Daily Archives: November 30, 2017

UN and Africa: Youth empowerment, space technology and legally defining sexual violence

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Bruce McCarron, Director of the Office of Operations, Legal and Technology Services at UNDP. UN News/Runa A 

Space technology helping UNDP improve the lives
of people in need

Space-based applications and technologies are helping the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)  to deliver its projects in a faster, more efficient and safer way, according to a senior official there.  Bruce McCarron, the Director of UNDP’s Office of Operations, Legal and Technology Services, cites the example of using satellite imagery to monitor the reconstruction of buildings in Mali, destroyed by extremists.  Mr McCarron was speaking at a conference, held recently in Dubain, on how the space sector can contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  The event was organized by the United Arab Emirates authorities and the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA).  Mr McCarron spoke to                                                                    Dianne Penn.

A 15-year-old former child soldier on his way to school in South Sudan. 
© UNICEF/UNI201161/Ohanesian

Prepare African youth today to be leaders tomorrow:
South Sudan official

If Africa’s young people are not encouraged to become the leaders of tomorrow, it will only hurt those in power today.  That’s the opinion of Robert Ladu Luki, Chairperson of the National Land Commission in South Sudan.  He was in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, recently for a UN-backed conference that looked at young people’s access to land.  Mr Ladu Luki spoke to Ernest Cho about his proposal to enshrine youth empowerment in national constitutions.

Isha Dyfan speaking with Setyo Budi in UNAMID Radio studio in El Fasher, Darfur. Mohammad Mahady/UNAMID

Legal definition of sexual violence, an imperative for Sudan

Transforming the human rights situation in Darfur requires clear and distinctive definitions of sexual violence and adultery.  That’s according to the Human Rights Section Chief for the region’s UN mission (UNAMID), Isha Dyfan, who explained that separating these two societal issues encourages women to come forward with accounts of sexual violence, without fear of being accused of adultery.  In the last eight years, UNAMID’s Human Rights Section, along with other international organizations and civil society, have helped bring about some major changes in Sudanese criminal law.  Ms Dyfan spoke with Setyo Budi about her team’s contribution.

Presenter:  Matt Wells
Production Assistant:  Fatima E. Mendez
Duration:  10”00″

News in Brief 30 November 2017 (PM)

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Jorge Chediek, Director of UNOSSC, during the closing ceremony of the Global South-South Development Expo (GSSD). Photo: UN News/Laura Quiñones

South-South expo draws to a close

Representatives from southern hemisphere countries have underscored their commitment to strengthening partnerships and cooperation to achieve global development goals.

That’s the outcome of this week’s Global South-South Development Expo, which wrapped up in Antalya, Turkey, on Thursday.

More than 800 participants from 120 countries participated in the meeting.

Jorge Chediek is Director of the UN Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC).

“Many of the achievements of the expo are not reflected in these very impressive numbers themselves. They are reflected in the partnerships that are being established; in institutional friendships and agreements that are been developed and that will certainly generate results.”

Needs on the rise in Somalia: UN humanitarian affairs office

Despite a massive scale-up in assistance in Somalia this year, humanitarian needs across the country are on the rise and are increasingly severe, the United Nations has reported.

The UN humanitarian affairs office, OCHA, estimates 6.2 million people will need humanitarian assistance and protection next year.

This figure represents half of the country’s population.

OCHA is calling for urgent and more sustainable investment, as well as extending famine prevention efforts.

Cactus pear a valuable food asset: FAO

Climate change and increased risk of droughts could be reasons to make the cactus pear an essential crop in dry areas.

Making the case is the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which has gathered experts on the hardy plant to pool their knowledge in efforts to help farmers and policy chiefs, make greater use of this natural resource.

Cactus pear is native to Mexico where it has been consumed for centuries.

FAO said it provided food and water for people and animals during the recent intense drought in Madagascar.

The UN agency added that cultivation is “catching on” elsewhere.

For example, cactus pear is now “a well-entrenched gourmet tradition” in Sicily, in Italy, in addition to being grown in Brazil, North Africa and the Tigray region in Ethiopia.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 2’16″

Africa: Sports Envoys Alex Morgan and Servando Carrasco Visit Tanzania

Media Note

Office of the Spokesperson

Washington, DC

November 30, 2017

Olympic Gold Medalist and FIFA Women’s World Cup champion Alex Morgan and Orlando City SC midfielder Servando Carrasco of Major League Soccer are traveling to Tanzania on December 2-9 as U.S. Department of State Sports Envoys. The Sports Envoys are helping to bolster the United States’ cultural and social ties with the youth of Tanzania, including the Maasai people living at the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Additionally, Morgan and Carrasco will hold soccer clinics and speak with students from schools in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar. The Sports Envoys will also visit two all-girls soccer programs to highlight the importance of providing equal opportunities for all. Nike has donated soccer balls to schools and participants in support of this program.

