|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
TRANSCRIPT OF PRESS CONFERENCE BY SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
AT UNITED NATIONS HEADQUARTERS, 10 JULY 2008
The Secretary-General: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.
It is a great pleasure to see you again. As you know, I cam back from my two-week long trip to Asia -- first to Japan, China and Korea, my own home country, then back to Japan again, to Hokkaido-Toyako to attend the G-8 Summit meeting.
You have all followed the Group of Eight (G-8) Summit in Hokkaido. We face three interrelated crises today. These were the most debated in depth by the leaders of the eight countries, and also outreach nations: climate change, food security and development, especially in Africa. We did not expect to reach definitive answers. But we did make progress.
On the climate change crisis, the G-8’s endorsement of a long-term goal of reducing emissions by at least 50 per cent, by 2050, is a step forward. At the same time, we also need full agreement on midterm targets by the end of next year in Copenhagen. These more immediate targets will create new carbon markets, spurring additional financing for mitigation and adaptation efforts, including massive global diffusion of climate friendly technologies. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting in Poznan, Poland, this December is the next step towards a comprehensive agreement.
On the food crisis, I appreciate the endorsement by the G-8 of the Comprehensive Framework for Action created by my High-Level Task Force. In addition to addressing immediate needs, we must also use this opportunity to address the structural roots of the crisis. That means stepping up public and private investment in agricultural production and research.
At Hokkaido, G-8 nations agreed to contribute an additional $10 billion for this purpose. As noted in the Comprehensive Framework Agreement, however, the overall need is more than $25 billion per year. As I have said before, I call on nations to remove subsidies and lift export restrictions and other artificial barriers on foodstuffs, especially on food needed for humanitarian relief.
In Hokkaido, G-8 nations renewed their Gleneagles and Heiligendamm commitments for the Millennium Development Goals. They also acknowledged that meeting these targets will require dramatically enhanced efforts over the next two years. They embraced a public health care programmes to train and recruit 1.5 million health workers in Africa and ensure that 80 per cent of mothers are accompanied in childbirth by a trained health worker. I welcome, and call for, prompt delivery on the G-8’s commitment to provide 100 million insecticide-treated bednets so that we can end malaria deaths by 2010. As you may remember, we need 120 million bednets, but we are very encouraged that the G-8 has committed 100 million insecticide-treated bednets.
Together, this sets the stage for the UN’s high-level event on the [Millennium Development Goals] on September 25th. As I say, these three crises -- climate change, food and development -- are closely interrelated. In Hokkaido, we established a working framework so that solutions to one problem serve to advance progress on all. I am especially encouraged that all the leaders I spoke with in my travels have embraced our initiatives and plans for action and will be coming to the September event committed to further progress.
It was in this same spirit that I visited China and Korea, as well as Japan, before the G-8 Summit meeting. I was extremely happy to be welcomed so warmly. This was my first return to East Asia, and my own country of Korea, since becoming Secretary-General.
These are three critical countries, and their futures, I told them, are interlinked. It is encouraging to see the growing sense of partnership among them, especially their cooperation on issues central to the United Nations.
The rise of Asia is changing our world. My message to them was to say that with new power and wealth come new responsibilities -- not only in peacekeeping, in terms of logistical and engineering support, but also in peacebuilding and conflict prevention.
I called particular attention to their responsibility to help those less fortunate, so that the great global boom which has lifted their own people can also lift others, those left behind by global growth and development. These are the so-called “bottom billion”, of which I speak so often.
While I thanked those countries for the help they give to the United Nations and its programmes, I also asked them to do more -- much more.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me turn briefly to Sudan and other matters.
I am immensely concerned by the recent attack on UNAMID peacekeepers. As you know, a joint UN-AU police and military patrol was ambushed on July 8th in North Darfur. Seven peacekeepers were killed and twenty-two were wounded, seven critically.
I condemn such violence in the strongest possible terms and call on the Government of Sudan to do its utmost to ensure that those who committed this act are pursued and swiftly brought to justice. I call on all parties to respect their agreements. The United Nations will continue to work impartially and in full cooperation with our partners to fulfil the Security Council’s mandate and bring peace and stability to this deeply troubled region.
