever.
  • The President added, “All over the world, we are seeing worrying rises in the trends that Nelson Mandela fought against. Intolerance. Hate. Inhumanity. Racism. Prejudice. Discrimination.”
  • He said, “We cannot be silent in the face of them. We need to push back harder – and to speak out louder – than ever.”
  • Also speaking at today’s event were the Secretary-General; SDG Advocate and UNESCO Special Envoy Forest Whitaker; South Africa’s Minister of Environmental Affairs; and New York City’s Commissioner of International Affairs.
  • During the meeting, a new UN stamp, commemorating the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth, was unveiled.
  • And since volunteering is a big part of Mandela Day, the President will volunteer this afternoon at a community garden in Harlem – along with South Africa’s Deputy Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, the UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications, and the New York City Commissioner for International Affairs.

 

MIGRATION REMAINS A REALITY, GLOBAL COMPACT CAN HELP COUNTRIES ADDRESS IT

  • Asked to respond to reports that Hungary would withdraw from the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, before its formal adoption in December, and that Hungary’s Foreign Minister had called the Global Compact a “threat to the world,” the Spokesperson said, “President Lajčák takes note of the comments made by the Hungarian Foreign Minister. He is convinced that the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, should not be seen as a threat – but rather as the first ever platform to address the international phenomenon of migration.”
  • “Regardless of various positions on migration and the text of the Global Compact, migration remains a reality. In that regard, the Global Compact, which is not legally binding, is helpful in that it offers a set of tools to United Nations Member States, which they can use as they determine their own national migration policies,” the Spokesperson said.
  • The Spokesperson added, “The President hopes to see the Hungarian Government represented this December in Morocco at the international conference that will formally adopt the Global Compact.”
  • Asked whether the President considered the Global Compact’s conclusions to be “international norms,” the Spokesperson reiterated that the Global Compact was not meant to be legally binding. Rather, it was meant to serve as a toolbox to assist Member States as they formulated their own migration policies. It contained a number of ideas that had garnered support from Member States.
  • The Spokesperson added that, previously, migration had been handled in a national and reactive fashion. In that regard, one of the aims of the Global Compact was to acknowledge and address the global phenomenon of migration, which was happening whether or not people liked it.
  • In response to further questions, the Spokesperson said that, while the text had been finalized, the Global Compact would not be formally adopted until December. He added that it was worth noting that 192 Member States had come together and discussed migration in all of its aspects, taking on board the views of Governments, civil society and migrants themselves, and coming up with a platform to shape the world’s common understanding of migration.
  • The ultimate goal of this exercise was to help ensure that migration remained safe, orderly and regular, the Spokesperson said.

 

PRESIDENT MEETS FOREIGN MINISTER OF MALTA

  • The President met today with the Foreign Minister of Malta.
  • They discussed progress made in the President’s priority areas – including migration and multilateralism. They focused on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, given Malta’s constructive role.

 

PRESIDENT TO DISCUSS DIPLOMACY AT CIVIL SOCIETY EVENT

  • The President will be participating this afternoon at an event organized by the Crisis Management Initiative, a Finnish non-governmental organisation that works to prevent and resolve conflict through dialogue and mediation.
  • The topic will be multi-track diplomacy.

 

PRESIDENT WELCOMES CHINA’S EFFORTS TO MEET GLOBAL GOALS

  • The Spokesperson was asked how the President viewed the role of China in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • He replied that the President had recently visited China, and as he had told the Chinese media, he welcomed China’s role and participation in helping the world advance toward meeting the SDGs.
  • One of the President’s priorities for the 72nd session involved maintaining the momentum to achieve the SDGs. China’s role was key in that regard.