Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Openning remarks of press encounter at the Palais des Nations

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Geneva (Switzerland), 01 July 2013

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Bonjour Mesdames et Messieurs, je suis très heureux de vous rencontrer à Genève.

I am pleased to be back in Geneva again.

As you know, I am here for the Opening of the High Level Segment of the Economic and Social Council focusing on the role of science, technology, culture and innovation.

One of the greatest innovations in development work has been the Millennium Development Goals. Today, I launched our MDG Report 2013 which highlights significant progress in meeting many of the targets. The report also identifies areas where action is needed most - for example, sanitation.

More than a decade of experience has proven that focused global development efforts can make a profound difference. Through accelerated action, the world can achieve the MDGs and generate momentum for an ambitious post-2015 development framework. Now is the time to step up our work.

Allow me to address a couple of other issues of concern before taking your questions.

On Syria, there is an urgent need for the violence to end. Far too many lives have been lost already and the conflict has generated a huge and heart-rending humanitarian crisis.

From the outset, I have advocated a political solution. The US-Russian initiative to bring Syrian parties to the negotiating table is the best chance for a lasting solution that will deliver peace and save lives.

It is essential that we do everything possible to ensure that this conference takes place as soon as possible. I urge the international community to fully commit to a political process.

The people of Syria want peace and hope. Yet all they see is death upon death. All they hear is talks after talks.

People are dying. Families are fleeing. Syria’s fires are spreading. They may soon engulf the whole region.

I once again call on all those with influence to hear the cry of the Syrian people and the call of history: Act and act now.

The situation in Mali is also of great concern. I welcome the June 18th agreement between the transitional Government of Mali and northern armed groups, which paves the way to the July 28th president elections. It is vital that these elections be credible and peaceful, with an outcome accepted by all Malians. This will be an enormous undertaking. The UN’s new mission on the ground, MINUSMA, will do all it can to provide security, technical and logistical support.

As you are well aware, today, as of 1st of July, this MINUSMSA is now officially functioning.

I am also concerned about the humanitarian situation in Mali, where nearly 475,000 people are displaced, and nearly 1.4 million need immediate assistance. We have seen human rights violations in northern Mali by all sides to the conflict, including the use of children by armed groups, rape and enforced disappearances. It is imperative that violations be investigated and perpetrators held accountable.

With those brief opening remarks, I'll be happy to answer some of your questions.