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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 Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.

**Nuclear Weapons

At 1:15 p.m., here, Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gómez of Costa Rica will be here to brief you on the conclusion of the UN Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, Leading [towards] Their Total Elimination.  And I do expect to have a statement from the Secretary-General on that topic a bit later on.

**Germany

Speaking of the Secretary-General, he arrived this morning from Switzerland to Hamburg, Germany, where is attending the G20 Summit.  Earlier today, he took part in a working luncheon on global growth and trade, as well as a working session on sustainable development, climate and energy.  Upon arrival, he said that he calls on the G20 leaders to join the UN's efforts to combat climate change, violent extremism and other unprecedented challenges.

The Secretary-General also had a bilateral meeting with the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and he will take part in the G20 sessions tomorrow before traveling on to Ukraine in the evening.  Last night, as you will have seen, the Secretary-General spoke to the media at the end of the Conference on Cyprus that was being held in Crans-Montana, in Switzerland.  He said he was deeply sorry that despite the very strong commitment and the engagement of all the delegations and the different parties, the Conference on Cyprus closed without an agreement being reached.

**Food

Also from Hamburg, a couple of things to flag:  the World Food Programme (WFP) and MasterCard will announce, at the Global Citizen Festival that will take place in Hamburg, a new commitment in their continued vision to reverse the cycle of hunger and poverty.  Connecting MasterCard’s expertise in technology and digital innovation with WFP’s work, 100 Million Meals is a truly global initiative designed to raise significant funds and meals for those in need around the world.  WFP’s Executive Director, David Beasley, said that over the years of the partnership, MasterCard has helped the organization change the way it does business, reaching more people with a more efficient and agile approach.  More information on WFP’s website.

**Education

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) — also out of Hamburg — UNICEF warned today that funding shortfalls are threatening education for millions of children caught up in conflicts or disasters.  Of the $932 million needed this year for its education programmes in emergency countries, UNICEF has so far received recorded voluntary contributions of less than $115 million.  The funds are necessary to give 9.2 million children affected by humanitarian crises access to formal and non-formal basic education.

**Human Security

This morning at a high-level event on human security, the Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed stressed the link between human security and the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.  She said the human security approach is “instrumental to sustainable development, inclusive peace, justice and the well-being and dignity of all people”.  And she added that it can help to find solutions that address the root causes of crises.  Her full remarks are online.

**Deputy Secretary-General Travels

This Sunday, the Deputy Secretary-General will depart New York for London where she will attend the Family Planning Summit 2020.  She will also deliver the first lecture named in honour of the late Head of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Dr. Babatunde [Osotimehin] — that will take place on 10 July.  She will also attend high-level meetings with top United Kingdom and Canadian Government officials.  On 11 July, she will deliver the opening remarks at the Family Planning Summit.  Thereafter, she will have more high-level meetings on the She Decides initiative, and also on the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin that will focus on empowering women and youth.  Finally, she will meet with the Archbishop of Canterbury.  She is expected to return back to New York on 12 July.

**Peacekeeping

The Chiefs of Defense Conference started this morning and will wrap up around 4:30 p.m. this afternoon.  In a video message welcoming the participants, the Secretary-General said Chiefs of Defense are critical to ensuring that peacekeeping remains modern and efficient.  He also urged actions to deploy more women — and to help integrate gender-sensitive perspectives in fostering peace.  When we have greater gender balance in our forces, we boost our protection outreach — and we reduce the chances of sexual exploitation and abuse, he stressed.

In his own remarks, the Head of the Peacekeeping Department, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, said we are now working towards realizing the Secretary-General’s vision of peacekeeping as a tailored, agile, and adaptable tool – one which blends the right skills and capabilities in response to the specific needs on the ground, taking into account the context of a reduction in its budget.

**Iraq

From Iraq, in Mosul, our colleagues from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have temporarily suspended certain activities in the Qayara’s air strip emergency site and the Haj Ali camp, due to security concerns.  The decision was taken yesterday following a temporary decline in the security environment in the Qayara District, due to sporadic violence, including exchanges of gunfire.  Both emergency sites host over 79,000 people — displaced Iraqis.  IOM said the situation will be reviewed on Sunday.

**Democratic Republic of the Congo

A study on the Cost of Hunger in Africa published today reveals that the economic toll of malnutrition in the Democratic Republic of the Congo reaches $1 billion a year, equivalent to as much as 4.5 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  The study shows that the losses are incurred each year through increased health-care costs, additional burdens to the education system and reduced workforce productivity.  The Cost of Hunger in Africa study has so far been conducted in 11 countries, with an estimated annual loss associated with child undernutrition equivalent to between 1.9 per cent and 16.5 per cent of GDP.

Results of recently undertaken studies are due to be released soon in Mozambique and Zimbabwe.  Similar studies are being planned for Mali and Mauritania.  This is being done by our friends at the World Food Programme.  Still on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, our humanitarian colleagues warn that, despite a dramatic increase in humanitarian needs in 2017, the Humanitarian Response Plan, which requires $748 million, remains 25 per cent funded.  For its part, the emergency appeal which was launched in April [for] the Kasaï crisis to date is only 11 per cent.  More information from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

**Migration

IOM also reports that migrant arrivals to Europe by sea have now surpassed the 100,000 figure this year.  Of the estimated 101,000 migrants and refugees that have entered the continent, 85 per cent arrived in Italy and the remainder arrived in Greece, Cyprus and Spain.  Some 2,300 people have died making the journey towards Europe this year, a decrease from the 2,963 fatalities in 2016.  However, IOM noted that this is the fourth consecutive year that migrant deaths on the Mediterranean have exceeded 2,000.

**El Salvador

A note on El Salvador:  the El Salvador dialogue process facilitated by the United Nations enters a new, technical phase today.  This new phase is founded on the consultations conducted by Special Envoy of the Secretary-General Benito Andión, whose mandate has now concluded.  We want to express our gratitude to Mr. Andión for all his efforts and dedication during his tenure.  The UN will continue to support this process through the deployment of a technical team and the Secretary-General’s good offices will remain available and could resume once conditions for a political dialogue are ripe.

**Myanmar

Juts to note that the High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, has concluded his first visit to Myanmar, which included a visit to Rakhine State.  More information on UNHCR’s website.

**Climate

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) informs us today that, over the past two months, high temperatures have continued as part of an extended spell of “exceptional global warmth” that has lasted since mid‑2015.  Average surface air temperatures were the second hottest on record, after June 2016.  In Iran, Iraq and Kuwait, for example, a heatwave has driven temperatures in excess of 50°C.

In addition to high temperatures, extreme weather affected many different parts of the world in June and July.  Australia had its second driest June on record, China experienced torrential rainfall which caused considerable economic losses and transport disruption, and parts of Russia and Siberia have [experienced] an unusually cold June.  More information from WMO.

**Human Rights

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) today issued a number of statements, one regarding Turkey, another on China and the third on Cambodia.  Those are on their website.

**Gonorrhoea

Also from the World Health Organization:  data from 77 countries show that antibiotic resistance is making gonorrhoea — a common sexually transmitted infection — much harder, and sometimes impossible, to treat.  The World Health Organization reports wide-spread resistance to older and cheaper antibiotics.  Some countries — particularly high-income ones, where surveillance is best — are finding cases of the infection that are untreatable by all known antibiotics.  Each year, an estimated 78 million people are infected with gonorrhoea, whose complications disproportionally impact women.  WHO also expresses concern that the Research and Development pipeline for gonorrhoea is relatively empty, with only 3 new candidate drugs in various stages of clinical development.

**Senior Personnel Appointment

We have a senior appointment to announce:  Martha Helena Lopez of Colombia as the new Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management.  She will succeed Carole Wainaina of Kenya, to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for her commitment and dedicated service to the Organization.  Ms. Lopez brings a wealth of senior-level international experience in human resources management.  Since 2015, she has served as Human Resources Director at the UN Development Programme (UNDP).  More information in her bio note in my office.

**Press Conference on Monday

On Monday, I will be joined by Wu Hongbo, the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs.  He will discuss the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.

**Honour Roll

Finally, we welcome Bolivia to the Honour Roll, as it has paid its regular budget dues in full.  We now stand at a total of 111 countries.  We would like to see more countries on that Honour Roll.  On that note, I would take your questions should you have any.  Yes?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  I have two questions about Iraq.  You mentioned Qayara and that UN operations have been suspended.  Can you elaborate more on the reason?  What was the security issue there that made the…?

Spokesman:  From what I understand there was sporadic gunfire in the… in the area and the International Organisation for Migration decided to suspend its activities and it will review the situation on Sunday.

Question:  And my second question is about UNAMI's [United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq] statement about two weeks ago, that they will not be engaged in any forum… in the referendum in September of the Kurds, whether to remain part of Iraq.  I just want to understand the reasoning behind it.  Does this mean the UN mission in Iraq is against the… the referendum?  Why they decided that?

Spokesman:  I think the statement is fairly clear.  It means they will not participate in the… in the organization.  I think their position on… the UN's position on… on the need for dialogue regarding the issues… outstanding issues between the Kurdish… Kurdistan and the central Government have been made over and over again.  As a matter of principle… as a matter of principle, the UN needs a request from a national Government to participate and to help, whether it's technical and otherwise, in any balloting that takes place.  The UN works with national Governments, and that's how we operate throughout the world.  And that's just a standing principle.

Question:  And just to be clear.  That doesn't mean… so UN is against the referendum?  Because there's some talk about concerns…

Spokesman:  I think it's… I think… as I said the UN's position on the need for dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad has been often stated.  Apostolos.

Question:  A few questions from Cyprus with your permission.  First one, the Secretary-General on 4 June, he said the conference on Cyprus is open ended.  Why he decided to end it last night?

Spokesman:  Well, I think the Secretary-General, along with the other participants, I think worked literally through the night.  They ended at 2 a.m.  There was a shared understanding among the participants that it was best to close it.  And I think the Secretary-General expressed his… his… his regret that the conference was closed without… without an agreement being reached.

Question:  So, that means that he's returning also his mandate?  That means the negotiations that started in 2008, if you remember, are ended now?  There are no more…

Spokesman:  No, it just means the Conference on Cyprus is closed.  Mr. Eide will be joined by Ms. Spehar, the SRSG [Special Representative of the Secretary-General].  They will be in New York the week of 17 July.  They will be briefing the Security Council.  I think the Secretary-General… for the Secretary-General, the UN's role is clear.  It's one of a facilitator.  We remain… we remain available.  I think he made that point himself very clearly in his press remarks yesterday.  Any decision on the future will be taken by the Secretary-General in consultations with all concerned.  I think what happened yesterday has to be absorbed.  Mr. Eide and Ms. Spehar will be here.  They will be briefing the Council.  The Secretary-General will obviously have a round of consultations before taking any next steps.

Question:  There's a report coming on 10 July, on UNFICYP [United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus], is he going to use the results of Geneva in this report.  And finally, if you have a readout on Erdogan, SG's meeting?