This Sports Envoy program’s focus on girls and women in sports also builds on the “Equal Playing Field” initiative, which in June 2017 saw 30 women from six continents, including previous U.S. Sports Envoy Lori Lindsey, play the world’s highest soccer match at 18,747 feet (5,714 meters) on Mount Kilimanjaro.

Since 2003, the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs has sent more than 250 U.S. athletes to more than 85 countries on Sports Envoy programs, which help reach overseas audiences that other forms of diplomatic engagement do not to promote collaboration on priority U.S. policy goals.

For press inquiries in the United States, contact ECA-Press@state.gov. Follow the journey of the Alex Morgan and Servando Carrasco on Instagram (@alexmorgan13 and @serva5) and Twitter (@alexmorgan13, @Serva_Carrasco, and @AmEmbTZ). To learn more about State Department sports diplomacy, follow the program on Twitter @SportsDiplomacy.

Declaring Israel’s Actions in Syrian Golan, East Jerusalem ‘Null and Void’, General Assembly Adopts Six Resolutions on Palestine, Middle East

Concluding its annual debate on the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East, the General Assembly adopted six resolutions today — including two declaring Israel’s actions in the Syrian Golan and East Jerusalem “null and void” — as several delegates voiced concern that those texts perpetuated a one-sided view that isolated and targeted a single Member State.

After the debate concluded, the Assembly adopted the draft resolution “Jerusalem” (document A/72/L.11) by a recorded vote of 151 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, United States), with 9 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Honduras, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, South Sudan, Togo).

By that text, the Assembly reiterated that any actions by Israel, the occupying Power, to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Holy City of Jerusalem were illegal and therefore null and void.  It further stressed the need for the parties to refrain from provocative actions, especially in areas of religious and cultural sensitivity, and called for respect for the historic status quo at the holy places of Jerusalem.

By that text — “The Syrian Golan” (document A/71/L.17), adopted by a recorded vote of 105 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, United Kingdom, United States) with 58 abstentions — the Assembly declared that Israel had failed to comply with Security Council resolution 497 (1981) and demanded its withdrawal from the occupied Syrian Golan.

Adopting the draft resolution “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine” (document A/72/L.16) by a recorded vote of 157 in favour to 7 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Solomon Islands, United States) with 8 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Fiji, Honduras, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, South Sudan, Tonga), the Assembly called for the intensification of efforts by the parties towards the conclusion of a final peace settlement, stressed the need for resumed negotiations and called upon Israel to cease all unilateral actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

The Assembly also adopted by recorded vote a series of resolutions dealing with the United Nations system’s own provision of support to the Palestinian people:  Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (document A/72/L.15), the Secretariat’s Division for Palestinian Rights (document A/72/L.13) and the Department of Public Information’s special information programme on the question of Palestine (document A/72/L.14).

Egypt’s representative, introducing “L.11” and “L.17”, noted that the former called for the realization of the Palestinian people’s right to freedom of belief and called for an end to all of Israel’s excavation or destruction of holy sites.  The latter text reiterated the Assembly’s concern that Israel had still failed to adhere to relevant United Nations resolutions, and called on it to fully withdraw from the Syrian Golan.  (For details on the remaining draft resolutions, introduced on 29 November, see Press Release GA/11981.)

Syria’s representative, stressing that Israel’s actions in the occupied Syrian Golan were both supported and emboldened by certain permanent members of the Security Council, noted that Israel’s systematic and discriminatory policies amounted to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Israel’s delegate said that after seven decades, some countries still refused to accept her country’s existence.  Moreover, the United Nations continued to annually adopt biased resolutions and devote precious resources — almost $6.5 million of its budget — to politicized bodies whose sole purpose was to attack and denounce Israel.  Supporting the six resolutions would neither advance nor inspire peace, she said.

The representative of the United States echoed that opposition, saying the biased and one-sided resolutions undermined efforts to achieve peace between the parties.  It was inappropriate for the United Nations — founded on the ideal that all nations should be treated equally — to treat one Member State so unequally, he stressed, voicing concern about the renewal of mandates of three United Nations bodies and programmes that wasted critical resources and only perpetuated the perception of the Organization’s inherent bias against Israel.

Estonia’s representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union, explained its members’ position on several key terms used in the resolutions.  Whenever “Palestinian Government” was mentioned, it referred to the Palestinian Authority, and the use of the term “Palestine” in those resolutions could not be construed as the recognition of a State of Palestine, she said.

Also speaking were representatives of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Indonesia, China, Uruguay, Oman, Cuba, Algeria, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Maldives, Russian Federation, Argentina, Singapore and the United Kingdom.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. Friday, 1 December to take action on a draft resolution on the culture of peace, review the efficiency of the administrative and financial functioning of the United Nations and take up a report of the Fifth Committee.

