Press Conferences

Ukraine, Trip Announcement, A World of Debt and…

Noon Briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
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The Secretary-General has been very much focused on ensuring the continuous access to global markets of food and fertilizer exports from the Russian Federation and Ukraine for global food security. The full implementation of the agreements signed in Istanbul in July 2022 is critical to ensuring that these products can reach global markets smoothly, efficiently and at scale. Together, the agreements have been contributing to sustained reductions in global food prices, which are now more than 23 per cent below the record highs reached in March last year. The Secretary-General is grateful for the continued engagement of Türkiye with the same objective. As part of his ongoing efforts in this regard, the Secretary-General yesterday sent a letter to the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, outlining a proposal aiming to harmonize the vital further implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding with the vital need to keep the Black Sea Initiative operational. The objective is to remove hurdles affecting financial transactions through the Russian Agricultural Bank, a major concern expressed by the Russian Federation, and simultaneously allow for the continued flow of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea. For his part, the Secretary-General will continue to stress the crucial importance of food and fertilizer exports from both the Russian Federation and Ukraine to global food security. His overriding concern remains for vulnerable people around the world, who stand to lose the most from any unravelling of the Istanbul arrangements and a likely subsequent rise in global food and fertilizer prices. The Secretary-General remains engaged with all relevant parties on this issue and expresses his willingness to further engage on his proposal with the Russian Federation. That statement is being shared electronically with you as we speak.

Later today, the Secretary-General will travel to Belgium, where he will take part in the second United Nations- European Union High-Level Dialogue. In Brussels, he is scheduled to meet with their Majesties, the King and Queen of the Belgians, as well as with the Prime Minister of Belgium Alexander de CroonTh UN-EU High-Level Dialogue is now an annual event, which illustrates the importance of the partnership between the UN and the European Union. Discussions will take place on Thursday and Friday, and will include a broad range of topics, including climate ambition, peace and security, the digital transition as well as the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and reforms of the international financial architecture. The Secretary-General will join Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, to address the media at the start of the High-Level Dialogue and that will be webcast on our UN Web TV platform. The Secretary-General will be back in the office on Monday morning.

The Secretary-General, along with UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan and ESCAP Executive Secretary Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, launched the “A World of Debt” report. The Secretary-General said that the main message of the report is that half our world is sinking into a development disaster, fuelled by a crushing debt crisis. He said some of the poorest countries in the world are being forced into a choice between servicing their debt or serving their people. This is the result of the inequality built into our outdated global financial system, which reflects the colonial power dynamics of the era when it was created. He added that the report sets out our roadmap to global financial stability – including through an effective debt workout mechanism that supports payment suspensions, longer lending terms, and lower rates, including for vulnerable middle-income countries.

Today, the Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, continues her travels in Nigeria along with Malala Yousafzai. Today they marked the tenth anniversary of Malala’s iconic speech at the United Nations with a special event on Malala Day at the UN House in Nigeria. Introducing Malala, the Deputy Secretary-General highlighted the progress that has been made, although we are still far from realizing the goal of making equal, quality education accessible for all girls.

In Syria, the authorization to use Bab Al-Hawa crossing point expired earlier this week. The Secretary-General is not giving up on the possibility of keeping that crossing point open and, Security Council members must redouble their efforts to support the delivery of cross-border assistance.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that ongoing fighting in Sudan has now displaced more than 3 million people in less than three months of conflict.

During a press briefing in Bangui today, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the Central African Republic, Valentine Rugwabiza, noted that the national ownership of the political and peace process in the Central African Republic has led to encouraging progress, including the dissolution of two armed groups and three factions since May.

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