Spokesman:  I think there will be, in due course, a full report by the Secretary-General on his good offices to the Security Council.  I think right now, as I said, we're absorbing what happened.  It's time for all the parties to reflect also on what happened.  The Secretary-General did meet President Erdoğan, they exchanged views on a number of… a broad number of… of regional issues.  The Secretary-General again expressed his regret, his disappointment, that no agreement was reached on the Conference on Cyprus.  But, he told the President that he greatly appreciated the Turkish Government's strong commitment to the process.  And on Syria, the Secretary-General commended Turkey for its support for the Astana and Geneva processes, and I think as you will remember, taking note in yesterday's remarks to the press, the Secretary-General I think thanked and expressed his appreciation to all the parties involved, including the guarantor powers.  Mr. Lee?

Question:  Sure.  Follow-up on Cyprus.  But, I just… obviously, it seems like you did have a readout of that meeting.  Is it possible to ask in advance, particularly when we don't have briefings and aren't able to ask you directly, that those readouts be just issued?

Spokesman:  Sure.  We'll… some readouts are issued, some are if-asked.  It kind of… it depends on the circumstance.  So when we're…

Question:  Can you consider if asked?

Spokesman:  I don't know if he'll have any more bilaterals, but we'll share what we can.

Question:  I want to ask you.  There's a quote by the Turkish Foreign Minister saying that the outcome or failure of the talks shows "the impossibility of the solution within the parameters of the UN good offices' mission." I heard what you're saying that you'll, you know, figure it out by 17 July, but is that… at least currently, does the Secretary-General disagree with that?  Does he still see a role… a possibility within the parameters?

Spokesman:  I think… I think the Secretary-General is very clear.  He was asked a question yesterday.  He says the UN's role is a facilitator.  We're not negotiating on behalf of parties, we're here to facilitate the talks between the parties and we remain available to the parties, should… should they come to us with… with a request, with… new negotiations.  I think he said it much more clearly than I yesterday in answer to your question.

Question:  Okay and then I wanted to… could you… on Jeffrey Feltman's diplomacy, when you… when you listed the countries he's been to, there was… has he been to more countries since then than the ones you said?  I'm specifically asking about Saudi Arabia.

Spokesman:  I don't have a full itinerary.  Mr. Feltman is back… he is in Germany when he's currently briefing the Secretary-General on his… on his trip.

Question:  Could I… I've heard that he asked to go to Saudi Arabia and was not for some reason permitted.  Is there some…

Spokesman:  I'm not aware.  I'm not aware.  Abdelhamid.

Question:  Thank you.  Khalida Jarrar, a 54-year-old Palestinian member of the Legislative Council, was re-arrested on the night of 3 July.  She has been in jail 14 months and she was released on June 30.  Again, she was arrested, bringing the number of Palestinian members of the Legislative Council who are currently in jail to 13.  And yet, there is no statement from the Special Coordinator on the Occupied Palestinian Territories.  Why is that?

Spokesman:  I think Mr. Mladenov and the UN has reported… reports monthly to the Security Council on the overall situation between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and I think those points, to my mind, are covered in the briefings.

Correspondent:  But, an event of this magnitude, I think it deserved to be highlighted for the world to see that the UN is not happy when Israel arrests somebody who has been an elected official.

Spokesman:  I don't think I heard a question mark there, so I appreciate your statement.  Again, I think on a monthly basis and periodically in between, whether it's a Special Coordinator or the Secretary-General, we express ourselves on issues that I think reflect the gravity of the situation.  Matthew.  Oh, and then…

Question:  You may have… you may have… I've asked you before about the… the continuing situation in the Rif region in Morocco, and you may have seen that The Economist… I know your DPA's [Department of Political Affairs] work is not driven by publications, but it's a pretty respected one, and their analysis is that things are getting significantly worse and that it threatens, you know, the… the situations elsewhere in the country, and the Government has recently said that they have at least 176 people under "preventative detention", based on what's basically a non-violent protest, including on a beach where they were banned from going into the water.  So, I just wanted to know, has DPA done anything on this?  Have they reached out to the country?  Do they have any expression of concern as, you know, respected observers say the situation is getting worse?

Spokesman:  I don't have anything specific.  I mean as a matter of principle, we stand for the people's right to demonstrate peacefully.  Ben?

Question:  Apologies if I missed the beginning of the briefing.  Just wanted to see where the Secretary-General stood on the policy of the draft resolution on the prohibition of nuclear weapons.

Spokesman:  We… we expect a statement very shortly on this.  I think yesterday, we expressed our support for efforts by Member States to create a world free of nuclear weapons, but I expect a formal statement shortly.  Ann.

Question:  Ann Charles, Baltic Review.  Do you have any more details available on the Secretary-General's trip to Kyiv, Ukraine, and his meeting with Ukraine's president, Petro Poroshenko, on 9 July?  Who else will he meet with when he's in Ukraine?  And do you expect any progress on the illegal occupation of Crimea?

Spokesman:  The Secretary-General, as you said, will be meeting President Poroshenko.  I expect him to meet other senior officials, including the Foreign Minister and other Government officials.  The programme is still being finalized.  We will report back on it on… on Monday at the briefing.  And obviously, the situation in Ukraine and the situation between Ukraine and Russia will be discussed.  Abdelhamid.

Question:  I want to ask about Ghassan Salamé and where is he physically now?  Did he take his position in Tunisia or in Tripoli?  Do you have any update on his activities?

Spokesman:  It's a very valid question, which I should be able to answer, which I'm not able to answer.  But, let me check and get an update.  Yes, Mr. Lee.  Telescope, whatever.

Question:  In South Sudan, the Government itself has expressed concern about threats to residents of Jonglei Province saying that people from Equatoria should leave or face, I guess, death.  So, I'm wondering what is… is UNMISS [United Nations Mission in South Sudan] aware of this and what are they doing to protect Equatorians in Jonglei, given this public threat.

Spokesman:  Let me check with the Mission.  But, what I mean… we have said repeatedly and expressed our concern at the continued threats of violence against civilians and the actual violence against civilians based on people's ethnicity.

Question:  Okay and just on the JPO [Junior Professional Officer], I asked a couple of days ago about whether the Democratic People's Republic of Korea has reported a memorandum for Junior Professional Officers programme with the UN.  Do they, and are they sending anyone?

Spokesman:  I think I have something, which is basically that based on the… first of all, that the JPO programme is open to every Member State, all right.  Based on expression of interest of [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] as a Member State of the UN, and in accordance with relevant resolutions from [Economic and Social Council] from March, the Permanent Mission of the DPRK and the UN reached a memorandum of understanding, the provision of JPOs without prejudice.  While the memorandum of understanding is concluded, the provision of a JPO to the UN is subject to the identification by the organization of programmatic needs and suitable candidates who meet the qualifications, competencies, ability to perform duties and other requirements, set by the receiving Department.  The selected candidate is subject to UN staff rules and resolutions, including the obligation not to seek or accept instruction in regard to performance of duties from any Government or any other source external to the UN, as per Article 100 of the Charter.

Question:  At least one published report identified or described an individual — they said — is already in the pipeline, mentioned the Department of Political Affairs as the target and said that a Permanent Representative has spoken to António Guterres in opposition to this.  Is it… you say it's open to all, but is it also open to… are there considerations of not, for example, placing a national of a country, for example, under a sanctions system to work in the DPA or SCAD Sanctions Office about that country?

Spokesman:  I think, obviously, first of all, it's up to the UN and to the Department to identify the programmatic needs and where that person would be best… best used.  Thank you.

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Secretary-General Appoints Masimba Tafirenyika as Director of United Nations Information Centre in Pretoria

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has appointed Masimba Tafirenyika of Zimbabwe as Director of the United Nations Information Centre in Pretoria, an office that provides service to South Africa.  Mr. Tafirenyika assumed his duties today.

Mr. Tafirenyika was most recently Chief of the Africa Section in the United Nations Department of Public Information and Editor-in-Chief of its Africa Renewal magazine, since 2009.  Previously, he served as Officer-in-Charge of the Pretoria information centre from 2008 to 2009, and as Deputy Director from 2006 to 2008.

He joined the Department of Peacekeeping Operations as a Research Analyst in 1996.  He served as a Public Information Officer with the Department of Public Information from 2004 to 2006; as Desk Officer for Liberia and Sierra Leone in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations at United Nations Headquarters from 2003 to 2004; as Head of Publications with the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone from 2001 to 2003; and as Associate Political Affairs Officer with the United Nations Office in Liberia from 1998 to 2001.

Mr. Tafirenyika was an Associate Third World Visiting Researcher for a Georgetown University research programme run by the Center of Concern in Washington, D.C., from 1992 to 1993.  Prior to this, he worked as the Research Coordinator for the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre in Harare, Zimbabwe, from 1985 to 1992.  He has also worked as a freelance journalist, based in Zimbabwe, writing on political and economic development issues for various publications around the world.

He has a Master of Arts degree in International Affairs from Columbia University in the United States and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the University of Zimbabwe.

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Country-specific, Thematic Issues Dominate Meeting, as Third Committee Takes Up Five Texts on Children’s Rights, Other Aspects of Social Development

Experts on the human rights situations in Myanmar and Iran, as well as on thematic topics such as trafficking in persons, were among those presenting reports to the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today, as delegates began general debate on those reports and introduced five draft resolutions on other aspects of social development.

Vijay Nambiar, Special Adviser on Myanmar, presented the Secretary-General’s report on the human rights situation in that country in the context of its ongoing peace process and democratization.  He described “significant” political changes that had taken place following the historic November 2015 elections, including the presence of Daw Aung Sun Suu Kyi at the General Assembly’s seventy-first session.  While there was “cautious optimism” about Government efforts to improve the situation in Rakhine State, recent violence there had created cause for concern.

In the ensuing dialogue, Myanmar’s representative underscored the serious efforts underway to find a fair and durable solution to the situation in Rakhine.  The Government was also cooperating with the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  Given its progress, it was time for the United Nations to assist Myanmar in its democratic transition, based on regular modes of engagement without any special human rights procedures, a point later echoed by Mr. Nambiar, who encouraged States to consider other options of engagement to support the transition.

Delegates welcomed the positive direction the new Government had taken to achieve peace.  Several expressed concern about recent attacks in Rakhine and rights violations against minorities, among them, Egypt’s representative, who, on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, drew attention to the deteriorating situation of the Rohingya community and restrictions on their rights.

In an interactive dialogue Michael Lynk, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, delegates reiterated concern about rights violations in those territories and the ongoing occupation.  In response, Mr. Lynk said that the occupation was only becoming more entrenched, mainly due to Israel’s settlement expansion.  Palestinians were not on path to self-determination, which should be a concern to the international community.

Rita Izsak-Ndiaye, Special Rapporteur on minority issues, described rights violations faced by minorities during humanitarian crises, such as displacement and discrimination. Delegates shared those concerns, with representatives of Hungary and Norway requesting more support for minorities and more data on their situations. In her response, Ms. Izsak-Ndiaye stressed the need to ensure the full inclusion of minorities in all sectors of society.