Question of Palestine

MOHAMMED HUSSEIN BAHR ALULOOM (Iraq), highlighting that the annual International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People was an unwavering recognition by the United Nations of their plight, said the 2017 commemoration on 29 November had coincided with the fiftieth anniversary of Israeli aggression.  Such activities continued unabated, including illegal settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, efforts to foil the international community’s work towards establishing a Palestinian State and the demolition of homes, infrastructure, holy places, schools and other civilian locations.  Palestinians had lost hope in the establishment of any just and lasting peace, he said, underlining Iraq’s position that any such resolution would only be achieved by establishing a sovereign and independent Palestinian State based on 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.  Urging Israel to respect all its commitments under international humanitarian law, he encouraged Member States that had not yet done so to recognize the State of Palestine and support its people in the pursuit of their legitimate and inalienable rights.

MANAL HASSAN RADWAN (Saudi Arabia), calling for redoubled efforts to enable the Palestinian people to fully realize their right to self-determination, condemned all Israeli attacks on Occupied Palestinian Territory, including killing innocent people, property theft, destroying homes and infrastructure and the longstanding Gaza blockade.  Such actions could constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity, she stressed, noting that Israel had disregarded the international community’s calls to end its aggressions.  Demanding an end to repeated violations, she said the sanctity and integrity of all holy sites must be respected.  “Chasing away Palestinians” from their own sites and homes represented a case of ethnic cleansing.  She called on Israel to end its illegal settlement expansion and respect relevant international laws, adding that Israeli settlers committing crimes against Palestinian civilians should be placed on global lists of terrorist groups.

MAHMOUD DIBAEI (Iran), expressing regret over the international community’s failure on the question of Palestine due to the Israeli regime’s intransigence and continued unlawful and criminal acts, emphasized that “the injustice has continued for more than seven decades”.  The Israeli regime arrogantly and flagrantly continued to violate United Nations decisions, including at least 86 Security Council resolutions.  It was unfortunate that a host of criminal policies were being perpetrated by the regime with impunity; the rapid growth of illegal settlements in the Palestinian territory constituted not only a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention but also a war crime.  “It is yet another clear indication that the Israeli regime had never had any interest in peace with the Palestinians,” he said.  Israel’s participation in talks had been just another tactic to buy time and continue its policy of expansion.  The continued brutal Israeli occupation not only caused misery to the Palestinian people, it also lay at the origin of various tensions in the Middle East.  Yet, the Security Council continued to be paralysed, failing to uphold its obligations, he said, adding that “this must change.”

DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia) said his country shared the Secretary-General’s concern about the absence of political progress on the Palestinian question and the high risk of further violence and radicalization.  Indonesia reaffirmed its support for the two‑State vision and reaffirmed that nobody who had objected to that vision had come up with a viable alternative which met the legitimate aspirations of Israelis and the Palestinians.  He called on Israel to stop resettlement and construction and to put to an end to extra judicial killings and other forms of human rights abuses.  He added that the illegal blockades and “barrier zones” imposed by Israel undermined the potential of the Palestinian economy and exacerbated its dependence on imports and foreign aid.  Indonesia fully supported the draft resolutions being adopted.

WU HAITAO (China) said addressing the question of Palestine was fundamental to peace in the Middle East.  However, Israel’s persistent settlement expansion had greatly undermined the peace process.  China had made a four‑point proposal, including through establishing a political process based on a two‑State solution.  Palestine and Israel must embark on a shared path to security.  All settlement activities must end and Security Council resolution 2334 (2016) must immediately be implemented.  The international community must intensify diplomatic efforts to bring both parties to the negotiating table.  An integrated approach that promoted peace though development was also essential, he added, noting that China had always maintained an impartial and objective view of the Middle East situation.  China supported the just cause of the Palestinian people as well as the establishment of a State based on pre‑1967 borders.  “Both sides must meet each other halfway,” he said.  Expressing concern that some countries in the region were trapped in “protracted turmoil” and that terrorism was spreading, he said the international community must focus on advancing a political settlement in hotspot areas.  He also underscored the need to cut off terrorist financing.

MATÍAS PAOLINO LABORDE (Uruguay), reaffirming his country’s support for the right of Israel and Palestine to live side by side in peace, reiterated support for the two‑State solution.  Uruguay maintained close links of friendship with both Israel and Palestine, he said, urging the international community to step up efforts and urge parties to return to the negotiating table.  They must reach a just solution that considered the interests of both parties and must refrain from adopting unilateral measures that stunted or jeopardized the peace process.  Expressing concern over Israel’s illegal settlements, he said they ran counter to the Middle East Quartet and various Security Council resolutions and, if they continued, would jeopardized the two-State solution.

MOHAMED AHMED SALIM AL-SHANFARI (Oman) said the current debate had remained unchanged in the seven decades as had Israel’s continuing inhumane policies.  Calling on the international community, through the Security Council, to carry out its responsibility to ensure that Israel guaranteed protection to the Palestinian people, he said Member States must also push that country to end its discriminatory policies.  “We must move towards negotiations to end the occupation” and establish a free, sovereign and independent Palestinian State.  Welcoming the recent reconciliation agreement signed between Fatah and Hamas, he commended Egypt’s efforts in that regard.  Israel and Palestine must return to the negotiating table and all other stakeholders, including the Middle East Quartet and the Security Council, must take up their proper roles.

