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US-North Korea summit ‘an important milestone’ towards denuclearization: Guterres

By Deepak Arora

UNITED NATIONS, June 12: UN Secretary-General António Guterres has hailed Tuesday’s historic summit between the leaders of the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) as “an important milestone”.

US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un concluded their meeting in Singapore by signing a statement covering issues that included a pledge from North Korea to complete the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and end its nuclear weapons programme.

For the Secretary-General, the summit was “an important milestone in the advancement of sustainable peace and the complete and verifiable denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula,” according to a statement issued by his spokesman Stéphane Dujarric.

The statement said Secretary-General António Guterres welcomes the holding of the Summit between the leaders of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the United States as an important milestone in the advancement of sustainable peace and the complete and verifiable denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.

As the Secretary-General noted in letters to both leaders before the Summit, the road ahead requires cooperation, compromise and a common cause. Implementing today’s and previous agreements reached, in accordance with relevant Security Council resolutions, will require patience and support from the global community.

The Secretary-General urged all concerned parties to seize this momentous opportunity and reiterates his readiness to fully support the ongoing process, added the statement.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has also welcomed the outcome of the talks that took place over the course of several hours in Singapore, which was the first time that a sitting US President had sat down face-to-face, with a leader of DPRK.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said the agency stands ready to undertake any nuclear verification activities in North Korea, if requested.

Last September, the IAEA established a team in its Department of Safeguards to enhance its ability to monitor the country’s nuclear programme.

At the time, Pyongyang had just launched its sixth and largest nuclear test since it began its programme, in 2006.

India-UN fund gets 22 development projects off the ground in first year

By Deepak Arora

UNITED NATIONS, June 8: An India-United Nations fund aimed at supporting sustainable development for low-income nations marked its first anniversary on Friday, with 22 projects having already been approved in 25 partner countries.

“The Fund’s focus on supporting people in least developed countries, small island developing States and landlocked developing States reflects our ambition to reach those that are left furthest behind and to reach them first,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres, in his remarks to an event marking the first anniversary of the India-UN Development Partnership Fund.

Managed by the UN Office for South-South Cooperation, the Fund seeks to assist projects for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in partner countries.

South-South cooperation in the UN context refers to the exchange of resources, technology, and knowledge between developing countries. India has committed $100 million to the Fund over the next decade.

Guterres said that even before the SGDs were crystallized, “India’s own development efforts and vision reflected many of the same priorities and aspirations.”

“India is, for all of us, a very important inspiration,” he said.

The projects approved by the Fund so far include a climate early-warning system being implemented in seven Pacific island countries, and governance projects in eSwatini, formerly known as Swaziland, and Uruguay.

But the UN chief stressed, however, that South-South cooperation should not be seen as an instrument to replace North-South cooperation, between developed and developing nations.

“South-South cooperation must be a stimulus for an intensified North-South cooperation,” he said.

Here is the text of Permanent Representative Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin:

A very warm welcome to all of you to this special event as we mark the first anniversary of the establishment of the India-UN Development Partnership Fund.

We are greatly encouraged by the presence of the Secretary-General among us today.

As a large developing economy with one-sixth of the world’s population, we in India are acutely aware of the entire range of challenges that developing countries continue to face.

We have, therefore, long worked for strengthening the development activities of our multilateral engagements, especially here at the United Nations.

It is also in this spirit last year, this day this Fund was launched by Government of India in association with the UN Office for South-South Cooperation.

We believe that this is a unique model of south-south cooperation in association with the United Nations, in that the entire contribution is absolutely non-conditional and elicits projects from partner countries completely based on their priorities.

The implementation of the projects is primarily through UN agencies, many of whom are represented here today.

The first project that was launched last year on this World Oceans Day aimed at improving climate resilience in a set of small Pacific Island states.

From the first project of US$ 1 million, we are happy to convey that the annual contribution and portfolio of projects has multiplied several times within the first year of its operation.

As has been shown in the short video clip, the Government of India has now committed an amount of US$ 100 million over ten years and an additional amount of US$ 50 million over five years under this Fund.