Elisabeth da Costa, presented the final report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, noting that, while Iran’s engagement had improved over the past five years, he had never been granted access to the country.  Children were at risk of early and forced marriage, while ethnic and religious minorities were subject to arbitrary arrest, detention and prosecution.  The rights to freedom of expression and association were severely restricted.  Iran was still the country with the highest number of executions per capita.

Iran’s delegate responded that recent legal reforms had been ignored and, along with other delegates, decried the politicized, duplicative and partial nature of the mandate.  Other delegates called on Iran to meet its international human rights obligations and expressed concern about the detention of individuals with dual citizenship.

Heiner Bielefeldt, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief and Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, also presented their reports.

In other business, the representatives of Thailand, on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, Mongolia and Canada, introduced five draft resolutions on issues related to social development and the protection of the rights of children.

Speaking in the general debate were representatives of the Dominican Republic (on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), Indonesia (on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations), Finland (also on behalf of Sweden), Argentina and Switzerland.

The Third Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Monday, 31 October, to continue its discussion on the promotion and protection of human rights.

Background

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) continued discussions today under its agenda item on the promotion and protection of human rights.  For further information, see Press Release GA/SHC/4172.

Dialogue on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories

The Third Committee opened with a continuation of its discussion of the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, which had begun the previous day with a statement by Michael Lynk, Special Rapporteur for human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.  Several delegates expressed support for the Special Rapporteur’s mandate, commending him on including the issue of the right to development in his report.  Many sought his opinion on measures the international community could take to ensure that Israel was held accountable for its rights violations.  Israel’s delegate objected that the mandate was biased.  The Human Rights Council, under which the Special Rapporteur’s mandate rested, had been taken over by some of the world’s worst human right violators and had fixated on “the only democracy in the Middle East” while ignoring other violations around the world.

Mr. LYNK replied that the occupation was not lessening; to the contrary, it was becoming more entrenched.  The Palestinians were not on path to self-determination, and that reality should be of concern to the international community.  The occupation existed because of Israel’s settlement project, without which there would be no need for it.  It was a tribute to the international community that it had devoted so much attention to the Palestine question.  However, the occupation was almost 50 years old and the occupying Power had faced virtually no consequences.  Thus, to questions about measures that could help end the occupation, he answered, in turn, with a question:  “Does the occupying Power need to realize that its status in the international community depends on allowing Palestinians to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination and on ending the occupation?”  Further, he raised the question of whether there should be a resolution at the United Nations or an advisory opinion at the International Court of Justice on whether the occupation was illegal.

Also participating in the discussion were representative of Jordan, Senegal, Indonesia, Cuba, Qatar, Norway, South Africa, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Maldives and Turkey, as well as the State of Palestine and the European Union.

Dialogue on Human Rights in Myanmar

VIJAY NAMBIAR, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Myanmar, introduced the Secretary-General’s report (document A/71/308), which provided an overview on the peace process, democratization and development in that country. The report considered the significant political changes that had taken place after the historic November 2015 elections, he said, stressing that the presence of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi at the General Assembly’s seventy-first session had garnered great interest.  The process of democratization, reform and reconciliation in Myanmar started with the 2010 general election which, he said, despite its flawed character, had replaced the military junta with a putative civilian Government. 

Dialogue and cooperation had flourished since then, he said.  Daw Suu’s decision to contest the April 2012 by-elections and her subsequent victory had changed the political paradigm and path of the country.  Despite such progress, democratic governance must be consolidated further, he said, noting that the coordinated engagement of the United Nations’ good offices had been a key factor in the positive changes achieved in recent years.  On the situation in Rakhine, he said the Government had taken steps towards a peaceful settlement, notably by establishing a Central Committee for the Implementation of Peace, Stability and Development in Rakhine state, and an Advisory Commission.  While there was cautious optimism that the Government was working to improve the situation, recent violence had created cause for concern.  More must be done to protect minorities in the country, in close collaboration with civil society.  Steps taken to promote reconciliation included the strengthening of women’s participation in the peace process and the signing of a joint action plan with the United Nations to end the use of child soldiers.

The representative of Myanmar, noting that the Government had prioritized peace and national reconciliation, expressed appreciation for the international support in that regard.  The inclusive Union Peace Conference in August had marked a vital step towards lasting peace.  The Government was making serious efforts to find a fair and durable solution to the situation in Rakhine.  In response to attacks on police posts there, it had taken all its actions within the law and provided food and basic supplies to affected communities.  Myanmar also had cooperated with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, held annual human rights dialogues and was a member of the Human Rights Mechanism of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).  Given such progress, it was time for the United Nations to assist Myanmar in its democratic transition based on regular modes of engagement without any special human rights procedures.

Delegates welcomed the progress made in Myanmar, and at the same time, expressed concern about recent attacks, asking what could be done to better protect minorities, and more broadly, support peace and democratization.

Mr. NAMBIAR replied that humanitarian access to Rakhine state would be granted next week and that the situation was being closely monitored.  He encouraged the international community to monitor the security situation and remind the Government to address any concerns about its security presence in country’s north, stressing that the effects of security operations on local communities must be monitored to prevent human rights violations.  Noting that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Nations country team had supported the transition, he said hate speech and incitement to violence must be tackled, while minorities must be protected.  The Organization should continue its high level of engagement with Myanmar, including through a local presence for OHCHR.  It was also important for the Special Rapporteur on the situation to continue her work.

Participating in the dialogue were representatives of Singapore, Norway, Egypt (on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation), China and the United Kingdom, as well as the European Union.  

Dialogue on Freedom of Religion or Belief

HEINER BIELEFELDT, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, dedicated his last thematic report (A/71/269) to an overview of violations of that right, which could originate from States, non-State actors or a combination of both.  Some infringements remained largely under-reported, including criminal legal provisions which, on the surface, did not touch on religion or belief — such as anti-extremism laws — but which imposed unreasonable burdens on certain religious communities.  Education was another area warranting systematic monitoring.  Religious intolerance did not originate from religions themselves; there was scope for interpretation in all of them.  Human beings were ultimately responsible for open-minded or narrow-minded interpretations.  “Theocratic” regimes typically stifled any serious intellectual debate on religious issues.  Hence, it was no coincidence that opposition against those regimes always included critical believers of the very same religion the Government pretended to protect.

Some Governments violated freedom of religion or belief in the interest of exercising political control over society as a whole, he said.  Massive violations of that right were currently taking place in countries characterized by systemic political mismanagement, such as corruption, cronyism and ethnocentrism.  While States remained the duty-bearers for the implementation of human rights within their jurisdiction, the international community must live up to its obligations, too, and it had largely failed to protect the rights of refugees and internally displaced persons.  While some States had opened their borders and shown solidarity, others had indicated they would merely be willing to accommodate refugees from religious backgrounds close to their own predominant religious traditions.

In the ensuing dialogue, delegates expressed support for the Special Rapporteur’s mandate and asked for recommendations on ways to promote diversity, accountability, and to address the root causes of violations of religion and belief.

Mr. BIELEFELDT began by addressing the treatment of minorities, which was indicative of the climate in a society.  While the representatives of the United States and Yemen had raised the issue of the Bahá’ís, he said nonbelievers and followers of non-traditional beliefs were also vulnerable.  While extra attention to minorities was well justified, one should not take freedom of religion and belief to be in the interest of minorities alone.  Majority religions should be more involved in issues of freedom of religion and take responsibility for protecting minorities, not simply because it was the right thing to do but because it was in their own interest. 

He called for greater dialogue between members of the same faith groups, noting that there were many examples of good practices in his report.  Further, religiously colorized hatred was not a natural law.  There were situations in which Shiites and Sunnis lived together peacefully, despite some peoples’ beliefs that conflict between the two faiths was inevitable due to age-old animosities.  To the contrary, conflict between the two stemmed from an artificial attempt to poison relations.  Finally, he emphasized that it was impossible to work on freedom of religion without addressing gender.

Also participating in the discussion were representatives of Poland, Denmark, Iran, Germany, Norway, United Kingdom, Ireland and Canada, as well as the European Union.

Dialogue on Trafficking in Persons

MARIA GRAZIA GIAMMARINARO, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, presented her report (document A/71/303) and highlighted that trafficking was a systemic outcome of conflict.  Welcoming increased international interest in that linkage, she noted that trafficking victims were entitled to the same rights, due diligence, protection and prevention against such abuse during times of conflict as otherwise.  Her report highlighted conflict-related trafficking from three perspectives, the first of which was trafficking of persons fleeing conflict.  For example, unaccompanied children from Afghanistan and Sudan in refugee camps in Calais and Dunkirk, both in France, had been illegally traded for sexual exploitation by people who had promised them passage to the United Kingdom.

On her second point, trafficking during conflict, she underlined that trafficking of migrant workers into conflict zones was a hidden issue, which often resulted in women and girls being subjected to both labour and sexual abuse.  On her last point, trafficking in post-conflict situations, she emphasized that peacekeeping operations continued to be the occasion for “shameful incidents” of sexual violence, abuse and exploitation.  A large, militarized and predominantly male international presence fuelled the demand for goods and services produced through trafficking for labour or sexual exploitation.  Recommendations from her report included six measures, among them that appropriate procedures should be established at reception centres for migrants and implemented by trained personnel in cooperation with civil society organizations. 

When the floor opened for questions, several delegates asked about best practices on how to address trafficking and protect victims.  Germany’s representative wanted to know how States could sensitize the media without infringing on press freedom, while the delegates of the European Union and Switzerland asked for recommendations on integrating human trafficking into the Global Compact on Migrants and Refugees, which States would soon negotiate.

Ms. GIAMMARINARO highlighted that trafficking was a systematic outcome of conflict and must be addressed within that context.  Anti-trafficking should be fully integrated into the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Global Compact.  In places with large movements of migrants, it was important to establish anti-trafficking procedures in cooperation with non-Governmental organizations and others capable of interviewing migrants and identifying indications of exploitation and trafficking. Member States should also help at-risk people find employment.  Those measures must be integrated across actions.  The International Labour Organization Alliance, as part of Sustainable Development Goal 8.7, was an example of good practice; it engaged businesses to ensure that self-regulatory tools were implemented, especially in the supply chain.

Also participating in the dialogue were representatives of the United States, United Kingdom, Lichtenstein, South Africa, Morocco and Eritrea.

Introduction of draft resolutions

Under the agenda item on social development, the representative of Thailand, on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, introduced drafts on “Implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and of the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly” (document A/C.3/71/L.5); “Follow-up to the Twentieth Anniversary of the International Year of the Family and Beyond” (document A/C.3/71/L.6); and “Follow-up to the Second World Assembly on Ageing” (document A/C.3/71/L.7).

The representative of Mongolia introduced a draft on “Literacy for life: shaping future agendas” (document A/C.3/71/L.9).

Under the Committee’s agenda item on promotion and protection of the rights of children, Canada’s representative, also speaking on behalf of Zambia, introduced a draft on “Child, early and forced marriage” (document A/C.3/71/L.13).

