HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
MONDAY, 22 MAY 2017
 
GROUND PREPARED FOR REAL SYRIA NEGOTIATION, U.N. ENVOY TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL

  • Staffan de Mistura, the Special Envoy for Syria, briefed the Security Council on the latest diplomatic efforts concerning that country, and he said that he was glad to receive reports of a significant drop in violence, including in aerial bombardment, in most areas following the agreement reached in Astana. However, despite the nationwide ceasefire announced last December, and the de-escalation zones now created to deepen the effort, he said that we have received reports of ongoing hostilities and even bombardment, between the Government and armed opposition groups, in a few areas, such as Hama, Homs, and Damascus.
  • Regarding the latest talks held in Geneva, Mr. de Mistura said that there is still a great deal of work to do. He said his team has now prepared the ground for a real negotiation, which he hopes will be possible before too long. For the first time, he said, he has received the consent of all parties to engage on an expert level. He said he was also pleased that all parties were receptive the UN convening a seventh round of talks, which is intended to take place sometime in June.
  • In the afternoon, the Security Council will meet on Iraq.
  • Tomorrow, there may be consultations on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, at which the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, may brief.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR RESTRAINT IN WAKE UP STEPPED UP CLASHES IN SOUTHERN LIBYA
  • In a statement issued over the weekend on Libya, the Secretary-General is deeply concerned about the military escalation at the Brak al-Shati air base in the south of the country and calls on all parties to exercise restraint and restore calm. He is particularly disturbed by the high number of fatalities as well as reports of summary executions of civilians, which, if confirmed, may constitute war crimes. The continued insecurity in Libya is a reminder that there is no military solution. The Secretary General therefore urges all key Libyan stakeholders to re-commit to the political dialogue and engage constructively towards that goal.
  • The Secretary-General appreciates the efforts of a number of regional and neighbouring countries for their contributions aimed at strengthening the dialogue between key stakeholders in support of the overall UN-led process.
NEW HEAD OF WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION TO BE ELECTED
  • The 70th session of the World Health Organization’s decision-making body, the World Health Assembly, opened today in Geneva.
  • Attended by delegations from all Member States, the Health Assembly determines organizational policies and approves the proposed programme budget.
  • This year, Member States will also elect a new Director-General, which will take place tomorrow.
U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY, GOOGLE JOIN FORCES TO DEBUNK MYTHS ABOUT SYRIAN REFUGEE CRISIS
  • The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), in partnership with Google, today launched a powerful new website that aims to dispel myths and misconceptions about the Syrian refugee crisis.
  • The website, “Searching for Syria”, combines UNHCR data and Google Search trends, to provide answers to the five most common questions that people around the world are asking about the crisis. The answers are delivered through rich multimedia content, such as refugee profiles, short editorial passages and videos.
  • The website is now available in English, French, German and Spanish, with an Arabic version coming soon.
ON INTERNATIONAL DAY, U.N. SPOTLIGHTS ROLE OF SUSTAINABLE TOURISM TO PROMOTE BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY
  • Today is the International Day of Biological Diversity. This year’s theme is “Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism,” and was chosen to coincide with the observance of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.
  • The Day seeks to highlight how sustainable tourism can have a positive impact on protected areas, habitat restoration, wildlife populations, local community engagement, and resource mobilization. It also puts a spotlight on the choices that we as tourists can make every time we travel to protect the biodiversity of the places we visit.
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO SPEAK AT NEW YORK UNIVERSITY ON CLIMATE CHANGE
  • On Tuesday, 30 May, the Secretary-General will deliver an address on "Climate Action: Mobilizing the World" at New York University Stern School of Business.
  • The Secretary-General's formal remarks will be followed by a conversation with young people, the business community, civil society and others on how to address the crucial challenge of climate change and seize the opportunities of climate action.