HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
FRIDAY, 17 JULY 2020

 

MANDELA LECTURE 
Tomorrow is Nelson Mandela Day, and, as you know, the Secretary-General will deliver the Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture.  
This is set to be a major policy address focusing on the issue of inequality.  
In his remarks, entitled “Tackling the Inequality Pandemic: A New Social Contract for a New Era”, the Secretary-General will take direct aim at the severe and systemic forms of inequality that are being exposed and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.  
He will demonstrate how the virus has made the fragility of our world obvious to all of us and laid bare risks that we have ignored for decades.  
The Secretary-General will discuss the main drivers of inequality, such as systemic racism, the legacy of colonialism, patriarchy, inequalities in global governance and huge gaps in access to technology. He will also talk about climate justice.  
The Secretary-General will argue that the response to the pandemic and to the widespread discontent that preceded it must be based on a New Social Contract and a New Global Deal that tackle these mutually reinforcing inequalities and respect the human rights and dignity of all. He will spell out his vision of the way forward in detail.
He will say that the promise of the United Nations to work to reduce inequality, every day, everywhere is as important today as it was 75 years ago. 
The Secretary-General will also talk about his optimism linked to the emergence of a new movement that rejects inequality and division, unites societies and is already making a difference for our planet, and for justice and human rights for all. 
Tomorrow’s lecture will take place virtually, with the Secretary-General in New York, and additional speakers in South Africa, including the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa.  After delivering the lecture live, the Secretary-General will answer some questions. Tune in at 9 a.m., New York time.

SECRETARY-GENERAL/HIGH-LEVEL POLITICAL FORUM
This morning, on the last day of the High-Level Political Forum, the Secretary-General spoke at a panel on the theme of “Multilateralism after COVID-19: What kind of UN do we need at the 75thAnniversary?”
He said the pandemic has underscored the need for a strengthened and renewed multilateralism, one that is built on trust, based on international law and geared towards the overarching goals of peace and security, human rights and sustainable development.
At this pivotal moment, he said, with COVID-19 still spreading, geopolitical tensions rising, and the cry for racial justice, social justice and climate justice ever more urgent, we have a responsibility to respond to the anxieties, fears and hopes of the people we serve.
He stressed that this multilateralism needs to be inclusive, drawing on the critical contributions of civil society, business, foundations, the research community, local authorities, cities and regional governments.
The Secretary-General said that Member States can empower the Economic and Social Council to evolve and change with the times, and that the Council should connect with a much wider global audience.
He also called on the international community to heed the current wake-up call and move ahead with a collective response in unity and solidarity.

MALAYSIA AIRLINES FLIGHT MH17
I had been asked about the anniversary of the downing of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Eastern Ukraine, which is today, and I can tell you that we recall with deepest sympathy the 298 victims who lost their lives on this tragic day six years ago. Our thoughts are with those who perished and their loved ones.
The Secretary-General acknowledges the important work of the independent Joint Investigation Team to establish accountability and takes note of all the proceedings taking place with reference to this case in the Netherlands. He once again calls on all Member States to fully cooperate with the investigation pursuant to Security Council resolution 2166 (2014).

SECURITY COUNCIL
Pramila Patten, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative dealing with sexual violence in conflict, briefed the Security Council this morning on the Secretary-General’s recent report on that topic. She said that the annual report paints a somber and harrowing picture of sexual violence used as a tactic of war, torture and terror, and a tool of political repression, to dehumanize, destabilize, and forcibly displace populations. 
She added that sexual violence is a crime that shreds the very fabric that binds communities together, leaving social cohesion and safety nets threadbare. 
Ms. Patten said that the report documents almost 3,000 UN-verified cases of conflict-related sexual violence committed over the course of a single year. The vast majority of incidents targeted women and girls (89 per cent of them), though hundreds of confirmed cases also affected men and boys, and LGBTQI individuals, while 848 cases were attacks on children.

COVID-19/HUMANITARIAN APPEAL
The UN humanitarian chief, Mark Lowcock, has called on G20 nations to act now or face a series of human tragedies more brutal and destructive than the direct health impacts of the coronavirus. He issued the warning yesterday as he released an updated $10.3 billion appeal to fight the virus in low-income and fragile countries.
Mr. Lowcock said that the response of wealthy nations so far has been grossly inadequate and dangerously short-sighted. He stressed that failure to act now will leave the virus free to circle the globe, undo decades of development and create a generation’s worth of tragic and exportable problems.
Without mitigating action, the pandemic and associated global recession are set to trigger the first increase in global poverty since 1990. It will also push 265 million people to the point of starvation by the end of the year. 
Recent estimates suggest that up to 6,000 children could die every day from preventable causes as a result of direct and indirect impacts of the pandemic. Diverted health resources could also double the annual death toll from HIV, tuberculosis and malaria.
Since the plan was first launched on 25 March, $1.7 billion has been raised.