Dialogue on Human Rights of Minorities

RITA IZSÁK-NDIAYE, Special Rapporteur on minority issues, focused on the human rights of minorities in humanitarian crises, stressing that those populations were particularly vulnerable and often targeted because of their identity.  There was a correlation between crises and minority status.  In humanitarian crises, for example, minorities were more likely to be displaced and subjected to discrimination.  Further, a lack of accurate and disaggregated data made a much-needed analysis of their situations more difficult, she said, underscoring the need to gather more detailed information.

She went on to say that minorities often lived in fear and therefore were more hesitant to share information about their situations.  They faced numerous challenges in humanitarian crises, including attacks and threats to their lives, marginalization, a lack of access to basic services and issues related to land rights and security of tenure. She recommended that Member States build resilient minority communities and provide timely and adequate assistance to minorities during humanitarian crises.  In addition, the Secretary-General should develop a comprehensive United Nations strategy to ensure the systematic integration of minority rights into all programming.

When the floor opened, Austria’s representative asked whether the Special Rapporteur saw synergies between her mandate and the work of other treaty bodies or special procedures.  The European Union’s representative shared the concern that minorities faced greater problems during crises, and asked how the international community could better address that issue.  Several delegations queried the Special Rapporteur about disaggregated statistical data.

Ms. IZSÁK-NDIAYE emphasized that people who collected data must understand why they were doing it, and that they must be members of the minority groups’ own communities.  Guarantees also should be in the system to ensure that the information was not abused.  To the question about synergies, she said the participation of non-governmental organizations should be encouraged, reminding delegations that there was a voluntary fund to enable minorities to travel and participate in the deliberations of the Forum on Minority Issues.  Regarding other aspects of her work, she said she had done research on Universal Periodic Review recommendations and was currently looking into research on the second cycle.

As she was nearing the end of her mandate, she then provided a few general observations on its six years.  It was difficult to look at past and current conflicts and not see ethnic and minority identity dimensions, she said, adding that identity was emotive and important to all.  It involved everything in people’s lives and limitations on how they lived, making it a symbol of not having dignity or having one’s rights respected.  Dignity had to be equally guaranteed for everyone, and that lay at the heart of protection of minorities.  She urged the United Nations to recognize that every part of the system should promote minority rights. 

Also participating in the interactive dialogue were representatives of Hungary, United States, Russian Federation, and Norway. 

Dialogue on Human Rights in Iran

ELISABETH DA COSTA, presenting the final report of AHMED SHAHEED, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, highlighted progress and challenges in that country.  The Government’s engagement with United Nations rights bodies had improved over the past five years.  However, the Special Rapporteur had not been granted access to the country throughout his mandate, which was now coming to an end.  While Iran had made positive legal reforms to strengthen the rights of the accused, those changes had not contributed to sufficient progress in the human rights situation, in part because there was a gap between the law and State-sanctioned practices that violated fundamental rights.  Further, national laws and practices restricted the rights to freedom of expression and association and peaceful assembly, and journalists and human rights defenders had been persecuted by Government agencies.  Iran executed more individuals per capita than any other country, she pointed out.

In addition, laws, policies and practices continued to institutionalize the “second class status” of women and girls, she said, noting that the age of majority was 9 for girls and 15 for boys, effectively depriving children above those ages of protections under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  Moreover, the minimum age for marriage was 13 for girls and 15 for boys, placing girls at risk of early and forced marriage.  Ethnic and religious minorities were also subject to abuses, such as arbitrary arrest, detention and prosecution.  She encouraged the international community to continue to engage Iran on human rights, as such efforts had shown positive potential thus far.

When the floor was opened, several delegates expressed concern about use of the death penalty in Iran, the targeting of dual citizens, and the rights of women, children and minorities.  Delegates of the United Kingdom and European Union expressed concern about the severity of punishment for drug-related offences in Iran, asking how the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights could engage the Government on alternative punishments for such crimes.  Some asked the Rapporteur for his opinion on the role that the international community could play in bringing about tangible improvements in those areas.

Several delegates voiced opposition to the Rapporteur’s mandate, saying it violated the principles of non-selectivity, impartiality and objectivity, and argued that the Universal Periodic Review was a more appropriate instrument for investigating human rights violations in specific countries.

Mr. SHAHEED responded that the whole idea of the country mandate had come about in the 1950s and 1960s, when the United Nations felt the need for a protection mechanism.  The Iran mandate had shown the efficacy of those mechanisms.  In most cases, the Government had responded positively to issues he had raised.  To those who believed country-specific mandates were a form of political pressure, he clarified that his mandate was not an instrument for condemning Iran, but rather for engaging the Government constructively. 

Once his mandate had begun, he said Iran’s response rate to United Nations communications had increased to about 40 to 50 per cent.  Domestic discourse on human rights had also improved, thanks, perhaps, to the efforts of the Third Committee.  Moreover, revision of the country’s capital punishment law could result in a decline in the number of death penalty cases.  He saw Hassan Rouhani’s election to the Presidency as a sign of a new approach and a healthier discourse on rights issues.

On the issue of drug trafficking, he suggested the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime be invited to consult Iran on human rights issues.  He called for greater engagement with Iran, including greater investment, though he emphasized that investors must avoid accentuating discrimination in the country.

In response, Iran’s representative expressed strong disagreement with the Special Rapporteur’s assessment of the impact of his mandate.  Rather than encouraging progress in the human rights sphere, the mandate had been destructive.  Iranian society was vibrant and progressive, yet sensitive to foreign interventions. 

Also speaking during the interactive dialogue were representatives of Venezuela (also speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), United States, Syria, Germany, Switzerland, Zimbabwe, Norway, Canada, Russian Federation, Belarus, Czech Republic, Japan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Cuba, China, Eritrea and Pakistan.

Statements

MILDRED GUZMÁN MADERA (Dominican Republic), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said historic and contemporary migratory flows had created the region.  There should be greater international understanding of migration patterns.  Migratory flows within a region should be safe and well-regulated, and the dignity of migrants and their families should be protected.  She urged States in transit and destination areas to work together in seeking solutions.  International migration required an integrated approach, and the human rights and fundamental freedoms of children needed to be protected. 

She went on to stress that irregular migration should be approached from a human rights perspective in line with international agreements.  Rejecting the criminalization of irregular migration, as well as xenophobia against migrants, she urged the international community to protect migrants from criminal groups.  In addition, migrant workers must be protected, she said, stressing that the right of migrants to a voluntary return to their countries of origin was also important.  Countries implementing selective policies toward migrants must end them.  The United Nations was the best forum to discuss the issue of migration.

DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia), on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), reiterated the bloc’s strong commitment to human rights and the Committee’s work.  Human rights should be treated in a balanced, impartial manner, he said, stressing that ASEAN continued to strengthen its collaboration with the United Nations in a number of areas, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

He went on to share achievements in advancing human rights, noting that States continued to mainstream human rights, raise awareness among young people and strengthen women’s and children’s rights.  They also had increased civil society’s participation in relevant human rights bodies, as well as developed regional action plans on human rights protection and on supportive legal frameworks.  Efforts were also underway to promote the rights of persons with disabilities and to end violence against children.

KAI SAUER (Finland), also speaking on behalf of Sweden, said access to information was one explanation for the success of those countries in creating prosperity and welfare for their citizens.  But around the world, the space for civil society had shrunk and new threats to freedom of expression and media had undermined the foundations of democracy.  Together with their Nordic and Baltic neighbouring countries, Finland and Sweden were training journalists to support free and independent media in areas affected by disinformation and propaganda.  He reviewed the history of national legislation protecting freedom of the press Sweden and Finland, noting that the Swedish Parliament had passed the world’s first Freedom of the Press Act 250 years ago.  However, developments in the wider world had shown the need for more work to advance freedom of expression globally. 

He went on to say that female journalists and researchers were regularly subjected to online harassment, including rape threats, cyberstalking, and blackmail, citing the “Gamergate” events in which several women in the global video game industry had been targeted.  The 2030 Agenda’s Target 16.10, which called on States to “ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms,” was relevant to achieving all the other Goals.  Everyone needed equal access to an open, free, secure and equal Internet where individuals could exercise their right to freedom of opinion, expression, association and assembly.  Human rights, he underlined, applied online as well as offline.  All States must respect and protect the right to privacy in digital communication, and international cooperation was crucial to ensuring those objectives.

MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina) associating himself with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said development and human rights were mutually reinforcing.  Violations of the rights of older persons had increased, and an international agreement was needed in that context.  Reiterating his call to protect people regardless of their sexual orientation, he rejected the execution of and discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation or gender, stressing that all people must be protected.  He called on the international community to protect migrants and refugees from discrimination and attacks.

Ms. LAISSUE (Switzerland) expressed concern over persistent human rights violations in a number of countries, often under the pretext of security concerns, as well as over restrictions imposed on civil society and reprisals and violence against human rights defenders.  She called for increased international efforts to protect civil society actors, stressing that rights violations often preceded violence and therefore must be addressed.  She also encouraged States that had not done so to abolish the death penalty, as it violated the right to life, and called on all States to cooperate with all international human rights mechanisms, as special procedures must be able to access areas under their mandate.

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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 Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.

Good afternoon.  We are going to be joined in just a few minutes by President of the Republic of Costa Rica and the Executive Director of UN-Women, who will brief you on the outcomes of the first report of the High-Level Panel for Women’s Economic Empowerment to the Secretary-General.

**Secretary-General

The Secretary-General continued his bilateral meetings today.  He also delivered remarks at a number of events this morning, including a meeting [with] the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Advocacy Group; a high-level event on “Beyond the World Humanitarian Summit”; a ministerial meeting between ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and the UN; a GA event commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development; a panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment; and a high-level meeting on the humanitarian situation in South Sudan.  Those remarks have been distributed and we will obviously continue to put out the readouts of his bilaterals as they come.

**Syria

Turning to Syria, today, an inter-agency, cross-line convoy has entered the besieged Syrian town of Moadamiyeh in rural Damascus, bringing assistance for 35,000 people.  Today's convoy included food, medical supplies, education, water and sanitation and other supplies.  We have resumed aid deliveries based on the humanitarian imperative to stay and deliver aid even in the most difficult situation — but, of course, we need assurances of safe passage first.  The resumed convoys will be undertaken on a case-by-case basis depending on conditions on the ground.  This pertains to Aleppo, as well.

**Central African Republic

From the Central African Republic, the UN [Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization] Mission in that country (MINUSCA) reports that the security situation in Kaga Bandoro and Ndomété has improved since last weekend’s violence.  A UN team led by the Deputy Force Commander visited the area yesterday to investigate the recent ex-Séléka and anti-Balaka confrontations in both towns.  The UN Mission has sent military reinforcements to Kaga Bandoro to strengthen its protection of civilians efforts and to enforce the existing weapons-free zone in the area.

