United Nations
United Nations 3 Dec 2020

GA holds special session in response to COVID-19 & other topics - Daily Briefing (03 December 2020)

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Noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Highlights:

- Secretary-General/General Assembly Special Session on COVID-19
- Security Council \ Security Sector Reforms
- Ethiopia/Sudan
- Yemen
- Unicef/Emergency Funding Appeal
- Central African Republic Elections Update
- Democratc Republic Of The Congo
- France
- International Day Of Persons With Disabilities
- Malawi/Disabilities
- Food Price Index
- Oceans


SECRETARY-GENERAL/GENERAL ASSEMBLY SPECIAL SESSION ON COVID-19
This morning, the Secretary-General addressed the General Assembly's Special Session in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 
He said that, for the first time since 1945, the entire world is confronted by a common threat, regardless of nationality, ethnicity or faith. 
Mr. Guterres noted that, while COVID-19 does not discriminate, our efforts to prevent and contain it do, adding that it has hit the poorest and most vulnerable the hardest. 
While a vaccine may be available soon, the Secretary-General stressed that we must not fool ourselves - a vaccine cannot undo the damage that will stretch across years, even decades, to come. 
As this difficult year draws to a close, he said we must resolve to take the tough, ambitious decisions and actions that will lead to better days ahead.   
The Secretary-General added that, in a global crisis, we must meet the expectations of those we serve with unity, solidarity and coordinated multilateral global action. 
SECURITY COUNCIL \ SECURITY SECTOR REFORMS
This morning, the Security Council held a meeting on security sector reform. 
Briefing on behalf of the United Nations Secretariat, Assistant Secretary-General Bintou Keita, said that for societies recovering from conflict and instability, Security Sector Reform holds a great promise,  
Adding that there is broad recognition that this is a key element of UN support to national efforts to sustain peace and prevent "the outbreak, escalation, continuation and recurrence of conflict" across the entire peace continuum. 
But she reminded Council members that expectations need to be realistic.  Security Sector Governance and Reform is a complex and long-term endeavour, sometimes spanning a generation. 
Therefore, she concluded, it is important that UN support in this area remain firmly grounded in and informed by the security needs of the population, taking into account each unique context and historical experience. 
ETHIOPIA/SUDAN
A humanitarian mission has been on the ground in Afar since yesterday to assess the most immediate needs of people displaced by the conflict in Tigray and guide our response.  
This follows the agreement between the UN in Ethiopia and the Federal Government to facilitate the access of aid organizations to areas under the control of the Government. 
The conflict in Tigray continues to push people into Sudan in search of safety. More than 46,400 people - nearly half of them children - have now arrived in Sudan since the start of November.  
UNHCR and its partners are increasing the capacity of the Um Rakuba camp, which is already hosting more than 10,000 Ethiopian refugees. 


"While America's response to the pandemic may not have been exemplary -- Lamar Alexander's leadership in the Senate's role has been superb."

Sen. Mitt Romney slammed the U.S. response to COVID-19 in sendoff remarks for retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander.
#Vaccines4All is an initiative by the General Assembly President, Volkan Bozkir to build political support around the idea of fair and equitable distribution of vaccines.

2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the United Nations - a year defined by the COVID-19 pandemic. As the coronavirus spread to all parts of the world, it exposed and worsened inequalities, hitting the most vulnerable communities the hardest.

"The surest way to end the COVID-19 pandemic is also the fairest: vaccines for all," says General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir.

In September, a record number of heads of State and Government addressed the General Assembly. Many set out their plans to overcome the pandemic.
Noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Highlights:
- Secretary-General/Germany
- Secretary-General/Japan
- Ethiopia/Central Emergency Response Fund
- Security Council/Afghanistan
- Zimbabwe/Appeal
- Central America
- Fiji
- Resident Coordinators
- Tunisia Revolution 10Th Anniversary

