Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Opening remarks at news conference, UN Headquarters

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Headquarters, 28 August 2007

"Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the press. It’s a great pleasure to meet you again.

As you all know, the UN Security Council last month approved a resolution dispatching 26,000 multinational peacekeepers to Sudan, jointly commanded by the United Nations and the African Union. It came after many months of difficult diplomacy. Now we have an historic opportunity. We must seize it.

That is why I will travel next week to Sudan, Chad and Libya. I want to go and see for myself the very difficult conditions under which our forces will operate. I want to know, first hand, the plight of those they seek to help.

But more, I want to create the foundations of a lasting peace and security. My goal is to lock in the progress we have made so far. To build on it so that this terrible trauma may one day cease.

Meanwhile, I am deeply concerned about the recent escalation in violence in Darfur that has caused the death of hundreds of people in the last few weeks alone. Attacks such as the one on the Adilla police on August 21, the repeated bombardments of villages in Southern Sudan that followed, including just three days ago, and the attack on Kilkil Abu Salam in Northern Darfur on August 18 are simply unacceptable. I appeal to the Government of Sudan and to all parties to refrain from military action and choose, at this critical juncture marked by the adoption of Security Council resolution 1769, the path of peace and political dialogue.

So, we must lose no more time.

I have a three-point action plan moving forward.

Let us begin with peace-keeping. Getting peace-keepers on the ground, speedily and effectively, requires a massive logistics effort—communications, water, food, supplies and infrastructure. This is one of the largest and most complex field operations the United Nations has ever undertaken, together with the African Union, and the work is well underway. But it cannot succeed without the cooperation of the government of Sudan, and I will seek its full support when I meet with President Omar al-Bashir in Khartoum.

Peacekeeping, alone, is not enough. It must be accompanied by a political solution. That is part two of my plan: to push the peace process.

Here, too, we are well on track. The Sudanese government is ready to come to the table. Earlier this month, opposition leaders from Darfur met in Tanzania to coordinate their negotiating positions for these talks. My aim is to keep up the momentum, to push the pace among the parties with a view toward issuing invitations to a full-fledged peace conference by the end of summer.

I will also visit Juba. While the international community must help find a solution to the crisis in Darfur, we must also continue to do our utmost to push the broader peace process, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement previously negotiated between south and north Sudan. Ultimately, this will require a more equitable sharing of power and resources among the central government and the country’s regions, so that fully representative national elections can go forward as planned in 2009. Beyond Darfur, this remains an essential—and fragile—cornerstone of peace in Sudan.

The third element in my action plan for Darfur involves humanitarian aid and development. Any peace in Darfur must be built on solutions that go to the root causes of the conflict. We can hope for the return of more than 2 million refugees. We can safeguard villages and help rebuild homes. Ultimately, however, any real solution to Darfur’s troubles involves something more—sustained economic development.

Precisely what shape that might take is unclear. But we must begin thinking about it, now. There must be money for new roads and communications, as well as health, education, sanitation and social reconstruction programs. The international community needs to help organize these efforts, working with the government of Sudan as well as the host of international aid agencies and NGOs working so heroically on the ground.

Water is the first requirement. Earlier this summer, scientists presented evidence of a vast underground lake beneath south-western Sudan’s arid plains, not unlike similar geologic features discovered elsewhere in the region. That can only be determined by exploratory drilling. A team of UN engineers is on the ground; more will follow in what we hope will be a global effort. If there is indeed water there, we will leave no stone unturned to help find it.

We live, as you all know, in a world of global problems, requiring collective responses. Darfur is no exception. Regional players have already contributed enormously to our diplomatic efforts, among them Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, who helped bring parties that have not yet signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement into this coming round of negotiations. That is the reason why I will end my trip with a visit to Tripoli next week.

Meanwhile, the UN is working with the European Union to deploy a multi-dimensional presence in eastern Chad and the Central African Republic. As you know, the Security Council yesterday indicated its willingness to authorize such a mission.

The purpose: to protect refugees, IDPs and other civilians affected by the spill over of the conflict in Darfur and to ensure the continued flow of humanitarian aid.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have a few other announcements, as well.

Not long after my return from Africa, on September 21, we will hold an Enlarged Contact Group meeting on Darfur. This meeting – a follow-up to the Paris meeting in June – will be co-chaired by me and AU chairperson Mr. Alpha Oumar Konare.

On September 14, we will host the first meeting of our MDG Africa Steering group—a key initiative to focus on what is needed to achieve our Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in Africa.

And we will also hold high-level meetings on Iraq and Afghanistan around the time of the General Assembly, as well as a Quartet meeting on the Middle East.

Thank you very much. I will be pleased to answer your questions."