HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
TUESDAY, 7 FEBRUARY 2018
 
 
U.N. CHIEF BEGINS OFFICIAL VISIT TO REPUBLIC OF KOREA

  • The Secretary-General arrived in Seoul a few hours ago for the start of his official visit to the Republic of Korea. On Wednesday evening, he was hosted for an informal welcome dinner by the Korean Foreign Minister Mrs. Kang Kyung-wha at her official residence.
  • On Thursday, the Secretary-General will be in Seoul for most of the morning. He is expected to meet at Yonsei University with his predecessor, Mr. Ban Ki-moon. He will then deliver remarks at the inaugural Global Engagement & Empowerment Forum on Sustainable Development, taking place at Yonsei University. He’s also expected to meet with the Prime Minister of Republic of Korea, H.E. Mr. Lee Nak-yon.
  • The Secretary-General will then drive to the site of the Olympic Winter Games at PyeongChang. There we expect him to spend part of the afternoon touring the Olympic Village where he will meet with athletes from various delegations.
  • The Secretary-General also released a message on the occasion of the Olympic Truce for the Winter Games and Paralympic Winter Games.
  • He said the Games showcase the best of the world’s athletic achievements, and the best of humanity, and that this humanity transcends political differences. He called on all parties to conflict to observe the truce and help spread the culture of peace.

 

KOSOVO: U.N. OFFICIAL SAYS CHALLENGES REMAIN TO FURTHER RULE OF LAW, STREGNTHEN HUMAN RIGHTS
  • The Security Council met this morning to discuss the situation in Kosovo, and heard a briefing by Zahir Tanin, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative there. 
  • Mr. Tanin spoke of the recent murder of Oliver Ivanovic, the Kosovo Serb politician. He noted that, as Kosovo police lead the investigation, Pristina and Belgrade have come to an understanding to share information and support the process. “Failure to identify the perpetrators”, he said, “would not only be a terrible miscarriage of justice, but would also undermine confidence on all sides.”
  • Mr. Tanin noted that many challenges remain about furthering the rule of law and strengthening human rights in Kosovo, and that efforts in these areas must be guided by best international practices.
  • He noted that the youth, peace and security agenda remain important in Kosovo, and that building trust between communities remains essential for his Mission.

 

MORE THAN 300 CHILD SOLDIERS HAVE BEEN RELEASED IN SOUTH SUDAN – U.N. MISSION
  • The UN Mission in South Sudan said today that more than 300 child soldiers have been released by armed groups in Yambio. A total of 700 children have been screened and registered for release in phases - 563 from the South Sudan National Liberation Movement and 137 associated with the Sudan People’s Liberation Army In-Opposition. 87 of the children released today are girls.
  • The UN mission has been leading the project to release the children for more than six months, including providing peacekeeping troops to escort religious leaders into remote bush areas to make contact and negotiate with the armed groups. It has also worked closely with key partners such as UNICEF, state and local authorities as well as community groups.
  • The Special Representative of the Secretary-General in South Sudan, David Shearer, said the challenge ahead is to ensure the young people have the financial, practical, and emotional support they need to undertake training, find jobs, and access opportunities to reach their full potential. The UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, also called on the international community to support their reintegration by providing adequate resources.

 

U.N. MISSION IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC ENHANCES SECURITY FOLLOWING GUNSHOTS INSIDE DISPLACEMENT CAMP
  • The UN mission in the Central African Republic reports that yesterday in Bria, in Haute-Kotto prefecture, anti-Balaka combatants fired gunshots into the air within the PK 3 internally displaced people camp. No casualties were reported. The UN mission reinforced its positions to enhance security in and around the camp. A cordon and search operation is also being carried out in response to the shooting.
  • And on 5 February in Zémio, in Haut-Mbomou prefecture, UN peacekeepers conducted an operation to expel an estimated 30 armed combatants from the Unité pour la Paix en Centrafrique (UPC) who had reportedly settled in the area. Following the operation, the combatants left their positions without resistance.

 

SYRIA: U.N. AGENCY CONCERNED OVER SAFETY OF TWO MILLION PEOPLE IN IDLEB
  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said it is concerned for the safety and protection of two million men, women and children living in Syria’s Idleb Governorate, where airstrikes and shelling continue to be reported daily, resulting in civilian deaths and injuries, as well as the destruction of civilian infrastructure.
  • In the past three days, the UN has received reports of airstrikes across Idleb that resulted in civilian death and injury, and damaged medical facilities, schools and other civilian infrastructure.
  • Over 1,200 schools in Idleb reportedly remain closed due to the ongoing hostilities, impacting thousands of students.
  • Meanwhile, the escalating fighting in eastern Ghouta continues to affect civilians and civilian infrastructure in the besieged enclave.  Over the last 48 hours, intense airstrikes and shelling have reportedly resulted in dozens of civilian deaths and many more injuries.
  • The UN reminds all parties to take all necessary measures to safeguard civilian lives and to protect civilian infrastructure, as required by international humanitarian and human rights law.

 

U.N OFFICIAL WARNS OF RISK OF RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN THE MALDIVES AFTER DECLARATION OF STATE OF EMERGENCY
  • The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said today that the declaration of the State of Emergency in the Maldives by President Abdulla Yameen and the resulting suspension of constitutional guarantees have swept away the checks and balances and separation of powers necessary in any functioning democracy. He warned that could potentially lead to a greater number of violations of the rights of people in the Maldives.
  • He said, “The suspension of several functions of the judiciary and Parliament, and the restrictions on a series of constitutional rights, create a dangerous concentration of power in the hands of the president.”

 

IN INDONESIA, U.N. OFFICIAL SAYS TOLERANCE MUST PREVAIL OVER POPULISM
  • The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, today ended his official visit to Indonesia. Speaking to the press, he said that there are some dark clouds on the horizon but that he is encouraged by the positive momentum and he hopes the common sense and strong tradition of tolerance of the Indonesian people will prevail over populism and political opportunism.
  • During his mission, Zeid met in Jakarta with President Joko Widodo and held discussions with top officials, Indonesia’s national human rights institutions and civil society representatives working on human rights issues, as well as religious leaders.
  • He also took part in the Jakarta Conversation, a regional human rights conference marking the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 25th anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.

 

U.N. WORLD URBAN FORUM KICKS OFF IN KUALA LUMPUR
  • In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the World Urban Forum opened today. The event, which is convened by UN Habitat, gives countries a chance to take stock of progress made towards sustainable urban development.
  • Some 20,000 people are expected to attend the Forum and they include local government officials, urban planners, civil society groups and members of the private sector and academia.

 

DEREJE WORDOFA OF ETHIOPIA APPOINTED AS DEPUTY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF U.N. POPULATION FUND
  • I have a senior appointment to tell you about. Today, the Secretary General is appointing Dereje Wordofa of Ethiopia as a Deputy Executive Director of the UN Population Fund, known as UNFPA.  He will succeed Natalia Kanem of Panama who was recently appointed as Executive Director of UNFPA.
  • Mr. Wordofa brings to the position over 28 years of experience in providing strategic leadership, advocacy, programme development and managing operations in complex and challenging environments, largely focused on Africa. We have more in a bio note in my office.

 

THE BAHAMAS, BULGARIA, GERMANY AND TURKMENISTAN PAY U.N. BUDGET DUES
  • Today, four more countries which have paid their dues in full. They are: the Bahamas, Bulgaria, Germany and Turkmenistan. Thanks to them, the Honour Roll has reached 44.