SECRETARY-GENERAL’S VIRTUAL TRIP
The Secretary-General is continuing his virtual trip to the United Kingdom, where, in just a few minutes, he will sit down with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson for a virtual bilateral meeting.
He also spoke a few minutes ago at the COP26 event on Africa at an event entitled “Transition to clean power as part of a green recovery.”
The Secretary-General said that, to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, we need an urgent transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy and that we especially need to support developing countries in this shift.
The Secretary-General reiterated his appeal to developed nations to fulfill their longstanding pledge to provide $100 billion dollars a year for developing countries to support mitigation and adaptation. He also said the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the national development banks must develop financial instruments that can reduce investment risks and attract private capital to African countries.
In addition, he emphasized the importance of investing in adaptation, as Africa is highly vulnerable to climate risks.
Yesterday, as you know, the Secretary-General joined Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon in an event to mark the 75th anniversary of the first session of the United Nations General Assembly, which took place in London’s Westminster Central Methodist Hall.
In his remarks, the Secretary-General said that, throughout its history, the work of the General Assembly has helped to boost global health, literacy, and living standards, and to promote human rights and gender equality.
Turning to the challenges of our time, Mr. Guterres reiterated his call for a new global deal, as well as a new social contract between people, governments, the private sector and civil society to tackle the roots of inequality.
We need a networked multilateralism, Mr. Guterres said, so that global and regional organizations communicate and work together towards common goals.
Concluding on an optimistic note, the Secretary-General expressed confidence that, together, we can emerge from this pandemic and lay the foundations for a cleaner, safer, fairer world for all, and for generations to come.
Earlier this morning, the Secretary-General spoke by video teleconference to the One Planet Summit, convened by French President Emmanuel Macron. He said that 2021 must be the year to reconcile humanity with nature. He stressed that, as we rebuild and recover from the pandemic, we cannot revert to the old normal. This is our chance to change course, he said, with smart policies and the right investments.
He also said that protecting the world’s biodiversity can help create jobs and added that the Biodiversity meeting in Kunming, China, which is scheduled for this year and is a vital step in stopping the extinction crisis.
The Secretary-General reiterated his message that countries must put a price on carbon, stop building new coal plants, end fossil fuel subsidies, and shift the fiscal burden from taxpayers to polluters.
He also pointed out that the newly launched High Ambition Coalition is a sign that the private and public sectors, along with civil society can work together on initiatives to protect the planet.
I have been asked a few times, to say the least, this morning regarding the Secretary-General’s future, and I can tell you that, in a response to the President of the General Assembly, who had enquired last Friday about the Secretary-General’s intentions regarding a second mandate, the Secretary-General conveyed to him today that he is available to serve a second term as Secretary-General of the United Nations, if that would be the will of the Member States.
The Secretary-General also addressed a letter of similar content to the President of the Security Council.
In the Security Council this morning, Mohammed Ibn Chambas, the head of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel, presented an update on political developments in the region, which were marked by five presidential, three legislative, and two local elections.
Despite the pandemic, he said, Electoral Management Bodies were able to maintain electoral calendars and have demonstrated impressive technical capacity to organize and conduct elections. Notwithstanding contesting of results and unacceptable levels of violence in Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire, the polls overall went well, said Mr. Chambas.
Turning to the Sahel, Mr. Chambas said insecurity continues to prevail and to harm innocent lives. After the end of the rainy season, militants have again staged audacious and deadly attacks, notably in Niger.
Despite important successes, insecurity has also expanded to areas previously considered safe, he added.
Mr. Chambas concluded his remarks by telling members of the Council that we need to confront the all-too-well known root causes of exclusion, strengthen democratic governance, and give a new and decisive push to fight insecurity.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
Our colleagues on the ground in the Central African Republic and our peacekeeping mission tell us that they are continuing to work with the country’s armed forces to protect civilians who are facing attacks by armed groups.
