Protecting Human Rights, Including Freedom of Speech, Media, Bedrock Principles for Prosperity, Progress, Says Secretary-General to Kyrgyzstan Parliament

5 April 2010
SG/SM/12826

Protecting Human Rights, Including Freedom of Speech, Media, Bedrock Principles for Prosperity, Progress, Says Secretary-General to Kyrgyzstan Parliament

5 April 2010
Secretary-General
SG/SM/12826
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Protecting Human Rights, Including Freedom of Speech, Media, Bedrock Principles

for Prosperity, Progress, Says Secretary-General to Kyrgyzstan Parliament

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the Jogorku Kenesh Parliament of Kyrgyzstan in Bishkek, 3 April:

Salamatsizby Urmattu Myrza Janna iymdar [Greetings ladies and gentlemen].

The world knows Kyrgyzstan for the warmth of your freedom-loving people, the richness of your culture, the beauty of your ancient lands.

It is a pleasure and a great honour to be here for the first time, to see and experience all this for myself.

From the epic tale of the Manas to the legendary Silk Road, you have enriched civilization with centuries of history, philosophy and exchange. 

Now this ancient crossroads of cultures and ideas is nearing a milestone -- one that showcases your past and present, your nation’s youth and vigor. 

Next year marks the twentieth anniversary of independence. 

The United Nations has been honored to partner with you from the beginning. 

Despite the challenging circumstances of your early days, you immediately set ambitious goals worthy of the proud history and independent spirit of Kyrgyzstan.

I cannot put it better than the Preamble of your Constitution, and I quote: 

“…guided by the ancestors’ precepts to live in unity (and) peace… to confirm our adherence to human rights and freedoms… to establish ourselves… as a free and democratic civil society.”  End of quote.

Your aspirations echo our common United Nations Charter. 

I have come to Kyrgyzstan to offer the full support of the United Nations in realizing these universal values. 

I carry with me a clear message:  Central Asia is central to our world.  It is a player on the global stage.

Your goals -- your hopes -- your challenges and your responses to them --will help shape not only a stronger region, but a better world.

Your role is critical. 

As parliamentarians, you have a high responsibility for building consensus, framing new policies, building social institutions and laws, promoting democracy and political freedoms, advancing progress and social well-being.

Here in Kyrgyzstan, the Jogorku Kenesh has helped lead the way, to develop an independent state, build a market economy and take care of people’s concerns, and build democratic society and institutions.

The United Nations has been proud to work with you.

As parliamentarians, you also engage with diverse constituencies and listen to disparate voices:

Independent political parties, local associations and non-governmental organizations, women’s groups and human rights associations, media organizations.

Everywhere I go, I also seek different views.

It widens my understanding, helps me appreciate diversity and culture, equips me to develop fresh responses and solutions.

Robust civil society, tolerance for diversity and media freedom -- all are fundamental to modernization.  They are essential to civil harmony and growth, prosperity, opportunity.

We live today in a new world, very different from that of two decades ago. 

I call this an era of renewed multilateralism, an era that rewards progress on the universal values embedded in the United Nations Charter.  Justice.  Tolerance.  Dignity.  Equality.

All of this requires vigorous regional cooperation. 

And I encourage the nations of Central Asia to work together more closely.

Today, I would like to highlight three common goals for the future.

First, reducing extreme poverty.

The Millennium Development Goals are the world’s blueprint for reducing poverty, hunger and disease, for improving education and the environment, for establishing time-lines and benchmarks for success.

A decade has passed since our world leaders, including that of Kyrgyzstan, committed to these goals.  The deadline is now just over five years away.  The clock is ticking.

Globally, we have made progress -- on fighting malaria, polio, and other diseases -- on enrolling more children in schools, especially girls.   

Kyrgyzstan has made significant headway. 

But the path is hard, and the global financial crisis has made it harder.

Unemployment is rising.  Remittances have declined.  Food insecurity has grown.  Corruption persists.

That is why the United Nations developed a Global Jobs Pact:  more jobs for decent pay, in decent working conditions.

It is why we created the new Global Impact Vulnerability Alert System -- to better understand what is really happening to the poorest and the most vulnerable people around the world.

And it is why I will convene a special United Nations Summit meeting focusing on the Millennium Development Goals.

I look forward to strong participation from Kyrgyzstan, as well as the entire region.  I was assured by President [Kurmanbek] Bakiev that he would attend this Summit in September in New York.

The world can benefit from your experiences and ideas.  As one landlocked country, as one of the developing countries, you have to say your own challenges, your concerns to the world.  And we must focus on specific areas for action such as maternal and child health.

Most experts see one sure route to advancing on every one of the goals, that is by empowering women. 

When we invest in women and girls, families are stronger.  Societies are more stable. Economies thrive.  Countries move closer to peace.

Yet women around the world continue to face discrimination and abuse.

As many as 70 percent of women can expect to experience some form of violence in their lifetime.

That is why I have started a global campaign called Unite to End Violence Against Women.  President Bakiev has signed and committed himself to this campaign.  I thank him and ask […] each Parliamentarian, particularly men parliamentarians, to join this campaign.

