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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Secretary-General's press conference in Addis Ababa [scroll down for Q&A]

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 31 January 2015

Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Bonjour mesdames et messieurs.

It is always a pleasure to return to Addis Ababa. The African Union summit is an opportunity for me to meet the leaders of this great continent and to review our partnership for peace, security and development.

Before I begin my statement and press conference, let me say a few words about the terrorist attacks which happened in North Sinai which happened earlier this week.

Let me start by condemning in the strongest possible terms the terrorist attacks in North Sinai, earlier this week which killed dozens of people, including civilians, and injured scores of others. I convey my deepest condolences to the families of the victims and express my solidarity with the people of Egypt.

This year, the African continent has faced one of its most daunting challenges.

I am proud of the work we have done together to fight Ebola. The African Union has been on the front lines. Member States have contributed resources, expertise and supplies. Hundreds of health workers have been deployed.

This mobilization is an inspiring example of national, regional and international collaboration. And it is paying off.

As I saw during my visit to the Ebola-affected countries - Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Mali -- the epidemic is far from over, but we are beginning to turn the tide.

We must continue to demonstrate the same solidarity until Ebola is gone from every country, and throughout the next phase of recovery.

In the affected countries, as in many others on this continent, development and peace go hand-in-hand.

Africa has some of the fastest growing economies in the world. Many countries have made progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

We now have the opportunity – this year – to build on the success of the MDGs with a new post-2015 development agenda, with a set of Sustainable Development Goals, and agreeing and adopting a universal, meaningful agreement on climate change, in December in Paris this year.

Member States are working on Sustainable Development Goals that put people and our planet at the centre and prioritize human rights and the rule of law. 

African families, communities and economies have much to gain from both these historic agreements.

Collaboration on peace and security is one of the most important elements of the UN’s partnership with the African Union.  More than 80 percent of UN peacekeepers are deployed on the continent.  Many lives depend on preventive diplomacy, peacekeeping and peace-building.

Our joint efforts with regional partners have made some progress in Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, Mali, Somalia and South Sudan. We must continue on this path and work even more closely together.

Terrorism, cross-border crime and other transnational threats continue to challenge us. The murderous campaign waged by Boko Haram demands stronger and more coordinated action from us all.  I strongly support the AU’s moves to establish a Multinational Joint Task Force, which is consistent with UN human rights due diligence policies.

Regional and international efforts must focus on protecting communities in northern Nigeria and across borders. More than one million internally displaced people and refugees must be able to return home.  We must stop the advance of this terrorist group.

Once again, I repeat my call for the immediate and unconditional release of those who have been abducted, particularly the girls from Chibok.

Finally, several African countries will hold elections this year. The AU has a strong record of supporting democratic transitions.

The AU and UN will work together to support Member States to organize peaceful and credible polls.

I urge leaders in Africa and around the world to respect constitutional and legal limits on their terms of office. I call on them to listen to their people and respect their wishes and aspirations, expressed through the democratic process.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.

I will be ready to answer some of your questions. We have many senior advisors, Special Envoys, Special Representatives, on various dimensions of our work, including the Head of UNMEER dealing with issues. We have all political and peace and security and development related senior advisors of the United Nations.

So you may address the question to me and if you have specific questions, you may ask to those related senior advisors. Thank you.


Question: [question in French on holding an international conference on the spread of terrorism during the next General Assembly in September]

Secretary-General: As you know, the United Nations General Assembly in 2006 has adopted 2006 by consensus the United Nations Global Counter Terrorism Strategy. Under this Global Counter Terrorism Strategy, we have established a Global Counter Terrorism Implementation Task Force. And I myself as Secretary-General have, again under this broader strategy, established a Counter Terrorism Centre in the political department. We are now in the process of providing capacity-building support to many countries, including in Africa, so that they can really strengthen their national capacity in addressing terrorism. The first example is that we have invited senior security official from Nigeria and we are going to extend this support to other countries. Now for your specific question, of course this will be a very important one and we will consider it favourably. And as I understand, the United States is also going to convene next month in Washington DC a high level counter terrorism strategy meeting where I am also invited. This will provide a good opportunity for world leaders at high level to discuss a common strategy. This terrorism does not have any boundaries and does not respect any frontiers. Therefor it needs to have a regional and international coordinated strategy. That is very important. Not a single country or single organization can address it alone. I am asking that they should have regional and international coordination. In the course of addressing this counter terrorism, it is also very important to uphold and respect human rights and protect human life and dignity. Thank you.