HUMBERTO RIVERO ROSARIO (Cuba), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, voiced deep concern over the situation in the Middle East, which was characterized by violence, interference in internal affairs and aggression on the part of Israel.  Urging Israel to immediately cease its destruction, seizure and occupation of Palestinian lands and its human rights violations, he said the Security Council must also adopt tangible measures to compel the country to do so.  Any solution to the question of Palestine would be impossible as long as Israel continued to violate international law and relevant United Nations decisions, including Council resolution 2334 (2016).  It was critical to address all barriers to peace, including the situation in East Jerusalem, where Israel’s policies jeopardized the peace process.  Reiterating Cuba’s policy of solidarity with the Palestinian people and its support for a sovereign, independent Palestinian State, he said the international community must not stand by as Israeli violations continued.

MOHAMMED BESSEDIK (Algeria) said it was truly deplorable that some continued to celebrate the Balfour Declaration even though the Palestinian people continued to suffer.  Indeed, Israel was still expanding its settlement activities and apartheid wall and continued its inhumane blockade of the Gaza Strip while its army committed barbaric acts daily, flouting international law.  Such crimes continued unpunished because of the international community’s indifference.  Given the continued plight of the Palestine people, the international community remained responsible for finding a way out and responding to their aspirations to live in dignity.  He urged the international community to redouble efforts to provide the Palestinian people with protection and help them to establish an independent State, one in which they could control their own resources.  He reaffirmed Algeria’s unconditional support to the Palestinian cause and their just and legitimate struggle.

KENNEDY MAYONG ONON (Malaysia) expressed regret about Israel’s continued construction of illegal settlements on Palestinian land, including in East Jerusalem, which further weakened the possibility of a two-State solution.  He urged the international community to demand that Israel immediately cease settlement activities in Occupied Palestinian Territory before completely eroding the viability of a two-State solution.  He also expressed concern about vulnerable security at holy sites, urging the safeguarding of unrestricted access for Muslim worshippers to the Al‑Aqsa Mosque.  On the situation in the Gaza Strip, he noted that food, clean water, sanitation and electricity remained scarce because vast networks had been destroyed by Israeli aggression.  As such, all Member States must continue to demand an immediate lifting of the blockade.  Normalizing the situation there would significantly reduce tensions and facilitate the resumption of the political process.  However, “normalization also does not mean that the citizens of Gaza will continue to live in a de facto open-air prison,” he said.  Instead, normalization meant the realization and fulfilment of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.

DAULET YEMBERDIYEV (Kazakhstan) said the two-State solution was the only viable and durable option, expressing support for the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and Israel’s right to security.  He emphasized the need to ensure the rule of law and good governance, which would yield dividends over time.  Noting that all major religions — Judaism, Islam and Christianity — were born in the sacred land of the Middle East, he asked whether it was possible for its rich history to inspire the region to live in peace.  For its part, Kazakhstan would do its utmost to ensure peace and security in the region.

Situation in Middle East

AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt), introducing the draft resolutions titled “Jerusalem” (document A/72/L.11) and “The Syrian Golan” (document A/72/L.17), said the former reaffirmed decisions by both the Assembly and the Security Council regarding occupied East Jerusalem, reflecting the fact that all of Israel’s attempts to change the character of the city were “null and void”.  It also called for the realization of the Palestinian people’s right to freedom of belief and called for an end to all of Israel’s excavation or destruction of holy sites.  The text had not been altered since the seventy-first session, he said, except to include a reference to Security Council resolution 2334 (2016).

Turning to “L.17”, he said the draft reiterated the Assembly’s concern that Israel still failed to adhere to relevant United Nations resolutions.  Emphasizing that the Geneva Conventions applied to the lands occupied by Israel, he said “L.17” called on that country to fully withdraw from the Syrian Golan, and urged the international community to take that situation into account as it dealt with broader challenges in the Middle East.  He called on all Member States to support both draft resolutions and help to achieve the goals enshrined in international law and on which the United Nations had been founded.

MOUNZER MOUNZER (Syria), recalling that every year the Assembly called on Israel to end its illegal and groundless occupation of Arab territories, said today’s meeting coincided with the centennial anniversary of the “sinister” and “colonial” Balfour Declaration, whose repercussions were still being felt not only by Syrians but by all people in the Middle East.  Israel’s actions were supported and indeed emboldened by certain permanent members of the Security Council, he stressed, noting that Israel’s systematic and discriminatory policies amounted to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In the Syrian Golan, he said, Israel refused to comply with relevant Security Council resolutions, including resolution 497 (1981).  Instead, Israel supported terroristic policies and denied people the legitimate right to resist occupation, he said, calling for the release of all unlawfully detained persons and an immediate end to all its repressive socioeconomic policies.  Israel had also recently helped Nusrah Front to attack Syrian towns north of the separation zone, leading to civilian casualties.  Reaffirming Syria’s “non-negotiable” sovereign right over the occupied Syrian Golan, he said it was no longer acceptable for the Assembly to adopt routine resolutions on the matter.  Instead, he urged Member States to undertake immediate and concrete measures to compel Israel to end its occupation and called on them to vote in favour of both draft resolutions.

