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

PRESIDENT TO CONVENE MEETING ON MIDDLE EAST THIS THURSDAY

  • In a letter sent this morning to Member States, the President said that he will convene a formal plenary meeting this Thursday, 20 May, at 10:00 a.m. in the General Assembly Hall.
  • The meeting will consist of a debate under the agenda items on “The situation in the Middle East” and “Question of Palestine”. 
  • The President’s letter follows a written request received today from the Permanent Representatives of Niger and Algeria, in their respective capacities as Chairs of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and Arab Group.
  • This plenary meeting will be open and webcast live on UN WebTV.
  • Asked whether a written outcome, such as a declaration or resolution, was expected from the meeting, the Spokesperson said no written outcome was expected, as this was meant to be a debate.
  • Asked whether this was a resumption of the General Assembly’s tenth Emergency Special Session, the Spokesperson said it was not, as that had not been requested by Member States. Rather, this was to be a regular formal plenary meeting.
  • Asked for the President’s position on recent developments in the Middle East, the Spokesperson said he had nothing to add to what the President had tweeted from his personal account on 11 May. Specifically, the President had expressed his extreme concern and condemned the attacks on civilians and religious places, including the airstrikes on Gaza. The President had said that Israel must abide by its obligations under international law.

 

MEMBER STATES MUST PROTECT THEIR POPULATIONS

  • Today the plenary is holding a debate on the responsibility to protect and the prevention of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
  • In opening remarks, the President said it is critical that the UN learns from its past failures– such as in Rwanda and Srebrenica.
  • He added that the Responsibility to Protect Agenda provides the international community with a critical tool to build peace, prioritize prevention and protect populations.
  • Noting that the agenda is not a one-size-fits-all solution, he called on all Member States to protect their populations, paying particular attention to the challenges facing the most vulnerable and marginalized groups.
  • He said we need the political will of all Member States if we are to stop atrocities from taking place – and Member States must assist each other, in accordance with the UN Charter and international law, when national authorities fail in their protection responsibilities.

 

ASSEMBLY EXPECTED TO TAKE ACTION ON MYANMAR RESOLUTION TOMORROW

  • As of now, according to the schedule of meetings, the General Assembly plenary is expected to meet to take action, tomorrow at 3:00 p.m., on a draft resolution on the situation in Myanmar.
  • The text of that draft resolution is online.
  • In response to questions, the Spokesperson said the meeting was expected to be open and webcast.