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The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.
Good afternoon. I will start off with a statement on developments in the Korean Peninsula: The Secretary General welcomes the commitment made by Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on 5 September to realize the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The Secretary General commends the continued momentum and efforts by both Koreas to further trust building and reconciliation, in line with the Panmunjom Declaration. He looks forward to further progress towards sustainable peace, security, and complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, in accordance with relevant Security Council resolutions, at the inter Korean summit later this month.
The Secretary General condemns yesterday’s twin attack in Kabul city targeting civilians at a sports centre in an area populated by Afghanistan’s Shia community. The Secretary General extends his condolences to the families of the victims and wishes a speedy recovery to those injured. Every effort should be made to bring to justice those who organized this attack against civilians. The Secretary General expresses the solidarity of the United Nations with the Government and people of Afghanistan and supports the efforts of the authorities to fight terrorism.
And we also have a statement from the Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, who was in Kabul and expressed shock and horror at the attack.
Our Mission in Afghanistan issued a statement condemning the attack, from the Secretary General’s Special Representative.
You will have seen earlier today the Secretary General tweeted out following the decision by the [Supreme] Court in India. The Secretary General said he welcomed today’s decision by India’s Supreme Court to decriminalize sexual relations between lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people. He quoted the Court’s Chief Justice, who said discrimination and prejudice are always “irrational, indefensible and manifestly arbitrary.” The UN in India and UNAIDS (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS) also welcomed the landmark ruling.
Back here this morning, the Secretary-General spoke at the General Assembly’s observance of the International Day against Nuclear Tests. He said that after meeting with the survivors of the atomic bomb attack on Nagasaki last month, he was reminded of the need to ensure that nuclear weapons are never used again.
The Secretary General said we should all welcome the robust norm against nuclear testing that has developed since the end of the cold war, with only one State having breached this norm. He noted that what the nuclear tests conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea have shown [is] that no ad hoc measure can replace a global, legally binding ban on nuclear testing. He also stressed that every effort must be made to bring about the immediate entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and he called on the remaining eight States whose ratifications are required for it to enter into force [to do so].
The Secretary General’s Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, met with the Government of Yemen delegation, headed by Foreign Minister Khaled Alyemany. This took place this morning in Geneva. They discussed the expectations of these consultations and relevant issues to the peace process, in particular confidence building measures.
The Special Envoy thanked the Yemeni Government for their positive engagement with his efforts to relaunch the peace process. He acknowledged the efforts made by the Government of Yemen and the coalition to facilitate the convening of these consultations. The Special Envoy reiterates the need to reach an inclusive political solution to the conflict in Yemen. Yemeni people who live under dire humanitarian, economic and security conditions hope for a quick settlement of the issue. He was hopeful to see Sana’a’s delegation present to expedite the political process. He continues to make efforts to overcome obstacles to allow the consultations to go forward.
Turning to the Security Council — this morning, the Assistant Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations, Bintou Keita, briefed on the situation in Haiti. She said that the UN Mission in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) was working with the Government, the UN country team and external partners to prepare the transition to a non peacekeeping UN presence in the country. She added that there has been some progress in most areas — albeit uneven — and that many required political, rather than technical, work to make the difference.
And this afternoon, the Security Council will discuss the issue of chemical weapons in Syria. Council members will receive a briefing from the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu.
On South Sudan, our peacekeeping colleagues in that country report that a military court today handed down lengthy sentences after finding 10 Government soldiers guilty of committing violence against civilians at the Terrain Hotel in the capital, Juba, in July 2016.
In a statement, the Mission said the victims and survivors of this horrific attack in July two years ago deserved justice, and that has been served today. The Mission notes that the outcome of the trial also sends a powerful message to other would be offenders that they will be prosecuted and punished for such violence.
The High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, joined the Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock in Afghanistan, where today they wrapped up a two day visit, calling for urgent increase in support for the humanitarian response.
Mr. Lowcock said that deepening violence and now drought is affecting hundreds of thousands of families across the country, adding that civilian casualties are at an all time high, with 40,000 civilians having been maimed or killed in the past [four years].
Currently, they are on a joint mission in Pakistan, where they will meet with Government officials, the UN and other humanitarian and development partners, and people in need of assistance to discuss the response and how best to link it to the Government’s development framework.
Just to flag that the Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ursula Mueller, arrived in Burundi today for a three day visit to raise visibility and increase donor support to humanitarian action in the country.
The FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization] today released its Food Price Index for August, saying the Food Price Index had remained stable last month, with cereal prices rising while those of vegetable oils and sugar fell.
I was asked yesterday about the timing of elections in Libya. I can say the UN Mission there (UNSMIL) continues to support the Libyan national electoral authorities in preparation for the electoral processes. However, the timing of elections in Libya is for Libyan people to decide.
And our Honour Roll is now at 129, with Chad, Jordan and the Syrian Arab Republic having paid their regular budget dues in full.
Tomorrow at 11:30 a.m., there will be a briefing here on the UN collaboration with Thomas & Friends to promote the Sustainable Development Goals to preschoolers. Speakers will be: Richard Dickson, President and COO, Mattel; along with Maher Nasser, Officer in Charge of the Department of Public Information (DPI); and Tolulope Lewis-Tamoka of UN Women [United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women]. Sir?
**Questions and Answers
Question: Thank you, Stéph. Is the Secretary General, at the moment, doing any contacts with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, regarding his participation at the coming UNGA [United Nations General Assembly] 73?
Spokesman: I’m not aware of Kim Jong Un being present during the General Assembly at this point. But, obviously, it is a decision of Member States and Member States to inform us in due course as to who will represent them. Yes, sir?
Question: Thank you, sir. Stéphane, on this… these reports about whether in Gaza, whether in Yemen, about the children, the state of children’s mental health, there are reports in all these… what is it that can be done comprehensively to — what do you call? — somehow save these children from the ravages of war that… has… has United Nations ever considered that… that possibility? You’ve said again and again…
Spokesman: First and foremost, the aim is to stop the conflict and to find political solutions, as in Syria and as in Yemen and all other places where there is conflict. As we, either from the Secretariat or the UN agencies, repeatedly underscore that children are the most vulnerable and often the first victims of conflict, and not just physically but clearly mentally.
Question: Also, I want to find out from you whether… and you were talking about Afghanistan earlier. Has the United Nations been approached by Afghanistan or any other neighbouring country about help, I mean financial aid or help, because they are… I mean, every day there’s an attack going on in Afghanistan. Have they sought any sort of intervention from United Nations to help them…?
Spokesman: I know our colleagues at the Mission in Kabul are in touch with national authorities. Yes, ma’am. Did you have a question?
Question: Me? On the nuclear testing, did any of the speakers, I mean the SG and so forth, connect this to the sort of controversial resolution of last year that bans the bomb or prohibition of nuclear weapons? Did that come up at all? Or should I ask Brenden [Varma]?
Spokesman: Well, you know, I think the… all… the meeting was public, so you’d have to look at what the speakers said. Obviously, the Secretary General has always stood for denuclearization. Thank you.
Question: And, on Burundi, can you repeat what you said?
Spokesman: I said the… Ursula Mueller, the Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, is in Burundi for a three day visit. Thank you.
Source: United Nation