LAILA SHAREEF (Maldives), calling for the establishment of an independent and sovereign State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, said that Israel must fully implement all relevant resolutions and respect the legal obligations it undertook in the Oslo Accords.  In recent months, violence by the occupying Power had increased dramatically, she noted, adding that the provocative law to retroactively legalize settlements by the Government of Israel had resulted in the approval of more than 2,000 housing units in Area C of the occupied West Bank at the expense of Palestinian-owned structures.  Also expressing concern about the ongoing conflicts in Syria, she added that the barbaric acts of violence perpetrated by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) represented a serious assault on the religion of Islam.

VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation), highlighting current conflicts in the Middle East and noting that critical agreements such as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme remained under threat, said his delegation was an active proponent of unity among the region’s States.  “We cannot forget that extremists use ethnic and religious aspects to spread discord,” he added.  Unfortunately, the global counter-terrorism coalition, as proposed by the Russian Federation, had yet to be established.  On the issue of solving the crises in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen, he called for political solutions and warned against imposing remedies from abroad.  He welcomed recent developments aimed at renewing Syrian negotiations in Geneva.  On Yemen, it was essential to increase humanitarian support.  New challenges in the Middle East and North Africa must not affect the priority of settling the question of Palestine, he said, expressing great concern over the current stalemate and underlining the Russian Federation’s commitment to achieving a just solution on the basis of relevant Security Council resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative.  As a member of the Security Council and the Middle East Quartet, the Russian Federation supported the Palestinian people’s legal rights and commended the regional efforts led by Egypt and Jordan.  He noted other positive steps, including the power-sharing agreement between Fatah and Hamas, adding that “we have no hidden agenda in the Middle East”.

Action on Draft Resolutions

HADAS MEITZAD (Israel), explaining her delegation’s position, said that 70 years after the Assembly had adopted resolution 181 (1947), calling for the creation of independent Arab and Jewish States, some countries still refused to accept the existence of her country.  While 29 November should have been a celebration of that adoption, instead, year after year, that historic date becomes an annual Israel-bashing session.  Despite the many crises facing the world, the United Nations continued to adopt biased resolutions and devote precious resources to politicized bodies whose sole purpose was to attack and denounce Israel.

Citing examples from draft resolutions being considered today, she said the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People spread a one-sided political narrative, supported by the United Nations Department of Political Affairs’ Division for Palestinian Rights, which had 15 paid positions.  Large portions of the division’s budget paid for business class airline tickets for participants attending anti-Israel events, using “your money” to do so, she said.  The Department of Public Information’s special information programme on the question of Palestine also focused on anti-Israel activities and did little to promote dialogue and understanding between Israelis and Palestinians.  It was truly baffling that the United Nations spent almost $6.5 million of its budget on organizations and bodies that did nothing but try to isolate Israel, she said, adding that at a time of budgetary deficits, it was also unwise and wrong.

She said two draft resolutions discussed the Temple Mount, a sacred place for all three Abrahamic religions, but had deliberately omitted any reference to the Jewish or Christian connections to the holy site.  The international community must stop participating in such blatant denial of history.  The draft resolution “Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People” (document A/72/L.15) stated that the establishment of the State of Israel was a catastrophe, which amounted to a denial of her country’s right to exist.  On the draft resolution “The Syrian Golan” (document A/72/L.17), she said the situation in Syria was dire and Israel was helping thousands of injured Syrians in their hospitals, free of charge.  Despite the reality on the ground, “absurdity prevailed” in the General Assembly, she said, emphasizing that the draft resolutions offered only one-sided accounts and asking delegates to vote against the drafts if they truly sought to help the Israeli-Palestinian situation.

RICHARD ERDMAN (United States) said his delegation opposed biased, one-sided resolutions against Israel, which undermined efforts to achieve peace between the parties.  While Member States continued to single out Israel, the United States had voted against 18 such resolutions in 2017 so far.  It was inappropriate for the United Nations — founded on the ideal that all nations should be treated equally — to treat one Member State so unequally.  The United States would vote against all the draft resolutions presented in the Assembly today, he said, voicing concern about the renewal of mandates of three United Nations bodies and programmes that wasted critical resources and only perpetuated the perception of the Organization’s inherent bias against Israel.  “Biased resolutions do not help advance peace”, but only distracted attention from that process, he said.

Turning first to the draft resolution “Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat” (document A/72/L.13), the Assembly adopted it by a recorded vote of 100 in favour to 10 against, with 59 abstentions.

It then adopted the draft resolution “Special information programme on the question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat” (document A/72/L.14) by a recorded vote of 155 in favour to 8 against (Australia, Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Solomon Islands, United States), with 8 abstentions (Cameroon, Honduras, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, South Sudan, Togo, Tonga).