We are happy that within the first twelve months of its establishment, this Fund is now working with 25 partner countries.

The more than 20 projects are all initiated by these partner countries according to their specific requirements and national priorities.

All these projects aim at the implementation of SDGs. Last September, we were able to allocate resources under this Fund to facilitate recovery efforts following natural disasters affecting small island states.

The Fund is flexible to work in various formats, for instance to assist peacebuilding or climate action projects, such as the Africa Adaptation Initiative.

We are also open to leveraging of this Fund by UN agencies and national authorities to attract additional funding.

We hope that in the coming months and years, we will be able to further expand the portfolio of projects and partners through this Fund.

Many of you may be aware that India is also engaged in another unique model of South-South cooperation here at the UN through the India-Brazil-South Africa Fund, popularly known as IBSA Fund. The UNOSSC is also working with us on that Fund.

These Funds are in addition to the other extensive development partnership initiatives being pursued by the Indian government with fellow developing countries in Africa, Pacific Island States, and Caribbean through other multilateral formats.

The model of the Fund is a perfect fit for the reform of the UN Development System that the SG ably assisted by DSG Amina Mohammed have put in place. It allows for attraction of Funds at the country level by various UN Agencies.

So today we have an ask of the Secretary General. That is not a difficult one but an important one. It is what can be termed as ensuring a 1-2-3 process. It is not an ask for India or only an ask of our partners the Developing countries. It is an ask of the UN Development system . The ask is to enhance the speed of implementation of projects that are entrusted to the UN agencies. We have put in funds up front. On our part we have cut down the mechanisms for assessing a project from our partner countries and accepting it in consultation with the South-South Fund to less than a month. So that is part 1. Part 2 is that we hope that each of the projects in this Fund are implemented quickly and completed within a 2 year period. We hope that none goes beyond the 3rd year. Only then can we call it the 1-2-3 process with true meaning and effectiveness. We look forward to the reformed system being put in place from 1 January 2018 providing greater efficiency and effectiveness to the UN’s facilitation of sustainable development efforts across the world and ensuring a 1-2-3 process for triangular cooperation with the Global South.

We are also embarking on the preparations for the upcoming major UN Conference – BAPA+40 on South-South Cooperation that will be hosted by Argentina next year.

We look forward to working with all our partners to make that a constructive engagement that leads to concrete outcomes in the field of South-South Cooperation. I acknowledge the presence of the Permanent Representative of Uganda who is steering us in that process and assure him that as a strong votary of South-South Cooperation we stand ready to support in as he leads the way.

Once again, may I thank all of you for joining us here today and look forward to hearing from your perspectives and suggestions to make this nascent effort better.

Ecuadorian María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés elected UN General Assembly President

UNITED NATIONS, June 5: The United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday elected Ecuadorean Foreign Minister María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of its upcoming 73rd session; only the fourth woman to hold that position in the history of the world body, and the first since 2006.

World must unite to beat plastic pollution: António Guterres

By Deepak Arora

UNITED NATIONS, June 5: The world must unite to “beat plastic pollution” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said in his message for World Environment Day on Tuesday, noting that microplastic particles in the ocean, “now outnumber stars in our galaxy”.

In his message marking the day on 5 June, he said a healthy planet was essential for a prosperous and peaceful future, spelling out that: “We all have a role to play in protecting our only home.”

“Our world is swamped by harmful plastic waste,” he stated. “Every year, more than eight million tonnes end up in the oceans.”

Pointing out the astonishing comparison between stars in the cosmos and ocean plastics, Guterres underscored that “from remote islands, to the Artic, nowhere is untouched.”

If present trends continue, by 2050 our oceans will have more plastic than fish, he said.

On World Environment Day, Guterres is encouraging everyone to also stop using plastic products which are designed just to be thrown away, such as plastic bottles.

“Refuse what you can’t re-use,” he asserted.

“Together, we can chart a path to a cleaner, greener world,” concluded the Secretary-General.

Since it was first celebrated in 1974, the Day has helped raise awareness and generate political momentum around global environmental concerns such as ozone depletion, desertification and global warming.

