Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Opening remarks at press conference

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Headquarters, 17 April 2013

Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to see you. I am telling you that tomorrow I will visit Washington D.C. to participate in the annual finance ministers [meeting] organized by the World Bank. I have a series of meetings with finance ministers who are participating on major issues.

These meetings mark a new advance in cooperation between the United Nations and the World Bank.

The discussions, which will continue on Friday, coincide with the spring meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Presidents, prime ministers, finance ministers and others will be there – high-level attendance that we hope to turn into high-level political support for the Millennium Development Goals.

We will focus on four main areas.

First is education: one of the smartest investments we can make in the world’s future well-being.

Second, climate change and sustainable energy. Climate change is a crisis in the making; sustainable energy will be a major part of any solution.

Third, poverty. Earlier this month we marked 1,000 days until the 2015 deadline for achieving the MDGs. We have made remarkable progress. But there remains much to do and we must make this period one of action.

Fourth, the role of the development banks. For the first time, I will meet with the heads of all the world’s leading development banks to strengthen our partnership on financing and in the key area of statistics.

The Deputy Secretary-General Jane Eliasson will join me, and will use his time to highlight the crucial issues of sanitation and the rule of law.

I thank President Dr. Jim Yong Kim of the World Bank for his commitment to strengthening this partnership.

Ladies and Gentlemen, let me now turn to a number of pressing peace and security matters.

First, the tragedy in Syria worsens by the day. The military dynamic is destroying the country and imperilling the region. Civilians are paying the price and must be protected.

The United Nations is doing its best to deliver desperately needed aid and to support the crushing burden of more than a million refugees on Syria’s neighbours.

The prospects may seem dim, but I remain convinced that a political solution is possible. This is the only way to end the bloodshed and bring about a new and democratic Syria.

The United Nations will continue to push in that direction. I will meet later today with Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi to consider the options.

I remain focused on my fact-finding mission to investigate allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria.

The team of experts is ready to deploy quickly as soon as we have the Syrian Government's consent. The mission needs to be able to investigate all the allegations made by Member States.

I have been urging the Syrian Government to show flexibility in accepting the proposed modalities.

While awaiting consent from the Syrian Government, the Mission will proceed with its fact-finding activities. To this end, specific information has been requested from the Governments concerned.

On Mali, security has greatly improved as a result of the timely actions of French and African military forces. However, much remains to be done to restore Mali’s constitutional order and territorial integrity. Military operations and stabilization are essential. But let me emphasize once again that political progress is the key to any lasting solution.

I am also alarmed by the clashes in the Central African Republic. I urge the de facto authorities to restore law and order throughout the country. I welcome the efforts of the African Union and the Economic Community of Central African States - ECCAS - to promote peace.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Security Council adopted an important resolution setting out a new approach that reinforces our political efforts and strengthens the military role of MONUSCO, including through the establishment of an Intervention Brigade to address the problem of armed groups. I have since appointed Mary Robinson as my Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region.

The Middle East peace process remains a priority. We cannot allow the window for achieving a two-state solution to close any further. I welcome the recent visits by President [Barack] Obama and Secretary [John] Kerry to Jerusalem and Ramallah. All involved, including the Quartet, should work to breathe new life into the peace process, create an environment conducive for the resumption of negotiations and establish a credible political horizon for achieving a two-state solution.

On the Korean Peninsula, the situation remains highly volatile.

The international community has responded in a firm but measured way to the nuclear test, threats and other provocative acts by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The recent developments have strengthened the international consensus that the DPRK will not be accepted as a nuclear-weapon-state.

I continue to urge the DPRK leadership to reverse course and return to the negotiating table. I have spoken with leaders in China, the United States, the Republic of Korea and many other countries. I firmly believe that the recent offer of dialogue by the Republic of Korea is genuine and hope that the DPRK takes it seriously. As Secretary-General, I will continue my efforts to facilitate meaningful dialogue.

At the same time, the international community should not lose sight of the serious humanitarian and human rights situation in the DPRK. I encourage the authorities to focus on the well-being of the country’s people.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for your attention. I will be happy to answer some of your questions.