The Assembly adopted the draft resolution “Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People” (document A/72/L.15) by a recorded vote of 103 in favour to 10 against, with 57 abstentions.

Turning to the draft resolution “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine” (document A/72/L.16), the Assembly adopted it by a recorded vote of 157 in favour to 7 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Solomon Islands, United States), with 8 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Fiji, Honduras, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, South Sudan, Tonga).

Following those adoptions, the representatives of several delegations explained their positions.

The representative of Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, explained its members’ position on several terms used in resolutions tabled during the Assembly’s seventy-second session.  Whenever “Palestinian Government” was mentioned, it referred to the Palestinian Authority.  The use of the term “Palestine” in those resolutions could not be construed as the recognition of a State of Palestine and was without prejudice to the individual positions of Member States on that issue.  The European Union had not expressed a legal qualification with regard to the term “forced displacement” used in a number of resolutions submitted under the Assembly’s agenda items 38 and 54.  Some resolutions adopted today also referred to holy sites in Jerusalem.  Concerned at worrying developments and recurring violent clashes at the Temple Mount/Haram al‑Sharif, she recalled the special significance of the holy sites and called for the upholding of the status quo established in 1967 in line with previous understandings and with Jordan’s special role.  The European Union’s position on those resolutions did not imply a change of its position on the terminology regarding that holy site.

The representative of Argentina said his delegation had abstained on “L.13” because it would be appropriate to carry out an investigation into the best use of United Nations resources aimed at supporting the Palestinian people and furthering the peace process.  Argentina was among countries that had recognized the State of Palestine and also recognized Israel’s legitimate right to live in peace and security with all its neighbours.

The representative of Singapore said his delegation had voted in favour of “L.15” on the basis that achieving a two‑State solution meant achieving the goal of both parties living side by side in peace.

Turning to the draft resolution “Jerusalem” (document A/72/L.11), the Assembly adopted it by a recorded vote of 151 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, United States), with 9 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Honduras, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, South Sudan, Togo).

The Assembly then adopted the draft resolution “The Syrian Golan” (document A/72/L.17) by a recorded vote of 105 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, United Kingdom, United States), with 58 abstentions.

The representative of Argentina, speaking also on behalf of Brazil, explained his position, saying he had voted in favour of “L.17” because the territory had been acquired by the use of force.  He also underscored the importance of making progress regarding the dispute over the Syrian Golan.

The representative of Syria, expressing gratitude to the General Assembly for adopting “L.17”, said the majority of Member States supported the draft, demonstrating their rejection of foreign occupation and support for recovering all territories occupied by Israel since 1967.  The overwhelming support for “L.17” also sent Israel a message rejecting its settlements, discrimination and annexation of foreign territory.  Such practices had also been condemned by those who believed in international law.  Israel had stated that they provided medical support to Syrian citizens, however that was true only of militants involved in Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Daesh).

The representative of the United Kingdom, emphasizing that a just and lasting solution was long overdue, said his delegation was committed to continuing to work to achieve a two‑State solution.  The United Kingdom had voted for balanced resolutions that called out illegal settlement activities and called on both sides to cease actions that were undermining peace efforts.  However, resolutions that undermined the United Nations authority did little to advance the peace process.  While his delegation had rejected the Syrian Golan resolution that Syria had tabled, it had voted in favour of a related resolution proposed by the Palestinians.  The resolution proposed by Syria was unnecessary and a way to deflect attention from Syria’s slaughter of its own people.

Press Releases: U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy Ambassador Deborah L. Birx, M.D.

MS NAUERT: Hi, everyone. Good afternoon. Hope you’re all having a good day. Many of you may have received a notice from us earlier today about World AIDS Day, and tomorrow is World AIDS Day, so to start with today I’d like to introduce our Ambassador Deborah Birx. Ambassador Birx is going to talk to us a little bit about U.S. global AIDS coordination and also a program called PEPFAR that I know many of you are familiar with. She’s agreed to join me to say a few words about the annual results that were released today and show that the program has received – reached, pardon me – historic highs in HIV prevention and also treatment.

At the United Nations General Assembly in September, Secretary Tillerson was proud to launch PEPFAR’s strategy for accelerating HIV/AIDS epidemic control. It is a landmark strategy set as a bold course for accelerating progress toward epidemic control and reaffirmed the U.S. Government’s leadership and commitment through PEPFAR to support HIV/AIDS efforts in more than 50 countries. PEPFAR has not only saved and improved millions of lives, but it’s also transformed the global HIV/AIDS response.

With that, I’ll turn it over to Ambassador Birx. She’ll take a few of your questions and then I’ll follow up with the remainder of the briefing. I know you have a lot of questions today. Ambassador, thank you.

AMBASSADOR BIRX: Great. Thank you, Heather. It’s great to be here. Good afternoon. Just quickly, just to let you know, we are at an unprecedented moment in the HIV/AIDS pandemic. For the first time in modern history, we have the opportunity to actually control the global pandemic without a vaccine or a cure, and this is a very exciting time for us. The United States remains the key leader of the HIV/AIDS response, and under this administration leadership of President Donald Trump, we are continuing to lead in the response around the globe. Today we announced the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, historic highs, as just noted by Heather. We’re actually preventing more HIV infections and saving more lives than ever before, and we’re doing this driven by transparency, accountability, and cost-effective investments.

