HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
WEDNESDAY, 28 JUNE 2017
IN WASHINGTON D.C., SECRETARY-GENERAL DISCUSSES U.S./U.N. RELATIONS WITH U.S. LAWMAKERS
- Yesterday evening, the Secretary-General met with Sheikh Mohammad Al-Abdullah Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs. The Secretary-General reaffirmed the United Nations’ strong support for the Kuwaiti mediation efforts, hoping that they will lead to a de-escalation of the situation in the Gulf, progressively creating the conditions for a meaningful dialogue to take place.
- He also met with the Saudi Foreign Minister, Adel Al-Jubeir, and had a discussion with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, with whom he will have an official meeting later today. We also expect the Secretary-General to meet with the Foreign Minister of Qatar either today or tomorrow.
- Today, he will continue to meet with congressional leaders. So far, he’s had good meetings focusing on US/UN relations and UN reform, including with Congresswoman Nita Lowey and House Speaker Paul Ryan in separate meetings.
- The Secretary-General will travel to Crans-Montana to attend the conference on Cyprus. We expect the Secretary-General to be back at the office on Wednesday morning.
EDUCATION MUST BE FOUNDATION FOR PEACEFUL AND RESILIENT SOCIETIES - U.N. TOP OFFICIAL
- Here in New York, education leaders from around the world today are discussing ways to advance action on Sustainable Development Goal 4 which aims to ensure inclusive and quality education for all.
- Speaking this morning at the High-Level Action event on Education, Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said there is no better investment in the future and resilience of a society than in the education of its citizens, and emphasized the need to focus on five key areas to achieve Goal 4. These are: finance, innovation, girls’ education, lifelong learning and education in humanitarian contexts.
- And following this briefing at 1:00 P.M., the President of the General Assembly, Peter Thomson and the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova, will be here to tell you more about today’s event.
CONFERENCE ON CYPRUS RECONVENES IN SWITZERLAND
- The Conference on Cyprus officially reconvened this morning in Crans-Montana, Switzerland.
- The Conference opened with the participation of the Greek Cypriot leader, Mr. Nicos Anastasiades, and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr. Mustafa Akýncý.
- The guarantor powers were represented by the Greek Foreign Minister, the Turkish Foreign Minister, and the United Kingdom’s Special Envoy on Cyprus.
- Today’s deliberations were facilitated by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman and the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser, Espen Barth Eide. The European Union is also present as an observer.
- Speaking to reporters afterwards, Mr. Feltman said that the Secretary-General’s message to the two leaders is to seize this historic opportunity to solve a decades-long problem.
GUATEMALA: U.N. HEARS ON PROGRESS MADE BY COMMISSION AGAINST IMPUNITY
- Before leaving for the Conference on Cyprus yesterday, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman co-chaired with the Foreign Minister of Guatemala, H.E. Carlos Raul Morales, a briefing on the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, CICIG.
- Commissioner Ivan Velasquez briefed Member States on progress made and the main achievements of the Commission.
- Member States expressed their full backing for the work of CICIG and appreciation for the work of Commissioner Velasquez at the helm of the Commission. 2017 marks CICIG's 10th Anniversary. We look forward to continuing cooperation with CICIG and Commissioner Velasquez.
IN BURUNDI, U.N. SPECIAL ENVOY MEETS WITH SENIOR OFFICIALS
- Special Envoy Michel Kafando arrived in Burundi yesterday to meet with President Pierre Nkurunziza and senior Government officials.
- He will then travel to Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania to meet with the Facilitator of the inter-Burundi dialogue, former President Benjamin Mkapa, to discuss how best the United Nations can assist the East African Community-led dialogue.
- The Special Envoy is also planning to meet with other African leaders, in the margins of the African Union Summit or in their respective countries.
U.N. TOP OFFICIAL WARNS OF NEW THREATS TO NON-PROLIFERATION OF WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION
- Izumi Nakamistu, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, spoke at the Security Council’s meeting this morning on non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and she said that substantial progress has been made over the past years by Member States in their efforts to minimize proliferation risks. However, she added, we are increasingly witnessing new and even more complicated threats in this area.
- She said that we need to closely examine the emerging nexus between rapidly advancing technologies and weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in the globalized and connected world, and identify actions to grapple with its impact on non-proliferation. And she stressed the importance of international cooperation, and the need for continuous and enhanced dialogue with industry.
- Ms. Nakamitsu said that recent terrorist attacks have revealed shortcomings in interactions among security agencies, even in countries whose policies are otherwise deeply integrated. Coordination and information-sharing will be vital to overcoming these shortcomings.
SYRIA: U.N. RIGHTS OFFICIAL GRAVELY CONCERNED OVER CIVILIANS IN AL-RAQQA
- The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, expressed grave concern today for the fate of civilians caught up in the anti-Da’esh offensive in Al-Raqqa, where up to 100,000 civilians are effectively trapped as the air and ground offensive intensifies.
- The High Commissioner called on all forces battling Da’esh in Al-Raqqa, including international forces, to review their operations to ensure full compliance with international law, including taking all feasible precautions to avoid loss of civilian lives
- Our humanitarian colleagues in Syria say that they are concerned by the reported attacks against civilians across Idleb Governorate, with at least eight attacks from improvised explosive devices reported in the last week.
- The deadliest attack took place in Dana town on 24 June, when at least three IEDs exploded in a public market area during Iftar, reportedly resulting in the death of 10 people, including women and children.