I have created a Network of men leaders because I believe that to end violence against women, men must change.  I have asked Desmond Tutu, some Prime Ministers and very distinguished world leaders to join in this Network of Men Leaders. […]

I have recently appointed a very distinguished woman leader to work as a Special Representative of the Secretary-General to fight against violence against women.

Last month, it launched in Kyrgyzstan -- and I said, earlier today President Bakiev affirmed his support. 

I thank you all for becoming partners in this effort. 

Others have joined as well -- business leaders, universities, artists, young people.

Let us pledge, together, to end violence against women.

No exceptions.  No excuses.  No delay.

The second challenge, both global and regional, is to leave our children a cleaner, greener world.

Emissions continue to rise.  Climate change is accelerating.  Accelerating much, much faster than you realize.  Glaciers are melting.  […] It is caused by human actions. 

These are the facts.

That is why, from the moment I took office, I have urged leaders to make climate change a top priority of the international community.

Governments have agreed to keep the rise in global temperature to 2° C.  But every year’s delay costs billions.

We need to cut emissions more rapidly. 

We need to help vulnerable countries adapt. 

We need to build on last December’s Copenhagen Accord. 

And the Governments of Central Asia need to help push the negotiations towards a comprehensive, legally binding treaty in Mexico this year.

People in Central Asia know the danger of climate change, of neglect of the environment, not by reading about it, but by suffering from it.

Here in Central Asia, it is also time to act.

Growing pressure on resources -- water, in particular -- underscores the need for quality management and cooperation.

I encourage Kyrgyzstan, and your neighbors, to build on the momentum and understanding achieved last year at the summit of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea.

The Presidents of Central Asia pledged to work together on this crucial but sensitive issue.

You are exploring ways to invest in high-efficiency water management systems, to provide for both energy and agricultural needs, to advance better land management. 

I see a big opportunity here, and I offer my help and the help of the United Nations, to reduce tensions, to build consensus, to engage in conversation among the leaders of the five Central Asian nations.

The United Nations is also working with you to address the remnants and risks of uranium and toxic metal wastes.  Kyrgyzstan has played a leading role in searching for solutions. 

I also want to recognize your global leadership in highlighting the unique challenges of mountain ecosystems and in helping to establish the International Day of Mountains. 

The third and final challenge, again both regional and global, is to reinforce peace, security and human rights. 

Afghanistan concerns us all -- and I thank you for your leadership.

If we are to see a stable and democratic Afghanistan, we need your engagement.

Without your help and cooperation, the plague of instability and drug-trafficking will never disappear from this region.

I also applaud this region for leading the way on issues of nuclear security.

The Central Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone entered into force last year. 

You have contributed to the gathering of global momentum for non-proliferation and disarmament.  We have important opportunities for global progress in the weeks ahead -- including the review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in May, at [United Nations Headquarters] in New York. 

I welcome the agreement between the Russian Federation and the United States for a fresh start towards a safer world.

I also salute Kyrgyzstan for being the first country in this region to contribute police and military officers for United Nations peacekeeping operations.  You have sent your people to Sudan, Darfur, Liberia and Timor-Leste.  I thank you very much for your contribution.

All of us who believe in the United Nations understand that security has many dimensions.  It starts with people.  Respect for the rights of all people.

For the United Nations, the protection of human rights is a bedrock principle if a country is to prosper.

Quite frankly, ladies and gentlemen, recent events have been troubling, including the last few days.

I repeat:  all human rights must be protected, including free speech and freedom of the media.

I thank Kyrgyzstan for hosting the Central Asia Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights here in Bishkek, and I ask for your full support.

Like all 192 Member States of the United Nations, Kyrgyzstan will undergo a Universal Periodic Review by the Human Rights Council next month.

This takes your full commitment. 

I look forward to a vigorous discussion of these fundamental principles. 

I also commend Kyrgyzstan for signing the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and encourage your Government to favourably consider ratifying the Statute as soon as possible.  […]

This will help reinforce the global commitment to ending impunity for genocide and other serious international crimes.

These universal values are fundamental to building the dynamic, competitive, modern, forward-looking, democratic society you are seeking. 

Robust civil society, grounded in democracy and the rule of law, is the way of the future and the foundation of prosperity and progress.

This understanding is at the heart of your Constitution and our United Nations Charter. 

Let us pledge together to deepen those values.

On all of these issues, the United Nations stands ready to assist. 

I encourage you to support the United Nations Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia, established soon after I became Secretary-General.

I have seen that Kyrgyzstan is a land of majestic peaks and magnificent vistas. 

I have learned that the Kyrgyz people possess a questing spirit, always looking to the next mountain, always with an eye on the farthest horizon.

In describing the Kyrgyz hero of the Manas, your national epic poem put it like this:  “He will build roads where none exist.”

Centuries ago, your ancestors traveled and traded along the Silk Road.

Two decades ago, your generation embarked on another historic road -- the road of independence, democracy, dignity, opportunity for all the people of Kyrgyzstan. 

This is the twenty-first century road that you travel today.

And this I pledge as Secretary-General of the United Nations:  The United Nations will accompany you every step of the way.

Thank you. Chong Rahmat.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.