PRESS BRIEFING BY BRENDEN VARMA, SPOKESPERSON FOR GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT VOLKAN BOZKIR
PRESIDENT WELCOMES U.S. DECISION TO REENGAGE WITH HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
- This morning, the President welcomed the United States’ decision to reengage with the UN Human Rights Council.
- He added that multilateralism only works when Member States participate in the institutions that were created to bring us together and address global challenges.
PROCESS LAUNCHED FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL SELECTION & APPOINTMENT
- On Friday afternoon, the Presidents of the General Assembly and Security Council signed a joint letter to Member States, which officially launched the selection and appointment process for the position of Secretary-General.
- That letter, which had been posted on our web site, states that Member States presenting candidates should do so in a letter to the Presidents of the General Assembly and Security Council.
- The Presidents will jointly circulate to all Member States the names of individuals that have been submitted for consideration when received – and will offer all candidates opportunities for informal dialogues or meetings with members of their respective bodies.
- The letter states that informal dialogues with candidates in the General Assembly will take place before the Council begins its selection by May or June 2021, and may continue, if necessary, throughout the process of selection.
- Our office has just launched a web page, which should help the public to better understand the Secretary-General selection and appointment process. It will be updated regularly. It can be accessed at: un.org/pga/75/sg-selection/.
- Asked if any candidates had been presented thus far, the Spokesperson noted that the current incumbent, António Guterres, had confirmed to the President his availability to serve. Regarding any other candidates, none had been presented as of yet. In that context, the Spokesperson reminded the journalist that the letter outlining the procedure for Member States to present candidates, if they so wished, had only been sent out on Friday afternoon. If candidates were presented, the membership would be informed, and candidates’ profiles would be posted online.
- Asked whether there was a deadline for Member States to present candidates, the Spokesperson said there was nothing set in stone and recalled that the President had said in his last press conference that candidates could be presented “even one month before January”. The joint letter mentioned May or June, as a time by when informal dialogues with candidates in the General Assembly might happen. But that was not an official deadline, as Member States had not imposed time limits on the process. The Spokesperson recalled that the President had said at his press conference that, depending on the number of candidates and when they were presented, there may also be different waves of dialogues.
PRESIDENT’S THOUGHTS WITH INDIA IN WAKE OF GLACIER BREAK
- Yesterday, the President said that he was closely following the news out of Uttarakhand, India, where the breaking of a glacier – at the time – had led to at least 9 dead and 140 missing.
- He added that, as rescue efforts continued, his thoughts were with the Indian Government and people.
PRESIDENT ADDRESSES SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT BODY, CALLS FOR NEW SOCIAL CONTRACT
- This morning in the General Assembly Hall, the President addressed the 59th session of the UN Commission for Social Development.
- In his remarks, he said that social policy has a key role to play in mitigating and overcoming the negative effects of COVID-19, in particular its impact on disadvantaged and vulnerable populations.
- He said we need a new social contract, which addresses the root causes of inequality and prioritizes equal opportunities. That includes expanding access to education, ensuring that educational curricula reflect the modern world and new technologies, and closing the digital divide.
VULNERABLE COUNTRIES AT RISK OF LOSING GENERATION OF DEVELOPMENT GAINS
- The President also spoke this morning to the Organizational Session of the Preparatory Committee for the Fifth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries – or LDCs.
- He said that many LDCs are already facing dire situations – with more than 240 million people being hungry.
- He added that, while all Member States have been adversely affected by COVID-19, the most vulnerable countries face the greatest risk of losing a generation of hard-won development gains. He said, “We cannot let that happen. This is where the 2030 promise will be won or lost.”
PRESIDENT HOPES FOR MEMBER STATES’ ACTIVE ENGAGEMENT ON SECURITY COUNCIL REFORM
- Asked for the President’s position on Security Council reform, given that he was “coming from a country which often calls for… reforms of the Security Council”, the Spokesperson said it was not for him to draw links between the President’s nationality and his position on Security Council reform. Any questions about Turkish policies should be directed to the Permanent Representative of Turkey, the Spokesperson added.
- On Security Council reform in general, the Spokesperson said he did not have much to add to what the President had already told the press at his last press conference. The President hoped to see the active engagement of Member States – in a collaborative way and through dialogue. He believed that the Security Council must reflect the realities of today, and he would continue to support the Co-chairs of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on their reform efforts.
NO INVITATION RECEIVED FOR MEETING ON JAMMU & KASHMIR
- The Spokesperson was asked whether the President had been invited to a recent Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting on Jammu and Kashmir. The Spokesperson said no such invitation had been received.
- The journalist asked why the President had not been invited. The Spokesperson said that was a question for the organizers of the meeting.