**Democratic Republic of the Congo

Our colleagues at the Human Rights Office said today they are deeply worried at the latest round of violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  According to their team on the ground, at least two more people lost their lives and three more were injured last night, and riots have erupted this morning.  The Human Rights Office has received reports of excessive use of force by some elements of the security forces, as well as reports that some demonstrators resorted to violence.  They call on all sides to show restraint and urge the authorities to ensure that existing national and international standards on the appropriate use of force are fully respected by all security personnel.  This latest round of violence highlights the urgent need for a meaningful and inclusive dialogue on the electoral process.

**Press Briefings

A couple of things to flag this afternoon:  at 3:30 p.m., there will be a press briefing by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Hungary.  At 4 p.m., there will be a joint press conference with the Minister for the Environment of the Kingdom of Morocco, the Minister for the Environment of Rwanda and the Minister for the Environment of Norway on the Paris Agreements and the Montreal Protocol — special announcement on energy efficiency fund.

At 6 p.m., there will be a press briefing by His Excellency Miguel Vargas Maldonado, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic, Ambassador Ana Castellanos, Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) National Coordinator for the Dominican Republic, Laurato Pozo, CELAC National Coordinator for Ecuador, and Horacio Avila, Ambassador of Ecuador.

And tomorrow at 10:30 a.m., there will be a briefing on the 3rd Floor of the GA [General Assembly] building stakeout by Hervé Ladsous, the Head of the Peacekeeping Department.  He will be joined by the Foreign Minister of Algeria, Ramtane Lamamra, and His Excellency Abdoulaye Diop, the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Mali.  This is will be following the meeting on Mali.  At 11:20 a.m., in this room, there will be a briefing by His Excellency Faustin-Archange Touadéra, the President of the Central African Republic.  And he will be joined by the Head of the UN peacekeeping mission in that country, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga.

**Honour Roll

We always like GA time because it is GA time, but we like GA time because a number of delegations have brought checks.  We have been told by the Controller’s office that Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Tuvalu and Zimbabwe have now paid their full regular budget dues in full.  The result is a grand total of 122 Member States.  And the GA is not yet over.  So, I will take some questions and then we will go to our guests.  Mr. Lee?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Sure.  I wanted to know, recently… yesterday, the experts that were assigned by the Human Rights Council to look into Burundi came back with a very damning report that said:  risk of genocide in the country.  And so I'm wondering… I think I'd asked you this in writing, but has the Secretary‑General or DPA [Department of Political Affairs] set up any meetings during this General Assembly on this country that the UN itself says stands at risk of genocide?

Spokesman:  Yes, the Secretary‑General will have a bilateral meeting with the Foreign Minister of Burundi either tomorrow or Saturday.

Question:  Right.  But I guess what I'm saying is that there have been… on other crises in the world, there have been these meetings… actually, I'll… just to save time, I'll jump forward.  I understand that Stephen O'Brien went to a meeting on Yemen in Conference Room 12 yesterday.  And I didn't see any readout of it.  And I'm wondering just sort of, what is the… was this a… what was his speech there?  Can it be made public?

Spokesman:  I don't… that's a question you should ask our colleagues in Mr. O'Brien's office.  I don't have Mr. O'Brien's schedule.

Question:  And the question that I'd asked you in writing about Yemen, which was that people in Yemen say that the delegation coming back from the talks was much delayed, and they basically are saying that the envoy told them that they had to fly through Saudi Arabia, or there was some signing of a waiver that, even if they flew on a UN plane, they would hold the UN harmless if there were a problem with the plane.  Are you aware of these allegations in Yemen that the envoy tried to use the flight back as a…?

Spokesman:  No, I don't know what… you're asking me the granular details that I don't have here.  What I do know is that, as a matter, of course, non‑UN staff that take UN planes do have to sign a waiver, whether they're delegations, whether they're journalists or whether they're NGO [non-governmental organization] workers.  So, if that… if there was some signature of a waiver, that is absolutely standard procedure.

Question:  What about flying through Saudi Arabia?  Is that standard?

Spokesman:  I don't know… as I said, I don't have any details on that.  Mr. Klein?

Question:  Yes.  Does the Secretary‑General have any comment or response to the criticism leveled by the Israeli ambassador regarding the references in the Secretary‑General's General Assembly speech to Israel's settlements policy and what the Israeli ambassador called an obsession with the settlements issue and a one‑sided treatment of the problem…?

Spokesman:  We are not going to comment from here on every… on the speeches that are made by the Member States during the General Assembly.  And we're not going to comment on the reactions that some may have to what the Secretary‑General has said.  That being said, I think the Secretary‑General's position on the Israeli‑Palestinian conflict was made clear in his speech.  It reflects his thinking, and I have no doubt some of that will be raised in the bilateral between the Prime Minister of Israel and the Secretary‑General later today, from which there will be a readout for you to read.  Mr. Lee?

Question:  Sure.  Western Sahara and then this… the issue of the book.  On Western Sahara, just now, earlier this morning, the Foreign Minister of Morocco said flatly that full functionality has been restored.  And so, I wanted to know, from the Secretariat side, have all 83 been returned?  What is the number?  Just factually.

Spokesman:  I have no… I mean, I heard what the Foreign Minister said.  I'm not going to comment on what he said.  I will get you an update of what the staffing level is on MINURSO [United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara] as soon as I can get one.

Question:  Sure.  And I wanted… I mean, thank you.  Earlier today, you sent me an answer about this… the book that the Secretary‑General has been signing and giving to Heads of State.  What I wanted know… I mean, I'd asked you in writing how much it cost and to see a copy of the content, because it seems to be called Highlights of the Tenure of… I've seen the cover.  And then you've said that it's sort of an open review, including… does it have self‑criticism or…?

Spokesman:  The book… you know, you will be able to see the book when it hits the UN Bookstore shortly.  I don't have a copy on my desk, unfortunately.  As I said, it's an open exercise reflecting on what went well, what went wrong during the last 10 years.  I think any time in this organization where we can take the time to stop, pause and look back is very useful.  It's something that we don't do often enough.  Obviously, the Secretary‑General will give his successor direct personal advice.  There will be handovers of… kind of handover briefs of papers that will be internal.  But, I think an open and transparent look back on the tenure, as I said, with what went well and what went wrong will be… I think is useful to all, is useful to the next Secretary‑General and his team, is useful to Member States.  As I said, the book should be available soon, and it will be… it's the same version that the Secretary‑General is giving visiting heads of delegation as a gift.

Question:  How many were printed?  You said that there will be 1,000… 500 paperback and 1,000 hard cover… have they already been printed?

Spokesman:  They're in the process of being printed and some advanced copies…

Question:  Okay.  Just… people that have seen this answer have asked me this, so I wanted to ask you this.  Do you see a contradiction… if the people writing the book are, in fact, UN staff whose job is dependant on the UN, how open a review is it?  I mean…  Are there anonymous chapters?

Spokesman:  I think, before… I would encourage you to review the book once you've read the book.  And I would encourage everybody to do that.  Thank you.  Mr. Klein and then we'll go to our guests.

Correspondent:  Okay.  Well, sort of related to that question…

Spokesman:  I'm happy to take related or unrelated.

Question:  …or quasi follow‑up.  Quasi follow‑up.  During his speech to the General Assembly, the Secretary‑General made virtually no reference to any of the mistakes that have been attributed to his administration, the sex abuse scandal involving the peacekeepers, the alleged corruption, pay‑for‑play and so forth, procurement scandals, et cetera.  There was no self‑reflection and no concrete suggestions to avoid those mistakes for the next Secretary‑General.  Why… why… if he did lay this out… this self‑criticism out in this book, why wasn't that reflected more in his speech to the Heads of State?

Spokesman:  I think the… maybe… you and I don't have the same reading of the speech he gave.  I think he did speak about the issue of sexual abuse.  He did speak about Haiti and cholera in ways that he's not spoken before.  He talked about the… I mean, I think he talked about those two issues in depth.  You know, obviously, he's not going to be able to talk about everything in a speech.  It's not also the last time he will be addressing… I mean, it's the last time he's addressing the General Assembly and the general debate.  It is not the last time he will be addressing Member States.  And I think he gave a pretty… he… I think, if you look at what the Secretary‑General said, it is also a reflection of his feelings and what he has learned over the last 10 years at the helm of the Secretariat.

Question:  Do you have anything on the son‑in‑law panel?

Spokesman:  On the what? 

Question:  On the panel that selected the son‑in‑law as…?

Spokesman:  No, I don't have anything on that today.  All right.  I will get our guests.  Thank you.

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Biographical notes

Donald Bobiash (BA [Political Science], University of Saskatchewan, 1980; Laval University, 1982; certificate, Ecole Nationale d’Administration et de Magistrature, Senegal, 1983; MA [Industrial Relations and Personnel Management], London School of Economics, 1984; DPhil [International Relations], Oxford University, 1989). Mr. Bobiash is a Rhodes Scholar and has received the Commonwealth and Rotary International graduate scholarships. He worked for Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Finance from 1980 to 1981 and as a part-time consultant to Oxford Analytica Daily Brief and the International Development Research Centre from 1986 to 1988. He joined the Department of External Affairs in 1989. His first overseas assignment was as second secretary in the Canadian high commission to Pakistan, where he served from 1990 to 1992. From 1996 to 2000, he served as counsellor and consul in the embassy to Japan. He was appointed high commissioner to Ghana and ambassador to Togo in 2004. From 2006 to 2009, he was deputy head of mission in Tokyo and from 2013 to 2016, ambassador to Indonesia, Timor-Leste and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. At Headquarters, his first assignment was with the Francophone Affairs Division in 1989; he transferred to the South America Relations Division in 1990. From 1992 to 1994, he served in the Economic Relations with Developing Countries Division. He served as deputy director of the South Asia Division in 2000 and as deputy director of the Policy Planning Division in 2001. From 2002 to 2004, he was director of the Southeast Asia Division. In 2009, he was named director general for Africa. He is married to Teresa Rozkiewicz, and they have two children, Ariane and Catherine.

Ian Burney (BA Hons [Political Science], McGill University, 1985; MA [International Relations], University of Toronto, 1986) joined the Department of External Affairs in 1987. Abroad, Mr. Burney served as third and second secretary at the embassy in Bangkok from 1989 to 1991 and as consul and senior trade commissioner at the consulate general in Ho Chi Minh City from 1995 to 1997. In Ottawa, he was seconded as a policy analyst to the Foreign and Defence Policy Secretariat in the Privy Council Office from 1993 to 1995. At Headquarters, he has occupied a number of positions in the United States, Asia Pacific and trade policy branches. He served as the director of the Trade Controls Policy Division from 1999 to 2002, director of the Trade Remedies Division from 2002 to 2004, director general of the Bilateral and Regional Trade Policy Bureau from 2004 to 2006 and as chief trade negotiator (bilateral and regional) in the Trade Policy and Negotiations Branch from 2006 to 2009. From 2009 to 2011, Mr. Burney served as assistant deputy minister of the International Business Development, Investment and Innovation Branch and from 2011 to 2015, as assistant deputy minister, trade agreements and negotiations. Mr. Burney received the 2014 Outstanding Achievement Award of the Public Service of Canada. In July 2015, he was appointed assistant secretary to the cabinet for economic and regional development policy, in the Privy Council Office. Mr. Burney is married and has four children.

