Daily Archives: November 13, 2017

Refrain from Using General Assembly for Setting ‘Red Lines’, ‘Static Positions’, President Urges, as Delegates Consider Revitalization of Work Methods

States Adopt ‘Olympic Truce’ Draft, Recognizing Sport as Driver of Development

The 193 Member States of the United Nations must resist every temptation to turn the General Assembly into a platform for “red lines” and “static positions”, the world body heard today, as it adopted its annual “Olympic Truce” draft resolution ahead of a debate on how best to revitalize its work.

“This Hall should be a place for dialogue, a place we enter with ideas and proposals,” said Assembly President Miroslav Lajčák (Slovakia) in opening remarks.  States might be tempted to pursue their own narrow interests through the organ’s work, leading to a win for one person, one State or one group, but “we will all lose” through such an approach, he cautioned.

Spotlighting recent strides in revitalizing the Assembly’s work, he pointed at the more transparent selection and appointment of the Secretary‑General and new ethics guidelines for the President’s Office.  Going forward, discussions would focus on the conduct of election campaigns, strengthening interactions with permanent missions and establishing a longer‑term, more transparent rotation of the chairs of the Assembly’s Main Committees, he added.

In the ensuing debate, delegates outlined their positions on the four thematic clusters related to the Assembly’s revitalization — its role and authority; working methods; selection and appointment of the Secretary‑General and other executive heads; and strengthening accountability, transparency and institutional memory in the Office of the President of the General Assembly.

Many noted that any changes should be harmonized with broader organizational reforms advocated by Secretary‑General António Guterres.  Others emphasized that the ultimate goal was to create an Assembly — and a wider United Nations system — that was more effective, transparent, inclusive and “fit‑for‑purpose” in the twenty‑first century.

In that vein, the representative of the Philippines encouraged, on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), faithful implementation of Assembly resolution 71/323, noting that, among other things, it called upon the President to present concrete revitalization proposals.

The representative of the Maldives emphasized that, whereas the conduct of meetings had improved, there remained a need to consider why so many resolutions and actionable mandates were not being executed.  Additionally, enhanced coherence between the Assembly’s Main Committees, the Economic and Social Council and the Security Council would render all those bodies more effective in helping States to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Commending recent achievements, she said the process for appointing the current Secretary‑General had demonstrated unprecedented levels of transparency and enhanced the Assembly’s integrity.  Echoing her support for the Assembly’s role in that regard, Algeria’s representative called, on behalf of the Non‑Aligned Movement, for the compilation of lessons learned from the last selection process, while stressing that the General Assembly’s overall authority must be enhanced.

Prior to that discussion, the Assembly considered the role of sport in promoting peace and development.  In adopting the draft resolution “Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal” (document A/72/L.5) without a vote, the Assembly urged Member States to observe the historic concept of the “Olympic Truce”, allowing the safe passage, access and participation of athletes from the seventh day before the start of the upcoming XXIII Olympic Winter Games until seven days after the end of the XII Paralympic Games.  Both will be held in PyeongChang, Republic of Korea.

Lee Hee‑Beom, President of the 2018 Games Organizing Committee, introduced that draft, expressing hope that the Olympic events would provide a window of opportunity for the promotion of peace and cooperation in north‑east Asia.

In a special address to the Assembly, Yuna Kim, Olympic gold medallist in figure skating and Goodwill Ambassador for the 2018 Games, said the event would also offer a chance to share the Olympic spirit with all peoples across the world, while serving as a model for future games.

Greece’s delegate said the “Olympic Truce” concept, from antiquity to modern times, reflected a need to make peace an attainable goal.  “We should bear in mind that in a world of differences, inequalities and conflicts, even an agreement for a temporary truce is an achievement for the international community,” he said.

An observer for the International Olympic Committee emphasized the unique role of sport in building bridges and fostering peace and understanding.  Given the current landscape of international instability, symbols of friendship and solidarity were more needed now than ever before, he stressed.

Also speaking today were representatives of Monaco, Belarus, Kuwait, Singapore, Israel, Brunei Darussalam, Qatar, Japan, Cuba, India, Bahrain, Tunisia and Indonesia, as well as the European Union delegation.

The Assembly will reconvene at 3:30 this afternoon, to elect the single remaining member of the International Court of Justice.

Sport for Development and Peace

MIROSLAV LAJČÁK (Slovakia), President of the General Assembly, said that sport had not always been associated with the United Nations.  Yet, sport had immense potential to bring people together, much like the United Nations, as both were founded on universal values.  “We may speak different languages and have different viewpoints, but when we step out on a field or court, we have one goal,” he added.

Sport had helped to open doors into communities where the United Nations was serving, he said.  Citing some examples, he said sport had been instrumental in integrating child soldiers back into their communities.  “Sport alone cannot stop conflict, but I believe a football or a puck is a better peacebuilding tool than a gun,” he said, adding that sport brought people together and evoked enthusiasm rather than fear, with the Olympic Games and the United Nations aspiring towards the same ideal.  “Whether athletes or diplomats, we must show that humanity can triumph politics.”

For young people, sport can give hope for a brighter future and provide a route out of poverty, he said, emphasizing: “We must reach out to young people in a way that resonates with them.”  In that context, sport offered a major opportunity.  Going forward, the link between sport and the United Nations must be strengthened.  A major opportunity to contribute positively to the situation on the Korean Peninsula would arise in February when the Winter Olympics would be hosted in the Republic of Korea, he said, urging all Member States to work together to overcome cultural and political divides.

LEE HEE-BEOM (Republic of Korea), President and Chief Executive Officer of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Organizing Committee, introduced the draft resolution “Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal” (document A/72/L.5), recalling that in fewer than 90 days, the world would come together to participate in his country.  All preparations for the event had been completed, including the construction of new roads and a high‑speed train.  In the General Assembly, the “Olympic Truce” draft resolution was a tradition that reminded the world of the necessity to cease all conflicts, at least during the duration of the Games, beginning seven days before the start of the event and concluding on the seventh day after the closure of the Paralympic Games.

“The Olympic Truce is to ensure the safe passage of the athletes and all other Olympic‑accredited personnel when they travel to and from the Olympic Games,” he said, adding that the draft resolution demonstrated the Assembly’s strong wish that the Games would help foster an atmosphere of peace, development, tolerance and understanding on the Korean Peninsula and northeast Asia.  On the Korean Peninsula, people still remembered examples of that truce from the 1998 Olympic Games in Seoul, which had provided an opportunity to bring together the East and West for peace, harmony and reconciliation.  During the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, the delegations of the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had walked into the stadium together hand in hand under the same flag, demonstrating the power of sport to unite people regardless of politics and religion.  Describing a number of related educational and training programmes that had been implemented since that time, he declared: “We, Koreans, hope that these […] Olympic Games will provide a window of opportunity for promoting peace and economic cooperation in northeast Asia.”

