Ban Ki-moon's speeches


Opening remarks at end-of-year press conference

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Headquarters, 14 December 2011

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. It is a great pleasure to meet you. And I look forward to seeing you later this evening during the annual UNCA dinner.

We are nearing the end of my first term as Secretary-General, and this is also the day when I can discuss with you my last five year situation. This has been an extraordinary and remarkable year.

The Arab Awakening or Arab Spring has transformed the geopolitical landscape. We spoke out - early and forcefully, calling on leaders to hear the voices of their people. And we acted, decisively, in concert with the international community.

We played an essential role in the liberation of Libya. We stand ready to continue to help Tunisia and Egypt at their request.

The agreement mediated by our UN envoy in Yemen sets the stage for an end to fighting - and the creation of a new government of national unity.

We welcomed our 193rd Member State - the Republic of South Sudan. The birth of this new nation followed a successful referendum in January this year, made possible by UN peacekeeping and diplomacy that included, four years ago, our deployment in Darfur of peacekeepers.

And in Myanmar we see a promising new opening - we will persist through our good offices and other efforts.

Elsewhere, events continue to test our resolve.

In Syria, more than 5,000 people are dead. This cannot go on. In the name of humanity, it is time for the international community to act.

In Afghanistan, we face continued insecurity. Last week's conference in Bonn re-affirmed the international community's commitment to our partnership through 2014 and beyond.

With the help of the Quartet, we must continue to push for peace between Israel and Palestine.

In the Horn of Africa, people still face famine.

From the beginning of my time as Secretary-General, I have sought to advance a practical, action-oriented vision of the UN as the voice of the voiceless, and the defender of the defenceless.

That is why, together with the President of the General Assembly I went to Somalia last week - the first visit of a Secretary-General in 18 years. And of course, the first time ever in the history of the UN that the Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly travelled together to Somalia. And it is why I visited the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, where we are helping to feed and shelter half a million Somali people.

From Somalia to Sudan, Yemen to Afghanistan, Haiti to the Philippines - millions need our help.

Today in Geneva, we asked for $7.7 billion to assist 51 million people in 16 countries next year.

Economic times are hard. But we cannot balance budgets with the lives of the world's poorest and most vulnerable.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

2011 also delivered warnings about our common future.

The disaster at Fukushima revived concerns about nuclear safety, and the UN mobilized a global response.

We saw record floods in Pakistan, Thailand, Colombia and El Salvador - a vivid reminder of the increasing incidence of extreme weather.

I came to office speaking of climate change as the defining challenge of our era. I was determined to raise it to the top of the global agenda.

Five years later, we have made significant progress - from Bali to Copenhagen to Cancun and, now, Durban.

At Durban, we defied the sceptics. We showed clearly that UN multilateral negotiations can deliver: consensus on a clear target and timeline for reaching a legally binding agreement involving all countries; a re-commitment to the Kyoto Protocol and the institutions that have produced major reductions in green house gases; advances on technology and financing, including the Green Climate Fund.

Looking ahead, we will build on this Durban spirit of cooperation to advance on climate change financing and, in particular, our new initiative on Sustainable Energy for All.

There is a broader lesson.

Whether the issue is climate change - peace, security and human rights - or humanitarian relief - the United Nations has never been so needed.

I believe we are at an inflection point in history. All is changing. The old rules are breaking down.

We do not know what new order will emerge. Yet we can be confident: the United Nations will be at the fore.

That is why, at the General Assembly in September, I set out a vision for the next five years - a vision of solidarity for an era of upheaval and uncertainty.

I identified five global imperatives - five generational opportunities to create the future we want:

First, sustainable development,

Second, a safer and more secure world,

Third, the importance of prevention,

Fourth, helping countries in transition, and

Fifth, doing more for the world's women and young people.

I will lay out our plan of action in January to the General Assembly.

For now, let me say that we will focus on the links among issues. We must connect the dots – between climate change, energy, food, water, health and education, and oceans.

All these will be front-and-center at the Rio + 20 Conference on Sustainable Development in June next year.

Meanwhile, we will build on the progress of the last five years.

Our new emphasis on preventive diplomacy and mediation has produced encouraging results - in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Kyrgyzstan, Cyprus and Nepal.

We have advanced the Responsibility to Protect.

In Côte d'Ivoire, Laurent Gbagbo sought to subvert the will of his people. We stood firm for democracy - and today he is in The Hague. We stood, as well, against Muammar Qaddafi when he vowed to slaughter his people like “rats.”

These are important victories for justice and international law. During the last five years, we have stood repeatedly for accountability against impunity. We have strengthened the rule of law and the International Criminal Court, now ratified by 120 nations with more soon to come.

On disarmament and non-proliferation, we have seen growing support for the five-point plan introduced early in my first term.

We continue to champion the rights of women and children. The creation of UN Women culminated a long effort, grounded in our conviction that women are key to development and peace.

Our “Every Woman Every Child” initiative has the potential to prevent millions of needless deaths. Coupled with our success in fighting malaria, we have a powerful model for the future.

What we preach to others, we must practice ourselves. Women hold more senior positions than ever in UN history. You will see many more during my second term, not only at the top.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We can accomplish little without a strong United Nations.

People are outpacing traditional institutions - in their desire for change - in their demands for democracy, justice, human rights and new social and economic opportunity.

Our challenge is to keep up - to adapt - and to deliver.

As my Chef de Cabinet announced on December 1, I intend to build a new team for my second term, a team that is strong on substance and diverse in composition, a team that works as one.

Leading by example, I have placed priority on mobility - combining fresh perspective and institutional continuity and synergy.

With these criteria in mind, I am undertaking a thorough review of my entire team and its management structure. In the coming days, additional announcements will be made as appropriate.

Thank you, and I will be happy to answer your questions.