Perry Calderwood (BA Hons [Soviet and East European Studies], Carleton University, 1983; MA [International Affairs], Carleton University, 1986) joined the Department of External Affairs in 1986. During his time at Headquarters, he was the director for Eastern and Southern Africa and deputy to the personal representative of the prime minister for Africa (2004 to 2007), deputy director of the United Nations and Commonwealth Affairs Division (1998 to 2000), and also served in the Arms Control and Disarmament Division (1989 to 1992). He served overseas at missions including New York City, Bogotá, Moscow, Buenos Aires and Pretoria. He was ambassador to Venezuela (2007 to 2010) and to Senegal (2010 to 2013) and high commissioner to Nigeria (2013 to 2016).

Heather Cameron (BA Hons [Political Science], Carleton University, 1987; MA [Public Policy], King’s College London, 2009) joined External Affairs and International Trade Canada in 1990 and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in 1992. During her career, she has had a number of assignments in the Africa and Middle East Bureau, including as director of the pan-African and Francophonie programs. She has also served as director of strategic initiatives (2009 to 2012) and director of the Human Development and Gender Equality Division (2012 to 2013). Since 2013, she has been the senior director of the Haiti and Dominican Republic Division. Overseas assignments include the high commission in Harare, Zimbabwe (1992 to 1996), where she was responsible for regional humanitarian affairs, and the high commission in Maputo, Mozambique (2004 to 2007), where she served as counsellor and director (development).

Janice Charette (BA [Commerce], Carleton University, 1984) served as Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet from October 2014 to January 2016. She was appointed Deputy Clerk of the Privy Council and Associate Secretary to the Cabinet in January 2013 and deputy minister of intergovernmental affairs and Associate Secretary to the Cabinet in November 2010. Her previous positions in the public service include senior assistant deputy minister for policy at the Department of Justice Canada (1999 to 2001); assistant secretary to Cabinet for priorities and planning (2001 to 2002), and deputy secretary to the Cabinet for planning and consultations (2002 to 2003), both in the Privy Council Office; associate deputy minister at Health Canada (2003 to 2004); deputy minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (2004 to 2006); and deputy minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada as well as chairperson of the Canada Employment Insurance Commission (2006 to 2010). Ms. Charette was director of the transition team for the newly formed Canada Pension Plan Investment Board in 1998 and principal at Ernst & Young LLP from 1995 to 1997. She is married to Reg Charette, and they have two adult children, Jed and Cassie.

Antoine Chevrier (BA [Economics], Laval University, 1993; MA [International Relations], Laval University, 1996) started working with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in 1997. At Headquarters, he was director of the Haiti Bilateral Development Program, as well as director of the transition team in charge of amalgamating CIDA with Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada in 2013. In 2014, he was appointed director general of the Geographic Coordination and Mission Support Bureau. He has served abroad in positions including, from 2009 to 2013, director of the development program at the Canadian embassy to Peru and Bolivia. From 2002 to 2006 he assumed various functions, including chief of staff in the Executive Secretariat for Integral Development at the Organization of American States, in Washington, D.C. Mr. Chevrier is married to Catherine Vézina; they have a daughter, Philomène.

Chris Cooter (BA Hons [Political Science], University of Toronto, 1981; MA [Political Science], Columbia University, 1982; BCL, LLB [Common/Civil Law], McGill University, 1986) was an associate at Campney & Murphy, a Vancouver law firm (1987 to 1989), then acting manager of lands for the British Columbia region of the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs (1989 to 1990). He joined External Affairs and International Trade Canada in 1990. He served abroad as deputy permanent representative to the Joint Delegation of Canada to NATO, as political officer in the Canadian high commissions to India and Kenya and as high commissioner to Nigeria. At Headquarters, he served as director of the Policy Planning division and of the Southeast Europe division. He served as director general responsible for the amalgamation of the Canadian International Development Agency and Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. Most recently, he was director general of the Executive Management and Assignments Division. He has two children, Zoe and Anais.

Jennifer Daubeny (BA [International Relations], University of British Columbia, 1984; MPA, University of Victoria, 1990) joined the Department of External Affairs in 1988. She was posted as a trade commissioner to the Canadian embassy in Prague (1990 to 1993), and in 1995 she opened and headed Canada’s first consulate in Guadalajara, Mexico, where she served for three years. She served as senior trade commissioner at Canada’s high commission in London (2009 to 2013). At Headquarters she has held positions in the International Financial and Investment Affairs, Agricultural Trade Policy, Caribbean and Central America Relations, Technical Barriers and Regulations, and U.S. Transboundary divisions. She also served as director of the Middle East and Africa Commercial Relations Division (2007 to 2009) and  Investor Services Division, responsible for attracting foreign direct investment to Canada (2013 to 2014). Her most recent position was director of the Science, Technology and Innovation Division. She and her partner David Springgay have two sons, Alex and Eric.

Lise Filiatrault (BSc [Biology], Université du Québec à Montréal, 1983; Graduate Studies Diploma in International Development and Cooperation, University of Ottawa, 1989) joined External Affairs and International Trade Canada in 1990 as a foreign service officer. Previously, she served in Cameroon with Centre d’études et de coopération internationale and worked with Crossroads International in Montréal. Ms. Filiatrault served in Georgetown, Guyana (1992 to 1994); in Santiago, Chile (1996 to 2000); and in Havana, Cuba (2002 to 2005). Ms. Filiatrault also held various positions at the Canadian International Development Agency, such as director of the Middle East Program (2005 to 2008), regional director general of the Europe, Middle East and Maghreb Directorate (2009 to 2010) and regional director general of the Americas Directorate (2010 to 2013). At Headquarters, she was assistant deputy minister for the Sub-Saharan Africa Branch (2013 to 2016). Ms. Filiatrault and her spouse Richard Boisvert have two daughters, Frédérique and Gabrielle.

Emi Furuya (BA Hons [Political Science specialization, French Literature major], University of Toronto, 1996; MA [Political Science], University of Toronto, 1997) worked as a consultant for the Canadian International Development Agency, specializing in democratization and good governance before joining the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade in 1999. Ms. Furuya has served abroad as political counsellor at the embassy in Paris (2006 to 2010), as second secretary (political) at the embassy in Tokyo (2000 to 2003) and as junior adviser at the Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations in New York City (1999). In Ottawa, she has worked on Commonwealth affairs; managed peace support operations, including security sector policy and deployments; and served as deputy director for the department’s international assistance envelope and international financial institutions division. She has also served as deputy director for the G7 and G20 summits, as director of the Office of the Senior Associate Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and, most recently, as executive director of the Office of the Deputy Minister of International Development. Ms. Furuya and her spouse have two sons.

Carla Hogan Rufelds (BSc [Forestry], University of New Brunswick, 1983) joined the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in January 1995. During her time at Headquarters, Ms. Hogan Rufelds was a senior program officer and forestry adviser for the Asia Branch (1995 to 1999) and the manager for policy and strategic planning in the Canadian Partnership Branch (2003 to 2008). She served as director for sustainable economic growth, food security and environment in the Strategic Policy and Performance Branch and the Global Issues and Development Branch (2008 to 2014). More recently, Ms. Hogan Rufelds was the director of strategic planning and operations for the Latin America and Caribbean region (2014 to 2016). She served abroad in Kathmandu at the Office of the Canadian Embassy and at CIDA’s Canadian Cooperation Office as the Canadian representative (1999 to 2003). She also worked abroad in Rome as a forestry officer in the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (1990 to 1993). Ms. Hogan Rufelds is married to Dan Hogan and has two children, Liam and Sylva.

Masud Husain (BA, Laval University, 1988; LLB, McGill University, 1991) joined External Affairs and International Trade Canada in 1991. He was desk officer in the Legal Advisory Division (1995 to 1997). He was deputy director of the Oceans and Environmental Law Division (1999 to 2002) and of the Criminal, Security and Treaty Law Division (2003 to 2006). He was later executive director of the Criminal, Security and Diplomatic Law Division (2013 to 2016). In his overseas positions, he was posted to Amman as the political officer responsible for Iraq (1992 to 1995). He served in Damascus as head of the Political Section (1997 to 1999). In The Hague, he served as counsellor in the Political Section (2005 to 2009). He served as minister-counsellor and political coordinator in the Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations in New York (2009 to 2013). Most recently, he was director general of the Middle East and Maghreb Bureau. He is married to Laila El Fenne, and they have two children, Omar and Lalla Miriem.

Ping Kitnikone (BA [Pacific Studies and Economics], University of Victoria, 1991; MPA, University of Victoria, 1994) joined External Affairs and International Trade Canada in 1994. During her time at Headquarters, Ms. Kitnikone has worked in the International Financial Institutions Division, the Policy Development and Integration Division,  the North Asia Commercial Relations Division and, most recently, at the Centre of Learning for International Affairs and Management (2014 to 2016). Postings overseas have included Beijing, Taipei and Bangkok (with concurrent accreditation to Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar). In 2004, she was appointed consul general in Mumbai. Ms. Kitnikone and her spouse, Jean-Stéphane Couture, have two children.

Marie Legault (BA [Political Science], University of Geneva, 1988; MA [International Relations], Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Switzerland, 1991) joined the Canadian International Development Agency in 1996. At Headquarters, she served as director, Central America Division (2006 to 2008) and director of programming, Haiti Division (2014 to 2016). Ms. Legault also served in the Privy Council Office in the Foreign and Defence Policy Secretariat (2002 to 2005). Abroad, she was posted to the High Commission of Canada to Jamaica, serving as head of the Cooperation Program (2010 to 2014). Ms. Legault is widowed and has one child, a daughter, Alexa.

Matthew Levin (BA, University of Manitoba, 1975; MA [International Economics], Monterey Institute of International Studies, California, 1984) was most recently director general of Global Affairs Canada’s Europe-Eurasia Bureau. He was previously director of operations at the Foreign and Defence Policy Secretariat of the Privy Council Office, and served as ambassador to Colombia, from 2005 to 2008, and to Cuba, from 2010 to 2013. After joining the Department of External Affairs in 1986, Mr. Levin served abroad in Washington as economic counsellor and in Moscow as deputy head of mission. At Headquarters, Mr. Levin’s assignments also include two years as chief of staff to two deputy ministers. Prior to joining the department, Mr. Levin taught English literature at the University of Milan and worked for Amnesty International in Canada. He is married to Rosalba Imbrogno Levin. They have three adult children.

