HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
MONDAY, 26 OCTOBER 2020
This morning, the Secretary-General spoke at the General Assembly’s observance ceremony in the commemoration of UN Day. He pointed out that 75 years ago, amid the rubble and ruin of the Second World War, world leaders did the audacious.
He noted that many previous attempts to secure peace and progress through international cooperation had collapsed, yet they dared to try again, and they succeeded.
Mr. Guterres said that, at its birth, the UN was a symbol of global unity. Today it is the epicenter, and our mission is more important than ever. He emphasized that international cooperation is the only way to defeat the pandemic, the climate emergency, rising inequality and the spread of hatred.
He highlighted that we measure the success of the UN by the lives we save, the suffering we ease, the peace we build, the opportunities we create, and the rights we protect, adding that we will never, ever give up in our mission and in our work to fulfill the enduring vision of the Charter.
We issued a statement in which the Secretary-General said he is very encouraged by Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide’s announcement of Japan’s commitment to get to net zero emissions by 2050.
Japan, the world’s third largest economy, joins a growing group of major economies committed to leading by example in building a sustainable, carbon neutral and climate resilient world by 2050.
The Secretary-General said he looks forward to the concrete policy measures that will be proposed and implemented to reach this goal, adding that he is confident that Japan will also assist developing countries to reach this goal, including through technological assistance and its public and private financing for renewable energy.
SECRETARY-GENERAL/WORLD HEALTH SUMMIT
In a video message delivered to the World Health Summit in Berlin, the Secretary-General noted that the first hard lesson of the current COVID-19 pandemic is that we were not prepared for it.
He underscored that universal health coverage is the path to high quality, equitable and affordable health care, adding that we need health systems that work before we face an outbreak of something more contagious or deadly than COVID-19.
He also pointed out that we are not powerless – if we follow the science and demonstrate unity and solidarity, we can overcome the pandemic.
The Secretary-General underlined the need for global solidarity every step of the way and that the virus’ deadliest allies are misinformation and disinformation.
TREATY ON THE PROHIBITION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS
On Saturday, our friends in Honduras deposited the 50th instrument of ratification or accession to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. As a result, the Treaty will enter into force on January 22nd, 2021.
The Secretary-General commended the States that have ratified the Treaty and saluted the work of civil society, which has been instrumental in facilitating the negotiation and ratification of the Treaty. Entry-into-force is a tribute to the survivors of nuclear explosions and tests, many of whom advocated for this Treaty.
The Secretary-General added that the entry-into-force of this Treaty is the culmination of a worldwide movement to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons. It represents a meaningful commitment towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons, which remains the highest disarmament priority of the United Nations.
The Secretary-General looks forward to carrying out the functions assigned to him by the Treaty.
We issued a number of other statements over the weekend.
In one, we expressing horror and shock at an attack on a school in Cameroon’s South-West Region. The Secretary-General urged Cameroonians to conduct a thorough investigation to ensure those responsible are held accountable.
We also took note of the announcement of the provisional results of the presidential election in Guinea and reiterated our call to all actors to resolve disputes through established legal mechanisms and prevent from violence.
We also took note of the agreement to normalize relations between the Republic of the Sudan and Israel, and the Secretary-General added that he hopes the agreement will further cooperation, enhance economic and trade relations, and bring about new opportunities to advance peace and economic prosperity in the wider Horn of Africa and Middle East regions.
Nickolay Mladenov, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, briefed the Security Council this morning on the Middle East Peace Process. He said that, as the pandemic stretches on and its consequences accumulate, Palestinians and Israelis alike are feeling the effects. He is particularly concerned about the spread of the virus in Gaza and the long-term damage to the Palestinian economy and social cohesion, including impacts on education, for the next generation.
Our good friend, Geir Pedersen, the Envoy for Syria, has just left Damascus.
Mr. Pedersen had comprehensive discussions with Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign and Expatriates Minister Walid al Muallem.
The envoy touched upon all issues related to Security Council resolution 2254, including the Constitutional Committee.
He said he will also continue consultations with the opposition Syrian Negotiations Commission.
Mr. Pedersen will brief the Security Council via video tomorrow, Tuesday.
The Libyan Political Dialogue Forum convened its first virtual meeting today. The direct, in-person meeting of the Forum will kick off on 9 November in Tunis.
The UN Mission welcomed 75 Libyan participants to the first virtual meeting of this Dialogue. Participants were briefed on the intra-Libyan economic and military tracks facilitated by the UN Mission, as well as on the human rights and international humanitarian law tracks.
The overall objective of the Forum will be to generate consensus on a unified governance framework and arrangements that will lead to holding national elections in the shortest possible timeframe, in order to restore Libya’s sovereignty and the democratic legitimacy of Libyan institutions.
In Chile, our country team has welcomed the culmination of the Constitutional Plebiscite, calling it a civic act of historical importance, in which citizens have expressed their opinion in favour of the “I approve” option which opens the process of formulating a new Constitution for the country.
The high participation and civic spirit demonstrated are proof of Chile’s strong commitment to democracy.
We at the United Nations call for the continuing of the constitutional process, strengthening democratic values, equal participation of women and men, and respect for the rights of freedom of opinion and expression as fundamental principles.
In Mozambique, our humanitarian colleagues inform us that, since 16 October, at least 10,000 newly internally displaced people have arrived by boat in Pemba, Cabo Delgado’s provincial capital, in the north of the country. The displaced people, mostly women and children, are fleeing the ongoing conflict in the region.
In support of the Government-led response, we, along with our partners, have provided food and water for more than 5,000 people over the last few days. Humanitarian partners have also put in place measures to prevent possible disease outbreaks, specifically diarrhea and COVID-19. They are installing temporary latrines and handwashing facilities, and they are distributing facemasks and setting up an emergency medical tent.
The humanitarian situation in Cabo Delgado has rapidly deteriorated in the last 10 months due to the conflict and violence. More than 300,000 people are now displaced and in need of life-saving assistance. The Humanitarian Rapid Response Plan for Cabo Delgado has received around 60 per cent of the $35.5 million requested.
An interesting report we saw from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) says that millions of used cars, vans and minibuses exported from Europe, the United States and Japan to the developing world are of poor quality, contributing significantly to air pollution and hindering efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change.
The report shows that, between 2015 and 2018, 14 million used vehicles were exported worldwide. Some 80 per cent of these went to low- and middle-income countries, with more than half going to Africa.
UNEP said developed countries must stop exporting vehicles that fail environmental and safety inspections and are no longer considered roadworthy in their own countries.
The report also calls for the adoption of minimum quality standards that will ensure that used vehicles contribute to cleaner, safer fleets in importing countries.
Increasing temperatures and sea levels, changing rain patterns and more extreme weather are threatening human health and safety, food and water security and socio-economic development in Africa, according to a new report coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) with inputs from more than a dozen UN agencies and our partners around the world.
WMO’s Secretary-General, Petteri Taalas, said that climate change is hitting the most vulnerable people in Africa the hardest. It is also contributing to food insecurity, population displacement and stress on water resources, he said, adding that the human and economic toll has been aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION/AFRICA
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today is bringing together ministers from more than 45 countries for the 31st Session of the Regional Conference for Africa.
Hundreds of representatives from donor organization, civil society and the private sector will also take part in the three-day virtual meeting.
FAO’s Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa, Abebe Haile-Gabriel, made a call for bold action to address the overlapping crises of the COVID-19 pandemic, hunger, and desert locusts, among others.