HIGHLIGHTS OF THE U.N. SYSTEM
TUESDAY, 16 JANUARY 2018

SECRETARY-GENERAL’S REMARKS AT PRESS CONFERENCE

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you very much for your presence. It is very good to see all of you and let me start by wishing you all a very happy and healthy new year.
I have just spoken to the Member States about the year ahead.
Last year, on my first day as Secretary-General, I issued an appeal for peace and called for a surge in diplomacy to end the crises that were causing so much suffering.
On the first day of this year, I issued a red alert.
At the beginning of 2018, we must recognize the many ways in which the international community is [failing] and falling short.
It is my duty as Secretary-General to tell the Member States where this is happening -- and to suggest ways out of our predicament.
I am sounding an alarm about protracted conflicts and the spread of terrorism.
We face a Gordian knot in the Middle East and potential nuclear catastrophe on the Korean Peninsula.
Climate change is moving faster than we are. 
Inequality and nationalism are on the rise, while trust and solidarity are on the decline.
In the face of today’s challenges, the world needs bold leadership.
We need less hatred, more dialogue and deeper international cooperation.
With unity in 2018, we can make this a pivotal year that sets the world on a better course.
Later this month, I will join African leaders for the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa.
One of my main goals as Secretary-General has been to strengthen ties with the AU, a key strategic partner across our agenda. Our relationship with the African Union is one of shared interests and mutual respect.
This year, I will continue to advocate for strong international support for Africa’s Agenda 2063 and for Africa’s peace and security efforts, including through clear mandates and adequate, predictable financing.  Africans are changing the narrative on their continent, and this represents a gain for the entire world. Last year, we signed a new platform of cooperation for peace and security and I will be very happy to sign, during the summit in Addis Ababa,  our new joint platform for cooperation in relation to development, including the alignment of the Agenda 2030 with the Agenda 2063 of the African Union.
In February, I will visit the Republic of Korea for the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang.  I hope the Olympic spirit of friendship among nations will spread across the region and beyond.
Finally, let me share some news about our efforts to ensure gender equality at the United Nations.  With yesterday’s announcement of a new Special Adviser on Africa, we have achieved a milestone.  For the first time in history, we have full parity in the top leadership of the United Nations, the 44-member Senior Management Group.  We will continue to do more to empower women and uphold our core commitment to equality and gender parity.
I look to seeing you many times in the year ahead in this room, at the stakeout and in other settings, probably not as much as you would wish but I will do my best.  And at a time of troubling crackdowns on the independence of the media, I want to express that I will continue to defend freedom and safety of the press both in public and through diplomatic engagement.
Thank you again for the work you do to illuminate ours, and I will be of course very happy to answer your questions.

 
HALF A MILLION ROHINGYA CHILDREN AT RISK IN BANGLADESHI CAMPS AHEAD OF CYCLONE, MONSOON SEASON

  • UNICEF warned today that the health and safety of more than 520,000 Rohingya children living in overcrowded camps and informal settlements in Bangladesh is likely to be put at even greater risk ahead of upcoming cyclone and monsoon seasons.
  • “What is already a dire humanitarian situation risks becoming a catastrophe,” said Edouard Beigbeder, UNICEF Representative in Bangladesh. “Hundreds of thousands of children are already living in horrific conditions, and they will face an even greater risk of disease, flooding, landslides and further displacement”. 
  • More than 4,000 suspected cases of diphtheria have been reported among the refugee population, with 32 deaths including at least 24 children. UNICEF and partners have launched a diphtheria vaccination campaign, and are working to provide children and families with access to safe water and sanitation facilities, but overcrowding and the growing risk of extreme weather increases the risk of further outbreaks.
  • In addition to the increased threat of disease outbreaks, the cyclone season brings an increased risk of flooding and landslides, a direct risk to children’s lives.
HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE EXPRESSES CONCERN ABOUT TAMIMI CASE
  • The Human Rights Office today expressed deep concern at the almost one month long pre-trial detention of the Palestinian child Ahed Tamimi.
  • It noted that the Convention on the Rights of the Child is clear: Deprivation of liberty of children shall only be used as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time, and the best interests of the child are to be a primary consideration.
  • Ms. Tamimi has now been detained for almost a month. As a child, the Human Rights Office said, she is entitled to all fair trial rights guaranteed under international law, in addition to the special protection granted to children in contact with the law.
U.N. KOSOVO ENVOY VOICES SHOCK AT MURDER OF OLIVER IVANOVIĆ
  • The Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Kosovo, Zahir Tanin, said today he was shocked by the murder of Oliver Ivanović – leader of the civic initiative Freedom, Democracy, Justice – near his office in North Mitrovica this morning, and strongly condemned the act.
  • He said he trusts the investigative authorities will work swiftly and effectively, and assures that all the international agencies on the ground are ready to support the authorities in any manner which may assist the swift apprehension of those responsible for this crime.
  • Mr. Tanin also extended his own and the entire UN family’s deepest condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Ivanović.
U.N. GREECE-FYROM TALKS ENVOY TO HOLD PRESS BRIEFING WEDNESDAY
  • At approximately 1 pm tomorrow, Matthew Nimetz, the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General, will meet with press following his meeting in New York with Representatives of the Governments of the Hellenic Republic and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. That encounter will take place outside the ECOSOC Chamber.