Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

23 January 2019

Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General.

Good afternoon.

**World Economic Forum

The Secretary-General arrived in Davos, Switzerland, earlier today to attend the World Economic Forum.  In his meetings there, he will reiterate his call for a fair globalization that benefits those who need it the most.  Inequality is rising, and economic growth is not reaching those who need it most, he will stress. 

The focus of his participation will be the keynote address he will deliver tomorrow, entitled “An Integrated Response to a Disintegrating Global Order”.  You can watch the address on the UN Webcast page, as well as other platforms.

Today, the Secretary-General had a series of bilateral meetings, including with President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine; Prime Minister Charles Michel of Belgium; the Chair of Alibaba, Jack Ma; and Klaus Schwab, the CEO of the World Economic Forum.

**Colombia

This morning the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia, Carlos Ruiz Massieu, briefed Security Council members for the first time.

He told them that last week’s car bombing on a police academy is a reminder of the urgent need to end the violence and persevere in efforts to ensure peace.  Across Colombia, marches were held which demonstrated a broad consensus around the rejection of violence.  This consensus must be nurtured, he stressed.

Mr. Massieu said that in his discussions with Government officials, FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) leaders and civil society, he has seen a strong commitment to the peace process, and a desire of former combatants to work and find their place in society.  The challenge, however, is to accelerate reintegration efforts and to define the status of the 24 Territorial Areas, where thousands of former FARC-EP (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army) members live.  This, he said, will require the participation of local governments and the private sector.

Mr. Massieu also warned of the recent wave of killings of social leaders and said he has called on the Government to ensure it has a broad presence to prevent more of these incidents from happening.  He also called on Council members to continue supporting Colombia as it consolidates peace.

We expect Carlos Holmes Trujillo, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Colombia, and Emilio Archila, High Presidential Post-Conflict Counsellor, to brief reporters at the Security Council stakeout following the Security Council’s briefing on Colombia.

That should end fairly shortly, so they might be coming out within this half hour.

**Yemen

Martin Griffiths, the Special Envoy for Yemen, and Patrick Cammaert, the Chair of the Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC), have started their discussions with the political leadership of both parties regarding the RCC Chair’s suggestions for a proposal on the redeployment of forces, as agreed in Stockholm.

These suggestions are to be discussed by the RCC representatives of both parties when that body holds its next joint meeting. 

Mr.  Griffiths and General Cammaert are in Riyadh today to meet Government of Yemen officials.

**Central African Republic

On the Central African Republic, the UN Mission there, MINUSCA, reports that it is continuing its operations in Bambari in Ouaka prefecture.

The Mission says it has established new checkpoints and resumed patrolling in Muslim neighbourhoods, in addition to conducting robust day and night patrols in the other areas of the town.

The Mission has also been engaging with the local community to sensitize them on the objectives of the operation — which are to protect them against armed groups, dismantle barricades and posts erected by the Union for Peace in the Central African Republic (l'Union pour la Paix en Centrafrique—UPC), and to ensure that Bambari is a city without armed groups and weapons.

To the west, in Mambéré-Kadéï prefecture, the Mission has intensified patrols and reinforced its peacekeeping force presence in Carnot and Zaoro Songou villages — that’s north of the town of Berberati — following a series of confrontations between armed herders and suspected anti-Balaka members.

**Nigeria

Just to flag that the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for West Africa and the Sahel, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, is currently undertaking a pre-electoral mission in Nigeria.  This is part of the UN’s sustained efforts to support the consolidation of democracy and good governance in Nigeria, in line with the UN Secretary-General’s focus on conflict prevention.

Mr. Chambas, in coordination with the UN country team in Nigeria and in close collaboration with the National Peace Committee (NPC), the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the National Human Rights Commission, will participate in state-wide confidence-building fora in Benue State, Kaduna State, Kano State and Rivers State.

During his mission, Mr. Chambas will also meet with Nigerian stakeholders to ensure that necessary measures are being taken by the entities involved in the organization of the elections to reinforce the cooperation towards a successful, violence-free, inclusive, credible and transparent outcome in 2019.

**Sudan

Our colleagues at UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) are stressing the need for children to be protected following reports that children were reportedly killed and injured in ongoing turmoil that broke out last month in Sudan.

In recent months, as Sudan has witnessed an unprecedented hike in the cost of living and shortages in bread and fuel, poverty among children and their families has increased, forcing some families to keep their children out of school.  According to reports received by UNICEF, more children now require health and nutrition care.

UNICEF calls on the authorities in Sudan to prioritize the protection of children and safeguard their rights to education and health in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

**Economic and Social Council

I want to flag that this morning, the President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Inga Rhonda King, convened an informal briefing on “Getting to know the ECOSOC system in the SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) era”.

During the briefing, the President shared her vision for the Council’s work during the year.  She called on Member States to strengthen ECOSOC and harness the energy and enthusiasm of the High-level Political Forum to promote sustainable development.  She said: “It is imperative that the High-Level Political Forum Summit in September is successful in meeting high expectations around it and gives renewed momentum to achieving the SDGs.  Our political declaration should focus on global solidarity and address key critical areas where collective actions are needed.”

