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

PRESIDENT REAFFIRMS THAT BLACK LIVES MATTER & HIGHLIGHTS ANTI-ASIAN ATTACKS AS ASSEMBLY DISCUSSES RACISM 

  • This morning, the General Assembly held its annual meeting to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.  
  • Prior to the meeting, the President met privately with today’s eminent speaker, Uzodinma Iweala, the award-winning author of the novel Beasts of No Nation and CEO of The Africa Center. 
  • Later, in his remarks, the President noted that the General Assembly had declared in resolution 74/270, that “there is no place for any form of discrimination, racism and xenophobia in the response to the pandemic”. 
  • However, the President said there has been a rise in intolerance over the past year. He said an increase in xenophobic and anti-Asian attacks and hate speech has emerged during this pandemic, with tragic consequences.  
  • He added that, being subjected to racial discrimination is a deeply personal experience, one which some cannot relate to. We therefore need to listen to, and learn from, those who are comfortable sharing their experiences. We need to consider the impact of policies on the most vulnerable.  
  • He said, “No one should be restricted from living a life of their choosing – for any reason and certainly not because of the colour of their skin.” 
  • He concluded by saying: “It is a shameful sign of society today that this needs to be said, but it does. Let me say here today, in the General Assembly: Black. Lives. Matter.” 

 

WATER MEETING TO CONTINUE ON MONDAY 

  • Regarding yesterday’s High-level Meeting on Water, 41 speakers addressed the plenary. They included 3 Heads of State, 2 Heads of Government, 1 Deputy Prime Minister and 34 Ministers. 
  • Not all speakers were able to be heard. The meeting will therefore continue this Monday at 10:00 am. Some 50 statements are expected. 

 

PRESIDENT TO RECEIVE MYANMAR AMBASSADOR THIS AFTERNOON 

  • This afternoon, the President will receive the Permanent Representative of Myanmar, Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun.  
  • This meeting was requested by the Ambassador of Myanmar and will take place in person at 4:00 p.m. in the President’s office. 
  • Asked if there were any moves in the General Assembly related to a “Uniting for Peace” resolution on Myanmar, the Spokesperson said he was not aware of any such discussions. 

 

SPOKESPERSON ANSWERS QUESTIONS ON SECRETARY-GENERAL PROCESS 

  • Replying to questions on the selection and appointment process for the position of Secretary-General, the Spokesperson confirmed that, as of now, only one candidate’s name had been circulated jointly by the Presidents of the General Assembly and Security Council to Member States. That was António Guterres of Portugal.  
  • Responding to further inquiries, the Spokesperson said that the President would continue to be guided by General Assembly resolution 69/321 and that it was up to Member States to interpret resolutions. 
  • Asked whether Member States were planning to vote on how to interpret that resolution, the Spokesperson said he was not aware of any plans for such a vote.