Secretary-General's Remarks at Press Conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos
Davos, Switzerland, 28 January 2011Today I am pleased to announce a new initiative of the United Nations Global Compact – the world's largest corporate responsibility and sustainability platform.
We are launching what we call Global Compact Lead - a group of 54 global companies, as founding members, who have committed to be at the leading edge of addressing environmental, social, and governance issues. They are joining forces to translate the sustainable development principles of the Global Compact into business operations, and to broaden and deepen partnerships with the entire United Nations system.
The premise is simple: when companies embed human rights, labour standards, environmental stewardship and anti-corruption measures throughout their organizations, it is good for business and good for society.
More companies should take up the sustainability challenge, for their own good and the good of the world. LEAD will help make that happen.
By working together at the strategic level, as well as in concrete partnerships, we can leverage our strengths to take on some of the biggest challenges of our time. All of the members of the Global Lead have pledged to share their experiences with the broader network of thousands of Global Compact companies.
Let me turn now to a few other topics, which may be of interest [to you], and then I will be happy to take your questions.
I have dedicated much of my time here in Davos to building momentum on climate change and sustainable development. This morning we had a stimulating session on sustainable development where I called on corporate and political leaders to connect the dots between climate change and WEF – this is not World Economic Forum but that WEF stands for water, energy, and food, and I added one more W for women empowerment.
To any who might argue that time and effort spent on climate change is wasted, I would respectfully beg to differ. A climate agreement among all nations is both necessary and possible. It may not be easy, but things worth doing seldom are. I will continue to engage world leaders, just as I have been doing here in Davos, to advance climate negotiations and to make concrete progress on the ground. This is integral to our overall sustainable development agenda. As I told President Zuma yesterday, who is now the President of COP 17, I look forward to attending COP 17 in Durban this December and will do all I can to build upon recent success in Cancun. I had also a meeting with President Calderon who successfully chaired the Cancun Summit meeting last December. We will all have in concert to work together to make this climate change negotiation process progress.
Here in Davos I have also focused on global health. Two days ago I launched in Geneva a commission with President Kikwete of Tanzania and Prime Minister Harper of Canada that will ensure accountability for financial and policy commitments to the Global Strategy on Women's and Children's Health that was welcomed and adopted by all 192 UN Member States in September in New York. We have also put a spotlight on chronic diseases and will convene a summit meeting on this major challenge in New York this September.
We are also focusing on food security, particularly given the current spike in food prices – and on nutrition, especially the crucial 1000-day window from conception through age two.
The outlook for food prices remains uncertain. The impact of higher food and energy import costs threaten the economies of developing countries that are already under stress from the global financial crisis.
I want to emphasize to the world community, and especially donors, the crucial importance of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program. This is unfinished business that everyone must join together to make successful.
Tomorrow I leave for the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, where I will co-chair a high-level meeting on Cote d'Ivoire to determine next steps for a peaceful solution. Much is at stake. The longer the crisis continues, the more the security, human rights and humanitarian situation will deteriorate.
I will also have special sessions on Sudan and Somalia, on the issues of sexual violence against women, and on malaria.
Thank you very much for your attention and I will be happy to answer your questions.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Question: Associated Press: You spoke in your session just now about the revolution being necessary, even as the situation in Egypt is getting increasingly tense. I'm wondering if you can tell us what you think of the fact that the authorities there are doing their best to stop the demonstrations, including cutting off internet and cell phone traffic.
Question: W Radio Colombia: What is the official position of the UN regarding the situation in Ivory Coast and also what is the position on Jean Claude Duvalier returning to Haiti? Was that a reason to be worried?
Secretary-General: For the first question, let me just clarify to avoid any misunderstanding, the word you said “revolution” , you used this word with regard to the situation in Egypt. What I said, revolution, the term revolution, was we need to take some revolutionary thinking, revolutionary action in addressing climate change. We need to take a bold, out of the box thinking, this was what I used the word. So please do not make a misunderstanding on that particular word. Now, I have been closely following all the situations which have happening in that region starting from Tunisia, Egypt, now Yemen and elsewhere. What I have been saying repeatedly was that, first of all, all concerned people or leaders should ensure that the situation in that region -and particularly now in Egypt- does not and should not lead to further violence, and I have been calling on the authorities to see all these situations as an opportunity to engage in addressing the legitimate concerns and wishes of their peoples.
The leaders of any country have a broad responsibility, and at the same time a mandate, to listen attentively to the wishes of [their] people. What are their challenges, their difficulties? That is their responsibility: to care for their own people and country. I know that there have been such equivalences which have been now expressed in street demonstrations. First of all, freedom of expression and association should be fully respected. In that regard, the specific question, your question about shutting down all this internet service, I believe that one of the ground principles of democracy is to protect and ensure the freedom of speech of the people. And through that dialogue leaders will be able to better understand the wishes and aspirations and concerns and challenges of people. That is what I am urging again. Alright, second question.
As I said, Ivory Coast, the situation in Ivory Coast, has taken much of my time and energy --even before coming here, even here I have been engaging with key African leaders attending the Davos Forum. I will be extensively engaging and I will be chairing, co-chairing, together with leaders of the African Union and ECOWAS. I think a lot is at stake. First of all, the fundamental principle of democracy that the genuine will of the people should be reflected. In this case, people of the Ivory Coast should be fully respected which it has been demonstrated and expressed in the recent presidential election. Then secondly, the integrity of the African Union and ECOWAS and the whole international community, including the United Nations, should be preserved. That's very important. Therefore, I would urge again that Mr. Gbago and his camp should fully respect the will of the Cote d'Ivoire people, which has been expressed through the election. I am going to discuss in depth with African leaders how they can come out and resolve this issue in a peaceful way. I'm concerned that some difference of opinions are now surfacing among the African Union; but this is not a desirable one at this time in keeping and preserving the integrity and fundamental principle of democracy.