YUNA KIM, Olympic gold medallist in figure skating and Goodwill Ambassador for the 2018 PyeongChang event, said the Olympic spirit transcended race, region, religion and language.  Indeed, it concerned with the preservation of human dignity across all borders.  Expressing hope that she would witness the special power of sport today as the Assembly adopted the draft resolution before it, she said the “graceful and universal language of sport”, to be demonstrated at the upcoming PyeongChang Games, was a great opportunity to reach across the border between the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  The event would also offer a chance to share the Olympic spirit with all people across the world, while serving as a model for all Olympic and Paralympic Games to come.

ISABELLE F. PICCO (Monaco) said the eyes of the world would be drawn to the upcoming Olympic Games.  The United Nations, like the Olympic movement, had many ambitious agendas.  Just as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development had the potential to make a great contribution to humanity, the promotion of human rights was intrinsic to the Olympic Games.  Moreover, education, health, inclusion and gender equality all contributed to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  Similarly, sport was a powerful tool to demonstrate that the same rules applied to all equally.  In that vein, youth must be inspired to help build a future of peace and fraternity.

IRINA VELICHKO (Belarus) said that against a landscape of international instability, the upcoming Olympic Games had a major opportunity to facilitate the promotion of universal ideals.  For Belarus, developing a physical culture and sport was one of the key areas of its national policy.  She condemned any attempts to use sport for political gain.  Today’s draft resolution must strengthen the role of sport in attaining peace and development, she said, adding that sport promoted respect for tolerance and equality based on friendship and solidarity.

BASHAR ALI ALDUWAISAN (Kuwait), expressing support for the messages enshrined in Assembly resolution 48/10 of 1993 on sport and the Olympic ideal, underlined the need to invest in youth and build better societies to help to combat crime, corruption and extremism.  “The language of sport and athletes has always been the language of peace, security and solidarity, aimed at tackling violence and extremism,” he stressed, recalling that football had often brought together soldiers from enemy camps.  Former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela had also used the African Football Cup to build unity and to combat apartheid.  The Olympic and Paralympic Games provided a chance to spotlight the concepts of the “Olympic village” and the “Olympic ideal”, both of which aimed at promoting unity, peace and development.  The principles of the International Olympic Committee and the United Nations were “two sides of the same coin”, he said, citing as an example the broad support received by the world’s first refugee athlete delegation at the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Brazil.

Ms. WONG LEE TING (Singapore) said the practice of sport instilled values of hard work, self‑discipline and determination in many societies.  The unifying force of sport was reflected in the Olympic Games, she noted, adding that Singapore was implementing a national sport programme to encourage citizens to be active.  Efforts were also promoting the participation of persons with disabilities and ensuring their access to sports facilities.  National strategies had yielded clear results at the Olympic Games in Brazil, she said, stressing that the benefits of sport transcended national borders and inspired “a noble human spirit”.

ZEENA MOHAMED DIDI (Maldives), recalling how a team of refugees participating in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro had provided optimism, courage and faith to millions of refugees around the world, said sport was a significant component of youth development.  Maldives’ Sports Act aimed at promoting competitive events and cultural activities at all levels and the Government continued to invest in infrastructure, with projects designed to develop youth leadership skills and support networks outside the home.  Such efforts also promoted opportunities for women, encouraging female participation to challenge traditional gender stereotypes.  While sport was not a panacea for all societal problems, it did provide a sense of purpose, joy and hope.

ANAT FISHER TSIN (Israel), underscoring that “sport and peace are intertwined”, said the latter was a key ingredient for coexistence, goodwill, rebuilding communities, creating inclusive societies and empowering youth, women, girls and persons with disabilities.  As a country in a conflict‑ridden region, Israel made it a point of ensuring that all young people learned to play on the same team.  The Mifalot Chinuch initiative, founded by one of Israel’s largest football clubs, provided an effective platform to build bridges between Palestinians and Israelis, helping them to see each other as teammates and not as “the other”.  That model had extended to local communities across the world, including in Cambodia and Rwanda.  Israel had also recently led a local sport‑for‑peace effort in Nigeria, targeting children who had been displaced by Boko Haram.

Mr. SHARIFUDDIN (Brunei Darussalam) recognized the role of sport in advancing peace and development.  Sport often led to friendship, mutual trust, respect and cooperation while also acting as a positive outlet for challenges facing young people today, such as drug abuse and unemployment.  For his country, sport was recognized as a means to improve quality of life and related efforts remained a high priority for the Government.  Among the range of Government‑assisted projects was an initiative allowing people to engage in sporting activities, which had contributed to promoting a healthy lifestyle.

Ms. ALABDULLA (Qatar) said the 2030 Agenda had highlighted the important role sport played in development.  Qatar had successfully hosted a number of events and would hopefully host the 2022 World Cup.  For Qatar, sport remained instrumental in creating a strong and healthy society and helped to strengthen relations among its citizens.  Citing examples, she said the Ministry of Sport and Education was promoting a range of activities, including by partnering with other ministries.

TOSHIYA HOSHINO (Japan), noting that his country would host of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo in 2020, recalled that the 1964 Games in that city had been a strong driver for rapid economic growth.  Hopefully, the 2020 Games would enable Japan to promote transformative change while bringing hope to places affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.  Leading up to 2020, the Government was pursuing a sport programme to enable socio‑economic development in more than 100 countries.  Japan would continue to promote sport so that Olympic Games in 2018 and 2020 could help to build a spirit of peace in the world.

ANA SILVIA RODRÍGUEZ ABASCAL (Cuba) said a major achievement of the Cuban Revolution was establishing the enjoyment of sport as a right.  Training physical education teachers helped to ensure universal access to sporting activities in the country.  National efforts had been complemented by specialized training centres for athletes and the development of a robust sports medicine system.  Noting Cuba’s international sporting achievements, she affirmed the country’s commitment to developing sports across the world.  Despite obstacles imposed by the “criminal blockade” against Cuba, the country would continue to promote sport as a vehicle for peace.