The state of renewable energy

In conjunction with the Day, UN Environment (UNEP), on Monday, launched REN21, or the Renewables 2018 Global Status Report, which paints a positive picture of a renewable power sector characterized by falling costs, increased investment, record-setting installation and innovative business models that are driving rapid change.

The Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century, or REN21 – supported by UNEP - is a global renewable energy policy network that aims to facilitate knowledge exchange, policy development and joint action towards a rapid global transition to renewable energy.

After years of active policy support - driven by technology advances, rapid growth and dramatic cost reductions in solar and wind - renewable electricity is now less expensive than newly installed fossil and nuclear energy generation in many parts of the world.

But not all of the news is good. There is uneven progress between sectors and across different geographical regions, and a “fundamental disconnect” between commitments and real action on the ground.

The power sector on its own will not deliver the emissions reductions demanded by the Paris Climate Agreement or the aspirations of Sustainable Development Goal 7 to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all, says the report.

The heating, cooling and transport sectors, which together account for about 80 per cent of the world's total energy demand, are also lagging.

Simply put, the global renewable energy transition is progressing far too slowly.

UN agency ready to play 'essential role' in verifying DPRK nuclear programme

VIENNA, June 4: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) remains ready to play “an essential role” in verifying the status of North Korea’s nuclear programme as international talks aimed at denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula continue, the agency’s chief said on Monday.

Yukiya Amano, Director General of the UN agency, was addressing its Board of Governors meeting in Vienna.

“The Agency is closely following developments related to the nuclear programme of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. We continue to enhance our readiness to play an essential role in verifying the DPRK’s nuclear programme if a political agreement is reached among countries concerned,” he said.

In September last year, the IAEA established a team in its Department of Safeguards, to enhance its ability to monitor the country’s nuclear programme.

At the time, North Korea, officially known as DPRK, had just launched its sixth and largest nuclear test since its programme began in 2006.

Last month, the DPRK announced it had dismantled and closed its nuclear test site at Punggye-ri, a move that was welcomed by the UN Secretary-General.

This followed an historic summit held in April between the country’s leader Kim Jong Un and his South Korean counterpart, Moon Jae-in, during which they signed a declaration covering several issues, including the goal of realizing the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula.

In another first, the North Korean leader and United States President Donald Trump are due to meet in Singapore next week where the nuclear issue is expected to be on the agenda.

“The DPRK Team in the Safeguards Department and my Executive Group, both of which were formed last year, have intensified their efforts to ensure that the Agency will be ready to promptly undertake any activities that we may be requested to conduct, subject to authorization by the Board of Governors,” Amano said.

Turning to Iran, the IAEA chief reported that the agency continues to verify and monitor the country’s implementation of commitments under a 2015 agreement.

Known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Iran nuclear deal provides the IAEA with wider access to information about the country’s nuclear programme.

The agreement includes an Additional Protocol that enables IAEA inspectors to access any location in Iran.

“The Agency has conducted complementary accesses under the Additional Protocol to all the sites and locations in Iran which we needed to visit,” Amano stated.

“Timely and proactive cooperation by Iran in providing such access would facilitate implementation of the Additional Protocol and enhance confidence.”

He also noted that the United States, one of six countries party to the agreement, had announced its withdrawal from the JCPOA in May.

UN peacekeepers are always in our hearts: Guterres

UNITED NATIONS, June 1: Commemorating the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers at the Organization’s headquarters, in New York, Secretary-General António Guterres paid tribute to the service and sacrifice made by UN “blue helmets” for the cause of peace around the world.

Since the first peacekeeping mission deployed 70 years ago, more than 3,700 military, police and civilians who chose to serve, have lost their lives.

“These peacekeepers gave their lives to protect the lives of others. We are forever in their debt, and they are always in our hearts,” said Mr. Guterres on Friday at a wreath-laying ceremony at the UN Headquarters.

Last year saw the highest number of fatalities – 132 individuals from 37 countries – for UN peacekeepers as a result of malicious acts; the highest in many years.

