Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Opening remarks at joint press conference with Foreign Minister Manuel Gonzalez Sanz of the Republic of Costa Rica

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, San Jose (Costa Rica), 30 July 2014

Estoy muy feliz de estar en Costa Rica.

Es un placer para mi realizar mi primer viaje a Costa Rica como Secretario General y estar en su hermoso pais.

Since arriving this morning, I have met with President [Luis Guillermo] Solís and Foreign Minister [Manuel] González. We discussed security in Central America, the Millennium Development Goals, the post-2015 development agenda, climate change, and many other issues relating to disarmament and peace and security.

I had the extraordinary honor of addressing the judges of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

I have invited His Excellency President Solis to the Climate Summit which I am going to convene on 23 September. I am delighted that he confirmed that he will attend.

We also discussed the plight of migrants, especially unaccompanied children. Beyond Costa Rica, tens of thousands of Central American children are vulnerable and suffering at the hands of traffickers. On this World Day against Trafficking in Persons, I repeat my call on countries of origin, transit and destination to urgently protect the lives and safety of migrant children.

I applaud Costa Rica’s leadership in fostering peace, sustainable development and social inclusion.

For decades, Costa Rica has led the world in avoiding wasteful military spending. This country boldly invested instead in universal health and education. The result is less inequality and greater social peace. At the same time, I understand the Government and people aspire to better results.

I am heartened by the Government’s recent efforts to end discrimination. I welcome steps taken to promote intercultural dialogue with indigenous peoples. I praise moves towards recognizing the equal rights of all people regardless of ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or other differences. I was pleased to learn that recently, President Solís raised the diversity flag for the first time in the Presidential House.

I also encourage a stronger push to end violence against women – building on the impressive successes in ensuring their equal participation in decision-making.

I will meet with indigenous representatives today. Their full participation in decision-making is essential. The United Nations is working closely with Costa Rica for greater progress.

Costa Rica plays an important global role in promoting disarmament – including on the adoption of the landmark Arms Trade Treaty.

I am grateful to Costa Rica for hosting the meeting of the States Party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions next September [to be] held in San José. This is one more example of this country's commitment to international peace and stability.

Our world is interconnected. We have a responsibility to address threats to people wherever they occur.

The terrible conflict in Gaza has now entered into its fourth week. Despite repeated appeals, violence, destruction and human suffering show no signs of abating.

Over 1,200 Palestinians have been killed – the vast majority of them civilians, including hundreds of children.

Thousands more have been injured. Nearly 220,000 have fled their homes to UNRWA shelters.

The last 48 hours have brought even more suffering.

Just this morning, a UN shelter, the Jabalia Elementary Girls School, was repeatedly shelled by – from all accounts – Israeli artillery.

Women and children were asleep in what they had been assured was the safest place.

Reports indicate at least 16 civilians were killed and many more injured.

I condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms.

Nothing – nothing – justifies such horror.

The coordinates of the school, like all UN facilities, were repeatedly communicated to the Israeli Defence Forces.

Yesterday we also saw, for the third time during the conflict, the discovery of munitions at an abandoned UNRWA school. I want to stress those were abandoned facilities.

Today also witnessed an unconscionable attack on a market reportedly killing another 17 people during a so-called four-hour humanitarian pause.

I demand that all parties immediately respect UN premises.

These are serious violations of international law; the perpetrators of these violations must be held to account.

United Nations shelters must be safe zones not combat zones.

I am also deeply troubled by the targeting of the Gaza power station which supplies electricity and water. This attack raises deep concerns about sanitation conditions and possible spread of disease on a massive scale.

I repeat my urgent call for an unconditional and extendable humanitarian ceasefire.

In the name of our common humanity the fighting must stop now.

Thank you.

Muchas gracias.