- We strongly condemn attacks on civilians, civilian infrastructure and the continued violence against vulnerable populations.
- Our humanitarian colleagues are also concerned about the continuing attacks on Syria’s healthcare. As of the end of May 2017, a total of 59 attacks have been verified, resulting in the deaths of 15 health workers. In 2016, there were 136 health facilities attacked across Syria, which resulted in the death of 31 healthcare workers.
UNICEF AIRLIFTS SUPPLIES IN YEMEN TO COMBAT CHOLERA OUTBREAK
- Three planes chartered by UNICEF have delivered 36 tons of lifesaving medical and water purification supplies to Yemen to combat the outbreak of cholera which has surpassed 200,000 cases.
- The supplies included enough oral rehydration salts to treat 10,000 people, as well as 10.5 million water purification tablets.
- Dr. Sherin Varkey, UNICEF’s Deputy Representative in Yemen, said that we are in a race against time. UNICEF teams are working with partners to treat the sick, raise awareness, and to replenish and distribute supplies and medicine.
POSITIVE IMPACT OF MIGRATION MUST BE HIGHLIGHTED TO COMBAT NEGATIVE NARRATIVE – U.N. TOP OFFICIAL TELL MIGRATION FORUM
- The 10th UN Global Forum on Migration and Development opened today in Berlin, Germany.
- Speaking at the opening session this morning, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for International Migration, Louise Arbour, stressed the need to highlight the fact that migration has an overwhelmingly positive economic, social and cultural impact on countries of origin and destination. This, she said, will force us to question the negative narrative around this phenomenon, and can help us reverse it, something that is essential to make progress on this issue.
- Outcomes of the summit will feed into the ongoing process of forging a “Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration,” which is expected to be adopted by Member States in 2018.
AS MISSION IN LIBERIA ENTERS FINAL PHASE, U.N. OFFICIAL SAYS COUNTRY’S FUTURE HINGES ON OCTOBER ELECTIONS
- Yesterday afternoon, Farid Zarif, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Liberia, briefed the Security Council, noting that as the UN Mission in the country entered the final phase of its mandate, Liberia had remained stable.
- UNMIL is supporting the Liberia National Police to elaborate an integrated elections security plan to ensure the most effective utilization of available resources to protect civilians.
- The country’s future as a stable democracy will hinge on the successful conduct of the October elections and the broad acceptance that they were free and fair, followed by a smooth transfer of power, he noted.
- Mr. Zarif stressed that Liberia has made remarkable progress since the signing of the Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2003, but that challenges remain that pose a risk of reversal. He appealed to all concerned to increase and consolidate their investment in Liberia.
U.N. ENVOY TO TRAVEL TO SKOPJE FOR U.N-BROKERED TALKS BETWEEN GREECE AND THE FORMER YUGOLSAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA
- The Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for the talks between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Matthew Nimetz, will travel to Skopje from 1 to 4 July.
- He aims to discuss the way forward in the UN-brokered talks aimed at finding a mutually acceptable solution to the “name” issue.
- A visit to Athens, based on an invitation by the Government, is being scheduled as soon as possible following Mr. Nimetz’s visit to Skopje.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONGRATULATES COLOMBIA FOR MILESTONE IN PEACE PROCESS
- Yesterday we issued a statement on Colombia.
- In the statement, the Secretary-General congratulated the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - People's Army (FARC-EP) for reaching another historic milestone in their peace process.
- He added that he was pleased that the UN, through the work of its Mission in Colombia, had been able to support the successful implementation of the cease-fire and the laying down of arms agreements.
- He also assured the Government and people of Colombia that the United Nations will continue to support implementation of the peace agreement, as required, in the next phase of the process.
INVESTEMENT IN POOR CHILDREN PROVIDES MORE VALUE FOR MONEY - UNICEF
- A new analysis was released by our colleagues at UNICEF called Narrowing the Gaps: The power of investing in the poorest children.
- This report finds that investing in the health and survival of the most deprived children and communities provides more value for money, saving almost twice as many lives for every US$1 million spent as equivalent investments in less deprived groups. This represents new evidence that backs up an unconventional prediction UNICEF made in 2010: the higher cost of reaching the poorest children with life-saving, high-impact health interventions would be outweighed by greater results.
U.N. LAUNCHES STUDENT COMPETITION TO FIND SOLUTIONS TO MARINE DEBRIS
- Our colleagues at UNEP have launched a student competition to find solutions to the global problem of marine litter. The contest is open to university students worldwide, and they can submit ideas in the fields of engineering, communications, economic and data modelling.
- Winners will receive free mentorship to help them develop their ideas and will have the chance to attend the Sixth International Marine Debris Conference, which will take place in San Diego, California in March 2018.
DISCRIMINATION IN HEALTHCARE A MAJOR BARRIER TO ACHIEVE GLOBAL GOAL - U.N. HEALTH AGENCY
- The World Health Organization and the United Nations issued a joint statement yesterday on ending discrimination in health care settings.
- They recall that a central principle of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is to “ensure that no one is left behind” and to “reach the furthest behind first”, and stress that discrimination in health care settings is a major barrier to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
PRESS CONFERENCE TOMORROW
- Tomorrow Kevin Kennedy, the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis will brief on the humanitarian situation in Syria, as he retires after two and half years on that job – he will reflect on his past two and half years.