HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
WEDNESDAY, 26 APRIL 2017
 
SECRETARY-GENERAL OPENS MEETING OF CHIEF EXECUTIVES BOARD IN GENEVA

  • The Secretary-General opened the meeting of the UN system’s Chief Executives Board at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) headquarters in Geneva.
  • There is a second day of meetings tomorrow. The Secretary-General and the Deputy Secretary-General will be back tomorrow night.
SENIOR U.N. OFFICIALS SPEAK OUT AGAINST AIR STRIKES ON SYRIAN HOSPITALS
  • The Humanitarian Coordinator for Syria, Ali al-Za’atari, and Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis, Kevin Kennedy, issued a joint statement today on the appalling damage and destruction of medical facilities in northern Syria, which is depriving hundreds of thousands of people of basic health services.
  • On 25 April, the Shahid Wasim Husseini hospital in Kafr Takharim city was reportedly hit by airstrikes, putting it out of service. On 22 April, airstrikes in the area of Abdin in Idleb Governorate reportedly hit an underground field hospital and reportedly killed four civilians. Four other airstrikes impacting medical facilities were reported in April alone.
  • Mr. al-Za’atari and Mr. Kennedy called for the parties to the conflict to abide by their obligation under international humanitarian and human rights law to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure such as hospitals.
SECRETARY-GENERAL WARNS PROGRESS ON CHEMICAL WEAPONS UNDER THREAT
  • In a video message, the Secretary-General today offered his congratulations on the 20th anniversary of the historic Chemical Weapons Convention and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
  • He said that there had been two decades of success in dealing with chemical weapons, but progress is under threat, with belligerents breaking the norm against chemical weapons.  The recent attack in Syria was a horrific reminder of the stakes. There can be no impunity for these crimes, he said. 
UNICEF REACHES ALMOST HALF OF WORLD’S CHILDREN WITH LIFE-SAVING VACCINES
  • The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said today it procured 2.5 billion doses of vaccines to children in nearly 100 countries in 2016, reaching almost half of the world’s children under the age of five.
  • These figures, released during World Immunization Week, make UNICEF the largest buyer of vaccines for children in the world.
  • Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan, the three remaining polio-endemic countries, each received more doses of vaccines than any other country.
  • Access to immunization has led to a dramatic decrease in deaths of children under five from vaccine-preventable diseases, and has brought the world closer to eradicating polio.
  • Yet an estimated 19.4 million children around the world still miss out on full vaccinations every year because of conflict, weak health systems, poverty or social inequities.
U.N. PENSION FUND RECEIVES TOP RATING FOR CONSIDERING CLIMATE CHANGE IN INVESTMENTS
  • The $57.9 billion UN Joint Staff Pension Fund said it has received a 2017 rating of AAA from the Asset Owners Disclosure Project, for incorporating climate change considerations in its investments. AAA is the highest rating. The Asset Owners Disclosure Project rated 500 asset owners globally and 17 of them were rated AAA. 
  • The UN Joint Pension Fund is at #17 among all the asset owners who were rated this year.  Last year, the fund was at #20, with a rating of AA. 
U.N. REPORT SPOTLIGHTS KEY ROLE OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES IN MITIGATING CLIMATE CHANGE
  • Today at 1:15 p.m. in Conference Room 5, the International Labour Organization and the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction are launching a report highlighting the role of indigenous people in tackling climate change.
  • The report stresses that while indigenous peoples are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, they also play a key role in mitigation and adaptation efforts due to their traditional knowledge and unique occupations.
  • According to the report, indigenous peoples make up five per cent of the world’s population, but take care of an estimated 22 per cent of the Earth’s surface and protect 80 per cent of the world’s biodiversity.
  • The report makes recommendations on how to create opportunities for them so they have access to decent work, thrive as innovators and contribute to policies to address climate change.
U.N. OFFICIALS IN BRAZIL VOICE CONCERN OVER APPARENT ASSASSINATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST
  • The UN System in Brazil expressed grave concern following the apparent assassination of Mr. Silvino Nunes Gouveia, a prominent human rights activist, last Sunday.  He was the regional head in the State of Minas Gerais of an organization called ‘Movement of Rural Workers without Land’ — dealing with the delicate theme of land ownership and land use in the vast country. 
  • The UN System expressed its confidence that the authorities will investigate the case, try and punish those responsible — while also offering its condolences to the family and friends of the victim.  It also praised the work of human rights activists across Brazil, and reiterated the need to guarantee their safety wherever they may operate.