The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today's noon briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.
All right. Good afternoon and welcome to the seventy-third General Assembly. As you know, the Secretary-General will address the opening session of the high-level week tomorrow. In his address to world leaders, the Secretary General will note his concerns about the breakdown of trust around the world and underscore the need to reform, renew and reinvigorate multilateralism at a time when it has never been needed more. He will also sound the alarm on climate change. He is to emphasize the need to harness the benefits of new technologies for all while safeguarding against the dangers, from malicious acts in cyberspace to the weaponization of artificial intelligence. He will also appeal to world leaders for greater solidarity in advancing peace, human rights and sustainable development.
This morning, the Secretary-General spoke at the High-level Event on Counter-Narcotics hosted by the United States. He stressed that drugs and addiction are not abstract issues, but they are tangible and personal to many of us. To tackle the issue of narcotics, the Secretary-General said there needs to be action in two areas: cracking down on trafficking and on those who profit from human misery, as well as making sure those who need treatment have access to it. Mr. [Antonio] Guterres added that national priorities may differ, but the global community shares a common goal: to protect the health, security and well-being. It is our duty to act � and act now, he said.
Later this morning, the Secretary-General attended the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit, which honoured the centenary of the birth of the South African leader. The Secretary-General said Nelson Mandela embodied the highest values of the UN. He devoted his life to serving his community � as a lawyer, prisoner of conscience, peacemaker, President and respected elder. He added that with human rights under growing pressure around the world, we now are well-served by reflecting on Madiba's example. We need to face the forces that threaten us with the wisdom, courage and fortitude that Nelson Mandela embodied, he said.
And right now, the Secretary-General is at the High-level Event on Youth2030 to launch the Youth Strategy and the Generation Unlimited Partnership. He will also outline the UN's efforts to work with young people in understanding their needs, help put their ideas into action, and ensure that their views inform the UN's processes. Later today, he will be at the Global Compact Private Sector Forum and also meet with his High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation this afternoon. And as a reminder, you can find all his remarks on our website, and we'll also be issuing bilaterals as we get them.
And this morning, the Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, attended the CEO round table on Closing the Inequality Gap: Human Rights as a Driver for Successful Business, where she told business leaders that they have a direct interest in engaging with people and communities who are marginalized, and in eliminating the racism and xenophobia that feed exclusion. At 1 p.m., she will speak at the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean's (ECLAC) event on Emerging Challenges and Shifting Paradigms. And following that event, she will have a special discussion on the Sustainable Development Goals with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This evening she will also attend the High level Event on Education Finance. I think we have made available a list of all the events and side events that are taking place; I would also encourage you to drop by the social media zone on the esplanade, where a lot of other interesting speakers and events are going on.
And on Sunday, you will have seen that the Secretary-General spoke at an event to address severe food insecurity. He also had a number of bilateral meetings yesterday � we put out those readouts � and also met with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. Afterwards, he told reporters that he and Mr. Juncker both believe in the need for multilateralism and for a rules based international order and agreed on climate action as an essential global priority. And he also took part in a trilateral meeting with the African Union and the European Union. Speaking to reporters with Head of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat, he underlined the importance of the partnership between the AU and the United Nations. And we have a joint statement agreed upon by the African Union, the UN and the European Union that was issued a short while ago.
**Democratic Republic of the Congo
Turning to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, our humanitarian colleagues report that some 40,000 people have been displaced following violent clashes between the army of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mai Mai Yakutumba militia on 15 September in the territories of Fizi, in South Kivu Province, and Kabambare, in Maniema Province. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says insecurity has also led to the temporary suspension of several humanitarian projects in some areas, directly or indirectly affecting at least 118,000 people. While there are currently a number of violence hotspots across the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the situation in South Kivu is of particular concern for humanitarian actors.
Our colleagues at the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) are calling for all parties to the conflict in Libya to protect children at all times following an escalation of violence in the capital, Tripoli. They have a statement out on that.
