Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Opening remarks at news conference, UN Headquarters

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Headquarters, 18 September 2007

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.  It is a great pleasure to meet all of you today.  I know this room is quite packed.  I see some of the travel companions who travelled with me to Africa.  I hope you are all well recovered from your very hectic trip.

Today, as you know, is the beginning of the sixty-second session of the General Assembly.  I thought that it would be appropriate and desirable for me to exchange some views on matters of mutual interest and concern pertaining to the sixty-second session of the General Assembly.

This will be my first General Assembly as Secretary-General.  As you know, I assumed my duties as Secretary-General on January 1st, in the middle of the sixty-first session of the General Assembly.  This will be a most intense period of multilateral diplomacy ever in the United Nations history, I believe.  As we move well into the twenty-first century, the United Nations is, once again, the global forum where issues are discussed and solutions are hammered out.

In addition to the general debate, there will be a number of very important side events or international conferences; for example, a high-level meeting on climate change, Darfur, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East peace process, known as the Quartet process, and also Kosovo.

Regarding Darfur, I am going to chair, together with African Union Chairperson [Alpha Oumar] Konaré, this high-level meeting.  I hope that we will be able to map our strategy and road map for the forthcoming political negotiations scheduled in Libya on October 27th.  This will mark just one more step forward, and we will need to redouble our efforts, so as not to lose the positive momentum, which we have been able to create.

This weekend, a number of foreign ministers will come, as I said, to attend all these ministerial high-level meetings.

Before I take your questions, let me briefly mention just one question which will be high on your agenda.  This is on climate change.  On 24 September, next Monday, I will convene a high-level dialogue on climate change.  I am very much pleased and encouraged by the overwhelming response of leaders from all around the world.  Around 80 Heads of State or Government have expressed their intention to participate as speakers, and we have a total of 154 speakers who have registered, including 80 Heads of State or Government.  This will be an informal event where the leaders of the world come together, with a renewed sense of commitment, to tackle a problem that faces each one of us -- and above all the most vulnerable populations on our planet, those endangered by rising sea levels and those whose supply of food and water will be greatly affected by the changing climate.

We have a very good basis to work.  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has given us clear proof of the science, the impacts and options for responding.  The world's peoples are now looking for their Governments to act.

What I want to achieve at the end of this particular event is a strong political message at the leaders' level for the climate change negotiations in Bali in December.  We need to move fast and reach a bold agreement by 2009, so that it can enter into force by the end of 2012.  We must not leave any vacuum after the expiration of the Kyoto Protocol.  I have confidence that leaders will commit themselves to personally follow these negotiations, within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, through to a fruitful conclusion.

Climate change is a challenge to our leadership, skills and vision -- and we have to address that challenge boldly.

And I am also very pleased that the incoming President of the General Assembly has made “Responding to Climate Change” the theme of this year's general debate.

I will make sure that the meetings on this issue, and many others, are real working sessions dealing with hard facts and hard decisions.

I am under no illusion that, whether it's the Middle East or Kosovo or Afghanistan or climate change, these problems will be solved overnight.  The solutions all involve a long road and hard work.  Be assured that, as Secretary-General, I am committed to working intensely with the Member States on all these issues to achieve results.

I also plan to have bilateral meetings with more than 100 Heads of State or Government or ministerial level delegations. I will use these discussions to advance our common agenda -- human rights, security and development and, of course, making the UN more efficient and effective and accountable to the people of these United Nations.

I also hope that the delegations gathered here will use this opportunity to rejoin their efforts in advancing the reform process at the United Nations, both in terms of management reform and institutional reform.

Reform of the United Nations remains a top priority for me, as well, but it is not something the Secretary-General can do alone.  We need the support and cooperation from Member States and the Secretariat.

Recently, I have brought all UN senior advisers to Torino in Italy, and we had a very good retreat and discussions on the future of the United Nations, as well as how we can work as a team, and have come up with a working short-hand for this effort: “A Stronger UN for a Better World”.

Precisely because our work is so important, we must deliver to the best of our ability.  This means faster, more effective action; a work ethic that puts a premium on pragmatic results, not bureaucratic process; and, above all, scrupulous attention to the highest standards of transparency and professional ethics.  I shall be working closely with the Member States over the coming years to push this agenda, hard.

I truly believe that the world leaders that will gather here in a few days bring with them a renewed interest in multilateral resolution to challenges facing the world.

The Member States that make up this Organization and those of us in the Secretariat have a collective responsibility to meet the expectations that are placed upon us.

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