**UNEP

In Singapore, representatives from more than 40 countries are meeting at the Forum of Ministers of Environment Authorities of Asia and the Pacific, which is held under the auspices of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

The Forum brings together Governments, businesses, civil society and UN agencies, who will discuss environmental issues in the world’s fastest-growing region and identify key priorities and solutions.  More information on the forum is available on UNEP’s website.

**Press Briefings

After I am done, you will hear from Monica Grayley.

Tomorrow at 9 a.m., here in this room, there will be a briefing sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations on the launch of the World Refugee Council’s latest report outlining concrete actions to protect the interests of the forcibly displaced, as well as the countries and local communities that host them.

Then at 12:30 p.m. there will be a briefing sponsored by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on the occasion of the International Day of Education (24 January), in recognition of the role of education for peace and sustainable development.

**Questions and Answers

That's it for me.  Do you have any questions?  Yes, please?

Question:  Thank you, Farhan.  I have a question on Venezuela.  Currently, thousands of people have taken off to the streets to protest against Nicolás Maduro and asking for a change in the country.  This has been massive response to this call for protests.  And, so far, we are already seeing some reports of repression from Nicolás Maduro's forces against those who are voicing their concerns and those who want to change the country.  So, I wonder if there's any special message from the SG and if they are following the situation and, basically, because this is a special… or very sensitive moment for Venezuelans right now.

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, yes, we are following the developments closely.  It's clear that, as we've been saying before, we want all of the various groups on the ground to lower tensions and pursue every effort to prevent an escalation.  As you're aware, the UN firmly rejects any kind of political violence, and we will continue to underline the urgent need for all relevant actors to commit to inclusive and credible political negotiations to address the challenges facing the country, with full respect for the rule of law and human rights.  Yes, Stefano?

Question:  Yes.  There's been… this weekend, there have been tragedy in the Mediterranean again, and we saw that the UNHCR (United Nations refugee agency) and IOM (International Organization for Migration), they commented.  They… they released comments, but I… at least me, I didn't see anything… any message from the Secretary‑General.  Now, I know that the Secretary‑General, at the same time, when there are those kind of tragedy like the one recently in Mexico, release a message, something, to underline that… the tragedy.  In this case, I didn't see anything, but it was because I missed it, or…

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, no, it's simply a case where what the Secretary‑General believes is that he stands by the views and the work of the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, and the International Organization for Migration.  And he believes that the points that they made about… and the concerns that they have expressed need to be addressed.

Question:  Just a quick follow‑up.  Because those agency… all the time, of course, they are very aware of those disaster… these tragedies, they always intervene.  Sometimes just the… you know, just the… to see something coming directly from the Secretary‑General, underline the… the situation and so he was… we do this job, journalists.  We… we… we spread the news.  Sometimes it looks like strange when there is not this kind of underline.

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, the Secretary‑General has made clear his views about the needs to deal with the situation of refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean Sea.  He's expressed it repeatedly.  And, as you know, he even talked to you in the press just last Friday to talk about his various concerns and he has repeatedly emphasised the need to make sure that their lives and their safety is put first and foremost on the agenda of the Governments of the region.  Yes, Nabil?

Question:  Thanks, Farhan.  Can you give us some information about Mr. Griffiths' and Mr. Cammaert's schedule, the meetings in Riyadh, and what's next?  What's the next city or country they're visiting in… in their talks?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, as I mentioned, they are meeting with officials of the Government of Yemen while they're in Riyadh, and the purpose of that is to invigorate the process in terms of the withdrawal of forces.  Prior to arriving in Riyadh, Mr. Griffiths was in Oman, where he met with some of the leaders of Ansarullah.

Question:  Can I have a follow-up, please?

Deputy Spokesman:  Yes.

Question:  So, after the incident… the shooting incident on Mr. Cammaert's car or convoy, is he planning to move the venue to… to a different place, or the next meetings will… will also be held in… in the same venue in Hodeidah?  Is… is there any other places or countries maybe where they can meet in a secure place or a better venue?

Deputy Spokesman:  We'll see what arrangements can be made.  We do not at present have an announcement to make on the next joint meeting of the Redeployment Coordination Committee.  But when we do, we'll let you know both the time and the venue.  Yes, you had a question?

Question:  Yes, thank you.  The Secretary‑General is… in his press conference, prioritized the multilateralism and peace and security for the new year.  And he also described Iran as an important and constructive country in the region.  But, as you know, a meeting has been scheduled to take place in Poland, which Russia says is an anti‑Iran gathering and has deteriorated… that… and… has a bad impact on the peace and security in the region.  What's the Secretary‑General's position or reaction of this meeting?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, as far as I'm aware, the agenda of this proposed meeting is still being worked out.  So, we'll have to see what the final agenda is of that.  Of course, regarding Iran, our basic position, including on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action as an important diplomatic achievement that needs to be preserved, is, as you know, part of the record.  And with that, Monica, the floor is yours.

For information media. Not an official record.