HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,

SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

THURSDAY, 8 SEPTEMBER 2016

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES PLEDGES MADE AT HIGH-LEVEL U.N. PEACEKEEPING MEETING IN LONDON

  • In a statement, the Secretary-General welcomes the pledges and commitments made at the United Nations Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial meeting in London today. He expresses his gratitude to the United Kingdom for hosting this important event, which will build on the historic 2015 Leaders’ Summit on Peacekeeping. The Secretary-General is particularly encouraged by the pledges related to rapid deployment, including commitments by Bangladesh, China, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka to maintain units at a high level of readiness.
  • The Secretary-General reaffirms the UN’s commitment to work with troop- and police-contributing countries in continuing to improve the performance of the UN peacekeepers, including through the full implementation of the Secretary-General’s zero tolerance policy regarding sexual exploitation and abuse. He applauds the strong focus of the Ministerial on women and peacekeeping and he congratulates Major Aichatou Ousmane Issaka of Niger, who received the first UN Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award.
  • Attending the meeting were the Under-Secretaries-General for Peacekeeping, Herve Ladsous, and for Field Support, Atul Khare. At the meeting, Mr. Khare, said that there is justified concern that changes in the types of conflicts we are seeing may be outpacing our ability to respond to them. He urged Member States to advocate for reforms that ensure the UN is fit for purpose and fully focused on the challenges it faces in the field.  Mr. Ladsous also said that since last year’s Summit on Peacekeeping, the UN has made more progress in registering and deploying the pledged capabilities than almost anyone expected. However, he said the Organization is still falling short in increasing the number of women in military and police components and called on Member States to help change that.

LIBYA: SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES REMOVAL OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS PRECURSORS

  • In a statement, the Secretary-General welcomes the successful removal of all chemical weapons precursors from Libya, in an operation facilitated and coordinated by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The operation took place further to a Decision by the OPCW's Executive Council, and endorsed by the Security Council in resolution 2298.
  • The Secretary-General also welcomes the contribution of personnel, technical expertise, equipment, financial and other resources by Canada, Finland, France, Italy, Malta, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as the contribution by Denmark of maritime assets to transport the chemicals to Germany for destruction.

WRAPPING UP ASIA VISIT, SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES EAST ASIAN LEADERS TO STEP UP COOPERATION ON TERRORISM, VIOLENT EXTREMISM

  • The Secretary-General is returning to New York today from the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, where he addressed the East Asia Summit, saying that coordination and consistency across and beyond East Asia are essential to meeting regional and global challenges.
  • He noted that East Asia faces some grave threats and challenges to peace and security, including on the Korean Peninsula.  He encouraged the East Asia leaders to strengthen cooperation in responding to the threat of terrorism and spreading of poison of violent extremism, stressing that respect for human rights must be central to those efforts.  He urged all parties to resolve their disputes in the South China Sea in a peaceful and amicable manner, through dialogue and conformity with international law.
  • On the issue of drugs, the Secretary-General stressed the importance of a balance between criminal justice and law enforcement based on proportionality and the rule of law. He reiterated his deep concern about the extrajudicial killings of suspected drug sellers and drug users, which are contrary to human rights law and the international drug conventions.
  • The Secretary-General also held a bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of Viet Nam, during which they discussed the Sustainable Development Goals and disaster management, as well as regional issues, including the South China Sea.

U.N. MISSION IN SOUTH SUDAN VOICES DEEP CONCERN OVER REPORTS OF THREATS AGAINST CIVIL SOCIETY MEMBERS WHO MET WITH SECURITY COUNCIL

  • The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said they are deeply concerned by reports they have received of threats and harassment against some civil society members who had met with the UN Security Council delegation during their visit to Juba last week.
  • The Mission says that these reported actions are in violation of the rights of freedom of expression, movement and civil and political engagement, which are fundamental pillars of any democratic society. It stresses that any attempt to suppress these rights through threats and harassment must be condemned in no uncertain terms. The UN Mission will be raising these concerns with relevant authorities in South Sudan. 

LIBERIA: U.N. TEAM LOOKING INTO FUTURE OF LIBERIA MISSION CONCLUDES MISSION

  • A two-week strategic assessment mission from UN Headquarters concluded its work in Liberia today. Led by Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, El Ghassim Wane, the team will formulate recommendations for the Security Council to consider when it takes a decision on the UN Mission’s future by 15 December of this year.
  • Mr. Wane said that strengthening and reforming the security institutions and the judiciary are critical, but Liberia’s long-term peace and stability and security will hinge on far broader range of reform processes that address the root causes of the conflict. This includes national reconciliation, land reform, decentralization and the empowerment of all Liberian citizens, including women and youth and the disabled, among others.

FOOD PRICES 7 PER CENT HIGHER IN AUGUST COMPARED TO PREVIOUS YEAR – U.N. AGENCY

  • The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today that the prices of staple food prices rose in August.
  • The FAO Food Price Index is up nearly 7 per cent from what it was in the same period last year.
  • The jump comes even as grain prices fell and global cereal production is expected to increase.

SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES PARALYMPICS IN SHOWCASING ABILITIES OF ATHLETES LIVING WITH DISABILITY

  • The Paralympics got under way in Rio de Janeiro today and the Secretary-General has welcomed the start of the sporting event.
  • He believes that sport has a particularly important role to play in promoting and implementing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Paralympic Movement is a key ally, the Secretary-General says. Not only do the Paralympic Games showcase the extraordinary abilities and potential of athletes living with disability, they promote the rights of all persons with disabilities and provide a catalyst for lasting change.
  • The Secretary-General believes that Paralympic athletes are change makers and role models and are symbols of courage and aspiration to us all.

SECRETARY-GENERAL MOURNS DEATH OF FIRST WOMAN SERVING AS UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL

  • The Secretary-General is mourning the passing of Dame Margaret Anstee, who was the first woman to be appointed Under-Secretary-General. During her four decades of service to the United Nations, she was also the first woman to lead a UN peacekeeping mission in Angola and the first woman resident representative for UNDP.
  • The Secretary-General said that she brought energy, humility, courage and a sense of adventure to everything she did, from negotiating peace with rebels in Nigeria to spiriting UN staff out of Chile in the days following the 1973 coup.
  • A message will be delivered on the Secretary-General’s behalf at the funeral, which is scheduled to take place tomorrow in the United Kingdom.

**LITERACY DAY

  • Today is the 50th anniversary of International Literacy Day. On this occasion, the Secretary-General said that while we have made significant progress over the last five decades, the world is still very far from universal literacy. More than 750 million adults are illiterate, including 115 million young people. Two thirds of those are female. Some 250 million children of primary school age lack basic literacy skills and 124 million children and adolescents receive no schooling at all. These obstacles to sustainable development can and must be overcome by developing and implementing the right policies, backed up by commitments and resources, the Secretary-General said.
  • UNESCO today launched a report taking stock of progress made by countries in implementing commitments to adult learning and education.

BELIZE BECOMES 109TH U.N. MEMBER STATE TO PAY DUES IN FULL

  • Belize has become the 109th Member State to pay is dues in full.