PRESS BRIEFING BY BRENDEN VARMA, SPOKESPERSON FOR GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT VOLKAN BOZKIR

PRESIDENT HOPES NEW NUCLEAR WEAPONS TREATY CAN BOLSTER NON-PROLIFERATION & DISARMAMENT EFFORTS

  • This morning, the President noted that the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world has been with the UN since its inception – and that today the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) enters into force.
  • He said he hopes it can safeguard and strengthen the international non-proliferation and disarmament architecture with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) at its core.
  • Asked whether the President would convene Meetings of States Parties to the TPNW, the Spokesperson later informed the journalist that, by its resolution 72/31 of 4 December 2017, the General Assembly had tasked the Secretary-General to convene the TPNW’s Meetings of States Parties and Review Conferences.
  • Asked how the TPNW could be reconciled with the NPT, which “permits [some countries] to hold on to their nuclear weapons,” the Spokesperson said he had nothing to add to what the President had already said this morning. He reiterated the President’s hope that the TPNW would safeguard and strengthen the international non-proliferation and disarmament architecture with the NPT at its core.

MORNING DIALOGUE URGES ACTION ON ENERGY

  • Today, the President held the fifth in his series of Morning Dialogues with United Nations ambassadors.
  • Nine ambassadors attended.
  • The topic was “Galvanizing Action on Energy for All: The High-Level Dialogue on Energy and the Road to 2050.”
  • One of the aims was to encourage participants to become champions for Sustainable Development Goal 7 and encourage the wider membership to do the same
  • Special guests included Damilola Ogunbiyi, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All and Co-Chair of UN-Energy and the High-Level Dialogue on Energy, as well as a representative of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
  • The High-Level Dialogue on Energy will be convened by the Secretary-General this September as the first global gathering on energy under the auspices of the General Assembly since 1981. 

PRESIDENT DISCUSSES VACCINES WITH LANCET COVID-19 COMMISSION

  • The President met virtually this morning with Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Chair of the Lancet COVID-19 Commission.
  • The Commission works to help Governments, civil society and UN institutions, to respond effectively to the pandemic.
  • The President briefed Professor Sachs on the General Assembly’s special session on COVID-19, which was held last month, and his #Vaccines4All initiative.
  • They also discussed financing for vaccines, the need for international coordination on vaccine production and distribution, and the importance of sharing best practices and lessons learned, given that some countries had been more successful than others in containing the virus.

PRESIDENT WELCOMES RENEWED U.S. COMMITMENT TO MULTILATERALISM

  • On Twitter yesterday, the President congratulated United States President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on their inauguration and welcomed the renewed US commitment to crucial multilateral initiatives addressing the challenges of our times.
  • In that context, he referred to the World Health Organization, the fight against COVID-19, climate change and migration.

JOINT LETTER FROM PRESIDENTS OF GENERAL ASSEMBLY & SECURITY COUNCIL TO LAUNCH SECRETARY-GENERAL SELECTION PROCESS

  • Asked for an update on the Secretary-General selection and appointment process, the Spokesperson said the President had shared a draft joint letter with his Security Council counterpart, and the idea was for the letter to be sent by both Presidents to all Member States. The letter would launch the process and invite Member States to present candidates if they so wished.
  • The President had not yet received feedback from his Security Council counterpart. Once both Presidents agreed on the text, the letter would be sent to all Member States and then made publicly available.
  • Asked if the Security Council President first had to circulate the draft letter to all 15 Council members and seek their approval, the Spokesperson said that was his understanding, while clarifying that he did not speak for the Security Council.
  • Asked when the letter had to be sent out, the Spokesperson said there was no official deadline. At this stage, the President was waiting for a reply from the Security Council, and once he had a positive response, the letter would be sent.

OTHER ITEMS

  • 75TH ANNIVERSARY OF 1ST ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION: This Sunday will mark the 75th anniversary of the adoption of the first ever General Assembly resolution. It was entitled: “Establishment of a Commission to Deal with the Problems Raised by the Discovery of Atomic Energy”. It was adopted on recommendation by the First Committee on 24 January 1946 in London.
  • SECURITY COUNCIL REFORM: Concerning the intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform, there will be a closed informal plenary meeting on Monday. The President will deliver remarks, which will be made publicly available.