I raised many other issues with world leaders during my trip: Zimbabwe, Myanmar, Lebanon, the growing crisis in the Horn of Africa. I devoted considerable attention to the situation in Zimbabwe. The UN stands ready to help the parties of this crisis through negotiation.
I will be happy to discuss with you on all other questions which you may have.
Thank you very much.
Ms. Michèle Montas: The first question is for the President of UNCA.
Question: Mr. Secretary-General, welcome back and congratulations on your successful tour in North-East Asia. And thank you for kindly accepting to come to this conference room and talk to us. So things look good on every side in what you have done, but there is more threatening signs now happening in the Middle East. You know that the possibility of a new conflict is mounting, involving Iran, the United States and Israel. You have seen Iran testing new missiles, and today OPEC said the prices of oil would be unlimited if there would be war against Iran. I wonder if you, as the Secretary-General of the United Nations, devoted to peace, you have any intention to defuse the high tensions now.
Secretary-General: Thank you very much. I am also deeply concerned about the situation in the Middle East. The situation in the Middle East has always been volatile. At the same time, the peace efforts on various tracks have been going on. The regular contacts, bilateral contacts, between Israel and Palestinian authorities have been going on, and there have been initiatives between Syria and Israel, through Turkish auspices, to have indirect contact. And there has been some improvement of the situation in Lebanon.
And among all those, again, the Iranian nuclear programme is also very much worrisome. I have been calling upon the Iranian authorities to fully comply with all relevant Security Council resolutions and to continue their negotiations with the European Union and concerned parties. Now, I understand that there has been some progress or… some dialogue going on still. I would urge all the parties concerned in this Middle East crisis, conflict, to continue their peaceful dialogue so that we can see peace and stability in the Middle East.
I have been deeply involved myself in various tracks of this peace process, starting with participating in the Quartet and visiting the region, and I will spare no efforts to contribute myself to that process.
Question: A threefold question about Darfur. When you talk to your staff members and to Security Council ambassadors, they give you the sense that nothing is really happening on the military front on the scale that it should, that there is no political peace process and that, somehow, all those problems in the region need to be brought together under one umbrella for a comprehensive solution of southern Sudan, Darfur and Chad. I wonder how you plan to address each of those points -- the military, the political and the idea that you need to do something holistic in the whole area.
Secretary-General: Those are the three tracks to which I had been devoting and shall continue to devote my diplomatic energy and skillsto expedite the process. On the deployment side, my target is that 80 per cent of the Hybrid Operation be deployed by the end of this year. I am now trying -- this may sound a little bit ambitious -- but I am [making] my best efforts, with the participation of non-African peacekeepers. That was the agreement which I made with President [Omer] al-Bashir of the Sudan.
The peace process is very important. The political process has not made progress. With the appointment of a joint chief mediator in the form of Burkina Faso’s Foreign Minister Mr. [Djibrill Yipènè] Bassolé, I hope we will be able to push this process further. He will be engaged full time, as a full-time joint chief negotiator.
And also on the North-South Sudanese relationship, we have seen a ceasefire fortunately in the Abyei area, and the United Nations Mission has been granted free movement and full access to the area.
We are doing our best to move these three tracks in parallel.
At the same time, we are not losing sight of the humanitarian ground. We are trying to ensure that humanitarian workers engage in delivering necessary assistance.
Question: Do you agree with them on how you need to draw those three issues together to get a solution on any one of them?
Secretary-General: In principle, these three tracks should proceed in parallel, but there may be some difference in actually making progress on all three. But that has been, from the beginning, my own efforts.
Question: There’s no secret now thatthe International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo will make a referral to the judges of the ICC on Monday morning. Al-Arabiya just broke the news that it is going to be President of the Sudan al-Bashir and that he will be indicted on a number of counts -- not indicted, but he will ask for indictment on a number of counts on crimes against humanity and one count of genocide. You just stated that you will continue working impartially and cooperatively with all parties. If this is to happen and the President of the Sudan is indicted, who are you going to talk to and how worried are you about the United Nations operation in the Sudan? Because the Ambassador of the Sudan just gave us a live interview commenting on the breaking news, saying that all options are on the table, including kicking out the United Nations operation from the Sudan. And I know you are meeting him tomorrow. What will you be saying to him?