MARIA THEOFILI (Greece), associating herself with the European Union, said the concept of the “Olympic Truce” had been born in the age of antiquity and followed for a period of 1200 years.  Greeks viewed the Games as an opportunity to replace conflict with friendly competition.  However, the ideal of a truce had also held great importance in the revival of the Olympic Games in the modern era.  The International Olympic Truce Center, for the creation of which Greece actively engaged with the International Olympic Committee, provided a new dynamism to the pursuit of peace.  Most importantly, the inclusion of the truce in the United Nations framework through the adoption of relevant resolutions granted a distinct role to the ideal.  “We should bear in mind that in a world of differences, inequalities and conflicts, even an agreement for a temporary truce is an achievement for the international community,” she said.  “Therefore, it is our responsibility to continue to promote the ‘Olympic Truce’ and spare no effort to ensure its actual implementation.  It is our task to fulfil our responsibilities by observing the truce and thus making peace an attainable goal.”

SURYANARAYAN SRINIVAS PRASAD (India), recalling the close links between the principles underpinning sport and the 2030 Agenda, said the growing popularity of the Olympic Games and other championships had demonstrated that many star athletes had risen from situations of poverty and deprivation, offering a message of hope.  Spotlighting the example of cricket, India’s national sport, he said many top athletes were involved in such campaigns as one aimed to promote hygiene among children.  Further, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) sport for development programme helped to address violence and displacement in areas affected by the leftist insurgency and used sport mentors to help children deal with trauma and continue their education.  “Sport is an important building block for a peaceful and better world,” he emphasized.

HAYFA ALI AHMED MATAR (Bahrain) said sport could be used to build peace, sustainable development, cooperation and health, as it could traverse borders and languages.  Given its universal nature, sport had the potential to build strong partnerships and solidarity and fight against hate, violence and discrimination.  It could also play an important role in helping to implement the 2030 Agenda.  “Sports can be used as a way of strengthening and upholding human rights,” she said, adding that Bahrain supported the participation of women and persons with disabilities.

RAMZI LOUATI (Tunisia) underscored the crucial role of sport in promoting peace and development.  It was also a major component of the Tunisian development plan, contributing to realizing the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly in the areas of health, education and women’s empowerment.  Sport promoted tolerance and respect, empowered women, young people and local communities and established an understanding among peoples and neighbours.  He underscored the importance of cooperation among Member States in order to implement “L.5” and wished the Republic of Korea success in hosting of the Olympic Games.

THOMAS BACH, an observer for the International Olympic Committee, said the shared goal of his organization and the United Nations was to make the world a better and more peaceful place, with “L.5” being an expression of that shared commitment.  The truce ensured the halt of hostilities, allowing athletes to safely participate in the Games.  Those Olympic values were eternal and just as relevant in today’s troubling times.  “In our fragile world, polarization and mistrust are growing,” he said, adding that sport played a unique role to build bridges and foster peace and understanding.  For Olympic athletes, “L.5” carried specific importance, he said, recalling how they competed and lived in close quarters during the Games, sharing stories and experiences from across the globe.  “Our fragile world needs such symbols of friendship and solidarity more than ever before,” he said, adding that the upcoming Olympic Games would foster hope for such principles.

The General Assembly then adopted resolution A/72/L.5 without a vote.

Revitalization of Work

Mr. LAJČÁK, delivering opening remarks on the revitalization of the work of the General Assembly, highlighted several recent achievements.  Among them were the increasing transparency in the process of selecting and appointing the Secretary‑General, the introduction of an oath of office and a code of ethics for the General Assembly President and the adoption of resolutions setting clear timeframes for elections, which had helped Member States to better prepare for serving in the Economic and Social Council and the Security Council.

On a more personal level, he said, “action is needed from me, too”.  As the second Assembly President to have taken the new Oath of Office, he had worked to uphold the high standards of transparency and ethics set out by his predecessors, including by providing full disclosure about the financing, staffing and travel of his Office.  Noting that he would soon become the first Assembly President to publish a summary of his financial disclosure statement online, he said that on a daily basis, his agenda was posted on the Assembly’s website and his spokesperson provided media briefings.  Prior to the start of the seventy‑second session, he had met with the Assembly’s General Committee to allow for a frank exchange of views, and met monthly with the presidents of the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council.

Looking ahead, he said, the Assembly’s current session would discuss issues related to the conduct of election campaigns, strengthening interaction between permanent missions to the United Nations and the Secretariat and options to establish a longer‑term and more transparent rotation of the chairs of its Main Committees.  The issue of reform would also remain high on the Assembly’s agenda, he said, voicing concern over the lack of institutional memory within the President’s Office.  As the most representative body of the United Nations, the Assembly gave all 193 Member States a voice and a vote.  “This Hall should be a place for dialogue, a place we enter with ideas and proposals,” he said, adding that the chamber could not simply be a place for “red lines” and static positions.  “This might be a tempting option,” he added, noting that it could lead to a win for one person, one State or one group.  However, on the whole, he cautioned, “we will all lose” by taking such an approach.

SABRI BOUKADOUM (Algeria), speaking on behalf of the Non‑Aligned Movement, affirmed the importance of revitalization of the work of the General Assembly.  He supported its stronger role in the selection of the Secretary‑General in full compliance with the Assembly’s mandate, including joint letters from the presidents of the Assembly and Security Council.  He called on the presidents of both bodies to continue to hold informal meetings with candidates.  For further improvement, practices in the election of heads of other entities in the Organization could be examined.  Welcoming the nomination of women candidates, he called for the compilation of lessons learned from the last selection process.

Welcoming also the new Code of Ethics for the Assembly President, he called for expanding the institutional memory of the president’s office, including adequate briefings of successors.  In general, he stated, the authority of the Assembly should be enhanced and public awareness increased.  In addition, he suggested a range of ways to improve working methods.  He pledged the Movement’s full support in strengthening the role of the General Assembly as the chief deliberative policy‑making organ as part of the effort to achieve inclusiveness, transparency and efficiency in the United Nations.

KIRA CHRISTIANNE DANGANAN AZUCENA (Philippines), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the revitalization process would make the United Nations more effective, transparent, inclusive and “fit‑for‑purpose”.  Touching upon the process’ thematic clusters, she underscored the Assembly’s role as the chief deliberative and policy‑making organ of the United Nations.  Regarding its working methods, she recommended the Assembly enhance areas of synergy and reduce any overlap on its agenda.  Turning to the selection and appointment of the Secretary‑General and other executive heads, she said General Assembly resolution 71/323 must be implemented faithfully to ensure a transparent and inclusive selection process.  In addition, the Secretary‑General must exercise independence on the selection of senior officials, while ensuring equal and fair distribution based on gender and geographical balance.

She also expressed support for the strengthening of the institutional memory of the Office of the Assembly President, calling for the full implementation of the relevant provisions.  She went on to reaffirm ASEAN’s commitment to ensure the success of the ad‑hoc working group to revitalize the Assembly’s work.  With the political will of all Member States, concrete results would be achieved, along with greater efficiency, transparency and accountability.

