HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
MONDAY, 16 JULY 2018
 
SECRETARY-GENERAL VISITS COSTA RICA

  • The Secretary-General today began his official visit to Costa Rica. This morning, he visited the country’s National Energy Centre and visited the United Nations School where he met with government, business and civil society representatives to talk about Costa Rica’s progress on the 2030 Agenda.
  • Later today, he is expected to meet with Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado Quesada.
  • This evening, the Secretary-General will speak at the inauguration of the commemorative week of the 40th Anniversary of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
MORE THAN 100 MINISTERS GATHER AT U.N. TO TAKE STOCK OF DEVELOPMENT PROGRESS
  • The High-level Political Forum convened its high-level segment this morning, with some 115 Ministers and Vice Ministers taking part.
  • Speaking at the opening this morning, the Deputy Secretary-General pointed to progress in some areas, including maternal and child mortality, tackling childhood marriage, expanding access to electricity, addressing global unemployment, and cutting the rate of forest loss around the globe.
  • But the Deputy Secretary-General stressed that it is equally clear that in other areas, we are either moving too slowly, or losing momentum. For the first time in a decade, the number of people who are undernourished has increased – from 777 million people in 2015 to 815 million in 2016 – fundamentally undermining our commitment to leaving no one behind.
  • She said that we have 12 years to realize the Sustainable Development Goals, and that to move forward, at the speed and scale required, we need much deeper and much wider action.
  • Also speaking at the opening was Jayathma Wickramanayake, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Youth.
  • She stressed that a sustainable and prosperous future is achievable when young people are part of the equation. But she also noted that while it is positive that many countries mention youth, we need more detail provided regarding efforts to ensure that the process is inclusive and that engagement is meaningful.
  • Marie Chatardová, President of ECOSOC, and Miroslav Lajčák, President of the General Assembly, also spoke at the opening.
  • During the three-day ministerial segment of the High-level Political Forum, 46 countries will present their Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) to demonstrate how they are implementing the 2030 Agenda nationally. Globally, two-thirds of all countries have undertaken a Voluntary National Review or will do so in the coming year.
LIBYA: U.N. ENVOY CALLS FOR GLOBAL UNITY AHEAD OF ELECTIONS
  • The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya, Ghassan Salamé, briefed the Security Council this morning from Tripoli. He said that while for the first months of the year Libya had enjoyed relative quiet from military actions, the last two months have been marked by violent developments. He added that political progress is linked to the absence of military activity on the ground.
  • Noting that Libyans long to be rid of their current patchwork of institutions, Mr. Salamé warned that without the right conditions, it would be unwise to conduct elections. Without clear and strong messaging to those who would attempt to stall or disrupt these elections, he said, the conditions will not be met. He therefore called on the international community to show unity. Once we reach a reasonable conformity of views among Libyans, the international community must stand together behind this vision, he stressed.
  • Mr. Salamé also warned that the status quo cannot be sustained and that Libya is in decline. The crisis in the Oil Crescent gave us a glimpse of what is in store if tangible progress is not made now - economic collapse, the breakdown of public services, and more frequent and intense outbreaks of violence. In a country where terrorists lurk, where criminals are waiting to traffic migrants, where foreign mercenaries are increasing in number, where the oil industry hangs in the balance, this should be of concern to all, he said.
MIDDLE EAST HAD BEEN ON BRINK OF WAR – U.N. ENVOY
  • The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, arrived in Gaza yesterday, where he warned that over the weekend, we had been on the brink of war, and it had taken the concerted efforts of everyone to make sure that we step back from confrontation.
  • He appealed to the Palestinian factions not to provoke incidents at the fence, to stop the firing of rockets and mortars, to stop the incendiary kites and to give peace a chance. He also appealed to Israel to be very restrained in its responses to the situation in Gaza.
  • Mr. Mladenov added that the international community has the responsibility to move immediately and live up to the expectations of providing not just assistance to the people in Gaza, but charting a political way forward. He said that the only realistic perspective today is this: avoid war, fix the humanitarian problems of Gaza, and get back to the reconciliation process.
SYRIA: U.N. SENDS CONVOYS TO AREAS UNDER NEW CONTROL
  • Over the past few days, the United Nations has deployed needs assessments and inter-agency convoys to areas in Syria that have recently changed control.
  • Yesterday, a team from the United Nations, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) conducted a high-level mission to Nassib and Um Elmayathen in Dara’a governorate, and delivered food assistance for 15,000 people.
  • Also yesterday, a UN/Syrian Arab Red Crescent inter-agency humanitarian convoy delivered assistance for 89,000 people in Al-Houla area in Homs governorate, and Harbnafseh area in Hama governorate. The assistance included food, flour, and health, education, nutrition, and water and sanitation hygiene supplies.
  • Meanwhile, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is aware of reports of 430 people being evacuated from Dara’a Governorate to northern Syria following an agreement by parties to the conflict.
  • Those displaced north initially arrived in Madiq Castle Town, in northern rural Hama, before moving on to other locations. Humanitarian partners on the ground are responding to the needs in Madiq Castle, as well as in the secondary destinations of the displaced. 
  • The United Nations, which was not part of the local agreements that led to the movements of people, emphasizes that any evacuation of civilians must be safe, voluntary, and to a place of their choosing. It is imperative that all those who are displaced through local agreements have the right of return as soon as the situation allows.
JAPAN BECOMES 110TH MEMBER STATE TO PAY U.N. FULL DUES
  • Japan has become the 110th UN Member State to pay its regular budget dues in full.

 

***The guest at the Noon Briefing today was Cristiana Pașca Palmer, the Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity. She spoke to journalists about efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 15 (to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss).