Supporting Syrian refugees not only an act ‘of generosity’ but also of ‘enlightened self-interest’ says UN chief

Supporting Syrian refugees not only an act ‘of generosity’ but also of ‘enlightened self-interest’ says UN chief

UN Secretary-General António Guterres with students at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. Photo: Stephane Dujarric

UN Secretary-General António Guterres with students at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. Photo: Stephane Dujarric

Visiting the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan that is hosting about 80,000 Syrian refugees, the United Nations chief urged the parties to the conflict in Syria and the countries that have influence over them to realize that the crisis is not only a tragedy for Syrian people but also a threat to regional stability and global security.

“This is the moment for all countries that are involved, directly or indirectly in the conflict, to put aside their differences and understand […] the common interest from the fact that they are all threatened by the new risk of global terrorism,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres told reporters at a press conference at the camp.

“Solidarity with Syrian refugees is also a way to be able to express our capacity to guarantee global security. It’s not only an act of generosity. It’s also an act of enlightened self-interest,” he added, noting that by failing to support refugees, groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and al Qaida could use such inactions as arguments to further their own vested interests and put global security at risk.

In his remarks, Mr. Guterres also hailed the generosity of the Government and the people of Jordan for supporting refugees despite having a vulnerable economy, and appealed for international solidarity with countries such as Jordan that have been hosting Syrian refugees.

“I hope that that if all countries that have an influence on the Syrian situation are able to come together, these refugees, [who have been living here for more than four years,] will be able to restart their lives again, to find jobs, to work, to have a normal life,” he said.

He also underscored the importance of Arab unity and said that when Arab countries are divided, it has allowed others to intervene and to manipulate situations, creating instability, breeding conflict and facilitating activities of terrorist organizations.

The UN Secretary-General further called on to the wider international community to increase their humanitarian support as well as to make sure that more opportunities are given to the refugees and to make sure that the countries that have an influence on the parties to the conflict “come together to put an end to this tragedy”.

The Week Ahead – Sept 26, 2016

The week begins after a productive UN General Assembly session that had many bright spots, including high-level meetings on migrants and refugees that brought nations closer to agreement on a range of solutions; news that the Paris Agreement on climate change should go into effect by year-end; and an agreement by all 193 member states to combat the fundamental threat of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

While progress was made last week, bombings in New York City and in nearby New Jersey set a somber tone, and an attack on a humanitarian convoy in Aleppo – the worst since war began in Syria – intensified the outrage and frustration of world leaders and thousands of others gathered for the annual session. The bombs killed twenty people and forced the suspension of aid deliveries that had just been started again under the terms of a cease-fire agreement that already has been repeatedly violated.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was passionate in his rebuke, calling out those present who represent “governments that have ignored, facilitated, funded, participated in – or even planned and carried out – atrocities inflicted by all sides of the Syria conflict against Syrian citizens. . . The humanitarians delivering life-saving aid were heroes. Those who bombed them were cowards.”

And, in one of the most pointed speeches of his tenure, Secretary-General Ban spoke of the progress and challenges of the past decade.


71st UN General Assembly (9/13-26)

UNIC-Washington’s takeaways from the week (9/26)

World leaders spotlight 2030 Agenda, climate action at annual debate (9/26)

Development: 4th Annual Conference on Sustainable Development (9/20-22)

Refugees and Migrants: World leaders at UN summit adopt ‘bold’ plan to enhance protections (9/19)

·         WHO: Recognizing health as a human right for refugees and migrants (9/25)
·         UN seeks accountability for trafficking crimes in forced migration (9/23)
·         The invisible majority: helping internally displaced people (9/22)
·         UN officials underline the importance of collective action (9/19)
·         UN News Centre: In Focus Migration and Refugees


Climate:  Climate Week (9/19-25) – Secretary-General’s Climate Event (9/21)

·         Paris Agreement sails past milestone en route to early entry into force (9/21)
·         No time to waste as Paris climate accord crosses first thresholde (9/21)
·         For a list of emission levels by countries, please click here.


Antimicrobial Resistance: High-level Meeting (9/21)


More:  For a detailed list of UN General Assembly events and meetings, click here.


Of particular interest to Americans:

Obama urges world to eschew division and pursue global integration at UN Assembly (9/20)


Myanmar’s first civilian leader to address Assembly in 50 years cites UN as inspiration (9/21)

Japanese Prime Minister Abe calls for resolute UN action against DPR Korea’s nuclear threat (9/21)

DPRK: Hostile US polices have made Korean Peninsula ‘world’s most dangerous hotspot’ (9/23)

Sustainable development facing ‘strong headwinds,’ Chinese Premier warns UN Assembly (9/21)

Dialogue and cooperation most viable path to peace, Afghan Vice-President tells UN Assembly (9/21)

Competition between countries posing serious threats to peace, Pakistan PM tells UN (9/21)

Indian Minister urges leaders to turn ‘shadow of turmoil’ into a golden age for civilization (9/26)

Middle East:

Israel’s Netanyahu says conflict is ‘not about settlements’ but existence of a Jewish State (9/22)

Palestinians still long for peace, but will never accept ‘temporary solutions,’ Abbas tells UN (9/22)

Turkey’s Erdogan challenges world leaders at UN Assembly to end bloodshed in Syria (9/20)

Serious global collaboration needed in war on terrorism, Iraqi premier tells UN Assembly (9/22)

Syrian Minister says ‘well-known’ countries to blame for spread of terrorism (9/24)

Jordan’s king warns that both Islamophobia and Islam ‘outlaws’ threaten world (9/20)

Post-9/11 security policies may be genesis of today’s borderless violent extremism: Iran (9/22)

The Americas:

Cuba cites progress with US relations but, embargo still in force means ‘a long way ahead’ (9/22)

Mexican President Peña urges global push to achieve ‘brave, demanding’ UN 2030 Agenda (9/20)

Colombian leader cites his accord with rebels as paradigm for ending civil wars worldwide (9/21)

Rather than stoke anxiety, politicians should work to improve livelihoods: Canada’s Trudeau (9/20)


France’s Hollande urges climate action, aid for Africa and an end to Syria’s war (9/20)

United Kingdom to remain ‘outward-facing’ global partner, Prime Minister tells UN Assembly (9/20)

European leaders stress importance of international cooperation to tackle global challenges (9/22)

Leaders must decide whether to go it alone, or work together for better world: Germany (9/23)

Holy See calls: ensure UN sustainability agenda has ‘human face’ (9/22)

Russia blames Western ‘arrogance’ for bloodshed in Middle East and North Africa (9/23)

Ukraine’s President calls for UN mechanism to document aggression by Member States (9/21)


Kenyan Vice-President implores Security Council to take Somalia situation seriously (9/21)

West African nations committed to fighting terrorism in subregion: Liberia (9/22)

Southern African leaders underline importance of regional work for development (9/20)

Leaders from Africa’s Sahel region spotlight efforts to keep peace, combat terrorism (9/23)

UN Officials Visiting Washington:

Mr. Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, the SRSG for MINUSCA, the UN Mission in the Central African Republic, visited Capitol Hill and met with US officials in the State Department. (9/26-27)

Next week, the SRSG on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Ms. Zainab Hawa Bangura, will speak at a US Institute of Peace meeting on ISIS and Sex Slavery: How Can the International Community Move from Condemnation to Action? (10/5)

The Secretary-General:

Secretary-General attends the signing of the Peace Agreement in Colombia. (9/26)

Secretary-General’s statements from last week:

At the Security Council:

The Council held another straw poll for the selection of the new Secretary-General. (9/26) In October, its members will begin casting color-coded ballots in straw polls to indicate whether a P5 country votes to “discourage” a candidate.

New Zealand holds the presidency of the Security Council through September; Russia takes the helm in October.

Last week, the Council heard a briefing on Syria (9/21) and on counter-terrorism/aviation security. (9/22)

Around the UN System:

The International Organization for Migration – headed by career American diplomat William Swing – joined the UN to boost cooperation on the range of issues that migrants and the countries that host them face.

Human Rights Council’s 33nd session (9/13-30)

In Case You Missed It:


Other News:

UN Reports:

Secretary-General reports and notes:

·         United Nations Decade of Sustainable Energy for All
·         Contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, intolerance
·         The situation in the Middle East
·         Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty
·         Independence of judges and lawyers

·         Measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction

Other reports:

International Days:

  • 26 September            International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons
  • 27 September            World Tourism Day
  • 28 September            World Rabies Day
  • 29 September            World Maritime Day
  • 30 September            International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer
  • 1 October                   International Day of Older Persons

UN chief submits report on use of chemical weapons in Syria

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today submitted a joint UN-Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) report to the Security Council outlining in-depth investigation into, as well as the findings, assessments and conclusions of, nine selected cases related to incidents involving the use of chemicals weapons in Syria.

According to a statement issued today by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson, the UN chief is looking forward to the Council’s consideration of the report.

A wide view of the Security Council.

A wide view of the Security Council. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine (file)

The report will be available publicly shortly thereafter, the statement added.

The methods of work and the investigation of the specific cases are described in the report’s annexes.

According to the statement, the UN chief also expressed appreciation to the Joint Investigative Mechanism’s Leadership Panel and its staff, as well as to the OPCW and the Office for Disarmament Affairs for their continued support to the Mechanism.

He further thanked the Member States of the UN for their assistance to the Mechanism, including financial support.

The joint body, established by the Security Council in August 2015 for a period of one year with a possibility of future extension, is tasked with identifying “individuals, entities, groups, or governments involved in the use of chemicals as weapons, including chlorine or any other toxic chemical,” in Syria, according to the Council, which reiterated that those responsible must be held accountable.

That body differs from the OPCW-UN Joint Mission on the elimination of Syrian chemical weapons, and which was formally established in August 2013. It completed its mandate and wrapped up operations on 30 September 2014. From now on, the OPCW mission in Syria will continue to deal with the destruction of chemical weapon production facilities and clarification of certain aspects of the Syrian initial declaration under the Chemical Weapons Convention.