JOANNE ADAMSON, of the European Union delegation, said the recent ground‑breaking resolutions on revitalizing the General Assembly had seen the introduction of new and innovative ideas, including the selection and appointment of the Secretary‑General and strengthening the Assembly President’s Office.  Those, and other examples, served as proof of how much could be achieved through constructive, reform‑oriented and consensus‑based work.

Effective multilateralism, with the United Nations at its core, was essential, she said, adding that the European Union strongly supported the Secretary‑General’s reform efforts.  Strengthening the Organization and doing so based on sustainable funding was a top priority.  An unceasing effort to find new and creative ways to work was also essential to bolster the effective delivery of mandates and the sustainable use of resources.  Revitalizing the Assembly’s work was clearly foundational for the overall reform of the United Nations.  Negotiations on the draft resolution should consolidate work that had been achieved to date, she said, highlighting the European Union’s continued engagement in the ad hoc working group.

Ms. ZAHIR (Maldives) said the appointment process of the Secretary‑General had demonstrated unprecedented levels of transparency and had enhanced the integrity of the General Assembly.  However, there was a need to consider the reasons why so many resolutions and actionable mandates were not being executed.  Enhanced coherence among the Assembly’s Main Committees, Economic and Social Council and the Security Council would make the Organization more effective especially in aligning with the Sustainable Development Goals.  Attention to funding and programmes under the Economic and Social Council, regional commissions and other subsidiary bodies would also be beneficial in achieving common milestones.

IRINA VELICHKO (Belarus), associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said regular thematic discussions and events would help to decrease the technical burden on Member States in their interaction with the Secretariat and to build a system of predictable dialogue.  Recent positive developments included the Secretariat consulting with permanent missions on matters that concerned them and the Department of Management pilot programme containing a “one‑stop‑shop” option to express comments and concerns.  She also welcomed the new version of the United Nations Journal to be rolled out in 2018, adding that permanent missions must be provided with the opportunity to give input on how to make the Journal more user‑friendly.  Other positive contributions were the new voting ballot format and the ban on promotional materials in the General Assembly Hall.  The effectiveness of the Assembly’s work was directly dependent on its ability to promptly respond to current and modern challenges.  In that context, some agenda items had lost their relevance, she added, proposing to streamline the Assembly’s work by limiting the number of items on its agenda.

INA HAGNININGTYAS KRISNAMURTHI (Indonesia), associating herself with ASEAN and the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that given the deep connection between the 2030 Agenda and sustaining peace, the ad‑hoc working group must link its efforts with other reform initiatives, such as those aimed at the Security Council.  Member States must be more meaningfully involved in the selection process for the next Secretary‑General.  The number of high‑level events should be rationalized, focusing on actualizing commitments for concrete results, and improvement of the working methods in the Main Committees, the Assembly and its sub‑organs was vital.  Underscoring the importance of identifying well‑qualified candidates for senior positions in the Organization, he emphasized the equal significance of maintaining a gender and geographical balance, particularly from under‑represented countries.

JOSEPH TEO CHOON HENG (Singapore) said the General Assembly must build on improvements already made to its working methods, notably with regard to election processes.  In that regard, Singapore looked forward to elaborating a code of conduct for Member States during electoral campaigns, which should focus more on each candidate’s qualifications and abilities and less on gifts and lavish receptions.  Improvements in the selection and appointment of senior United Nations officials must not be limited to the post of Secretary‑General, but extended to all senior appointments.  Practical proposals should meanwhile be developed to address gaps and duplication in the Assembly’s agenda as they relate to the 2030 Agenda.

YASUHISA KAWAMURA (Japan) said the implementation of United Nations resolutions was critical for enhancing the efficiency of the General Assembly and ultimately was the responsibility of Member States.  As such, he was pleased to see some examples of the adoption of General Assembly resolution 71/323 with regards to a new ballot format and candidate campaign material.  Emphasizing the need to adequately fund the Assembly President’s Office, he said Japan would provide a voluntary contribution.  Japan was also working actively towards improving working methods within the United Nations, he said, noting the change of election dates of the Security Council and Economic and Social Council from October to June, which was meant to allow new members more time to prepare for serving on those bodies.

SURYANARAYAN SRINIVAS PRASAD (India), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said the effectiveness and relevancy of any institution lay with its ability to adapt to meet modern challenges.  While the Assembly was the most representative international body and could not be compared to any other organization or institution, many believed the body had lost touch with its core responsibilities and was involved with too many processes.  A part of the blame lay with the Assembly itself, despite its role as the collective voice of mankind.  Its position as the chief representative organ of the United Nations must be restored and respected “in letter and in spirit” and it must lead in resolving transnational issues.  The Ocean Conference and the election of the Secretary‑General were “shining examples” of how the Assembly could set the global agenda.  Although progress had been encouraging, there was a long way to go, he said, noting that India would continue to make proposals.  The United Nations’ continued relevance would depend largely upon its ability to keep abreast with new developments.  “We must heed the call for United Nations reform,” he said, adding that the time had come to strengthen the role of the General Assembly.

Road safety ‘morally, economically sound investment,’ UN envoy tells global forum

13 November 2017 &#150 Calling for greater efforts to reduce road traffic deaths worldwide, the United Nations envoy for road safety on Monday stressed that a proposed UN fund, along with national investments, would turn the tide of rising fatality numbers.

“If established, a global Fund would be of huge significance in the fight to turn the tide of rising fatality numbers, but only if the catalytic funding is complemented by national investments made by governments towards road safety,” Jean Todt, UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety told a ministerial world conference in New Delhi, India.

He said that road safety receives 1,000 times less than other causes with a similar fatality rate like AIDS, tuberculosis or malaria.

The proposal for a ‘UN Road Safety Fund,’ which is now under the UN Secretary-General’s consideration, provides for the first time a clear indication of the amount of funding required to attain relevant targets under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Mr. Todt, also President of the International Automobile Federation, noted that 1.25 million people die on the world’s roads every year, with 50 million more left seriously injured.

India accounts for more than 10 per cent of all road related fatalities recorded globally, despite having only three per cent of the world’s vehicles, and the reforms put forward by the Government to the Motor Vehicles Act would save many thousands of lives and serious injuries on the country’s roads, he added.

South East Asia accounts for 25 per cent of global traffic deaths, an estimated 316,000 lives tragically lost.

“The outlook is startling, especially when we take into account the expected rise in urbanization as well as increase in the number of motor vehicles which sadly, is expected to increase road traffic fatalities if no changes are made,” he said. “If we are to make progress towards the global targets, a dramatic upscaling of our efforts is urgently required.”

He said that in France, where he is from, 18,000 lives were lost in the early 1970s before road safety became a national priority. That number has since be reduced to just over 3,000 today despite car numbers going up threefold.