SECRETARY-GENERAL/GERMANY
The Secretary-General is in Berlin and he will be addressing members of the Bundestag tomorrow morning. He was invited to speak to them on the occasion of the UN's 75th anniversary.  
Today he met with Foreign Minister Heiko Maas with whom he discussed the current COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, and the need for multilateralism to solve global challenges. They also discussed the situation in Libya, the Sahel, Sudan and Ethiopia.  
In a joint press encounter with the Foreign Minister, the Secretary-General praised Mr. Maas' dedication and engagement throughout Germany's membership of the Security Council.  
The Secretary-General also thanked Germany for hosting the Libya Conference at the beginning of the year and its efforts to galvanize the international community's support for the Libyan people.   
On the subject of Ethiopia, the Secretary-General once again underlined the importance of unfettered access for humanitarian assistance as well as the swift resumption of the rule of law and a secure environment, in full respect for human rights. He added that the UN stands ready to support Ethiopian-led initiatives to encourage inclusive dialogue, reconciliation and post-conflict reconstruction.  
Tomorrow the Secretary-General will also meet with Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. His meeting with the Chancellor will be followed by a joint press stakeout.
SECRETARY-GENERAL/JAPAN
This morning, the Secretary-General also spoke via a pre-recorded video message to the Japan National Conference for Realizing a Carbon-Neutral Society by 2050. 
Pointing out Prime Minister Suga and the people of Japan's commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050, the Secretary-General said that he believes that Japan has all the necessary tools to achieve this and become a global leader in climate-friendly technology. Mr. Guterres said that now Japan enters the critical phase of implementation. 
The Secretary-General urged the country to identify coherent mid-term targets for 2030, and design and implement policies that are in line with its long-term goal. He underscored that working together, we can end the climate emergency.
ETHIOPIA/CENTRAL EMERGENCY RESPONSE FUND
On Ethiopia, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, has announced an allocation of $35 million for water, sanitation, medical supplies and protection for civilians caught up in the conflict in the Tigray region. 
Our humanitarian colleagues tell us that thousands of people are reportedly displaced in the region, and millions are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance in Tigray.
In Ethiopia, the UN emergency funds will help health facilities procure medicine, gloves and other supplies to care for the sick and injured. The funds will also go towards providing support in nutrition, as well as drinking water and shelter supplies.  
As we've told you, more than 50,000 people - nearly half of them children - have arrived in Sudan since November. The UN funds will be used for shelter, health care and drinking water for the refugees. 
Mr. Lowcock stressed that conflicts like this are hard to stop once they get out of control, the lives they extinguish cannot be brought back, and the grievances they create are long lasting. He called for unfettered access now for humanitarians.
Noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Highlights:

- Secretary-General/Resident Coordinators
- Security Council/Democratic Republic Of The Congo
- Libya
- Yemen
- Central African Republic
- Central Emergency Response Fund
- Afghanistan/Violence Against Women And Girls
- Counter-Terrorism
- International Civil Aviation Day
- Children/COVID-19
- U.N. Population Fund/Humanitarian Appeal


SECRETARY-GENERAL/RESIDENT COORDINATORS
This morning, the Secretary-General spoke at the start of a five-day meeting with the 129 UN Resident Coordinators who are leading the UN's response and recovery efforts on the COVID-19 pandemic around the world.
This is the third global gathering of Resident Coordinators and, of course, the first one to be fully online due to the pandemic.
The Secretary-General said he counts on them to fully mobilize their partners and UN country teams to support Governments in ensuring equitable access to the COVID-19 tests, treatments, and - very soon, hopefully - vaccines, which are a global good and must be available to all, everywhere.
Mr. Guterres noted that the pandemic has revealed profound fragilities, with inequalities growing, the climate emergency worsening and hatred spreading.
He said that recovering better from the pandemic and bolstering action for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development must be two sides of the same coin.
During the coming days, the Resident Coordinators will discuss how to set the set the stage for a more sustainable recovery, including how to protect jobs and bolster social protection and basic services.

SECURITY COUNCIL/DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
Here, in the Security Council, addressing the Council by videoconference, Leila Zerrougui, the head of the UN Peacekeeping Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, began by highlighting political tensions in the country, which led to yesterday's announcement by President Felix Tshisekedi that the coalition uniting Cap for Change (CACH) and the Front Commun pour le Congo (FCC) had ended.
The DRC cannot afford a serious institutional crisis, Ms. Zerrougui told Council members. It needs stable and functioning institutions that get back to work as quickly as possible and focus on national economic recovery, as well as stabilization in the eastern part of the country, ahead of the general elections scheduled for 2023.
The Special Representative said that the Security Council can play an important role to encourage a negotiated resolution between the two forces that favours lasting solutions, prioritizing the interests of the Congolese people over short-term political objectives that risk further increasing tensions. 

AFGHANISTAN/VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS
A report released today by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the UN Human Rights Office warns that Afghan women and girls are being failed by the country's justice system, with their access to justice for crimes of violence remaining tenuous. UNAMA found that only half of the reported crimes reached a primary court, with perpetrators convicted in around 40 per cent of all documented cases. Other issues raised in the report include the problematic handling of rape cases and ongoing detention of women for "running away".
Throughout the global campaign for 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence, from 25 November to 10 December, the United Nations in Afghanistan is calling for an increased effort to prevent and redress violence against women and girls. This is particularly important in the context of the outbreak of COVID-19, with the ongoing monitoring by UNAMA suggesting that violence against women and girls has increased, as difficulties for victims in reporting crimes and accessing safety and justice have also increased.

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