Peace Day observance & other topics – Daily Briefing (17 September 2020)

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    Daily Press Briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the United Nations Secretary-General. Committee to Protect Journalists – Yemen – Sudan – Burkina Faso – Environment – UN Resident Coordinators – Prevent Violent Extremism – Sustainable Development Goals Moment – Financial Contribution COMMITTEE TO PROTECT JOURNALISTS I have been asked about the Secretary-General’s response to a recent letter sent to him from the Committee to Protect Journalists concerning restrictions on the press as well as the death of journalists while in detention.  It’s clear that, during the period of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Secretary-General has been concerned about the number of restrictions and attacks against journalists – who are just doing their job. Many have been subjected to harassment, acts of intimidation, sanctions, killing and also arbitrary detention. We know that prisoners, detainees and those deprived of their liberty in general are highly vulnerable to the rapid spread of the coronavirus.  The Secretary-General calls on governments to immediately release journalists who have been detained for exercising their profession.   It is the Secretary-General’s firm belief that a free press is essential for peace, justice, sustainable development and human rights. No democracy can function without press freedom, which is the cornerstone of trust between people and their institutions. When media workers are targeted, societies as a whole pay a price.   Last week we issued a statement saying that the Secretary-General is appalled at the continued and increased numbers of attacks against journalists and media workers around the world.  YEMEN The Secretary-General told the High-Level Ministerial Meeting on Yemen today that with the coronavirus pandemic, the urgency of reaching a negotiated political settlement to end the conflict has only grown.  The Secretary-General urged all parties to cease hostilities. And he said he was also deeply concerned about the SAFER oil tanker, moored off the western coast of Yemen. An oil spill, explosion or fire would have catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences for Yemen and the entire region, he warned. The Secretary-General added that to date, only 30 per cent of the UN response plan is funded – the lowest level ever this late in the year. Fulfilling all pledges to date, and increasing them wherever possible, is vital to prevent a devastating famine, he said. SECRETARY-GENERAL/INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE The Secretary-General spoke in person this morning at the UN Peace Bell Ceremony on the 39th anniversary of the International Day of Peace. He said that peace is never a given – it is an aspiration that is only as strong as our conviction and only as durable as our hope.   The Secretary-General noted that, today, the COVID-19 pandemic is expanding risks to peace everywhere, stressing that we need to silence the guns and focus on our common enemy: the virus. Following that, the Secretary-General spoke to a virtual student observance of the International Day of Peace. He said that he is always inspired by how much meaningful action young peacebuilders take every day to make our world a better place. Now, he stressed, we need them to inspire combatants engaged in battle to stand down and think of the common good. Highlights: https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/noon-briefing-highlight?date%5Bvalue%5D%5Bdate%5D=17%20September%202020

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