The turnaround is a result of a focus on safer roads, drivers, and vehicles; improved post-crash care and the enforcement of strong legislation, he added.

“The truth is that road safety is morally and economically a sound investment,” he stressed, citing initiatives, such as Mexico’s ‘Vision Zero’ Campaign that aims for a 35 per cent reduction in road traffic fatalities and Malaysia’s public declaration to upgrade 75 per cent of road infrastructure by 2020.

At the conference, transport ministers adopted the Delhi Declaration, in which they reaffirmed their commitment to effectively implement the ambitious road safety-related targets in the 2030 Agenda and welcomed the discussion on the establishment of a UN Road Safety Fund.

Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.

**Philippines

Good afternoon.  The Secretary-General as you know is in the Philippines today, where he addressed the ninth Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)‑UN Summit.  He called on ASEAN’s leaders to strengthen resilience and reduce the risk posed by climate change and other natural disasters, and he commended the 4,500 military personnel, police and civilians from eight ASEAN countries who are serving in UN peacekeeping missions around the world.

The Secretary-General emphasized the importance of regional cooperation against terrorism and violent extremism, as well as by the recent conflict in Marawi in the Philippines.  He said the United Nations stands ready to provide technical support and assistance to ASEAN countries in their efforts to counter terrorism and violent extremism, and to combat transnational crimes, drugs and people trafficking, with policies able to protect their civilians with effective law enforcement and respect for human rights.

He also said the dramatic movement of hundreds of thousands of refugees from Myanmar to Bangladesh is a worrying escalation in a protracted tragedy and a potential source of instability in the region.  Beyond the end of the violence, he reiterated his call for unhindered humanitarian access to affected communities; and the right to safe, voluntary and dignified return of those who fled to their places of origin.

The Secretary-General also noted that sustainable and inclusive development is the best way to prevent conflict and violent extremism.  As this region powers its way to becoming the world’s fourth largest economy by 2050, we look forward to including millions more in the shared benefits of prosperity, he said.

Today in Manila, he also held a series of bilateral meetings with the Prime Ministers of Laos and Viet Nam, as well as with the President of Indonesia.  And we have readouts of those, and as we previously announced, the Secretary-General will continue his meetings tomorrow before flying overnight to Bonn to attend the 23rd Conference of Parties (COP23).

**Yemen

Turning to Yemen, our humanitarian colleagues tell us that the impact of the blockade is leading to severe shortages of commercial and aid materials reaching the country.

The entire population of Yemen is dependent on food, fuel and medicine imports, primarily through seaports.  More than 17 million Yemenis — or more than two thirds of the population — are already food insecure.

Without the import of critical commodities through a lifting of the blockade on all ports, including Hudaydah and Saleef, the situation will deteriorate further.  And as a point of reference, the World Food Programme (WFP) tells us that there are 111 days until the current stocks of rice run out and 97 days until the current stocks of wheat run out.

More than two thirds of people in need and more than 80 per cent of all cholera cases are located in the areas closest to Hudaydah and Saleef ports.

Only the al Wadea land crossing in Hadramaut governorate and the Aden seaport are open to commercial imports.  However, the port at Aden does not have the capacity for commercial and humanitarian cargo, and unless the Red Sea ports in Hudaydah and Saleef are opened immediately, the UN will not be able to feed 7 million people every month.

**Central African Republic

The Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) today announced the appointment of Brigadier-General (retired) Fernand Marcel Amoussou (Benin) to lead an independent special investigation into a number of recent incidents in the south‑east of the Central African Republic that occurred from 1 May and 31 August 2017.

The investigation will look into attacks against civilians by armed groups that occurred in close proximity to a UN Mission (MINUSCA) presence in Haute-Kotto, Basse-Kotto, Mbomou, and Haut-Mbomou prefectures, as well as the Mission’s response to these incidents.

DPKO is launching this special investigation in light of recent deterioration of the security situation in the south‑east of the country and with a view of improving the Mission’s ability to prevent violence and protect civilians under imminent threat within its capabilities and areas of deployment.  The investigation will make recommendations to address any shortcomings, if applicable, and on the Mission’s overall performance with regard to the protection of civilians, in the context of the Mission’s mandate renewal.

The investigation team will deploy to the Central African Republic from 14 to 28 November, that is starting tomorrow, and a final report will then be presented to the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean‑Pierre Lacroix, and the findings of which will be made public.

Just as a note, retired General Fernand Marcel Amoussou had been the Force Commander of the UN Mission in Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI) from 2006‑2010.

**Peacekeeping

Staying on the subject of peacekeeping, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean‑Pierre Lacroix and Under-Secretary-General for Field Support Atul Khare will be participating in the UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial meeting that begins in Vancouver tomorrow.  Mr. Lacroix will be representing the Secretary-General.  Defence ministers and senior officials from more than 80 countries and organizations will attend this two‑day event to discuss the challenges we face in the field, our current and emerging capability needs and how we can work together with Member States to find solutions.

Among the highlights of this conference is a side event on Mali, which will take place tomorrow on the critical capability gaps that the UN Mission in the country (MINUSMA) is facing and the generation of those key resources.  The main day of the conference, Wednesday, kicks off with a session to encourage Member States to mobilize the women, peace, and security agenda within their own military.  A female UN peacekeeper will also be honoured with the UN Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award.  Member States will have an opportunity to announce their pledges for UN peacekeeping on Wednesday.  We’ll be providing you with daily updates from that Conference.

**Iran/Iraq

You will have seen the statement we issued last night expressing the Secretary-General’s sadness at the loss of life and damage following the earthquake that struck the border region of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Iraq on Sunday evening.  He conveys his condolences to the bereaved families and to the Governments and people of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Iraq.  He wishes those injured a speedy recovery.

The Secretary-General commended the local response efforts underway.  The UN stands ready to assist if required.

The Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Lise Grande, said humanitarians’ priority right now is to help local authorities respond as quickly as possible, and our country team in Iran has also been reaching out to local authorities.

This morning, the World Health Organization (WHO) sent an immediate response team and two ambulances to Sulaymaniyah Hospital, the primary hospital in the Iraqi side of the area, along with trauma and surgical kits, and an assessment team has arrived in Darbandikhan, one of the worst-hit areas.

Upon request of the Iraqi Government, a UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team is also being dispatched from Geneva.  This is a highly specialized team that will help to assess conditions and coordinate the response.

**Syria

Turning to Syria, a UN/International Committee of the Red Cross/Syrian Arab Red Crescent inter‑agency convoy delivered life-saving multisectoral assistance, including food, nutrition and health items for [21,500] of the estimated 90,000 people in need in Duma city in besieged East Ghouta of rural Damascus.  The area was last reached with inter‑agency humanitarian assistance on 17 August of this year.