SYRIA
In Syria, we are concerned about the safety and protection of more than four million civilians in the northwest - more than half of whom are internally displaced - following reports of airstrikes and shelling this week.  
Artillery shelling reportedly affected at least 22 communities in Idlib and northern Lattakia governorate, and one community in western Aleppo governorate. Local reports suggest that at least three people were killed, including a child, and that at least 26 people were injured, including nine children and four women.
We urge all parties, and those with influence over the parties, to ensure the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure, in line with their obligations under International Humanitarian Law.

COVID-19/COMOROS
In Comoros, where there are more than 300 confirmed COVID-19 cases and seven deaths, the UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Matthias Naab, is working closely with authorities to tackle the crisis, mobilizing funds and providing support in the areas of health, socioeconomic recovery, community engagement, and helping the most vulnerable people.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is working to enhance local testing and clinical capacity, while the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and its partners have provided an ambulance and 1,000 COVID-19 tests to regional treatment centres.
The Government of Comoros is gradually reopening schools, and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has donated cleaning supplies and masks to prevent infections. For its part, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has partnered with authorities and national NGOs to organize virtual discussions to support the arts.

SOMALIA
From Somalia, in a joint statement, the United Nations and our international partners welcome the democratization process in Somaliland and welcome an agreement between political parties to conduct Local Council and Parliamentary Elections in 2020.
The statement says that this landmark agreement presents new opportunities to advance preparations for the elections. It also says that having all Somalilanders being part of the process, notably the large majority of young women and men who have never voted for their representatives or had the opportunity to be elected, is of utmost importance for the democratic credentials and the stability of Somaliland.

AFRICA/CHILD MALNUTRITION
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP) today warned that more than 15 million children will become acutely malnourished this year in West and Central Africa unless action is taken now.
This number is 20 per cent higher than previously estimated, and that increase is due to the combined impact of food insecurity and COVID-19.
UNICEF and WFP say that conflict and armed violence have led to massive population displacements and drastically limited access to basic social services. COVID-19 is exacerbating fragilities across Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal, which were already stricken with food insecurity and malnutrition. 
WFP and UNICEF are working with governments and their partners to ensure essential services continue.

COVID-19/HUNGER HOTSPOTS
A new report published today by the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) shows that people in some 25 countries are set to face devasting levels of hunger in coming months due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Early Warning Analysis of Acute Food Security Hotspots, the greatest concentration of need is in Africa. However, countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, and in the Middle East and Asia – including middle-income countries – are also being affected by crippling levels of food insecurity.
To prevent the worst, WFP is scaling up to provide food assistance to an unprecedented 138 million people.

UKRAINE/STATELESSNESS LAW
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) welcomed today a new statelessness law in Ukraine which came into effect this week. 
The law will give thousands of people who lack a nationality a chance to work legally, study and access healthcare among other rights and opportunities. It also will ultimately provide a pathway to citizenship, once they are recognized as stateless.
UNHCR pointed out that the law formally establishes a Statelessness Determination Procedure which is expected to benefit an estimated 35,000 people in the country, who are either stateless or whose nationality is undetermined.

FLOODS/ASIA
Our humanitarian colleagues have provided some updates on flooding in Asia.
Starting in Bangladesh, flooding there continues to grow more severe, affecting some 1.4 million people. It is estimated that nearly half of all districts in the country will be affected in the coming weeks. The UN is supporting the Government’s response and reaching those in need.
As we told you earlier this week, the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) provided UN agencies with $5.2 million in early funding to help families most at risk.
In China, heavy rains and floods have been affecting the country since June, impacting more than 38 million people in 27 provinces.
No request of international assistance has been made by the Government of China, and the United Nations stands ready to provide support if required.
And in Nepal, floods and landslides have led to more than 100 deaths. Search and rescue efforts have been hampered by landslides in remote areas, which is also delaying the response in these areas.
With further rains and flooding expected, the Humanitarian Country Team is discussing further monsoon preparedness measures and scaling-up coordination with provincial-level counterparts.
The UN is ready to provide additional aid to those in need in Nepal.

CLIMATE-FRIENDLY COOLING/REPORT
The UN Environment Program (UNEP) and the International Energy Agency (IEA) today released a report which says that climate-friendly cooling could cut years of greenhouse gas emissions and save trillions of dollars.
Worldwide, an estimated 3.6 billion cooling appliances such as stationary and mobile air conditioning and refrigerators are in use. The report says that if cooling is provided to everybody who needs it – and not just those who can afford it – this would require as many as 14 billion cooling appliances by 2050, making it even more crucial to ensure these appliances are climate-friendly.
The report describes how countries can improve the cooling industry’s energy efficiency and transition to climate-friendly refrigerants, which would reduce between 210 and 460 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the next four decades. By improving cooling efficiency, countries can reduce the need for new power plants, cut emissions and save consumers money, the report says.