And I was asked offline about the outcome of the elections in the Maldives, and I can tell you that we obviously take note of the peaceful and orderly conduct of the presidential elections in the Maldives that took place yesterday. We congratulate the Maldivian people for turning out in large numbers to exercise their right to vote. We commend the authorities and political leaders for a smooth polling day and for the commitment to a democratic Maldives.
And just a note. We will not be having noon briefings tomorrow or Wednesday, given everything else that's going on, to give you a chance to cover the real news. And for all the events � press conferences � going on, we will have the information available in our office. I want to welcome some representatives of the State Department press corps who have trekked northwards, like migratory birds. Anyway, questions. Should we let our guests go? Yes?
**Questions and Answers
Question: Thank you. My question to you, what are you what is the United Nations prepared what kind of guidance is it willing to give about the Palestinian Authority, who are contemplating ideas like declaring a State under occupation? What are you going to do about UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East]? Lot of questions.
Spokesman: It's not for us to give guidance to the Palestinian Authority or to any of the parties. The Secretary General has said over and over, clearly, that he continues to believe in the two State solution as the only as the only possible outcome. He's been reporting regularly, as requested, to the Security Council of options on protection issues. There needs to be political will on the parts of all parties to reach a deal. While there is a focus on the political, we also are very, very much concerned about the humanitarian situation. As you know, the Commissioner General of UNRWA took what is a very courageous decision of opening the schools, because one can only think of what would happen where thousands of children are out of school. That being said, the decision was taken knowing that we do not have enough money to keep, at this point, for the schools to remain open until the end of the year. The Commissioner General is working hard to try to solicit the funds that are needed. The Secretary General is fully backing him, will take will participate in a resource mobilisation event during this week for UNRWA. He has participated in those in the past, and he has worked the phones and discussed this issue in person and will continue to do so. I need you to use your microphone, if you don't mind, so our viewers around the world can hear you.
Question: Apologies. Can you hear me now?
Spokesman: I can hear you now, yes.
Question: Very quick follow up: the issue that you mentioned on the issue of protection and so on, you know, so, what practical steps is the United Nations willing to take or enforce in that regard?
Spokesman: I think that the Secretary General presented those options to the Security Council. Joe?
Question: This is actually a logistical question for this week. It looks like, increasingly, for example, that the 3 p.m. high level meeting on SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals], print media is not being accommodated, just photographers in booths. I don't recall this as prevalent in previous years. And I'd like to know, A, if you know why that's so, and, B, if your good offices can help in facilitating, at least to some of these high level meetings in large chambers?
Spokesman: As the Secretary General said, our good offices are always available should both parties want them.
Correspondent: Well, I do.
Spokesman: I hear what you're saying. I think you should check with MALU [Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit]. We ask them. I think every meeting has different issues that our colleagues in MALU have to deal with. They're trying to accommodate and advocate on behalf of the press, but sometimes there are other needs that they have to deal with, but we'll follow up afterwards. Abdelhamid?
Question: Yes, sir. Mr. Fayez Serraj of the Presidential Council in Libya wrote a letter to the Secretary General. He asking the United Nation to help in imposing maybe imposing a ceasefire in Tripoli. What are the UN what is the UN is willing to do or to go a little bit further to see the ceasefire holding of 4 September?
Spokesman: Already, Ghassan Salame, the Secretary General's representative, as you know, chaired a meeting with the various parties to put a stop to the fighting. His efforts are going to continue with great energy in that way, but the UN is it's a political mission, so I think, you know, we are there to try to facilitate, to bring the parties together. The Secretary General's representative doesn't have the authority to impose a ceasefire on people with guns. We have to come help people come to their senses and ensure that they put the needs of the people of Libya first and foremost. Yes yes, you, and then Linda afterwards.
Correspondent: Thank you. I'm another one of the migratory birds. I apologize for this
Spokesman: Sorry, and I don't know your name.