Meanwhile, we are concerned about the protection and well-being of civilians in Atareb, rural Aleppo, following reports of infighting between different non‑state armed groups over the past five [days].

Shelling on populated cities and towns in the area is affecting civilian movement, including commercial activities, and it has interrupted humanitarian activities in the area due to the clashes and road blocks.  Furthermore, schools have reportedly suspended classes.

**Climate Change

Over the weekend in Bonn, at the Climate Change Conference, countries, businesses and civil society organizations showcased examples of climate action on various themes including oceans and forests.  Today they will be focusing on financing for climate action.

Some of the commitments that have been made include an Ecuadorean initiative to reduce 15 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions in the forest sector; a commitment to deforestation-free commodities by Walmart; a new policy by the company Mars Incorporated to reduce their carbon footprint 27 per cent by 2025 and 67 per cent by 2050 through addressing deforestation throughout their corporate value chain; as well as the Gabon National Park Service’s efforts to combat illegal logging.

In addition, the Fiji Presidency of the COP announced an agreement on a Gender Action Plan, highlighting the role of women in climate action, which is subject to adoption at the end of the Conference.  More information on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) website.

**Human Rights

I just want to flag that the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al Hussein, will be heading to El Salvador from 15 to 16 November.  That’s the first ever visit by a High Commissioner for Human Rights.

He will hold talks with the President, Foreign Minister, Minister of Justice and Public Security, and other legislators.

The High Commissioner will also meet civil society representatives and human right defenders, and he will attend a ceremony to mark the 28th anniversary of the murders of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter by Government soldiers.

He will then go on to Guatemala for a two-day visit, from 17 to 18 November.  There he is expected to meet with the presidents of the Supreme Court of Justice and Constitutional Court, the Foreign Minister, and others.  He is also scheduled to meet with human rights defenders, victims and journalists.

**Child Labour

Our colleagues at the International Labour Organization (ILO) will host the fourth Global Conference on the Sustained Eradication of Child Labour starting tomorrow in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  The Conference will address the consolidation of the global commitment to eradicate this practice and government, employer and worker’s representatives will be discussing proposals to develop policies to ensure education for all children and a seamless transition to the labour market.

**Antibiotics

And I also want to flag that this week is Antibiotic Awareness Week which kicks off today with the theme ‘Learn how to handle antibiotics with care’. As you know, the development of resistance is a big issue.  You can find more information about it on the World Health Organization’s website.

**Press Briefings

Following my briefing, Brenden Varma will be here to brief you.

Shortly after, at 1 p.m., Ambassador Abdallah Y. Al‑Mouallimi, Permanent Representative of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations, will be briefing you.

Then at 2:30 p.m., there will be a briefing entitled “2018 Winter Olympics in the Republic of Korea and the General Assembly resolution Building a peaceful and better world through sport and Olympic ideal and its adoption”.

And at 3:15 p.m., Ambassador Sacha Sergio Llorentty Solíz, Permanent Representative of the Plurinational State of Bolivia to the United Nations, will be at the Security Council stakeout for you.  That’s why he will be there.

**Questions and Answers

I will now take your questions.  Mr. Bays?

Question:  Follow‑up question on the statement you read on Yemen.  Saudi Arabia has said it’s going to ease its blockade, but so far, it’s announcing that… or nothing’s happened yet, but the areas that it’s going to allow aid to go to are areas its Coalition controls, whereas there’s no aid going to be allowed for now to the areas the Houthis control.  How concerned are you about this, given the grim warning from Mr. [Mark] Lowcock last week?

Spokesman:  Well, you know, obviously, we’ve taken note of the Saudi announcement regarding the humanitarian assistance.  For the Secretary‑General, he will continue to insist once more on full and unimpeded access for humanitarian aid to the people of Yemen as well as a free movement in and out of Yemen for humanitarian workers.  I would also add, because I think there were some questions raised, that the Secretary‑General has categorically condemned the attack on Riyadh last week with the missiles, as he does with all indiscriminate attacks on civilians.  You know, obviously, we have to wait to see what actually comes into being.  What is important for us, as I said, is that the ports that we need access to are the ones where the humanitarian needs are the greatest, and that includes Hudaydah and Saleef seaports.  Obviously, we welcome the opening of other ports, but those are the ones that we need.  You don’t want to get into a situation where the transport of aid is made more complicated by having to cross combat lines and front lines.  We see that in… we see the challenges that poses in Syria, and I think, for here, we have the needs that we have.  The hum… Yemeni people have the needs that we’ve talked about at length here, and we need to meet them.  Yes, sir?

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  You mentioned that the Secretary‑General condemns this attack on Riyadh, which was intercepted… the rockets was intercepted.  And, according to the Saudi sources, it did not result in any damages.  However, hardly any day passes in Yemen without a massacre targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure.  Does the Secretary‑General condemn each and every one of these massacres?

Spokesman:  Nizar, I think you’ve been at almost every one of my briefings.  I think you will have heard each and every condemnation on attacks of… on civilians and civilian infrastructure that takes place in Yemen.  I think the fact that we have called those out and we have condemned those is really a fairly easy fact to check.

Question:  Does the Secretary‑General calls for any particular action with regard… because these have been repeated almost on daily basis for 2 1/2 years.

Spokesman:  We call… we have been calling, we continue to call for a halt to the fighting.  We have been calling, we continue to call for a recommitment to the political talks.  Civilians and civilian infrastructure, wherever they are, should not be targeted, regardless of who they are, and we’ve condemned all of those attacks.

Question:  Well, should they be referred, for example, to ICC (International Criminal Court) for…

Spokesman:  The International Criminal Court is an independent body.  What we know is that these attacks need to stop, and our focus right now is on getting the humanitarian aid.  I mean, I gave you the… you know, we have a countdown.  I mean, according to my colleagues at UF… WFP, 111 days until the wheat… the rice runs out, 97 until the wheat runs out.  What we’re already seeing is a spike in food prices.  We’re seeing a spike in fuel prices.  The supplies of fuel, the supplies of diesel are not endless.  Those two are running low.  And I don’t think anyone wants to contemplate what happens when the diesel runs out.  Trucks don’t move.  Water pumps don’t work.  Electrical generators don’t work.  Mr. Lee.  Sorry.  Then… go ahead.

Question:  Sure.  I wanted to…  I’ve been looking closely at this Environmental Investigation Agency report about, among other things, the Deputy Secretary‑General and her role in signing thousands of certificates for rosewood.  So, I wanted to ask you a couple of questions.  They… they… just because I heard… I… I… I’ve heard the statement that the Secretary‑General stands behind her, and I wonder, first of all, can you say has he read the whole report?