Secretary-General: First of all, as Secretary-General, I am not in a position to mention anything officially before there would be any official announcement by the ICC. In principle, I believe that peace and justice should go hand in hand. Justice can be a part of the peace process, but peace without justice cannot be sustainable. This is a ground principle in which I believe, but I will have to assess the whole situation when there is an announcement by the ICC. But I have not yet been officially informed by the ICC.
Question: How worried are you about your force if there is this announcement? We know about the referrals already. It has already been announced by the ICC. They already gave a news circular about it. But if this is to happen to a very high official -- we believe according to a very well-informed source, it is the President -- how worried are you about the operation of the United Nations, especially taking into account the attack that took place yesterday? How worried are you about the whole operation?
Secretary-General: I am sure that I will have an opportunity to engage in, have this press stakeout, or conference, when it really becomes effective.
Question: You commented before, Mr. Secretary-General, on the situation in the Middle East altogether, but not specifically about the last two days on the testing of missiles by Iran. Do you have any comment on that? Do you think that amounts to a threat to peace and security?
Secretary-General: I am concerned that the Iranian authorities have not yet fully complied with the relevant Security Council resolution. Any Member State has an obligation to comply fully with a resolution of the Security Council. That is what I have been emphasizing and repeating all the time, and I again call upon the Iranian authorities to [act] as a responsible Member of the United Nations.
Question: Secretary-General, about global warming, please. The G-8 summit might have been a step forward that they came up with the number of 50 per cent by 2050, but there were no agreements on midterm reductions, on short-term reductions. Even this 50 per cent by 2050 was vaguely accepted. The developing countries showed no signs of accepting any obligations. Is this Summit still a success in this sense?
Secretary-General: I would not tryto characterize whetherthe Summit was asuccess or a failure, but I think it was a very important, meaningful Summit meeting. At the beginning of the meeting, I told the members, leaders, participating, that this Toyako Summit meeting could be the most important in the history of G-8 Summit meetings when the international community is facing a triple crisis -- global food crisis, climate change and development emergencies -- and also a democracy crisis in Zimbabwe.
I think all the leaders were very much seriously engaged in trying to find out solutions to the crisis that we are facing now. One can be critical about what they have come out with, but still, as I said, I would like to regard it as a step forward in terms of their commitment, willingness and preparedness to address climate change issues.
Of course, it would have been much better if they were able to come out with more concrete measures on short-term and mid-term goals. That’s what I have emphasized. But practically and realistically speaking, at this time, it would have been much more ambitious to expect that the leaders would come out with midterm target goals agreed, because still there are wide gaps between developed and developing countries.
But the meeting where I attended and where I laid out the basic positions of the United Nations -- as we are going to lead this campaign -- was encouraging. All the leaders, developed or developing, and particularly those major developing countries, including India and China, they expressed their willingness to take part in this process. And everybody agreed when I said that this should not be business as usual, everybody agreed, as expressed in the communiqué, that business as usual cannot be an option. Now we must make this Poznan COP-14 meeting a successful bridge towards the Copenhagen meeting so that, by that time, the international community will be able to agree on a very balanced, effective and inclusive and ratifiable agreement by the end of December next year.
Question: Mr. Secretary-General, last month, Pakistan made a request of you to investigate the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Towards that end, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister is here to see you. Have you made any decision as yet as to how this investigation will go about?
Secretary-General: If you allow me to leave within seven minutes. That’s my time with Foreign Minister Qureshi of Pakistan, at 4.30. Of course, I know that [one] of the most important subjects will be about how to do… how the United Nations can render assistance to the request of Pakistan’s Government. We will discuss what would be the terms of reference and how this should be -- what would be the nature of this, whether it would be an investigative commission or a fact-finding commission, who will be funding and how, and to whom this report should be reported, and how that can be used. These are all the major issues which I am going to discuss with him in length.
