Ban Ki-moon's speeches


Opening remarks at UN Headquarters year-end press conference

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Headquarters, 17 December 2010

Good morning ladies and gentlemen,

Before we begin, I want to make a statement on Côte d'Ivoire.

As of this morning, the situation has taken a dangerous turn.

Let me say clearly and directly: any attempt to obstruct UN operations or blockade the Golf Hotel is totally unacceptable.

Any attack on UN forces will be an attack on the international community.

I emphasize: those responsible for the loss of civilian lives will be held accountable.

In these circumstances, it is crucial for both parties to avoid provocations or a further escalation of violence.

The response by ECOWAS and the African Union shows the continent united in its commitment to respect the constitutional order and will of the people.

That is our message, as well: the results of the election are known. There was a clear winner. There is no other option.

The efforts of Laurent Gbagbo and his supporters to retain power and flout the public will cannot be allowed to stand.

I call on him to step down and allow his elected successor to assume office without further hindrance.

The international community must send this message -- loud and clear.

Any other outcome would make a mockery of democracy and the rule of law.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Since this is the final press conference of the year, let me take a few minutes to reflect with you.

2010 was a big year for multilateralism -- a big year for the United Nations.

We adopted a forward-looking action plan on the Millennium Development Goals.

We mobilized $40 billion for the new Global Strategy on Women's and Children's Health. And we just established a high-level Commission on accountability to ensure that commitments are tracked and results delivered.

We are making progress in the malaria fight.

After years of effort, we created UN Women and hired a dynamic new head of the agency, Michelle Bachelet.

We made advances in Nagoya on biodiversity.

In Cancun, Governments took an important step forward in building a low-emissions, climate resilient future.

They agreed on a balanced package of measures that formalizes mitigation pledges from all countries and ensures increased accountability for them. They made progress on forest protection, climate finance, adaptation and technology. We will build on this foundation as we look to COP 17 in South Africa.

We completed the first successful NPT Review Conference in ten years, and were able to advance my five-point plan on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

We supported highly sensitive elections in Afghanistan and Iraq.

We strengthened the UN's capacities for preventive diplomacy and mediation.

All told, we supported 34 different mediation, facilitation and dialogue efforts this year.

The persistent work of UN envoys helped, for example, to ease the crisis in Kyrgyzstan and keep a transition to democracy on track in Guinea. Next week, the Deputy Secretary-General will attend the inauguration of the newly elected civilian President of Guinea.

We advanced the fight against impunity by strengthening the International Criminal Court.

We have continued to assist Member States in resolving difficult issues and undertaking impartial inquiries on sensitive matters from the Flotilla incident to the Bhutto Commission to the Special Tribunal on Lebanon.

We enhanced efficiency and effectiveness on the ground through a first-of-its-kind Global Field Support Strategy, which concentrates support for various peacekeeping missions in single, more efficient regional hubs.

We responded to the devastating earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, as well as the floods in Pakistan. And we helped amplify the voices of the vulnerable, the billions around the world facing global economic insecurity.

Looking ahead, our challenge is to carry our progress forward.

Resources are tighter. Demands on the UN are growing. This requires us to focus more on prevention, preparedness, being proactive, being persistent - all within a framework that is transparent and accountable.

I will have much more to say next month on our agenda for 2011.

For the moment, let me say:

We will continue to closely watch the situation in Côte d'Ivoire.

In Sudan, I am deeply concerned by the recent clashes in Darfur. And in just a few weeks, the people of Southern Sudan will exercise their right to vote on their future.

The United Nations remains committed to supporting the parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and holding the referendum on January 9 next year. And we will work to help the two sides address common challenges in the aftermath.

We will seek to advance the Middle East peace process to realize the two-state solution, despite the absence of direct talks.

I once again urge the parties to engage seriously and be forthcoming on substance.

A meeting of the Quartet principals is expected early in the new year.

We will also continue to focus on improving life in Gaza. And I repeat: Israel must meet its obligation to freeze all settlement activity, including in East Jerusalem.

With respect to Myanmar, despite its serious shortcomings, the elections and the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi were significant developments. Myanmar can and should build on them.

Our strategy is one of long-term comprehensive engagement. We will continue to work to help Myanmar meet the objectives of national reconciliation, democratic transition and respect for human rights.

And we will seek progress on many of the longer-term challenges – including peace and security in the Korean Peninsula, the Iranian nuclear issue, bringing a stable government to Somalia, and helping to reunify Cyprus.

With regard to Cyprus, we have worked to increase the momentum in the talks, and I plan to meet leaders next month in Geneva. Between now and then, I hope they will continue to build on common ground as I urged them to do last month here in New York.

Finally, a few words on Haiti.

I am concerned about allegations of fraud in the recent elections. A second round is scheduled for mid-January.

We will continue to support free and fair elections that reflect the will of the Haitian people.

I urge all candidates and their supporters to remain calm and refrain from violence.

With respect to the cholera challenge, our first priority continues to be saving lives. We are working to reassure the population that the disease can be managed through early treatment and some clear and simple steps.

It is crucial to get this message out, far and wide.

And we need more funding. The Cholera Response Strategy that we launched last month is still only 21 percent funded. Haiti needs more doctors, nurses, medical supplies, and it needs them urgently.

As you know, there are several theories on the origins of the cholera outbreak in Haiti.

Not all reports have reached the same conclusion. MINUSTAH and the Government of Haiti have conducted a number of tests. All so far have been negative.

But there remain fair questions and legitimate concerns that demand the best answer that science can provide.

That is why, pursuant to close consultation with Dr. Margaret Chan of WHO, I am announcing today the creation of an international scientific panel to investigate the source of the cholera epidemic in Haiti.

The panel will be completely independent and have full access to all UN premises and personnel. Details on the panel will be provided when finalized.

We want to make the best effort to get to the bottom of this and find answers that the people of Haiti deserve.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Looking back and looking ahead, I want to reiterate a point that I believe defines today's complex and connected world.

Truly global action requires mobilizing support, creating broad alliances and building coalitions.

In the search for solutions, progress does not come with big bangs, but with steady, determined steps.

It is the accumulation of these small steps, these steady elements of progress that set the stage for larger changes -- the breakthroughs of tomorrow.

We live in a unique multilateral moment -- a world changing in the most dramatic ways since the end of World War II.

The United Nations must keep pace.

We have made progress this year. But we can and must continue.

Thank you for all your support and now I will be happy to take your questions.