Haiti, again the return of Mr. Duvalier, who was known as a dictator of Haiti more than two decades ago, has returned and it created political controversies. I understand that he was arrested and now set free at this time. I heard and I read in the newspaper that he is ready to take all responsibility for what he has committed during his time. All this accountability should be again upheld, but that is what the people of Haiti should decide.
Question: China Business News: Economic growth in developing countries was faster than in developed countries. How would the UN respond to this new economic situation and what was his expectation for the upcoming G20?
Question: I am also from China, from xxx, just a quick follow-up to my colleague's question. We know that G-20 and B-20, there seem to be more easy for 20 countries to have a consensus. Do you feel that this has new norms of the reality that they express for the economic issues, they will shift to G-20 or B-20 instead of the United Nations?
Question: An Israeli committee of inquiry published a report on (no sound), and in your opinion, what is the meaning of these conclusions, and there are contributions to the UN inquiry committee on this subject. Second question about the special court for Lebanon. do you think it should go on, taking into consideration the actual situation in Lebanon?
Secretary-General: I will answer the first and second questions all together, and then I will address this third and fourth questions. First of all, while all international communities are going through economic crises, I know that some of the developing countries have been much faster in overcoming economic crisis. China is one of the good examples, where they have been continuously making double digit economic growth. That is very, very encouraging. Of course there has been differences of a space of development between developed and developing countries. I would welcome and encourage that developing countries continue to make such fast economic growth. But our goal, as the United Nations Secretary-General and as the United Nations promotes, is [a] balanced and harmonious prosperity of the whole international community. At the same time, most of the developing countries did not have much capacity, they are lacking their capacity building, they are lacking technology and funding and resources. Therefore, it has been the case that developed countries have been providing official development assistance and through bilateral economic cooperation--that is also very much welcomed and I am encouraging it. That is why the United Nations has been focusing on the realization of the Millennium Development Goals. World leaders have put out the blueprint for harmonious development of the international community by 2015. We have only five years left. Last year, the September MDG Summit meeting was a great, great success. We must realize these Millennium [Development] Goals and at the same time both developed and developing countries should be able to make progress in economic development. That is why this morning some of the key leaders and myself sat together with the business leaders [to see] how we can achieve and realize sustainable development. These are all interconnected: climate change, food security, energy and economic development. So we have to address all this in a more comprehensive and broader perspective. G-20, which was established right after the global financial crisis, they have shown much more efficiency and effectiveness in addressing the global financial crisis. I have always been welcoming the initiative as a group of G-20, but at the same time, they should always look at how they could help the most vulnerable people, the poorest people, without those vulnerable people, vulnerable countries joining in this process, it will be very difficult to say that we have a harmonious development. The United Nations, and I as the Secretary-General, have been always participating and contributing very actively to realize this. The most recent Seoul G-20 Summit meeting has discussed the development issues and by doing that I think the G-20 has been able to enjoy more ownership. But at the same time, the United Nations being the only universal body international organization, there needs to be very close coordination between the UN and the G-20. That is one thing.
On the Turkel Commission report, we have received it last week and this has been submitted to the Commission, led by Mr. Palmer. I had some discussions with Prime Minister Netanyahu at the time of this submission. Now that this Commission has received the reports from Turkey and Israel, they are now working very hard through us, evaluating the two reports, and how the international community can prevent further occurrence of this kind of tragic incidents. As they are now reviewing, I would not make any specific comments on the substantive matters. We will wait until the final report is submitted to me.
About the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, I have been repeatedly stating the position of the Untied Nations: this is an independent international justice system, justice process. Therefore the work of this Tribunal should continue to perform their duty and nobody, no country, should interfere or obstruct the smooth proceedings of this justice process. And I have been very much concerned about this politicizing of this Special Tribunal, but this is not the subject of the [inaudible]. I hope that the Lebanese people and government will be able to restore the political stability and engage in their social, economic, political development while the accountability process should also progress.
Question: A Facebook user following the live stream writes in: According to experts at the Weitzman Institute in Israel, Jordan and to a lesser extent Syria, will run out of water within 5 years from now. Secretary-General, how do we ensure that the issue of water doesn't become the next (inaudible) in a peaceful solution in the Levant and what is being done now to ensure these steps if anything?
Secretary-General: I think I have explained, answered some part of your question. This in a broader sense, Lebanon and elsewhere in the region, all the countries, they are very important countries in the region and the peace and stability in that region has implications, global implications for peace and security. Particularly, people in Lebanon, they have been suffering from political instability and war. That's why United Nations is keeping UNIFIL, the United Nations peacekeeping operations are there. And there is a very serious issue of the accountability process and a very, very serious and important issue of political stability. I have been urging all political leaders, all the parties, [that] should first of all be united and engaged in political dialogue, engaged in reconciliation among the groups who may have a difference of their positions; this is their country. The United Nations has always been working very hard to help the Lebanese government and people. And the United Nations has always been working very hard to help this peace process in the Middle East to continue. And I'm going to participate in a Quartet meeting on February 5th in Munich and this is part of my broad mandate, broad responsibility to see peace and stability – at the same time as social and economic development, and protecting human rights and providing humanitarian assistance to many displaced persons and refugees. So this [is why] we need the full support of the international community. Again, thank you very much.