Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York
27 September 2018
The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today's noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.
**Circle of Leadership
Today, 48 Members of the Secretary-General's Circle of Leadership on the Prevention of and Response to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in United Nations Operations, and 21 United Nations entities have joined him in issuing a collective statement to reaffirm their continued personal commitment as global leaders to support efforts to combat sexual exploitation and abuse across the UN system. In the statement, they recognize the unique responsibility of the UN to set the standards for preventing, responding to, and eradicating sexual exploitation and abuse, addressing its impact effectively and humanely, and safeguard and empower victims, as well as the shared responsibility of the UN and its Member States to protect victims and whistle-blowers and take appropriate actions against perpetrators. They reaffirmed their commitment to make zero tolerance of sexual exploitation and abuse a reality, stating that this is an urgent and moral imperative, as well as an operational necessity to ensure the effectiveness and credibility of [the] United Nations around the world. The full statement will soon be issued as a Note to Correspondents - it will include the members of the Circle of Leadership and United Nations Entities which have endorsed the statement.
The Secretary-General this morning spoke at the forty-second Annual Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Group of 77, and he noted that by its very essence, the G-77 has been a champion of multilateralism. He said that we have taken very seriously the G-77 and China's priorities for the year that live up to the ambitions of the 2030 Agenda. The United Nations, he said, is moving full steam ahead to better implement the mandates and serve people while ensuring greater responsibility, excuse me, transparency, accountability and effectiveness. In the next month, the Secretary-General will submit new proposals to improve UN human resources policies and increase gender and geographical diversity within the Secretariat.
This afternoon, he will speak at a ministerial meeting on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). He will note that the fact that UNRWA's schools remain open and its other key operations continue are a tribute to all those who have stepped up to provide additional resources when UNRWA was plunged into an unanticipated and deeply unfortunate funding crisis. Unfortunately, he is to add, that these exceptional efforts - $260 million in new funding - are still not enough to see UNRWA through the end of the year. With a remaining gap of $186 million, UNRWA's operations are still at risk. And at 2:15 p.m. today in this room, UNRWA Commissioner General Peter Krähenbühl and Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi of Jordan will brief you on the UNRWA situation.
And this morning, the Deputy Secretary-General spoke at the 2018 EU-UN Spotlight Initiative High-level event for the Launch of the Latin America Regional Programme, which is entitled: "Working in partnership with Latin American Countries to Stop Femicide". She said the Initiative re-affirms the UN and European Union's joint commitment to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls by 2030, by placing gender equality at the centre of our efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). "When a woman or girl is killed just because of her gender, it reflects social norms and attitudes rooted in inequality and power imbalances between women and men," she said and stressed the need to end impunity for perpetrators. And at 12:45 p.m. Ms. Mohammed and the European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, will be at the stakeout area on the third floor to answer your questions on this initiative.
And as you will see, today, this morning rather, the Security Council held a ministerial-level meeting on non-proliferation of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The meeting was chaired by the US Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo.
The Envoys of the Middle East Quartet from the Russian Federation, United States, European Union and the United Nations met yesterday on the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York to discuss the prospects for peace negotiations and the situation on the ground, particularly in Gaza. The envoys expressed their deep concern over the continued escalation in Gaza. The Middle East Envoys expressed support for the UN efforts to prevent further escalation, empower the legitimate Palestinian authorities in Gaza and address all humanitarian needs, including through the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee.
And yesterday afternoon, the Secretary-General joined the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General, Audrey Azoulay, at the high-level meeting on the power of education for countering racism and discrimination: The Case for Anti-Semitism. He said that anti-Semitism does not stand alone and that anti-Semitism is not a problem for the Jewish community alone. "Where there is anti-Semitism, there are likely to be other discriminatory ideologies and forms of biases - feeding each other in a cauldron of contempt," the Secretary-General told the audience. Education, the Secretary-General said, is one of our most powerful tools. The UN, including UNESCO, is leading important work to prevent anti-Semitism and discrimination, including through Holocaust education and guidelines for educators and policy-makers. The speech was put online.
**Mali and Sahel
Yesterday afternoon, the Secretary-General spoke at the high-level meeting on Mali and the Sahel. On Mali, he said any delay on the Pact for Peace would compound security challenges and threatened the path to stability, and he also stressed the importance of national ownership of this process - one that brings in the voices of a broad spectrum of Malian society, including, above all, women. On the wider Sahel region, he called the G5 Sahel Joint Force "an important demonstration of regional ownership" and said it needed a strong mandate as well as sustained and predictable funding.
And for the first time in several years, the UN has been able to deliver humanitarian assistance to Togolay village in South Darfur's eastern Jebel Marra area, following the announcement on 20 September of a three-month unilateral ceasefire by the Sudan Liberation Army–Abdul Wahid (SLA-AW) faction. Following an assessment mission last week, a UN team comprising humanitarian partners and peacekeepers delivered initial assistance, including essential household, water and sanitation supplies, as well as mosquito nets to some 360 landslide-affected people in the village of Togolay, where heavy rains caused a landslide on 7 September. Our colleagues, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, is remaining in touch with the UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur, UNAMID, and Government authorities for additional humanitarian assistance. Tomorrow, the Deputy Secretary-General will host a meeting on the margins of the General Assembly to build support for the transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding and development in Darfur.
Over the past few days, while we were not briefing, the UN received four full payments to the regular budget - from El Salvador, Guinea-Bissau, Malaysia and Mali. We thank all of them, which brings our number to 141.
Besides the UNRWA here at 2:15 p.m. and the Deputy Secretary-General at 12:45 p.m., at around 6 p.m., there will be a press encounter with Faustin Archange Touadera, the President of the Central African Republic, along with Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for the Central African Republic, Ismail Chergui, Commissioner for Peace and Security of the African Union and Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations. They will brief you at the GA Stakeout on the third floor following the high-level ministerial meeting on the Central African Republic. And then at 6.30 p.m., there will be a briefing here by Takeshi Osuga, the Spokesperson for the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister of Japan. Questions? Excellent. Hope… oh.
**Questions and Answers
Question: Why [is] the flag down?
Question: The flag…?
Spokesman: The flag is down for the passing of… I'm sorry. I'm completely blanking out. I know the answer, and I will squawk it and say it to you. But there's a very good and legitimate reason for why the flag is at half-staff. And I failed at answering your question. Sorry. [He later said that the flag was at half-staff in honour of the passing of Tran Dai Quan, the President of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam.]
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