Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Opening remarks at UN Headquarters press conference

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Headquarters, 09 August 2010

Good morning ladies and gentlemen. It's a great pleasure to see you.

I would like to begin with a major announcement.

I am very pleased to launch today a High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability that will be co-chaired by President Tarja Halonen, of Finland, and President Jacob Zuma, of South Africa.

The members of the panel include some of the world's leading thinkers and policy makers from government, business and civil society.

The panel will address the question of how to lift people out of poverty while respecting and preserving the climate and natural systems that sustain us.

I have asked the Panel to think big. The time for narrow agendas and narrow thinking is over.

We need to promote low carbon growth and strengthen our resilience to the impacts of climate change.

We need to address the interlinked global challenges of poverty, hunger, water, energy security and sanitation.

In short, we need a blueprint for a more liveable, prosperous, and sustainable future for all.

I expect the Panel not only to think big, but also to come up with practical answers that address the institutional and financial arrangements that will be needed to put such a new blueprint into practice.

The Panel will report by the end of 2011, next year, in time to feed into key intergovernmental processes -- including the UN Conference on Sustainable Development that will take place in Rio de Janeiro in 2012 and the annual conferences of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

I am joined by Mr. Janos Pasztor who will be heading the panel's secretariat; if you want, he might remain for your further questions, after my press conference.

Let me now turn to other matters.

As you know, I have just returned from Japan, where I attended ceremonies commemorating the 65th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

It was a profoundly moving experience. The impact of the damage from the nuclear bombs was beyond words, beyond imagination.

I had the privilege of meeting many survivors. Their courage and strength through so much suffering was truly inspiring.

My visit strengthened my personal conviction that we must do everything in our power to realize a world free of nuclear weapons.

As long as nuclear weapons exist, the threat exists. If we want to get rid of the threat, we need to get rid of the weapons.

On 24 September, I will convene a high level meeting on disarmament here in New York.

It will provide a unique opportunity to discuss how to revitalize the work of the Conference on Disarmament and build consensus on the broader challenges of disarmament -- including moving forward on a Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty. I also had a series of bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada, parliamentary leaders, Speakers of both Houses, the Defence Minister and many others, and I will be happy to discuss this with you.

On Pakistan, I am extremely concerned about the humanitarian impact of the floods.

The scale of this disaster rivals that of the earthquake in October 2005, but this time the geographic range is much greater.

As you know, I have sent my special envoy, Jean-Maurice Ripert, who is there right now working with the authorities to assess needs and mobilize aid.

The UN on the ground is working to supplement the efforts of the Government and local and international NGOs to provide immediate relief -- food, clean drinking water, shelter, health materials.

The local Emergency Relief Fund and the Central Emergency Response Fund have already made resources available for the agencies and organizations in the front line.

We will soon issue an Emergency Response Plan and an appeal for several hundred million dollars to respond to immediate needs.

But let me stress now that we must also give thought to medium and longer-term assistance. This will be a major and protracted task.

I appeal for donors to generously support Pakistan at this difficult time.

On the Middle East, I will meet tomorrow with the members of the Panel of Inquiry on the flotilla incident of 31 May.

I am grateful for the spirit of constructive engagement that has made this unprecedented panel possible.

I am confident that this initiative will contribute to regional stability.

In Lebanon, UNIFIL's [United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon] interventions have helped to reduce tension and restore calm.

Once UNIFIL's investigation into the circumstances that led to the exchange of fire between the Lebanese Armed Forces and Israel Defence Forces is complete, we will brief the Security Council.

In Darfur, the security situation has continued to deteriorate.

We have consistently urged the Government and the JEM [Justice and Equality Movement] to refrain from violence and return to the negotiating table, and we will continue to do so.

My Special Representative, Mr. Ibrahim Gambari, is working closely with the Government to bring down tensions in the Kalma IDP camp. We are also continuing to press the Government to prosecute the perpetrators of attacks against UNAMID [United Nations/African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur].

On Myanmar, my Special Adviser and I are deploying every effort to continue to engage with the authorities. I have been very clear in expressing our concerns and expectations regarding the political process, including the planned elections this year.

It is a source of frustration, however, that Myanmar has been unresponsive so far to these efforts. A lack of cooperation at this critical moment represents nothing less than a lost opportunity for Myanmar.

I am now in the process of preparing my annual report to the General Assembly in which our views at this stage will be further elaborated.

Finally, like my colleagues in Afghanistan, I was shocked and appalled at the murder of ten medical workers in Badakhshan. We condemn this serious crime.

I would like to emphasize that health workers must have access to treat those in need and must be able to do so without fear. Under international law, health workers must be protected while they carry out their life-saving work.

Thank you for your attention. I will be glad to take your questions.