The UN Mission says that, in Bouar in Nana-Mambéré prefecture, peacekeepers and the armed forces pushed anti-Balaka and 3R fighters back during heavy fighting on Saturday. The situation remains tense in the city today, with nearly 4,000 people having taken refuge in the town’s cathedral. Peacekeepers are carrying out patrols to create secure conditions for humanitarian aid delivery.
In Grimari in Ouaka prefecture, the UN Mission and the armed forces also held back the advance of fighters from armed groups on Saturday.
The UN Mission stresses that the armed groups and their allies will be held responsible for humanitarian chaos caused by their attacks in Bouar and other areas, including their efforts to block supply routes. The Mission also notes the groups’ responsibility for the deaths of civilians, members of the defense and security forces, and peacekeepers. The Mission stressed that attacks on peacekeepers can be considered war crimes.
The UN Mission remains committed to carrying out its mandate to protect civilians and to secure the electoral process to support the Central African defense and security forces.
Turning to Afghanistan, our humanitarian colleagues tell us that, this year, the UN and humanitarian partners will seek $1.3 billion to assist almost 16 million people with life-saving aid. This is up from the target of 2.3 million people four years ago; it is a huge increase in people who need aid.
They say that ongoing conflict, natural disasters, chronic poverty and the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be a deadly combination for people in Afghanistan.
In 2021, nearly half of the population will need humanitarian assistance to survive. Food insecurity is soaring as people’s livelihoods were lost. Some 5.5 million people in Afghanistan are in emergency food insecurity phase, and it is projected that nearly one in two children under the age of five will face acute malnutrition this year.
With skyrocketing household debt, people’s survival depends on our ability to mobilize sufficient funds to deliver a well-coordinated response.
In Iraq, our Special Representative on the ground, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, visited the Sinjar district yesterday to follow up on the implementation of a recent agreement between Baghdad and Erbil aimed at creating stability, security and better living conditions for its inhabitants. Her delegation stressed the need to do more – in unity and at a faster pace – to alleviate current hardships.
She said that what has been achieved so far could set the stage for a greater improvement in living conditions, but, to make this happen, all stakeholders will have to act in unity and solidarity.
In discussions with the visiting UN team, displaced Sinjaris voiced their concerns, requesting further assistance for the vulnerable local communities who recently returned from displaced camps.
I want to say we welcome the announcement by the Presidency of Kazakhstan earlier this month that the country has ratified internally the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty. The Secretary-General looks forward to receiving the formal instrument of ratification, as the ratification makes permanent the existing moratorium on state executions in Kazakhstan, which had been in place since 2003.
The Secretary-General reiterates his call for the universal ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and encourages other countries that still use the death penalty to follow Kazakhstan’s example to abolish the death penalty or to introduce moratoria as a transition towards abolition.
SECURITY COUNCIL HIGHLIGHTS
It is my pleasure to announce that the 2020 Highlights of Security Council Practice is out. This year’s edition builds on the revamped version launched in 2019 and provides an overview of the work of the Security Council in 2020, a year marked by unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the innovative solutions found in response to the changing circumstances.
As you know from past editions, the Highlights Paper, which is produced by our colleagues in the Security Council branch of the Department of Political and Peacekeeping Affairs, contains information about the practices of the Council relating to its meetings and videoconferences, items on its agenda, the decisions adopted and the voting patterns, as well as subsidiary bodies. It’s a rather helpful research tool.
The Secretary-General strongly condemns Friday’s suicide bombing perpetrated by a Boko Haram faction that killed at least 15 civilians, including children ranging from 3 to 14 years old. He was shocked to learn that a young girl was made to carry out this horrific attack.
The Secretary-General is alarmed by the level of violence against the civilian population in the Far-North region of Cameroon as well as other parts of the Lake Chad Basin. Nothing can justify such senseless and egregious attacks.
The United Nations remains steadfast in its support to the countries of the Lake Chad Basin in their efforts to overcome the scourge of terrorism and violent extremism and address the security, political, humanitarian, human rights, health and socio-economic challenges in the region.