Spokesman:  The Secretary‑General is fully aware of the report and the accusations therein.

Question:  Okay.  So I guess my… my question is, they quote directly a… a… a… a member of the… the Wood Experts Association, saying that Chinese businessmen travel to Abuja and paid a minister.  They didn’t say who the minister is.  But so he’s very clear that that is… was… is the Deputy Secretary‑General aware of any payments by Chinese businessmen to Nigerian officials involving the export of this rosewood?

Spokesman:  Look, what the Deputy Secretary‑General is very clear on, she has never taken any sort of illicit money, and she rejects categorically the accusations herein… to the report.  As for any other questions having to do with the functioning of the Federal Government of Nigeria, I would encourage you to ask the Nigerian Government.

Question:  Can you see why signing of thousands of certificates right before she came to the UN seems strange?  Do you at least acknowledge that?  And I have another question.  Because in the report, they actually say that much of this wood came from Cameroon.  So, I want to ask you directly.  When she signed the certificates, what was her understanding of where the… the wood at issue… because she definitely acknowledges signing the certificates and that the wood… there’s some dispute of when it left Nigerian shores.

Spokesman:  She… I think I would refer you to the statement that we issued.  She categorically refutes any claims that she signed illicit or any forged documents.  She only dealt with issues having to do with wood coming from Nigeria.

Question:  I guess my question is this, is that I see… I’ve seen… she did… she did an interview, I guess, over the weekend with something called the cable in Nigeria.  And she said that she’s been asked by… by Chinese… a Chinese journalist about the timing between the certificates and the wood leaving.  And so I’m just wondering, what is the… what is the procedure to actually get direct answers to these questions?  Is she fielding questions by phone from Chinese journalists?  Do we write to you?… How does it work?

Spokesman:  First of all, I mean, I don’t think it is Spokesman‑like ethics to tell another journalist what contacts others are having.  So, that’s not what I would get into.  I would refer you to the statement that I read out last week, which I think covers your answers.  If you have more questions, you can provide them.  Yes, ma’am.  Sorry and… I’m jumping around here.  Go ahead and then I’ll come to you.

Question:  Stéphane, just to get back to the… to Yemen, the Saudi statement yesterday mentioned an invitation to the UN to send experts to Riyadh.  Have you received this…?

Spokesman:  Sure, we’re aware of the invitation, and we’re taking a look at it.  Evelyn?

Question:  Yes.  Also on Yemen, which are the Red Sea ports?  Is it Hudaydah or that… that WFP and others say may need?

Spokesman:  It’s the two that I just read out, Hudaydah and Al Saleef.  Yes?

Question:  Do you have new information on Lebanese Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, whether he’s under house arrest or not?

Spokesman:  No, we have no way to confirm the nature of his presence in Saudi Arabia, whether he’s even in Saudi Arabia.  Our concern at the situation… the political situation in Lebanon continues.  I think everybody would benefit from some clarity.  Yes, sir?

Question:  Today, Mr. [Nickolay] Mladenov issued a statement in which he said the militants in Gaza risk a dangerous escalation.  He said their reckless actions and statements.  So what does he mean by “reckless actions”?  And two of the factions issued a strong statement against this statement, accusing Mladenov of being biased, covering for the Israeli occupation.  He… he’s silent when 12 Palestinians were killed, but when a Palestinian faction said they will take revenge of this action of Israel, he issued this strong… strong statement, calling it reckless actions and…

Spokesman:  Okay.  What is… Abdelhamid, with all due respect, what is the question?

Question:  The question, do you have any comment on the statement issued by two militants against… accusing him of being biased?

Spokesman:  I think Mr. Mladenov issued a… you know, I think if we showed you the number of times we also get complaints from the Israeli side, I think no one can accuse Mr.  Mladenov of being biased.  I think it comes… we get complaints from Palestinians.  We get complaints from Israelis about Mr. Mladenov’s action.  Mr. Mladenov speaks when he feels it is appropriate for him to speak.  What we do not want to see is an escalation in violence.  I think the agreement to reassert the authority of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza is an important one, and everything should be done to support that.

Question:  But he’s condemning action.  This is my question also.  I mean to condemn the reckless statement, one thing, but to condemn the reckless actions, there was no actions on the part of the Palestinian factions.

Spokesman:  I will leave my answer as already spoken.  Yes, sir?

Question:  Sure.  I want to ask you about another report, the Small Arms Survey Report.  Highly critical of UN peacekeeping for losing or not keeping track of weapons.  They say it could basically arm a whole militia.  But one of the issues seems to be when issue… when arms are collected through cordon and search or other ones.  Does the UN… does the UN acknowledge that there is a problem?  Do they disagree with the survey? What steps are being taken to address this?

Spokesman:  I think the… our colleagues in peacekeeping have noted the findings of the report.  They, obviously, take very seriously the performance of peacekeepers, including any loss of arms or ammunition.  You know, I think the… what’s regrettable that the report, I think, distorts some… the context as well as the figures and implies that the loss of weapons have a large impact on conflict.  I think the percentage of… the loss of weapons in peacekeeping operations are, I think, as we know, very much an exception.  The number of weapons that are lost are… is extremely small, far less than half of one per cent of the total amount of weapons and ammunition in circulation around conflict zones, such as Darfur and South Sudan.  Where the loss occurs, there are often a consequence of military operations in very challenging conditions, and they occur despite the best efforts of the troops involved.  In circumstances where a troop contributor’s poor performance is a contributory factor, the UN has done as much to improve performance, working closely with Member States on the training, skills and equipment of peacekeepers.  I think the Report itself acknowledges that, despite some shortcomings in the stockpile management and accountability of Contingent Owned Equipment, UN policies and practices are far more advanced than in many other organisations.

Question:  I wanted to ask you about one related arms collection question, which is, over the weekend, in Cameroon, in both the northwest and southwest, there was a collection apparently in light of… of… of… of not only armaments, rifles and handguns, but even hoes and cutlasses, it said, basically a total disarmament and… and… impinging on even farming work by people.  And I’m wondering, given that François Fall is… calls for a dialogue, what… is the UN aware of this?  There are written orders online that you can see telling people to turn all of these things in…

Spokesman:  I have nothing on these reports as of now.  Yes, Evelyn?

Question:  Does the SG intend to have a bilateral with the President of the Philippines?

Spokesman:  No, there’s nothing… I mean, they saw each other at the gala opening.  They shook hands, but there’s bilateral scheduled, as far as I’m aware.

Question:  There’s nothing on human rights scheduled?