Question: Mr. Secretary-General, you’ve spoken before about the need for reform in certain areas of the United Nations to ensure that the Organization functions most efficiently. One story that we’ve been covering and watching how it unfolds is the story in UNDP and a whistleblower. And your Ethics Office has actually come out with some findings in regard to that case, and I would like to know what your comments are about that; what you would like to see happen in this case, and how the process of reform is going, in your estimation.
Secretary-General: I think on the UNDP case, the Nemeth Commission has made a full report after investigating into UNDP’s operation in the DPRK, and they also made a judgement on this so-called whistleblower case. I think that they have made quite a clear report on that issue.
Question: Do you agree with the findings of Mr. Benson? And what do you want to see happen in the case?
Secretary-General: First of all, I will have to see why Mr. Benson… you know, I don’t know whether it is within his jurisdiction. This is an ethical one. The Nemeth Commission has made a quite clear, very definitive answer to that.
Question: Mr. Secretary, I know you’ve condemned what happened in Sudan yesterday, but, hello, let’s take a look at it. I mean, you had 200 Janjaweed militia, SUVs being used, horseback; they don’t act just on their own. I know you don’t want to comment on hypothetical issues, but the signal to do that, widely believed, would have to come from pretty high up in the Government. This is a Government that you’ve talked to personally, where we’re told you maybe screamed at him -- the President -- privately. Do you see this as a direct challenge to you and the United Nations system with an International Criminal Court moving closer to maybe making it even more difficult for your dialogue efforts there?
Secretary-General: I would underscore the independence of a judicial process, this very important one. As I said, justice and peace should go hand in hand. What I would like to say is that I am not in position to comment on anything once -- Still I have not officially been informed of any intention or any decision of the ICC on this.
Question: Seven United Nations peacekeepers, hybrid force -- I mean, that’s…
Secretary-General: That’s unacceptable, an unacceptable situation. That’s why I condemned it in the strongest terms possible. And we have requested the Sudanese Government to take all possible measures to bring the perpetrators, brought to justice. That’s what the Sudanese Government, as a responsible Member of the United Nations, and also parties directly concerned to this situation, should do.
Question: Mr. Secretary-General, you recently appointed Ralph Zacklin to follow up on individual accountability following Brahimi’s report on the Algiers bombing. Where is the United Nations in that respect?
Secretary-General: I initiated the establishment of an independent high-level panel headed by Mr. Brahimi. And also, upon the recommendation of that independent panel, I have, again, established an accountability committee to look into the questions of individual accountability. And I have given six weeks. So I will take necessary measures, based on the recommendations of that accountability commission, who should be accountable, who should be responsible for that.
Question (interpretation from French): On Zimbabwe, you have said that there is a process that has started within the Security Council, a resolution on sanctions introduced by the United States, but you have said that the United Nations is prepared to negotiate with the parties. Do you think today that, on Zimbabwe, sanctions are appropriate? Will they be effective, or timely, to allow a process to proceed?
Secretary-General: I think whether there should be a sanction or not, that should be determined by the members of the Security Council, first of all. As you know, I have been very deeply involved in this process. I have been working together with the African leaders -- regional leaders -- and other world leaders on this issue. And, as I said, this was one of the issues where we had discussions in depth during the G-8 Summit meeting. Now, as the parties concerned are meeting in Pretoria, I would hope that they would be able to come out with some mutually acceptable political solution, whereby we can bring and see peace and stability -- and the humanitarian situation into normalcy. We should bring those mutually agreeable solutions as soon as possible.
Now, the situation and the presidential election in Zimbabwe has implications beyond Zimbabwe; it has credibility of democracy in the region and democracy in Africa as a whole. That is why the African Union and [Southern African Development Community] leaders are very deeply engaged to resolve this issue. And I would encourage such a role, and I hope they will resolve this issue as soon as possible. Whenever it is necessary, I will be prepared to engage myself in this. But please remember that this is on top of my agenda -- to discuss this matter with the African leaders. I had a very in-depth discussion with President [Thabo] Mbeki, President [Jakaya Mrisho] Kikwete and Chairman Jean Ping, and other leaders -- other European and Western leaders -- on this issue while staying in Japan.
Ms. Montas: Thank you all very much. Thank you, Secretary-General.
Secretary-General: Thank you very much.
* *** *For information media • not an official record