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

PEACE SHOULD BE A CULTURE, PRESIDENT TELLS HIGH-LEVEL FORUM

  • This morning, the President convened the High-level Forum on the Culture of Peace.
  • The theme this year is: “The Culture of Peace: A Credible Pathway to Sustaining Peace”.
  • In his remarks, the President said, “Peace should not be a theory. It should not be a principle or an aim or an outcome. It should not have a budget – or a timeline.
  • “Instead, peace should be something that we can touch, see, feel and experience – on a daily basis. It should be in the air around us – or the ground we walk on. It should, in essence, be a culture. And one that is here to stay.”
  • Also speaking in the opening session were the Secretary-General’s Chef de Cabinet and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Rigoberta Menchú.
  • There will also be a panel discussion this afternoon in the Trusteeship Council Chamber.
  • The panellists will include the UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, the Permanent Representatives of Kenya and Mexico, the Director of UNESCO’s Office in New York, and the Director of the Peace and Justice Institute in Orlando, Florida.

 

GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT PACT COULD BE GOOD FOR PLANET

  • The General Assembly’s process to address possible gaps in international environmental law and environmental related instruments started this morning.
  • This is in accordance with the General Assembly’s resolution from last May, entitled “Towards a Global Pact for the Environment”.
  • In his remarks to that meeting today, the President said a Global Pact for the Environment would have the potential to create more coherence and integration among our various agreements and mechanisms.
  • He added that the Pact could also “allow us to pick up the pace, in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement. And it could give us the push forward that we need– as we adopt new economic models.”
  • In short, the Pact could allow us to “hand our planet over in as good a – or even better – condition than we ourselves inherited,” the President said.

 

IMPROVEMENTS MAKE GENERAL ASSEMBLY HALL MORE ACCESSIBLE TO PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

  • The President is hosting a working lunch today on accessibility of the United Nations and inclusion of persons with disabilities in the work of the Organization.
  • Attendees will include representatives of Member States, the UN Secretariat and persons with disabilities – as well as the President-elect of the General Assembly’s 73rd session.
  • President Lajčák is expected to say that the UN has spoken about disability rights, and disability and development. But it needs to lead by example.
  • On a related note, changes were made to the General Assembly Hall last month – to make it more accessible for wheelchair users. Those changes were encouraged by President Lajčák.
  • They include the addition of: a portable ramp and lift to the front rostrum, as well as a platform for speakers; a permanent wheelchair lift to the top podium; a ramp to the back of the GA-200 area; and floating wheelchair adviser seats for delegations.

 

REVIEW OF PRESIDENT’S FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE STATEMENT COMPLETED

  • The review of the President’s financial disclosure statement has now been completed by an external reviewer.
  • The President had submitted that statement to the Ethics Office last month, for external review.
  • This was in line with General Assembly resolution 70/305 on “Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly”.
  • According to that resolution, the Assembly “decides that Presidents of the General Assembly shall provide financial disclosures upon assumption and completion of their duties, in line with the existing United Nations financial disclosure programme”.
  • The external reviewer said it would inform the UN Ethics Office that President Lajčák’s file has been cleared of conflicts of interest.

 

ANTI-NUCLEAR TEST DAY TO BE OBSERVED TOMORROW

  • Tomorrow the President will convene a High-level Meeting to Commemorate and Promote the International Day Against Nuclear Tests
  • The actual day was on 29 August, but it is being observed tomorrow.
  • In addition to the President, the Secretary-General, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) Executive Secretary and the ATOM Project’s Honorary Ambassador will speak.