Spokesman:  There’s no bilateral, as far as I’m aware.  Nizar and then Abdelhamid.

Question:  Yeah.  Mr. [António] Guterres mentioned on Friday that he is making… doing contacts with leaders in the region regarding the absence of Mr. [Saad] Hariri.  When he talks to the Saudis — and, of course, since Friday, probably he has talked to the Saudi authorities — how do they explain the freedom of Mr. Hariri to leave or remain in the country?  Do they allow him to leave at his will?

Spokesman:  I think… Nizar, I think it’s a very good question.  I would wait till 1:00 until the Saudi ambassador is here.  Abdelhamid?

Question:  Yes, Stéphane.  The BBC has uncovered details of a deal that let hundreds of IS fighters, including foreign militants, and their families escape from Raqqah, which is under the gaze of the US, British and the Kurdish groups.  What that… doesn’t that make mockery of this war on terrorism?  Do you have any statement?  Are you aware of this report?

Spokesman:  I haven’t seen the report…

Question:  It’s from BBC…

Spokesman:  I have no… I would be the last person to ever doubt the veracity of a report that you read to me.  I’m just saying I haven’t read it personally.  As to whether or not it makes a mockery of the war on terror, I think, as far as the Secretary‑General is concerned, the whole issue of counter‑terrorism is one that needs to be… look at the bigger picture, not only, obviously, the security aspects of it, but the human rights, the international law, and global development.  Thank you.

Question:  Mystery ASG (Assistant Secretary-General)?  Have you…

Spokesman:  No, no, I… it’s a good question.  I need to go and find… If I can find my mystery ASG.  I will leave you with Brenden.

In Manila, UN chief tells South-east Asian summit cooperation is vital to address shared challenges

13 November 2017 &#150 Addressing the ninth Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN)-United Nations Summit in Manila, the Philippines, Secretary-General António Guterres called for collective global and regional action to combat the challenges facing the world, in particular, those related to climate change.

&#8220Globalisation is delivering new opportunities &#8211 but increasing economic and social inequalities, heightening citizens&#39 anxieties and putting pressure on social cohesion; climate change is exacerbating severe weather events like hurricanes and storms,&#8221 said Mr. Guterres, adding: &#8220The international community must raise the level of its response to all these complex threats; multilateralism and regional cooperation will be critical to a peaceful and prosperous future.&#8221

In his remarks, the UN chief, also voiced deep concern over the displacement of hundreds of thousands of refugees from Myanmar to Bangladesh and said that it is a &#8220worrying escalation in a protracted tragedy,&#8221 a potential source of instability in the region, as well as radicalization.

&#8220Addressing the underlying issues by implementing the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine will also be critical to reverse this tragedy,&#8221 he stressed, highlighting that sustainable and inclusive development is the best way to prevent both conflict and violent extremism.

&#8220That is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, our blueprint for a safe and prosperous future on a healthy planet, and central to the ASEAN Community Vision 2025,&#8221 he added.

Further in his remarks, the UN chief noted the region’s economic growth has lifted millions out of extreme poverty, recalled its performance on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and expressed hope that the region would continue to bring shared prosperity to millions more.

&#8220Strengthened partnerships with regional organizations, including ASEAN, are a priority for me, and a critical pillar of my proposals to reform the UN,&#8221 he stated, adding that the UN stands ready to cooperate with the region to strengthen human rights.

UN chief meets with ASEAN leaders

Also today, Secretary-General Guterres held a meeting with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the State Counsellor of Myanmar, where they discussed, the situation in the country’s Rakhine state.

According to a read out issued by Mr. Guterres&#39 spokesperson, the UN chief &#8220highlighted that strengthened efforts to ensure humanitarian access, safe, dignified, voluntary and sustained returns, as well as true reconciliation between communities, would be essential.&#8221

The Secretary-General also stressed the importance of implementing the Rakhine Advisory Commission recommendations.

Mr. Guterres also met Monday with the Prime Ministers of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Viet Nam, and with the President of Indonesia.

Bonn: Financing for low-carbon, climate-resilient future takes center stage at UN Climate Conference

13 November 2017 &#150 The urgent need to raise the finances to meet the funding goals of the Paris Agreement, especially to support action by developing countries, took center stage Monday at the UN Climate Conference (COP23) in Bonn, Germany.

The urgent need to raise the finances to meet the funding goals of the Paris Agreement, especially to support action by developing countries, took center stage Monday at the UN Climate Conference (COP23) in Bonn, Germany.


“We need all financial players – public, private, domestic, international – and including markets and regulators, to work together effectively to mobilize at least $1.5 trillion in climate finance that is needed every year,” said Eric Usher, Head of Finance Initiative at the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).


As part of ‘Finance for Climate Day’ at COP23, high-level representatives from across the sector highlighted their efforts to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement of keeping the average global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius and as close as possible to 1.5 Celsius.


They stressed that every dollar invested in cutting greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change gets double the bang for the buck because it directly supports the international community’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.


According to the UN Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat, finance for climate is flowing at a greater pace than ever, with vibrant and growing markets for renewable energy, electric vehicles, green buildings and climate-smart agriculture seeing aggressive growth, backed by exponential advances in innovative green financial instruments, indices and markets.


Equally, the finance sector is recognizing to a much greater degree where and how climate change presents risks to its existing investments and the need to adjust their portfolios away from carbon-intensive assets to reduce that risk.


However, much more is needed to secure finance and investment at the scale required to deliver a fully de-carbonized and climate-resilient global economy by 2050.


“The potential for climate friendly investment in areas such as clean energy and climate-smart agriculture is enormous,” said Laura Tuck, Vice-President Sustainable Development at the World Bank. “The key is to get the funding to flow so that everyone everywhere can benefit from low-carbon and climate resilient investments.”


Peter Damgaard Jensen, CEO of the Danish Pension provider PKA and Chair of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC) said at a press conference that “it is extremely important that there is a significant increase of investor awareness and action with regards to supporting the transition […] to a low carbon economy.” “Strong investment signals from policy makers across carbon trading, energy, transport and buildings, are essential to unlock the necessary capital,” he added.


Members of African civil society and members of Parliament spoke today on the urgency of climate finance as a prerequisite to ambitious action in African countries.


“Africa is the continent that pollutes the least,” but “it is Africa which suffers the effect of climate change,” said at a press conference Roger Nkodo Dang, President of the Pan-African Parliament, which is the legislative body of the African Union.


In an interview with UN News, he added that developed countries have a duty to provide additional support to Africans for their green development. “If you tell us ‘do not cut the wood,’ we say, ‘you bring us electricity,’” he said. “It’s not a favor; it’s a compensation.”