One big reason for our great success in this last 12 months is we’ve really refined our approach and expanded our impact based on using the latest science around the globe that’s available to us and the best available data, including data down to the actual sites of where they’re delivering services to our clients. That results in enormous efficiency and cost-effectiveness across the program. We’re also ensuring that we have the greatest impact with our every dollar that’s entrusted to us from the American public, both the – demonstrating the generosity and the compassion of the American people through their taxpayer dollars.

When PEPFAR began in 2003, less than 50,000 people were on treatment in Sub-Saharan Africa. Entire communities were decimated. Children were living without mothers and fathers, schools went without teachers, hospitals went without nurses and doctors. And today, in these same areas, we have nearly 13 million people on treatment because of PEPFAR.

In addition, we’ve been focused over the last year heavily in prevention, in preventing new infections in men and boys. We’re using new biomedical intervention, voluntary medical male circumcision, that’s reached a historic high of 15 million; 3.4 million circumcisions just done in the last 12 months. And I think the most important announcement we have today, for the first time in the history of HIV/AIDS, we’re announcing a dramatic decline in infections in women, in young women and girls, due to our DREAMS program. It stands for Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe Young Women. We have – we were in – 90 – in 63 districts, but 14 of them had more than a 40 percent decline in the infection rate in young women. Another 27 had declines of 25 to 40 percent in the rate of new infections, and nearly all the districts saw some improvement in the rate of infections in young women and girls. And this is the first time we’ve been able to have that kind of dramatic impact. It’s this public-private partnership. It brings the strength of the private sector with the U.S. taxpayer dollars to have and augment our response, and we’re very excited about that result.

Finally, within orphans and vulnerable children, we’re reaching over 6 million orphans and vulnerable children. We’ve prevented 2.2 million babies from being born with HIV because of care for their mothers and making sure that they receive lifesaving treatment that both saves their lives so that they can be a mother to their children, but also prevents infection in their babies.

So together today we’re excited about these new announcements, but we’re also using this time to commemorate all of the people that we have lost to HIV/AIDS, really renewing our effort to have even a bigger and better and greater response over the next 12 months and have the impact that we believe can end up with controlling this pandemic over the next three years. Thank you.


AMBASSADOR BIRX: I can take questions.

MS NAUERT: Ambassador – certainly. We can – have time to take a few questions and then I’ll get started. I know you’re all a curious bunch. Said, why don’t you go right ahead?

QUESTION: Yes, I have a very quick question: How do you collect and maintain data on the rise or decline of HIV in conflict zones like Libya, Yemen, Syria, Iraq?

AMBASSADOR BIRX: So it’s – we are fortunate that over the last 30 years, the U.S. has supported UNAIDS in developing the data systems in conjunction with countries, so our reporting is supported both for UNAIDS with the U.S. co-investing in those and – both around the globe to ensure that data collections are correct. That’s the advantage that the HIV/AIDS pandemic has had from the beginning, is we have the ability to map in great detail the progress that we’re making, not only in the countries that I’m talking about where PEPFAR has a significant investment – those 50 countries – but throughout the world and the countries you just cited.

MS NAUERT: Okay, anything else? Josh, how are you?

QUESTION: Good. There’s been a major rise in HIV prevalence in Iran that the Iranian Government’s clearly trying to work on. We obviously don’t have diplomatic relations, really, with them, but is there anything that we’re doing through multilateral fora to try to help Iran address their epidemic?

AMBASSADOR BIRX: Yeah. Throughout the world, the U.S., remember, invests in the Global Fund, which is a very important fund that takes – translates our dollars two-for-one to make them more impactful with the rest of the donor community. They work throughout the countries where often there isn’t a direct U.S. presence. It’s important to note that it’s not just Iran with a rising number of new infections; the greatest rise in new infections around the globe is in Russia, due to primarily key populations and the lack of responsiveness to addressing the depth and breadth of the epidemic there.

MS NAUERT: Okay. Conor from ABC.

QUESTION: Thank you for doing this, Ambassador. How do you square your desire to prevent more and new cases of HIV/AIDS with the Trump administration’s push for major cuts of over, I think, $800 million to PEPFAR, $225 million to the Global Fund? In particular, the – one organization released a report this week saying that the proposals would lead to – excuse me – lead to 4 million new – 4 million more deaths and 26 million new HIV infections in Sub-Saharan Africa over the next 15 years. Just a response to that.

AMBASSADOR BIRX: Yeah, I think that’s an important question to put in perspective. So since 2010 – this program reached its highest investment in 2010. Since then we’ve had a decrease investment year over year. And that has been our responsibility to translate the dollars that we have into more and more effective programs. And that’s why I really led with the concept of us increasing maximum efficiency and effectiveness, because we went into this year with a flat budget, yet we dramatically increased results.

