The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General.
Good afternoon. Monica [Villela Grayley] and I will try to get this done quickly so everyone who is not already at the stakeout can get there. OK. The Secretary-General is in Katowice today, where the twenty-fourth session of the Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, or COP24, is taking place.
As you know, the Secretary-General opened that conference last week. And today, he told those present that the window of opportunity is closing and that we no longer have the luxury of time when it comes to climate change.
He said that this is the time for consensus and for political compromises to be reached. This means sacrifices, but it will benefit us all collectively, he added.
The Secretary-General challenged the Parties to the Conference to work together and to raise ambitions on all fronts.
He noted that key political issues remain unresolved at the Conference. The Katowice package needs to deliver the Paris Agreement Work Programme, progress on finance and a strong basis for the revision of National Determined Contributions under the Talanoa Dialogue, he said. His remarks are available online.
Before delivering them, the Secretary-General had a series of bilateral meetings in Katowice, including with the President of the Conference of the Parties, Michał Kurtyka, and the ministers facilitating the consultations, as well as officials from Canada, India, Brazil, South Africa and others.
Finally, as you saw yesterday, the Secretary-General will be in Rimbo, Sweden, tomorrow. He will attend the closing day of the Intra-Yemeni political consultations with his Special Envoy, Martin Griffiths, and will meet with the two delegations who are present there.
The Security Council this morning received a briefing on the implementation of Resolution 2231, concerning non-proliferation and Iran, from the Under‑Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo.
She told the Council that the Secretary-General welcomes the reaffirmation by the participants to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) of their commitments to its full and effective implementation. It is essential, she said, that the Plan continues to work for all participants, including by delivering tangible economic benefits to the Iranian people.
The Secretary-General regrets the re-imposition by the United States of its sanctions lifted pursuant to the Plan, after its withdrawal from it. He believes that issues not directly related to the Plan should be addressed without prejudice to preserving the agreement and its accomplishments. At the same time, the Secretary-General calls on Iran to carefully consider and address the concerns expressed by Member States about its activities in relation to the restrictive measures contained in annex B to the resolution.
Ms. DiCarlo said that, since the Secretary-General’s last report, the Secretariat examined the debris of three more ballistic missiles launched at Riyadh by the Houthis in March and April 2018. The debris were consistent with that of the five missiles examined previously, which the Secretariat assessed share key design features with the Iranian Qiam-1 ballistic missile and had components parts manufactured in Iran.
However, she added, the Secretariat has not been able to determine whether such missiles, or parts thereof, or related technology, were transferred from Iran after 16 January 2016, the date when annex B provisions came into effect. Her remarks are available in our office.
At around 12:15 p.m., once the Security Council meeting is done, we expect US Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo, to brief at the Security Council Stakeout.
**Democratic Republic of the Congo
On the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Leila Zerrougui, has expressed her serious concern over repeated incidents hampering the proper conduct of the electoral campaign in the country.
She spoke out against the obstacles some opposition candidates have faced as they tried to hold public meetings in some cities.
Deploring the loss of life, Ms. Zerrougui urged Congolese authorities to take all necessary measures to prevent further such incidents.
She also voiced her concern about the interference of some armed groups in the electoral campaign and stressed the need to respect the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful demonstration. You can read more about this online.
**Central African Republic
The UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) reports that UN peacekeepers were today dispatched to Fenzane village in Zemio in Haut-Mbomou prefecture to protect civilians, after a reported attack by armed Fulani elements; casualties are unknown.
Separately, earlier today, in Paris, France, anti-Balaka “National General Coordinator” Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona was arrested by French Republic authorities pursuant to an arrest warrant issued by Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on 7 December 2018 for his alleged criminal responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the western part of the Central African Republic between, at least, 5 December 2013 and December 2014.
United Nations Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ursula Mueller, along with the Director of the UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) Crisis Bureau, Asako Okai, and the UNDP Director of the Regional Bureau for Arab States, Mourad Wahba, arrived in Libya yesterday.
They have met with the Prime Minister and other high-level Government officials in Tripoli and stressed the need for the international community to commit to mobilize support for humanitarian and development issues in Libya, and to remain a consistent and reliable partner, while authorities abide by their responsibilities.
The senior UN officials visited one of the main public hospitals where doctors explained how the lack of medical equipment affects patients’ lives and their daily work.
The officials also visited a makeshift internally displaced persons camp where thousands of people have been living in overcrowded containers with limited basic services, for seven years. The UN officials also met with women activists who are committed to improving the lives of the most vulnerable.
The UN officials will brief you upon their return from Libya.
**Central Emergency Response Fund
Also on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock today announced a $10 million regional contribution from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) towards mitigating the possible impact of the current Ebola outbreak should it spread to neighbouring countries.
Led by the World Health Organization (WHO), agencies are doing a remarkable job in containing the outbreak in the DRC but Mr. Lowcock stressed the need to help nearby countries should the virus spread.
This latest $10 million allocation is in addition to the $4.5 million already allocated by the CERF to UN agencies working in the eastern DRC.
**Food and Agriculture Organization
On the margins of the UN Climate Change Conference in Katowice, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and NASA today launched a new tool that allows anyone to track land use and landscape changes anywhere.
The tool, Collect Earth Online, is web-based, free of charge and open to all so users can inspect any location on Earth with satellite data. FAO said the tool will be particularly useful to monitor forests as their importance for timber and fuel is now enriched by awareness of their role in carbon storage, pest control and agriculture. FAO and NASA also expect further innovative uses in disaster management and glacier monitoring. You can find more on FAO’s website.
Today is the International Universal Health Coverage Day. This year’s theme is "Unite for Universal Health Coverage: Now is the Time for Collective Action."
In his message, the Secretary-General said good health is a fundamental human right and crucial to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and he stressed that quality physical and mental health services should be accessible to everyone, everywhere.
“Strong leadership and community engagement are essential in ensuring that all people get the healthcare they need. On this International Day,” he said, “let us reaffirm our commitment to a world with health for all.”
Today is also the International Day of Neutrality, defined as the legal status arising from the abstention of a state from all participation in a war between other states, the maintenance of an attitude of impartiality toward the belligerents, and the recognition by the belligerents of this abstention and impartiality.
And last, I am happy to welcome Uruguay to the Honour Roll. With its full dues payment, the total on that list is now 151.
Are there any questions for me before we turn to Monica Grayley?
**Questions and Answers
Spokesman: Yes, Mr. Abbadi.
Question: Thank you, Farhan. You referred earlier to the incidents in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There were violent incidents. There are at least two deaths and several injured, and the opposition claims that the Government forces started shooting them with live bullets, live ammunition. And the opposition leaders are calling for help from the international community. What kind of help the international community, in particular the UN, can bring to this situation?
Spokesman: Well, as you know, we are on the ground in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including through the peacekeeping mission, MONUSCO [the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo]. So, we are trying to make sure that the right secure and stable condition for the holding of free, fair and credible elections can take place. At the same time, like I said, our head of mission there, Ms. Zerrougui, deplored the loss of life. And we are urging all parties, in particular, as she urged the Congolese authorities to take all necessary measures to prevent any further such incidents. And, so, we are calling upon them to avoid any such measures that can interfere with the holding of public meetings and the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful demonstration. All right. Monica, come on up.