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New York, 6 June 2012


Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media.

I am happy to meet with you today on a number of key issues.

First of all:

Tonight, I am hosting an important and special cultural event in the General Assembly Hall, to support UN Women. 

Specifically, we want to draw attention to the problem of violence against women and girls.

This is an issue on which we all need to come together, to fight this type of violence.

It is estimated that six out of ten women worldwide have suffered from physical or sexual violence. 

This is unacceptable! 

So, we must all come together and deliver much-needed assistance to the victims, and offer our support in addressing this crime. 

The Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra will also perform for us tonight.

The Orchestra promotes both Arabic and Western music, and is one of the best orchestras in the Middle East. 

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet will be speaking at this event. 

There will be other dignitaries, celebrities, philanthropists and distinguished guests attending.

This event will also mark a celebration of the Sixty-Sixth Session of the General Assembly, which I have the honour to preside over.  

With the direct engagement of Member States, the General Assembly has been able to respond promptly to many important events across the world during this session. 

The General Assembly remains the world’s most representative, most legitimate and truly universal body. 

The people of the world are looking to the General Assembly and to the United Nations as a whole, for support, assistance and as a moral compass in these troubled times.

On tonight’s special event in the GA Hall, I’m very grateful to the State of Qatar and the Qatar Foundation, for their immense support and for bringing the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra to New York for the first time. 

Much like the General Assembly itself, the Orchestra serves as a bridge between the cultures of the world.

Secondly, Syria:
The General Assembly remains deeply concerned about the situation in Syria. 

The situation on the ground is very disappointing and, frankly, appalling. 

We have all followed the recent horrifying developments, especially the massacre of more than a hundred people – including women and children – in the village Al-Houlah. 

I have condemned the Al-Houlah massacre and the ongoing violence in the strongest possible terms.  Those responsible must be made to face justice.   

As a follow-up to GA Resolution 66/257, adopted on 16th of February, and out of deep concern, the General Assembly has invited the United Nations Secretary-General, the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, the Joint Special Envoy of the UN and the Arab League, and Assistant Secretary General for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, to brief the General Assembly in open session, this Thursday, 7th June. 

That’s tomorrow. 

The people of Syria and the region deserve a united voice and urgent action from the General Assembly and the UN for the restoration of peace, unity and order in Syria.

Thirdly, and the last point just before I take your questions – Rio+20:

This is a very important month for all of us, as we prepare for the Rio+20 Summit in Rio de Janeiro on the 20th, 21st and 22nd of June.

As a top priority for my presidency of the GA, I have convened a number of key events to gather support for all the preparations that have been taking place – especially behind the scenes – to ensure success at this important summit. 

I have continued to advocate the importance of Rio+20 in meetings and bilateral discussions with world leaders and important partners, here in New York and during my travels.

I have been pushing for the full engagement of Member States and civil society, in order to over-come differences and narrow any remaining gaps. 

That’s why I convened a retreat in December, which was attended by the key negotiators of Rio-plus-20.

More recently, I convened a Thematic Debate on Rio-plus-20 and Beyond, which discussed the issue of Sustainable Development Goals and emerging challenges.

Through-out the negotiations, it is very important for us to focus on the big picture and not just individual national interests or individual group interests. 

Rio-plus-20 is about setting the world on the right course for sustainable growth for future generations.  

The real work will begin after the conference is over, when we will need concrete action on various key areas of concern.

I wish to stress the importance of Governments’ commitment to action, and voluntary commitments from all stakeholders, to support implementation of outcomes of Rio-plus-20.

Ladies and Gentlemen…

If Rio+20 fails, we all lose. 

We cannot afford to miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  We cannot afford to be negative and divided. 

We need consensus for success in the agenda for sustainable development and global prosperity, especially when we consider life beyond the Millennium Development Goals.  

That is why I am doing my best to support the Secretary-General and Member States fully, at this critical moment, to ensure that we achieve success in Rio. 

In the days ahead, my office will be engaged in, and available to help, towards progress on any outstanding issues. 

Personally I am a born optimist.

I have learned over the years of my multilateral diplomatic experience that one has to be optimistic when you are working with 193 sovereign Member States.

I believe that with genuine political will and a sense of global solidarity, we can achieve a great deal at Rio.   

I will participate in this historic event.  And I am grateful to the Government of Brazil for their leadership in hosting this event.

Just coming back quickly to the first point on tonight’s special cultural event: 

Following a call I have made to Member States, a number of Governments have started contributing hundreds of thousands – even millions - of dollars to the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women. 

Tonight, and after tonight, we are hoping to see more contributions to this important Fund from Governments, the private sector, philanthropist and other organisations. 

We can make a real and positive difference in the lives of millions of women and girls across the world.

Thank you.

Now I am ready to take your questions …