While 2017 was challenging in the face of rising threats, it also showed the value of UN peacekeeping, said the Secretary-General.

“The closure of two of them, in Côte d'Ivoire and Liberia, is a landmark on the road to peace and stability in a region that was once in chaos. When the right strategies, resources and political support are in place, United Nations peacekeeping saves and improves lives for millions of people.”

Marked annually on 29 May, the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers was established by the General Assembly to pay tribute to the contributions of uniformed and civilian personnel to the work of the Organization.

This year, the UN chief spent the International Day in Africa, with peacekeepers at MINUSMA, the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali; currently the most dangerous in the world. Since its establishment, in 2013 to help stabilize the north-African country, 169 military, police and civilian peacekeepers have lost their lives.

He said he was deeply impressed by the work being done by all personnel in the mission, given the daunting challenges they face: “Threatened by terrorists, criminals and armed groups of all kinds, they are helping to build peace, to protect civilians and guarantee the political process,” said the UN chief.

Dag Hammarskjöld Medal ceremony

Also today, the Organization awarded the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal to military, police and civilian personnel who lost their lives while serving under the UN flag.

At the Medal ceremony, the Secretary-General spoke of the increasingly complex challenges facing peacekeepers on the ground, and that despite the overwhelming difficulties, civilian and uniformed UN personnel who had made the ultimate sacrifice – collectively and individually – had a “profound impact on the communities they served”.

“Most were deployed far from home, while others served in their own conflict-affected countries as national staff. Every one of them made our world a better place,” he said.

The medal is named after Dag Hammarskjöld, the second UN Secretary-General, who along with his entourage died in a plane crash in what is now Zambia in 1961.

Middle East, N Africa to dominated UN SC agenda in June: Nebenzia

UNITED NATIONS, June 1: A high-level debate on the root causes of the conflict in the Middle East and North Africa would be the Security Council’s signature event over the June month, Vassily A. Nebenzia (Russian Federation), Council President for June, said today, as he laid out the organ’s monthly programme of work at a Headquarters press conference.

Nebenzia said the 25 June debate would focus on the core issues of the Middle East crisis, particularly the question of Palestine. Chairing the meeting would be Sergei Ryabkov, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, and the Secretary-General was expected to deliver a briefing.

Other debates scheduled for the month would include one on the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, on 6 June, and another on the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), on 26 June.

The adoption of a draft resolution on the Middle East, including the question of Palestine, was scheduled for the afternoon of 1 June, he continued. Another draft resolution — on the Democratic Republic of the Congo sanctions regime — was scheduled for 26 June, while adoptions on the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) and the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals were planned for 27 June.

Furthermore, he said, adoptions pertaining to two missions in Africa — the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) — would take place on 28 June. He said elections for the Security Council and the International Court of Justice would be held on 8 June and 22 June, respectively.

Nebenzia went on to state that 11 briefings were on the June calendar, including four related to United Nations mission in Africa — UNAMID on 11 June, MINUSMA on 14 June, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) on 21 June, and the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) on 28 June.

Council members would hear briefings on the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) and the Lord’s Resistance Army on 13 June, and on the International Criminal Court’s Sudan dossier, scheduled for 20 June.

He said the Council’s monthly briefing on the Middle East, including the question of Palestine, would take place on 19 June, and on 27 June, it would take up the political and humanitarian situations in Syria. Another briefing, on non-proliferation, would focus on resolution 2231 (2015) regarding the Iran nuclear issue, and was scheduled for the afternoon of 27 June.

A briefing on peacebuilding and sustaining peace, which would include presentations by the former and current Chairs of the Peacebuilding Commission, was scheduled for the morning of 29 June, he said, adding that another briefing, on mine action, would be held in the afternoon.

Nebenzia then took questions, including one on whether the Security Council would take up the developing situation between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. In response, he said the Council was closely monitoring discussions between the two parties, and events developing over the coming weeks would determine what steps, if any, it would take.

Asked about the closed consultations on Yemen, scheduled for 18 June, he said at there was no intention to move those consultations to an open meeting at the present time.

 

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