Deborah Lyons (BSc Hons [Biology], University of New Brunswick; certificate, National Defence College) was a successful small business owner for seven years prior to joining the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources in 1983. In 1986, Ms. Lyons joined the Privy Council Office as a senior policy analyst. From 1987 to 1999, Ms. Lyons worked with the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), first as director for business networks, then as director of policy and planning and later as director of trade and technology. During her time with ACOA, she briefly left, joining the Department of National Defence to attend National Defence College. In 1999, Ms. Lyons joined the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and was assigned to Tokyo as a counsellor for high-tech industries. She returned to Ottawa in 2004 to become director for international finance and then director general of the North America Commercial Bureau. In 2009, she was promoted to assistant deputy minister for policy and planning and filled the new position of chief strategy officer. She was deputy head of mission at the embassy in Washington, D.C., from 2010 to 2013. In 2013, she was appointed ambassador to Afghanistan.

Peter MacDougall (BA [Political Science], University of British Columbia, 1988; BSW, University of Victoria, 1992; MSW, McGill University, 1998; MA [International Relations], Université Paris 1, Panthéon-Sorbonne, 2014; Diploma, École nationale d’administration, Strasbourg, 2014) worked in the non-profit sector prior to joining Health Canada in 2000. Following senior analyst and manager positions at Health Canada, Canadian Heritage, and Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), Mr. MacDougall became director of HRSDC’s Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Initiative in 2004. In 2006, he became director of Intergovernmental and Stakeholder Relations at Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). He subsequently was director general, Admissibility Policy, and director general, Refugee Affairs, at CIC before joining the Foreign and Defence Policy Secretariat at the Privy Council Office in 2011 as director of operations. Since January 2015, Mr. MacDougall has been the assistant secretary to the Cabinet for Foreign and Defence Policy. He is married to Rachel Aslan and they have four children.

Ian Myles (BSc [International Development], University of Toronto, 1991; MSc [Natural Resource and Environmental Economics], University of Guelph, 2000) joined the Canadian International Development Agency in 2000 after seven years working with various non-governmental organizations in Canada and Latin America. During his time at Headquarters, he has worked as an environment specialist in Africa Branch (2000 to 2008), director of strategic analysis and operations for Southern and Eastern Africa (2011 to 2014) and senior director for the Panafrica and Regional Program (2014 to 2015). His overseas positions include deputy director of the development program (2008 to 2010) and then senior director and head of cooperation (2010 to 2011) at Canada’s high commission to Ghana. Since August 2015, Mr. Myles has been senior director and head of cooperation at the high commission to Tanzania. He is married and has two sons.

Jeff Nankivell (BA Hons [International Relations], University of Toronto, 1986; MSc with distinction [Political Sociology], London School of Economics and Political Science, 1988) joined the foreign service in 1988. Mr. Nankivell served in various capacities with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA): at Headquarters, he worked as a development officer with the China Division (1988 to 1989)a country analyst with the Russia Division (1995 to 1998), as a senior program manager for the World Bank Group in the International Financial Institutions Division (1998 to 2000), as director of the Strategic Policy Division in the Policy Branch (2004 to 2006) and as director of the China and Northeast Asia Division (2006 to 2008). Mr. Nankivell was also posted to the embassy in Beijing on several occasions, serving as first secretary (1991 to 1995), counsellor (2000 to 2002), as head of the Development Section (2000 to 2004) and as minister and deputy head of mission (2008 to 2011). In August 2011, Mr. Nankivell returned to CIDA Headquarters to serve as director general of the Asia Bureau. In 2013, he became director general of development programming for the Asia Pacific Branch at DFATD. Mr. Nankivell is married to Alison Nankivell. They have two sons, Sam and Alex.

Olivier Nicoloff (BA [Political Science], McGill University, 1978; MA [International Relations], Laval University, 1982) joined the Department of External Affairs in 1987. At Headquarters, he worked in the Human Resources Directorate (1991 to 1993) and held the position of coordinator of the Anti-personnel Mine Action Team (1999 to 2002). Overseas, he served in Abidjan (1988 to 1989), Dakar (1989 to 1991), Tunis (1993 to 1996), Moscow (1996 to 1999) and Prague (2002 to 2006). Upon his return to Ottawa, he served as director of the Intergovernmental Relations Division (2006 to 2009), of the Democracy, Commonwealth and La Francophonie Division (2009 to 2012) and of the European Union and Europe Bilateral and Institutional Relations Division (2012 to 2016). Mr. Nicoloff is married to Isabelle Guévin, and they have two adult children, Raphaël and Catherine.

Patrick Parisot (CGE [Business Management], HEC Montréal, 1976; BSp Rel Hum [Psychology of Communications], University of Quebec at Montréal, 1979; BA [Political Science], University of Quebec at Montréal, 1984; CIJ [Information and Journalism], University of Montréal, 1987) has been an independent public relations and communications professional since 2011. He was principal secretary to the leader of the Official Opposition (2010 to 2011) and served as press secretary and special policy adviser in the Office of the Leader of the Official Opposition and the Office of the Prime Minister (1993 to 2001). He has served as ambassador to Algeria (2007 to 2010), Portugal (2003 to 2007) and Chile (2001 to 2003). He and his spouse, Carmen Altamirano, have three sons.

Donica Pottie (BA [Asian Studies], St. Mary’s University, 1985) joined External Affairs and International Trade Canada in 1991. She was third and second secretary at the embassy in China (1993 to 1996), served in assignments at the embassy in Jordan as head of the political section (1999 to 2002) and was ambassador to Cambodia (2004 to 2007). She was the director of several divisions: Democracy and Governance Policy (2007 to 2010), Development Policy and Institutions (2012 to 2013) and Peace Operations and Fragile States Policy (2013 to 2015). In 2015, she became director general of consular operations. She is married to Scot Slessor, and they have a daughter, Sophie.

Isabelle Poupart (LLB, University of Montréal, 1992; LLM [International Law], University of Montréal, 1994) joined the Quebec Bar in 1993 and worked as a lawyer prior to joining the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade in 1995. At Headquarters, she worked in the Legal Bureau and in the International Economic Relations and Summits and the Defence and Security Relations divisions. Her first assignment abroad was at the Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations in New York. She also worked for the Conflict Prevention Centre of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna. She served twice at the Joint Delegation of Canada to NATO in Brussels—the second time as head of the Political Section. Upon her return to Ottawa, she worked as senior adviser to the assistant deputy minister for Global Issues, Strategic Policy and Europe. Most recently, she was ambassador and permanent representative of Canada to the OSCE. She is married to Reinhard Bettzuege, and they have a daughter.

Barbara Richardson (BA, University of Alberta, 1972) began her career at the University of Calgary in 1974 and entered the public service in 1984, working with the Canadian Human Rights Commission in Alberta and the Northwest Territories and with Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s International Region. She joined External Affairs and International Trade Canada in 1989. She has had assignments in the Philippines, as well as in Kenya, where she served as political counsellor and deputy head of mission (with accreditation to Burundi, Eritrea, Rwanda, Somalia and Uganda) and as deputy permanent representative to the United Nations Environment Programme and to the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements. In 2005, she was appointed high commissioner to Bangladesh and, in 2008, ambassador to Zimbabwe and Angola and high commissioner to Botswana. Since her return to Canada in 2011, she has worked as director general for consular operations, director general for mission operations and client relations and, most recently, as the department’s inspector general. She has one adult son.

Ulric Shannon (BA Hons [History and Political Science], McGill University, 1997; MA [International Relations], Graduate Diploma in Security Studies, York University, 1998) joined the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade in 1999. In Ottawa, he has served as director of the Media Relations Office. He also served as the executive assistant to the assistant deputy minister for global and security policy and as a desk officer in both the Regional Security and Peacekeeping Division and the Eastern and Southern Africa Division. Abroad, Mr. Shannon has served as a political and public affairs officer in Cairo, senior political officer in Ramallah and first secretary in Islamabad. He was awarded the department’s foreign-language fellowship to pursue advanced studies in Arabic from 2012 to 2013, and during that time he also served as Canada’s first representative to the Syrian opposition. Most recently, Mr. Shannon was based in Istanbul as country director for ARK, a stabilization consultancy. He is married to Robin Wettlaufer.

Phyllis Yaffe (BA, University of Manitoba, 1969; BLS, University of Alberta, 1972; MSc [Library Science], University of Toronto, 1976) has had a distinguished career in both the private and not-for-profit sectors. Ms. Yaffe has served as chair of the board of Cineplex Entertainment, lead director of Torstar Corporation and as a member of the boards of Lionsgate Entertainment and Blue Ant Media. A former board member of Astral Media, for many years she served as a senior officer, and ultimately as chief executive officer, of Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc. At Alliance Atlantis, Ms. Yaffe oversaw worldwide operations, including Canadian specialty-television channels, international television distribution business and the popular CSI television franchise. Ms. Yaffe has also served as chair of the board of governors of Ryerson University, of the Ontario Science Centre board and of Women Against Multiple Sclerosis. She also served on the World Wildlife Fund board and was executive director of the Association of Canadian Publishers. Ms. Yaffe has earned a long list of awards, including an induction into the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Broadcast Hall of Fame in 2007.

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South Sudan’s President is Poised to Make Matters Worse| Latest from Nice

The regional IGAD group and the Security Council have both suggested that more peacekeepers are needed to stabilize South Sudan. Kiir apparently disagrees. This is problematic because new peacekeepers can only be deployed with his consent. “South Sudanese President, Salva Kiir said his government ‘will not accept a single soldier’ to back peacekeepers as demanded by regional leaders and the United Nations.Addressing reporters on Thursday for the first time since violence engulfed the country’s capital, Juba last week, Kiir said his country already has thousands of foreign troops at UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) as peacekeepers. ‘No. We will not accept even a single soldier,’ stressed the president.” (Sudan Tribune http://bit.ly/2adCN8p)

The Latest from Nice…At time of publication at least 77 people were confirmed killed in a Bastille Day attack. The reports are fast evolving and the Guardian (per usual) is doing an excellent job providing live and reliable updates. http://bit.ly/29Im3Hs

A New, New Plan for Syria? Secretary of State John Kerry held talks on Thursday with Russian President Vladimir Putin on a controversial U.S. proposal to coordinate with Moscow on military operations in Syria, in exchange for grounding Syria’s air force. The U.S. is proposing closer military coordination involving airstrikes against militant groups Nusra Front and Islamic State in Syria and wants Moscow in turn to use its influence to ground Syria’s air force, which has defied a cease-fire agreement to continue pounding civilian population centers. Mr. Kerry hopes the deal will reduce violence in Syria after more than five years of war.” (WSJ http://on.wsj.com/2adDgar)

Humanity Affirming News of the Day… The WHO has certified that  India has eliminated both yaws and maternal and neonatal tetanus. (UN News Center http://bit.ly/29HUu15)

Explainer of the Day… A excellent overview of the Continental Free Trade  Area that is being discussed at the African Union summit this week. It would be the largest free trade agreement in the world. (WaPo http://wapo.st/29HVna9

A gunman who shot dead six Kenyan police officers inside a police station in western Kenya on Thursday is a police officer himself, witnesses said…”I knew the man. His name was Maslah. He was Somali Kenyan police officer at the station,” the anonymous officer said. “He had submitted a resignation letter to leave the police to his superiors. … So I think the attack resulted from the fact that he was disgruntled.” (VOA http://bit.ly/29HW6rx

