Solidarity with Africa & other topics - Daily Briefing (20 May 2020)
Noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
- Policy Brief/Africa
- Africa Dialogue
- Human Rights Chief/ Africa
- Economic and Social Council
- Global Human Development
- COVID-19/Child Malnutrition
- Security Council/Middle East
- South Sudan
- Cyclone Amphan/Bangladesh
- World Bee Day
- International Day For Biological Diversity
- Noon Briefing Guest Tomorrow
In a new policy brief on the impact of COVID-19 on the African continent, the Secretary-General highlights the continent's swift response to the pandemic, but also calls for global solidarity with Africans now and to recover better.
In a video message recorded for the launch, the Secretary-General said that most African countries have moved rapidly to deepen regional coordination, deploy health workers, and enforce quarantines, lockdowns and border closures.
They are also drawing on the experience of HIV/AIDS and Ebola to debunk rumours and overcome mistrust of government, security forces and health workers. But, despite these efforts, the pandemic threatens progress achieved on the continent and will aggravate long-standing inequalities.
The Secretary-General called for international action to strengthen Africa's health systems, maintain food supplies, avoid a financial crisis, support education, protect jobs, keep households and businesses afloat, as well as cushion the continent against lost income and export earnings.
The Secretary-General also emphasized that African countries should have quick, equal and affordable access to any eventual vaccine and treatment. These must be considered global public goods, he said. He added that ending the pandemic in Africa is essential for ending it across the world.
This morning, during the opening session of the Africa Dialogues series, the Secretary-General reiterated the solidarity of the United Nations with African countries as they tackle the new coronavirus.
He welcomed African support for his call for a global ceasefire, but also warned that the pandemic is affecting capacity to support peace and security efforts across the continent.
My message to the international community, he said, is that failure to respond quickly and adequately could jeopardize progress towards Silencing the Guns by 2020 and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals as well as Africa's "Agenda 2063".
He said that the empowerment of African youth and repeated that women should play a central role in all peace processes, just as they needed to be central to every aspect of the COVID-19 response.
These are still early days for the pandemic in Africa, and disruption could escalate quickly, he concluded, as he renewed his appeal for global solidarity with all African countries.
HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF/ AFRICA
In a joint statement following the publication of the Secretary-General's Policy Brief on Africa, the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, and the Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR), Solomon Dersso, called for urgent measures to help mitigate the impact of the pandemic.
Bachelet and Dersso said that while measures to restrict movement and increase social distancing were essential in the fight against the virus, they were having a dramatic impact on populations, especially those who rely on informal daily work for their survival.
They both also underlined the importance of preserving freedom of association, of opinion and expression as well as access to information during this time. The human rights chiefs joined the Secretary-General's call for equitable access for COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.
Noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
- Secretary-General/World Health Assembly
- Deputy Secretary-General/Commencement
- Syria/Security Council
- Félicien Kabuga
- Central African Republic
- International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia
- Donald Paneth
SECRETARY-GENERAL/WORLD HEALTH ASSEMBLY
The World Health Assembly, bringing together delegations from all the World Health Organization (WHO) Member States, opened a two-day virtual session today.
Speaking at the opening, the Secretary-General said that, despite the enormous scientific and technological advances of recent decades, a microscopic virus has brought us to our knees.
The fragility exposed by the virus is not limited to our health systems, he said, stressing that COVID-19 must be a wake-up call. It is a time for an end to this hubris, he said.
The Secretary-General added that our deep feelings of powerlessness must lead to greater humility.
The Secretary-General reiterated the need for a three-point response. First, he said, there is a need for a WHO-guided large-scale comprehensive health response that emphasizes solidarity towards developing countries.
Second, he said the UN has called for policies to address the devastating social and economic dimensions of the crisis. He underlined that, unless we control the spread of the virus, the economy will never recover.
Third, the Secretary-General said that the recovery from the COVID-19 must lead to more equal, inclusive and sustainable economies and societies that are stronger and more resilient. He also paid tribute to the frontline health workers.
The Secretary-General added that the entire United Nations family stands with our WHO colleagues who are working around the world to support Member States to save lives and protect the vulnerable. The WHO is irreplaceable, he said, calling for enhanced resources to support developing countries.
DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL/ COMMENCEMENT
The Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, gave a virtual address to the commencement ceremony yesterday for the Fletcher School at Tufts University in Massachusetts. She said that the graduation is virtual because our lives have become virtual - we are living them online.
The COVID-19 pandemic has stripped everything back to the bare essentials, Ms Mohammed said. And the new normal means finding ways to be together and to keep our spirits high. She said that the COVID-19 pandemic is causing enormous suffering, and the measures to contain and overcome it are testing societies to the breaking point.
The Deputy Secretary-General said that our response must match the scale of the crisis, and must be based on unity and solidarity, with the United Nations at its forefront.
Business as usual is over, she told the graduates, and the status quo is over. The question is: what will replace it? And that, above all, is up to you, she told them. Noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
- Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam
- General Assembly
- Policy Brief on Africa
- Africa Dialogue Series
- Peacekeeping Missions
- WHO Report
- Cabo Verde
- UN Global Compact
- Latin America
- EL Salvador
GRAND ETHIOPIAN RENAISSANCE DAM
The Secretary-General continues to follow closely developments related to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). He notes the good progress in the negotiations between the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the Republic of Sudan thus far and he encourages the three parties to persevere with efforts to peacefully resolve any remaining differences and to achieve a mutually beneficial agreement.
