2 July 2013

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Secretary-General Lauds Iceland for Lead Role in Advancing Global Agenda on Oceans

and Law of the Sea, Contributions to Gender Equality, Human Rights

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moonís remarks, as prepared for delivery, at a meeting with the Members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Parliament of Iceland, in Reykjavik, 2 July:

I am honoured to visit the Parliament of Iceland, and to have this opportunity to speak with the representatives of people who have a strong commitment to international cooperation for the common good.

We at the United Nations greatly value Icelandís contributions.† We have gained significantly from Icelandís support in critical areas, such as international criminal justice, human rights, gender equality and humanitarian assistance.

I am also grateful for Icelandís role as a host to several programmes of the UN University, including on geothermal energy, fisheries, land restoration and gender equality.

Iceland has played a lead role in advancing the international agenda on oceans and the law of the sea.† I know how much this treaty and seafaring in general mean to you.† I wish I could have been here last month for your Festival of the Sea!

I also appreciate Icelandís leadership role in promoting human rights and gender equality.† As one of the first countries to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Iceland has claimed its place at the forefront of the advancement of international justice.

And your Parliament, of course, is among the world leaders in womenís representation.† Wherever I travel, I insist on meeting with parliamentarians.† You are the cornerstone of democracy.† You enact legislation that gives life to international agreements and standards.† You decide on spending priorities.† You also give voice to peopleís concerns.† This is especially important, since so many problems in so many places arise because of a failure to listen.

Let me say a few words about some of my current efforts, and then I would like to hear from you.† We are trying to avoid any further deterioration of the situation in Syria.† We are also addressing a very complex crisis in Mali and the Sahel.† These are some of the immediate crises.

Looking to the longer term, sustainable development is my top priority.† The Millennium Development Goals have been the most successful anti-poverty push in history.† Now, with less than 1,000 days left until the end of 2015, the agreed deadline, I am pressing for accelerated efforts to finish the job.† We are also moving towards a new set of goals for sustainable development and a post-2015 development agenda that we hope will be just as inspiring and effective.

2015 is also the year when Member States must make good on their promise to reach a legally binding agreement on climate change ó a threat that looms over all of this work.† Next year, I will convene a climate summit in New York to generate momentum.† In addition to advancing sustainable development, I am pursuing four other priorities for my second term:† first, empowering the worldís women and youth; second, prevention, including preventive diplomacy and disaster risk reduction; third, helping countries in transition, especially, but not limited to, the Arab world; [and] fourth, building a more secure world, from more effective peacekeeping to more intensive efforts on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.† I am also pressing ahead on UN reform and on partnerships with the private sector, philanthropists, academic institutions and civil society.

Icelandís Parliament will continue to have an important role in all of these key global challenges and opportunities.† I sincerely hope that we can continue to rely on Icelandís consistent and valuable support in the years to come.† Thank you.† Now, I look forward to your comments and questions.

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For information media • not an official record