HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
TUESDAY, 2 MAY 2017
 
U.N. SYRIA ENVOY TO JOIN ASTANA TALKS

  • The UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, will be joining the high-level meeting on Syria in Astana on 3 and 4 May.  In view of the urgency and importance of re-establishing a de-escalation of the situation in Syria and moving on confidence-building measures, he has agreed to attend the meeting as an observer at the invitation of the Kazakh Government. 
  • While in Astana, the Special Envoy will be supporting efforts by the guarantors of the ceasefire and other participants to de-escalate the military situation. He will be accompanied by a technical delegation of UN experts who have been present in previous Astana meetings.
  • Mr. de Mistura will also use the opportunity to conduct political consultations with the ceasefire guarantors and others that will be present. This will be particularly timely as he is at present putting finishing touches on his deliberations regarding the next round of intra-Syrian talks in Geneva. 
TURKISH CYPRIOT AND GREEK CYPRIOT LEADERS MEET UNDER AUSPICES OF U.N. SPECIAL ADVISER
  • The Turkish Cypriot leader, Mustafa Akıncı, and the Greek Cypriot leader, Nicos Anastasiades, met today at the UN's Good Offices under the auspices of the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser, Espen Barth Eide, to continue the Cyprus talks. 
  • There was a good discussion between the sides on several outstanding issues, even if several differences remain.
  • The leaders have scheduled two more meetings to be held in the next two weeks on 11 and 17 May.  We hope that they will do their utmost to move the process forward decisively in the crucial weeks ahead.
  • For his part, Mr. Eide will be in New York toward the end of this week to update the Secretary-General on the latest developments in the peace talks and the way forward.
NEW U.N. REPORT HIGHLIGHTS PROGRESS IN PROTECTION OF CHILDREN IN PHILIPPINES CONFLICT
  • In a new report by the Secretary-General on the impact of armed conflict on children in the Philippines, he says there has been significant progress in the protection of boys and girls, in spite of continued violations, particularly in Mindanao.
  • The Moro Islamic Liberation Front has made progress in implementing an Action Plan to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children, culminating with the identification and formal disengagement of over 1,850 children.
  • For its part, the Government has strengthened the national framework to address violations against children.
FUNDING SHORTAGE FORCES U.N. AGENCY TO CUT FOOD RATIONS IN HALF IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
  • The World Food Programme said today that despite tremendous needs, the Central African Republic counts among the world’s most forgotten crises and receives ever-shrinking humanitarian funding. Half the country’s people require humanitarian assistance and more than two million are hungry.
  • WFP’s humanitarian response plan for 2017 is only 7 percent financed. Insufficient funding has forced the agency to halve food rations distributed to the most vulnerable Central African families – for many, this is the only thing they get to eat. WFP immediately requires US$ 12.5 million through October 2017 to meet the most urgent needs of extremely vulnerable people.
SOMALIA: PROJECTED NUMBER OF SEVERELY MALNOURISHED CHILDREN UP 50 PERCENT - UNICEF
  • The number of children who are or will be acutely malnourished in Somalia has shot up by 50 per cent since the start of this year to 1.4 million, UNICEF said today.
  • It noted that more than 275,000 children either have or will suffer life-threatening severe acute malnutrition this year.
  • UNICEF says that severely malnourished children are nine times more likely to die of diseases such as cholera and measles, which are spreading.
SECRETARY-GENERAL STRESSES COMMITMENT TO INVESTIGATION INTO DEATH OF DAG HAMMARSKJÖLD
  • The Secretary-General is pleased to confirm that Mohammed Othman, the Eminent Person he appointed pursuant to General Assembly resolution 71/260, continues his work in relation to the investigation into the tragic death of Dag Hammarskjöld and of the members of the party accompanying him.
  • The Secretary-General affirms his own commitment to this matter in the strongest terms as he strongly feels that he owes it to his illustrious and distinguished predecessor, Dag Hammarskjöld, and to the other members of the party accompanying him and their families, to pursue the full truth of this matter.  
  • Judge Othman held meetings in New York last week with Member States looking into the investigation into the death of Dag Hammarskjöld and of the members of the party accompanying him.
  • Mr. Othman continues to urge Member States to identify and make available possible further information that may shed light on the final stages of flight SE-BDY, the aircraft that carried the former Secretary-General and his party that crashed near Ndola on the night of 17-18 September 1961. Mr. Othman notes that more active cooperation is necessary from Member States to declassify or otherwise allow access to records that are now over 55 years old.
  • The current stage of the work will build on the findings of the 2015 Panel, which concluded, among other things, that there was significant new information with sufficient probative value to further pursue aerial attack or other interference as a hypothesis of the possible cause of the crash.
  • Mr. Othman will continue to liaise with relevant parties prior to reporting his findings to the Secretary-General and the General Assembly before the end of the current session.
FREE PRESS ‘ADVANCES PEACE AND JUSTICE FOR ALL’, SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL AHEAD OF PRESS FREEDOM DAY
  • In his message for World Press Freedom Day tomorrow, the Secretary-General says that journalists go to the most dangerous places to give voice to the voiceless.
  • He notes that media workers suffer character assassination, sexual assault, detention, injuries and even death.
  • The Secretary-General stresses the need for leaders to defend a free media, saying that this is crucial to counter prevailing misinformation.
  • He also calls for an end to all crackdowns against journalists – because a free press advances peace and justice for all.
  • For her part, Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO, said in a message for the Day that journalism is facing a crisis of audience identity and stands before a horizon where old challenges are merging with new threats. The concepts of post-truth and fake news point to rising questions that go to the heart of free, independent and professional journalism.
  • On Thursday, UNESCO and the Department of Public Information (DPI) will hold a high-level panel discussion on the freedom of expression, peace, and inclusiveness. That event will take place at 10 am in Conference Room 2.
ON WORLD TUNA DAY, U.N. URGES EFFORTS FOR SUSTAINABLE USE OF TUNA RESOURCES
  • On the occasion of World Tuna Day, the Spokesman said that many countries, in particular Small Island Developing States, depend heavily on tuna resources for food security and nutrition, economic development, employment, government revenue and livelihoods, amongst others. At present more than 80 countries have tuna fisheries, and thousands of tuna fishing vessels operate in all the oceans, making trade in tuna a significant contributor to the global economy. However, increasing threats resulting from human activities, such as overfishing, and the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification, as highlighted in the First Global Integrated Marine Assessment, adversely impact the conservation and sustainable use of tuna stocks.
  • Therefore, on the occasion of the very first celebration of the World Tuna Day since its designation by the General Assembly last year, we strongly urge all stakeholders to make every effort for the long-term conservation and sustainable use of tuna resources which is important for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  In this regard, we wish to emphasize the critical importance of effectively implementing the international legal framework, as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which has been strengthened by the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement, recommendations of its Review Conference, annual General Assembly resolutions on sustainable fisheries, as well as other efforts by the international community at the global, regional and national levels. The Ocean Conference, next month, will provide a valuable opportunity for States and all other stakeholders to support implementation of the targets in Goal 14 of the 2030 Agenda.
  • At this opportune moment, let us all commit to protecting our precious tuna resources and their surrounding ecosystems and using these resources sustainably for generations to come.