And I think you have to measure the administration’s commitment to HIV/AIDS by their political will and willing to address and talk about PEPFAR, as the President did at his inaugural address at the UN General Assembly, and the support that we get both from the State Department and the White House over these World AIDS Day. The President wrote out his proclamation today. That inspires the world that we can do more and be more and be better, and I think that’s – for us that manage programs within the U.S. Government, it’s always important to recognize that this money comes from our parents, ourselves, and our children. And translating that money into the most effective programs that we can that reaches the most lives in the most impactful way, that’s our job, and that’s what we are really excited about being able to talk about today.

QUESTION: So do you dispute any of those numbers, that there will be more deaths because of the cuts that the administration’s proposed?

AMBASSADOR BIRX: I haven’t seen the report yet, but I look forward to reading it. I am very data-driven, so I will be looking very carefully about the analysis, because we constantly are looking at data for how we can be better and do more with the resources we have.

MS NAUERT: Okay. Sir, right there, in the back. Go ahead.

QUESTION: The World AIDS Day is – we all know every year is on December 1st. But today the President has issued and declared that it’s – December 1 as the World AIDS Day. Reading through the whole thing from the White House, there’s no mention about any additional grant or money or anything. How do you see until the next December 1st your funds being – with all the cuts in the State Department budget, and the cuts, overall federal cuts – how do you see this declaration adding any value to —

AMBASSADOR BIRX: First, it demonstrates amazing political will, and not every government and administration’s willing to talk about HIV/AIDS, willing to talk about the people who are affected by HIV/AIDS. This administration is not only willing to talk about it, but willing to actually commemorate the day and ensure that we continue in the next 12 months to march forward in a very productive way to meet our goals. And I think that’s a great question for you to ask me a year from now, because we believe that we’re going to continue to accelerate our program, as we did in the last 12 months, despite a very flat or decreasing budget.

MS NAUERT: And sir, from Al Jazeera – I’m sorry, I don’t know your name.

QUESTION: Thank you. Abderrahim Foukara from Al Jazeera. Can you talk a little bit about the challenges that you face in dealing with HIV/AIDS in a time of great migration movements such as what we’re seeing from Africa and the Middle East into Europe? That’s number one. Number two: Can you talk a little bit about – in terms of your progress, about the overlap between what you do to achieve that progress, or have done, and what governments in the regions concerned have done?

AMBASSADOR BIRX: Great. Thank you for that question, because if I didn’t make it feel like this is a partnership between communities, host government, and our multilateral colleagues and bilateral donors, I was mistaken. So let me really emphasize that our progress today is only possible – and you can see where we make the most progress in each country. It is when the governments have the political will to have the policies and the comprehensive approach that we know are critical for both preventing new infections and treating those who are HIV-positive.

As you know, if you’ve followed this pandemic, there have been decades of stigma and discrimination against individuals who are HIV-positive or at risk for HIV. And I think what PEPFAR has done, what the Global Fund is doing, and what host countries that are successful are doing is supporting everybody that could potentially become infected to make sure that they have prevention access to services but also to ensure that people that are at risk and could be positive have access to the health centers without discrimination and without stigma.

And I think you’ll see in the countries where – we put everything up online, so if you go to pepfar.gov you’ll see all of our data down to the district level, so you can see the impact that we’re having. And we track dollars very down to the client to ensure just what you talked about. What clients aren’t we reaching? What age groups aren’t we reaching? Who have we left behind? And I think that evolves as the epidemic evolves, and that’s why we’ve been very much focused on the data and understanding how the epidemic is moving.

And I tell you our biggest gap right now, since you’re a lovely man, is men. Men don’t interact with the healthcare delivery system in almost every place where we work and don’t believe they’re at risk for HIV/AIDS. So we are really putting on a push with host country governments to really raise the alert so that men know that they are at risk and men will come to the health center. The health centers often are for women and children, and they don’t see themselves there. But I think if we’re successful over the next 12 months, men will see themselves in a wellness campaign to really understand and get tested for HIV/AIDS.

So thank you for raising the question.

QUESTION: And again, on migration?

AMBASSADOR BIRX: Migration, yes. So in areas of conflict where we’ve had strong programs like in South Sudan, as South Sudanese have moved into northern Uganda we have supported programs. Our dollars move with the risk of the individuals that have moved, so we’re very careful to follow those migratory patterns. Certainly, the European groups and the groups that we work with in Europe also have a very strong HIV/AIDS response. But whether it’s South Sudan or Burundi and the issues in the borders, we both supply services in the country itself and in the areas of transition.

MS NAUERT: Ambassador, thank you so much. She has to go. She’s hosting an event over in —

AMBASSADOR BIRX: So we hope you come there too at 3:45 to see our event and the kiosk. You can explain that.

MS NAUERT: They have an interactive program which you can see, and it sort of overlays some of the areas where the programs have been particularly successful. So if anyone has any follow-up questions for the ambassador, I’d be happy to get those to her and put you in touch.