The UN has been accused of failing to act quickly enough to save hundreds of thousands of lives in northern Nigeria where a food crisis already killing hundreds of people a day is poised to become the most devastating in decades. (Guardian http://bit.ly/29Snaa0)

After more than a year of turmoil, Burundi is suspended in a “fake calm” with risks of further instability exacerbated by an economic slowdown, regional tensions and destructive ethnic rhetoric, a British parliamentary committee has heard. (Guardian http://bit.ly/29G6bTx)

A bird flu warning from the UN FAO: “In Cameroon alone, losses have added up to an estimated $20 million, according to local media reports. The recent outbreak in Cameroon has brought the number of countries that have battled bird flu in West and Central Africa to six, also including Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Niger and Nigeria.” (UN News Center http://bit.ly/29HUQ7K)

France will end a three-year military peacekeeping operation in Central African Republic in October, François Hollande has said, although security remains volatile. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/29S6axR)

More than 1,000 people accused of supporting Boko Haram in Cameroon are being detained in military bases and prisons, often without any evidence, and dozens are dying from disease, malnutrition and torture, a rights group said on Thursday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/29S6KvN)

Two soldiers have been arrested in Ivory Coast accused of failing to denounce suspected members of an al Qaeda cell that killed 19 people in a March attack on a beach resort town, military officials said on Thursday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/29Sm6Dk)

Uganda’s army began evacuating citizens from inside neighboring South Sudan on Thursday where fighting between forces loyal to the president and his rival has plunged the nation into its worst crisis since the end of a two-year civil war. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/29S6vAX)

Many people in Zimbabwe can no longer afford hospital treatment and medication, and the number of those with medical aid has fallen by a third. (Bhekisisa http://bit.ly/29G7iT4)

Rising sea levels and coastal erosion are threatening the homes and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people across West Africa. (VOA http://bit.ly/29SlSfb)

Eritrea allowed use of one of its ports for a food aid shipment to South Sudan, marking the first time the World Food Program has used food assistance operations in Eritrea since 2006. (VOA http://bit.ly/29JNoua)

Eighteen influential Liberian civil society organizations warned today that efforts to forge a lasting peace are in jeopardy, threatened by the failure of Liberia’s legislature to pass a long-promised law recognizing the rights of rural communities to their customary lands. (CSO Working Group http://bit.ly/29JNbHF)

The IMF has approved a three-year, $5.34 Billion loan for Iraq focused on implementing economic and financial policies to help the country cope with lower oil prices and ensure debt sustainability. (IMF http://bit.ly/2adCRFd)

Turkey’s prime minister says he is sure relations will normalize with Syria. Bilateral relations collapsed as a result of Ankara’s backing of the Syrian opposition, but a major change in Turkish foreign policy could be in the offing. (VOA http://bit.ly/29G5Pw3)

Asia

India’s ambitious plans to develop infrastructure, mining and renewable energy threaten to force more of the most marginalized groups from their homes, widening inequality and fanning tensions, a global research group warned on Thursday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/29SlWfi)

Philippine soldiers on Thursday killed 11 members of a Muslim guerrilla faction, an army commander said, underscoring volatility in the resource-rich south of the country as a new government seeks ways to end decades of conflict. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/29S5VD7)

An international rights group says a quarter of all Afghan children work for a living yet the government fails to protect them from injury, death or exploitation. (AP http://yhoo.it/29G7cLn)

Ineffectual attacks by the Islamic State group’s followers in Southeast Asia have shown them to be fragmented and lacking in the expertise that has produced devastating death tolls elsewhere in the world. (AP http://yhoo.it/29JNvpO)

El Salvador’s Supreme Court declared as unconstitutional a 1993 law that prohibited the prosecution of crimes committed by the military and leftist guerillas during the Central American country’s bloody civil war. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/29S5KI5)

The United Nations on Thursday said Ukraine’s forces had indiscriminately shelled residents while pro-Russian insurgents and Kiev battalions had summarily killed civilians in what may have constituted “war crimes”. (AFP http://yhoo.it/29JNbqT)

Congress actually did something good! Here’s what you need to know about the new Global Food Security Act. (Global Dispatches podcast http://bit.ly/1sETycl)

Desertification: an ecological reality or a dangerous myth? (Guardian http://bit.ly/29SlaPn)

The Global South’s Untold Human Rights Legacy (Inter Press Service http://bit.ly/29G5x8t)

Making El Salvador’s abortion law more punitive would compound injustice (Guardian http://bit.ly/29S63Cv)

Discussion

comments...

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South Sudan’s President is Poised to Make Matters Worse

The regional IGAD group and the Security Council have both suggested that more peacekeepers are needed to stabilize South Sudan. Kiir apparently disagrees. This is problematic because new peacekeepers can only be deployed with his consent. “South Sudanese President, Salva Kiir said his government ‘will not accept a single soldier’ to back peacekeepers as demanded by regional leaders and the United Nations.Addressing reporters on Thursday for the first time since violence engulfed the country’s capital, Juba last week, Kiir said his country already has thousands of foreign troops at UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) as peacekeepers. ‘No. We will not accept even a single soldier,’ stressed the president.” (Sudan Tribune http://bit.ly/2adCN8p)

A New, New Plan for Syria? Secretary of State John Kerry held talks on Thursday with Russian President Vladimir Putin on a controversial U.S. proposal to coordinate with Moscow on military operations in Syria, in exchange for grounding Syria’s air force. The U.S. is proposing closer military coordination involving airstrikes against militant groups Nusra Front and Islamic State in Syria and wants Moscow in turn to use its influence to ground Syria’s air force, which has defied a cease-fire agreement to continue pounding civilian population centers. Mr. Kerry hopes the deal will reduce violence in Syria after more than five years of war.” (WSJ http://on.wsj.com/2adDgar)

Humanity Affirming News of the Day… The WHO has certified that  India has eliminated both yaws and maternal and neonatal tetanus. (UN News Center http://bit.ly/29HUu15)

Explainer of the Day… A excellent overview of the Continental Free Trade  Area that is being discussed at the African Union summit this week. It would be the largest free trade agreement in the world. (WaPo http://wapo.st/29HVna9

A gunman who shot dead six Kenyan police officers inside a police station in western Kenya on Thursday is a police officer himself, witnesses said…”I knew the man. His name was Maslah. He was Somali Kenyan police officer at the station,” the anonymous officer said. “He had submitted a resignation letter to leave the police to his superiors. … So I think the attack resulted from the fact that he was disgruntled.” (VOA http://bit.ly/29HW6rx

The UN has been accused of failing to act quickly enough to save hundreds of thousands of lives in northern Nigeria where a food crisis already killing hundreds of people a day is poised to become the most devastating in decades. (Guardian http://bit.ly/29Snaa0)

After more than a year of turmoil, Burundi is suspended in a “fake calm” with risks of further instability exacerbated by an economic slowdown, regional tensions and destructive ethnic rhetoric, a British parliamentary committee has heard. (Guardian http://bit.ly/29G6bTx)

A bird flu warning from the UN FAO: “In Cameroon alone, losses have added up to an estimated $20 million, according to local media reports. The recent outbreak in Cameroon has brought the number of countries that have battled bird flu in West and Central Africa to six, also including Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Niger and Nigeria.” (UN News Center http://bit.ly/29HUQ7K)

France will end a three-year military peacekeeping operation in Central African Republic in October, François Hollande has said, although security remains volatile. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/29S6axR)

More than 1,000 people accused of supporting Boko Haram in Cameroon are being detained in military bases and prisons, often without any evidence, and dozens are dying from disease, malnutrition and torture, a rights group said on Thursday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/29S6KvN)

Two soldiers have been arrested in Ivory Coast accused of failing to denounce suspected members of an al Qaeda cell that killed 19 people in a March attack on a beach resort town, military officials said on Thursday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/29Sm6Dk)

Uganda’s army began evacuating citizens from inside neighboring South Sudan on Thursday where fighting between forces loyal to the president and his rival has plunged the nation into its worst crisis since the end of a two-year civil war. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/29S6vAX)

Many people in Zimbabwe can no longer afford hospital treatment and medication, and the number of those with medical aid has fallen by a third. (Bhekisisa http://bit.ly/29G7iT4)

Rising sea levels and coastal erosion are threatening the homes and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people across West Africa. (VOA http://bit.ly/29SlSfb)

Eritrea allowed use of one of its ports for a food aid shipment to South Sudan, marking the first time the World Food Program has used food assistance operations in Eritrea since 2006. (VOA http://bit.ly/29JNoua)

Eighteen influential Liberian civil society organizations warned today that efforts to forge a lasting peace are in jeopardy, threatened by the failure of Liberia’s legislature to pass a long-promised law recognizing the rights of rural communities to their customary lands. (CSO Working Group http://bit.ly/29JNbHF)

The IMF has approved a three-year, $5.34 Billion loan for Iraq focused on implementing economic and financial policies to help the country cope with lower oil prices and ensure debt sustainability. (IMF http://bit.ly/2adCRFd)

Turkey’s prime minister says he is sure relations will normalize with Syria. Bilateral relations collapsed as a result of Ankara’s backing of the Syrian opposition, but a major change in Turkish foreign policy could be in the offing. (VOA http://bit.ly/29G5Pw3)

Asia

India’s ambitious plans to develop infrastructure, mining and renewable energy threaten to force more of the most marginalized groups from their homes, widening inequality and fanning tensions, a global research group warned on Thursday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/29SlWfi)

Philippine soldiers on Thursday killed 11 members of a Muslim guerrilla faction, an army commander said, underscoring volatility in the resource-rich south of the country as a new government seeks ways to end decades of conflict. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/29S5VD7)

An international rights group says a quarter of all Afghan children work for a living yet the government fails to protect them from injury, death or exploitation. (AP http://yhoo.it/29G7cLn)

Ineffectual attacks by the Islamic State group’s followers in Southeast Asia have shown them to be fragmented and lacking in the expertise that has produced devastating death tolls elsewhere in the world. (AP http://yhoo.it/29JNvpO)

El Salvador’s Supreme Court declared as unconstitutional a 1993 law that prohibited the prosecution of crimes committed by the military and leftist guerillas during the Central American country’s bloody civil war. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/29S5KI5)

The United Nations on Thursday said Ukraine’s forces had indiscriminately shelled residents while pro-Russian insurgents and Kiev battalions had summarily killed civilians in what may have constituted “war crimes”. (AFP http://yhoo.it/29JNbqT)

Congress actually did something good! Here’s what you need to know about the new Global Food Security Act. (Global Dispatches podcast http://bit.ly/1sETycl)

Desertification: an ecological reality or a dangerous myth? (Guardian http://bit.ly/29SlaPn)

The Global South’s Untold Human Rights Legacy (Inter Press Service http://bit.ly/29G5x8t)

Making El Salvador’s abortion law more punitive would compound injustice (Guardian http://bit.ly/29S63Cv)

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