Question: Oh, I'm Emily Tamkin with BuzzFeed News. I I apologize for this very US centric question, but I'm sure you saw the news from this morning on the White House and Rod Rosenstein and his future potential fate. My question is, A, are you concerned that this would overshadow or impact UNGA [United Nations General Assembly]? And two, are you concerned about the deterioration of rule of law in one of your permanent Council members?
Spokesman: A, I'm not going to comment on what may or may not be the deterioration of the rule of law in a country that you are not mentioning by name. I will leave that analysis to you. You know, there is always breaking news outside of these walls. Obviously, the media based in this country may decide to focus on something else. But, we have media from probably 193 countries. We very much hope that journalists around the world will focus on the very important issues that impact billions of people that will be discussed during this week here. Ms. Fasulo?
Question: Thank you, Steph. This is also in regard to UNRWA. You mentioned that the SG is working on the phones. There's their efforts to raise money to fill the gap that the United States was giving. I was just wondering, about how much money has been raised to fill the US gap? And about how many countries of the 193 countries have come to do so?
Spokesman: The gap as it is now is probably � and we'll get the exact figures I think around $170 [million to] $180 million of what they need, which is a lot of money but, in the bigger scheme of things, is not a lot of the money. All right? So, we very much hope that that money will be found, those who've committed and those who have pledged will actually turn up with cash. But, I will get you to see a breakdown of those countries who have stepped and up increased their contributions. We'll do that
Question: But, do you have any idea of about how many countries?
Spokesman: Not off the top of my head my little head, unfortunately. Madame?
Question: I'm a Yemeni journalist from the Atlantic Council. I was wondering if you know about any meetings between Mr. Donald Trump and the Iranian president and also if there is there are meetings between the Yemeni president and UN officials addressing the humanitarian situation.
Spokesman: I will check on obviously, I don't I have a hard-enough time keeping track of my boss' meetings that I can't keep track of other people's meetings. But, I will see get you the list of meetings between Yemeni officials and UN officials. I'll be able to check on that for you. Monsieur?
Question: Looking to the GA general debate scheduled, except for the meeting on scheduled on Wednesday for Wednesday and Tuesday on CAR [Central African Republic] in Mali, there's no major meeting on African issue. Does that mean for that everything seems perfect for UN on the continent? Or
Spokesman: Not at all. I think every continent has its good news stories. As the Secretary General said during his press conference, he was very hopeful about what is going on in the Horn of Africa, but we remain very concerned about the situation in Mali, in the CAR, in the DRC. Just because there are no side events doesn't mean certain issues will not be discussed during bilateral meetings. In the back, and then we'll go to you, sir.
Question: Hi. Laura Carboneta from Argentina. Will the Secretary General have a specific message for the Venezuelan Government on the migrant crisis and also on the neighbouring countries?
Spokesman: You know, I he has no message that is different than what he's already said during his press conference in terms of finding a political solution to the internal divisions that may be in Venezuela and the need for regional response to deal with the situation of Venezuelans who are leaving or have left their country. Yes, sir?
Question: Regarding the situation on the DRC, 40,000 have been displaced. Did the UN offer any kind of assistance at the moment? And what happened to the peace process over there? The fighting is still going on. Will there be any peace process under the United Nations supervision to proceed and help those hundreds of affected people?
Spokesman: Well, the UN, through its our humanitarian colleagues in the DRC, are trying to reach as many people who are who have been displaced in supporting local partners. And we continue to work with the Government to try to deal with the various conflicts that take place in parts of the DRC with various militias. Abdelhamid?
Question: Thank you. The Israeli army sent a communication to the people of Al Khan al Ahmar that they will destroy this village completely on 1 October. Is the UN trying to do anything before they actually demolish this village, which has?
Spokesman: We we have expressed our concern at the situation, both publicly and privately. Thank you. If you have any questions during the GA, drop by our office. And enjoy.
Source: United Nation