29 October 2021

Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General.

**Secretary-General’s Travel

The Secretary-General arrived in Rome this morning where, tomorrow, he will join the Group of 20 (G20) annual summit.  He spoke to reporters a few hours ago, and he said that we are at a pivotal moment for our planet. On the eve of the twenty-sixth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26) in Glasgow, he said, all roads to success go through Rome.  But, let’s be clear, he added — there is a serious risk that Glasgow will not deliver.  He urged the G20 to show the solidarity that people want and that our world so desperately needs — and this begins by rebuilding trust and credibility.  On vaccines, the Secretary-General called for support to the strategy presented by the World Health Organization (WHO), and coordination among Member States for the implementation of this strategy.  On climate, he stressed the need for a meaningful increase of adaptation in climate finance to the benefit of countries of the developing world, small island developing States and African countries, which are now suffering the impacts of climate change more than anywhere else.  He also emphasized that we must create conditions to allow for an effective reduction of emissions in this decade.  The full transcript of his press remarks is online.  Later in the day, the Secretary-General held a series of bilateral meetings with the Italian hosts of the G20, including President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Mario Draghi.  He congratulated Italy for its presidency of the G20.


While speaking to the press in Rome today, the Secretary-General was asked about the situation in Sudan.  He repeated his strong condemnation of the coup and the need to re-establish the transition system that was in place.  The Secretary‑General noted that a demonstration has been planned for tomorrow, and he urged the military to show restraint and not to create any more victims.  People must be allowed to demonstrate peacefully, he said.


As the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, approaches the conclusion of her tenure, she reiterates her strong appeal for unified international action in preventing further escalation of the current crisis, which has already affected regional peace and security.  The security, humanitarian and human rights situation in Chin State, as well as in Sagaing and Magway regions, has been deteriorating in the past few weeks and the reported incidents have echoed harrowing acts committed during 2017 “clearance operations” in Rakhine State.  As more troop build-up and advancements in these areas continue to be reported, the Special Envoy stresses violence and impunity must end.  Ms. Schraner Burgener reiterates the importance of a peaceful solution through inclusive dialogue.  However, engagement and dialogue, she urges, must be pursued alongside a genuine will to seek a political solution and compromise, to not be instrumentalized, and to not allow for abuses to be perpetuated in tandem, as we are seeing unfold again.


This morning, the head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), El-Ghassim Wane, briefed the Security Council by video teleconference and expressed his appreciation for the Council’s visit to the country last week.  Turning to the issue of security, he said the situation on the ground remains extremely challenging, as the Mission is confronted by increased insecurity in northern, central and now southern Mali; as well as a worrying humanitarian situation, with 4.7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance and some 400,000 people displaced.  In this context, Mr. Wane said, the Mission is overstretched.  He added that this is why the Secretary-General recommended an increase in operations, including additional assets such as attack and utility helicopters.  But, the Special Representative said, the situation cannot be purely military.  Addressing insecurity also requires a political response.  The transition has reached a critical stage and it is critical that Mali’s partners work closely with the Malians to facilitate a consensus, both on reforms and on the conditions for the proper holding of elections, Mr. Wane concluded.  Prior to the meeting, the Council also voted on a resolution to protect education in conflict and to extend the mandates of the UN missions in Western Sahara and Colombia.

**Water and Climate

Today, the heads of nine UN agencies and the Global Water Partnership issued an urgent call to governments to prioritize integrated water and climate action.  “Accelerated action is urgently needed to address the water-related consequences of climate change that impact people and the planet,” says the letter addressed to Heads of State and Government released on the eve of COP26.  The letter urges Governments to address more effectively the water dimensions of climate change adaptation and mitigation, as provided for in a UN-agreed framework to accelerate progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 6, which seeks to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

**World Cities Day

And I just want to flag that Sunday is World Cities Day.  In a message for the Day, the Secretary-General highlights that this year’s theme, “Adapting Cities for Climate Resilience”, comes at a time when cities must be more resilient than ever before.  The Secretary-General notes that globally, over 1 billion people live in informal settlements, with 70 per cent highly vulnerable to climate change.  He points out that sea‑level rise could put more than 800 million people in coastal cities at direct risk by 2050.  Yet, just 9 per cent of climate finance to cities goes to adaptation and resilience, and cities in developing countries receive far less than those in developed countries, he adds.  The Secretary‑General stresses that this must change, and that half of all climate finance should be dedicated to adaptation.  He emphasizes that cities can lead the way in recovering better from the pandemic, reducing emissions at the scale and speed the world needs, and securing a resilient future for billions.

**Senior Personnel Appointment

You will have seen that the Secretary-General announced yesterday the appointment of Major General Patrick Gauchat of Switzerland as Head of Mission and Chief of Staff of the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO).  He succeeds Major General Kristin Lund of Norway to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for her dedicated service.  The Secretary-General also thanks Alan Doyle for serving as Acting Head of Mission of UNTSO.  You will find details about Major General Gauchat’s career on our website.

**Press Briefings

And after Monica Grayley and I are done, the President of the Human Rights Council, Ambassador Nazhat Shameem Khan of Fiji, will be here to brief you following her presentation of the annual report on the activities of the Council to the UN General Assembly.  Then on Monday, at 3 p.m., there will be a hybrid press briefing by Ambassador Juan Ramón de la Fuente Ramírez, Permanent Representative of Mexico to the United Nations, and President of the Security Council for the month of November.  He will brief on the Council’s programme of work for the month.

**Financial Contribution

And last, I am happy to report a fresh contribution to the UN’s regular budget.  It comes from Honduras, and we say gracias to our friends in Tegucigalpa.  We have reached 134 paid-up Member States.  And now, before we turn to Monica, are there any questions for me?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Thank you, Farhan.  It looks like the General Major, Abdel-Fattah Burhan in Sudan, he met yesterday with Abdalla Hamdok to talk about, you know, the future of the transition.  Do you have any comment on that? Thank you.

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, certainly, as you're aware, we've made clear our condemnation of the coup, and we've said that Prime Minister Hamdok and all other unlawfully detained officials must be released immediately.  Beyond that, we've called for the immediate reconstitution of the Transitional Government, which is due to guide Sudan through to democratic elections, and we want to see progress on that.  And anything that helps lower the temperature will be a positive development in that regard.  As you know, we have our Special Representative on the ground, Volker Perthes, who has met with both the prime minister and Lieutenant General Burhan, and other Sudanese stakeholders, and he's continuing his meetings.  And we continue with our call on the military to immediately open dialogue with the prime minister and other stakeholders.  Yes, Evelyn?

Question:  Sorry.  Thank you, Farhan.  I have a deja vu feeling on Sudan, having been three times in the days of General Omar Bashir.  Do we know if he's agitating at this point, or is it just his followers who don't like civilian governments?  Do we have any information on that group?

Deputy Spokesman:  I don't have anything to say about the former President or his circumstances at this stage.

Correspondent:  Thank you.  He’s wanted by the ICC.

Deputy Spokesman:  Yes.  And the warrant by the International Criminal Court (ICC) is still there, and I believe the relevant authorities continue to be aware of that.  And if that's it, I'm going to turn the floor over to Monica Villela Grayley.

For information media. Not an official record.