HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
MONDAY, 14 SEPTEMBER 2020
The UN Mission in that Libya (UNSMIL) expressed its grave concern yesterday regarding reports that one civilian was killed, and three were injured, and a number of other demonstrators were arrested on September 12th. This followed the reported excessive use of force by eastern authorities against peaceful demonstrators in the city of al-Marj. The UN Mission calls for a thorough and immediate investigation into these incidents and for the speedy release of all those arbitrarily arrested and detained.
The Mission reminds all parties in Libya that the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression are fundamental to human rights and fall within Libya’s obligations under international human rights law.
The Secretary-General had a video message for the start of intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha, Qatar.
He said that the start of the peace negotiations between Afghanistan and the Taliban presents a major opportunity to achieve the long-held aspirations of the people for peace.
The Secretary-General paid tribute to the resilience and courage of all Afghans, stressing that an inclusive peace process – in which women, youth and victims of conflict are meaningfully represented – offers the best hope for a sustainable solution.
In a statement issued on Friday afternoon, the Secretary-General said he remains deeply concerned about the situation in Belarus, particularly the continued use of force against peaceful protestors and the detention of people exercising their legitimate democratic rights. He is also concerned about reports of intimidation tactics against civil society, media and opposition figures.
He calls on the authorities in Belarus to refrain from the use of force against those engaging in peaceful assembly and to ensure that allegations of torture and other mistreatment of people in detention are fully investigated and addressed.
The Secretary-General underlines that the current crisis can only be resolved by the Belarusian people through a broad-based, inclusive dialogue, which should start immediately in the interest of stability.
To fight the spread of COVID-19 and to mitigate its impact in Belarus, the UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Joanna Kazana, has provided some $7.5 million to the national response, including addressing the socioeconomic impact and supporting the health system.
The World Health Organization delivered 250 oxygen concentrators, while the UN Children’s Fund supplied 40 remote-sensing thermometers to be distributed to educational institutions as well as 60 air circulators for the capital, for the city of Minsk.
WHO has also helped to enhance the national airport’s prevention and detection programmes.
A recent survey led by the UN Population Fund found that nearly 40 per cent of the population feels the financial impact and emotional toll from the pandemic.
And the UN along with the World Bank are continuing with a campaign, including on billboards, to curb the spread of the pandemic.
In his annual briefing on peacekeeping reform to the Security Council, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the Head of Peace Operations, said that as the peacekeeping missions have been supporting national responses to COVID-19, they are also continuing to pursue their Action for Peacekeeping commitments. The pandemic has imposed new challenges, he said, but, in areas such as policy and guidance work, it has also created space for progress.
Looking forward, Mr. Lacroix said he wanted the UN peacekeeping to continue to be an indispensable multilateral tool for the peace and security toolbox. The Missions need to continue to respond to immediate challenges, including weak commitment to peace by the various actors in the conflicts, and the regionalization of conflict. But, he added, in the coming years, we are likely to see a world transformed by potentially lethal and disruptive technologies, climate-related disruptions, and other challenges. To have missions fit for purpose for the coming decades, Mr. Lacroix concluded, they have begun an internal reflection on the types of adaptations that will be required for these operations.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in a statement issued on Friday afternoon, the Secretary-General expressed his concern at the ongoing violence in the Irumu territory, notably in the borders of Ituri and North Kivu provinces.
Recent attacks have once again led to the killing of many civilians. The area continues to experience inter-community violence but also remains under threat by members of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).
The Secretary-General reiterated the support of the UN to the Congolese authorities in bringing to justice the perpetrators of attacks against civilians, national security forces and peacekeepers in the country. He reaffirmed the commitment of the UN to support the people and Government of the DRC in their efforts to bring about peace and stability in the east of the country.
UNESCO today released a report, which notes there has been a sharp increase this year in the global number of protests during which the police and security forces violated media freedom. In some cases, including during protests linked to the Black Lives Matter movement, and others, violence resulted in permanent injuries, such as those sustained by several journalists blinded by rubber bullets or pepper balls.
And you will have seen that on Friday we issued a statement in which the Secretary-General also spoke out on this subject, saying that he is appalled at the continued and increased numbers of attacks against journalists around the world.
He said the recent killing of Julio Valdivia Rodríguez, a Mexican journalist, is yet another example of the hazardous and difficult conditions in which many journalists work globally.
The Secretary-General reiterated that a free press is essential for peace, justice, and sustainable development and human rights and added that when media workers are targeted, societies as a whole pay a price.
HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
At the opening session of the Human Rights Council this morning in Geneva, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said that the pandemic has collided with many slower, and more entrenched, political and social and economic crises around the world.
With poverty and tensions shooting up and a sharp decline in many people's hope for a better life, Ms. Bachelet added that human rights norms provide the tested guidance that can help States de-escalate grievances, deliver appropriate protection, establish a sound foundation for development and security, and ensure freedom and rights.
In this context, she said there are important opportunities for the UN to assist States to devise human rights-based actions that can de-escalate tensions; support sustainable development; and preserve people's well-being – even at this challenging time.
In Sudan, where our humanitarian colleagues say that nearly 720,000 people have been affected by continued floods in the country, with more than 100 deaths reported.
Tens of thousands of homes have been damaged or destroyed and thousands of livestock killed.
The UN, together with the Government and our partners, are helping those in need.
We have reached some 200,000 people with health, food and other assistance.
The Humanitarian Response Plan for Sudan needs $1.6 billion but is less than half funded. Obviously, resources are urgently needed.
A new ecolabel launched today by the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP), which is led by the UN Environment Programme, will help shoppers reduce their environmental impact by identifying rice that has been sustainably produced.
Over 3.5 billion people rely on rice as a daily staple, but rice farming consumes up to one-third of the world’s developed freshwater resources and generates up to 20 percent of global emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
UNEP has said employing best practices in rice farming can reduce water use by some 20 per cent and methane emissions from flooded rice fields by up to 50 per cent.
With the new label, consumers will be able to trace rice back to its origin country and retailers can make a significant contribution to sustainability commitments and climate change targets.
More information from UNEP.
This Saturday, the UN, along with partners from Project Everyone and 72 Films productions, are releasing the film “Nations United: Urgent Solutions for Urgent Times.” That will be at 9am.
The film sets out what must be done to tackle the world’s biggest issues, from COVID-19 to poverty, inequality, gender discrimination, climate change, justice and human rights.
The film was directed by Richard Curtis, who is also a UN SDG Global Advocate and features UN Messengers of Peace and Goodwill Ambassadors including Malala Yousafzai, Don Cheadle and Michelle Yeoh, among others.
The broadcast will be shown to mark the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, as well as the 5th anniversary of the Sustainable Development Goals.
You can watch the film’s premiere on the UN’s YouTube Channel (youtube.com/unitednations) and on UN WebTV.