The Secretary-General underscores the importance of the 2015 Declaration of Principles on the dam, which emphasizes cooperation based on common understanding, mutual benefit, good faith, win-win, and the principles of international law.
The Secretary-General encourages progress towards an amicable agreement in accordance with the spirit of these Principles.
UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY
The Secretary-General has written a letter to the President of the General Assembly about the forthcoming General Assembly session. In the letter, he presents options for Member States to consider in order to ensure the holding of the general debate in September.
The decision on how to hold the debate lies with Member States. And the Secretariat will, of course, support whatever decision is taken by them. Noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
- Secretary-General/Eid Message
- Programme Budget 2021
- Senior Personnel Appointment
- South America Appeal
- Financing for Development
Today, the Secretary-General will give a virtual Eid Message at an interactive discussion with Member States representing the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. The theme of the discussions will be Covid-19 Solidarity: Promoting Co-Existence and Shared Responsibility.
The Secretary-General is expected to remind Member States that our world is like one body, and as long as one part is affected by this virus, we all are affected. Now more than ever, solidarity and unity must be our leading principles.
PROGRAMME BUDGET 2021
Yesterday, the Secretary-General presented his proposal for the programme budget for 2021 at a virtual session of the Advisory Committee on the Administrative and Budgetary questions (ACABQ). He noted that the meeting was happening at a time when the pandemic has put the lives of billions of people around the globe in turmoil, inflicting grave suffering and destabilizing the global economy.
In response, he said, the United Nations has mobilized fully to save lives, stave off famine, ease the pain and plan for recovery. The Secretary-General said that we are open for business and are running the Organization from thousands of dining tables and home offices.
Regarding recent reforms, he added that reform is on track and beginning to yield results. Resident Coordinators covering 162 countries and territories now have a direct reporting line to his office, enhanced analytical capacities and coordination tools, as well as support from a strengthened development coordination office.
The new management processes and structures have proven instrumental in enabling the Organization to remain open and function effectively during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Secretary-General said that, to fully implement the mandates entrusted to us, we will require a total of $2.99 billion in 2021, which represents a net reduction of 2.8 per cent compared to 2020, despite additional initiatives and mandated activities.
As this stage, he added, no resources have been included for COVID-19, as the programme budget proposals were largely put together before the pandemic came on scene and the situation is still evolving. Noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
- Security Council - Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict
- High-Level Event on Financing for Development
- Women's Participation in Peacebuilding
- Cyclone Amphan
- Airline Crash
- Africa Day
- Peacekeeping Support to COVID-19 Response
- World Meteorological Organization
- Joint Statement on 'Key Worker' Designations
- International Day of UN Peacekeepers
- Unaffiliated Website
SECURITY COUNCIL - PROTECTION OF CILIVIANS IN ARMED CONFLICT
At the Security Council this morning, the Secretary-General said his latest report on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict shows little progress. Last year, more than 20,000 civilians were killed or injured in just ten conflicts, he said, adding that this figure, which is limited to incidents verified by the UN, is just a fraction of the total.
The report documents millions of people forced from their homes or displaced for a second, third or even fourth time. Again, last year, women and girls were subject to appalling sexual and gender-based violence. Tens of thousands of children were also victims of conflict.
As the COVID-19 pandemic reaches every corner of the world, the Secretary-General warned that those already weakened by years of armed conflict are particularly vulnerable. The virus is not only spreading sickness and death, he said, it is pushing people into poverty and hunger. In some cases, it is reversing decades of development progress.
The Secretary-General said he is encouraged by expressions of support for his global ceasefire call. However, he added, this support has not been translated into concrete action. Where armed conflict continues, COVID-19 makes the protection of civilians more challenging than ever - and our support more important than ever. His full remarks have been shared with you.
Discussions at the Security Council today will be followed by a series of online thematic side events on strengthening the Protection of Civilians in armed conflict from tomorrow until Monday. More details and registration are available on OCHA's website.
HIGH-LEVEL EVENT ON FINANCING FOR DEVELOPMENT
Tomorrow the Secretary-General, along with the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness, and the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, are convening the High-Level Event on Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond. It seeks to accelerate our global response to the significant economic and human impacts of COVID-19. The Secretary-General will stress that we must respond to the pandemic with unity and solidarity, which is a key aspect of financial support.
The High-Level Event will look at six areas of action to mobilize financing. These include expanding liquidity across the global economy; addressing debt vulnerabilities; stemming illicit financial flows; increasing external finance for inclusive growth and job creation; and strategies for countries to recover better.
The event will happen starting at 8:00 am and likely end around 1:00 p.m. Following the conclusion of the High-Level Segment, the Secretary-General will be joined by the Prime Ministers of Jamaica and Canada for a virtual press briefing to answer your questions. We expect the press briefing to start about 15 minutes following the end of the official event and the press briefing will of course take the place of our usual noon briefing. And you will be able to watch all of the events on the UN webtv.un.org web platform.