Q: [question in French on Robert Mugabe at the head of the AU]

SG: This is what the African Union member states have decided. I know that they have their own procedures and practices [for] electing their leadership, the President of the African Union. That’s what I know and I respect the will and decision of the African Union. I am ready to cooperate closely with the African Union leadership.

Q: After your intervention yesterday in the Assembly, I did speak with a number of diplomats and they said who are you to tell them what to do in their own countries. I would like to hear your response to that. My other question is on climate change. How optimistic are you that there will be an agreement on climate change?

SG: For your first question, there should be no misunderstanding on what I have said yesterday. As Secretary-General of the United Nations, I have very important responsibilities legitimate right to implement the basic principles of human rights and democracy in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. What I said yesterday is based on my personal observations and assessment during my experience in the last eight years as Secretary-General. I did not mean that it was focused only in Africa -- I said “the leaders around the world. We have seen many such cases and have experienced difficult situations caused by the unconstitutional changes and extending the term limits of leadership, whether it is presidency or whatever highest responsibility of government.  It is very important that these constitutions should also be respected and preserved and implemented in good faith. Of course, it may be argued that it is their national mandate and their national mandate but sometimes these national issues become regional issues and cause a lot of human rights violation and even costing the lives of human beings. Therefor it has been the source of concerns on many occasions. That is why I have been consistently sending messages in the past – during the last eight years – that leaders should very attentively and carefully listen to the voices of the people, what their challenges, what their aspirations are. There should always be inclusive dialogue, respecting highly human rights and human dignity. My statement yesterday was based on my own conviction. Thank you.

About the second question, climate change is a defining issue of our times. In the name of industrialisation and prosperity, we have generate so much greenhouse gas emissions. It is almost to the permissible limit. We cannot waste any time longer. We may be stepping on a tipping point depending on how you act. We may still be able to make this planet Earth environmentally sustainable.   As you may know, in November last year, the IPCC – the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change which is composed of more than 2,000 world-renowned scientists, they have clearly stated, through scientific evidence, that climate change has happened and is happening because of human behaviour, human actions. Their answer to this phenomenon is that it is human beings who must address this current phenomenon. We have to contain the global temperature rise below 2 degrees centigrade. Their recommendation is that it might not be too late if we take action now, today. That is why I convened the Climate Change Summit meeting in September last year. It was a most encouraging and successful momentum where leaders from government, business and civil society were united – all together. And now they have agreed to adopt a universal, very meaningful climate change agreement in December in Paris this year. This is a firm pledge of Member States and I hope this will be done. The African continent is the most impacted by climate while you have not caused much of this current phenomenon. That is why we are really trying to mobilize necessary resources, financial and technological, and we have established the Green Climate Fund which I was able to mobilize 10 billion dollars for [its] initial capitalization. But this is far less [than what we need] We have to have one hundred billion dollars by 2020 and then thereafter annually we have to provide a hundred billion dollars to many developing countries, Least Developing Countries and Small Islands Developing Countries. Thank you.

Q: In your statement yesterday, you said there is going to be some change in the peacekeeping mission structure or arrangements of the United Nations. The African Union and the UN have been some years ago on ideological partners regarding peacekeeping. While the African Union said it has to make peace happen to keep it, the UN was saying in some parts of African countries, there is no peace to keep, so you were not willing to send peacekeeping missions. Are you indicating by your statement yesterday that you are now agreeing to the African Union’s ideology regarding peacekeeping? Thank you.

SG: This is a very important question. As you know, at this time, we are maintaining 16 peacekeeping operations and almost 14 Special Political Missions. Eighty per cent of those peacekeeping missions are deployed on the African continent. The number of peacekeeping forces has increased to 120,000 military and police, and the budget has reached quite high -- more than $9bn a year. So then, as you said, the basic concept of peacekeeping operations is to deploy peacekeepers where these is peace to keep. Because of the changes of situations these days, peacekeepers are now deployed where there is very difficult security situations, civilian populations are being killed and their human rights are hugely abused and violated, and we had to deploy peacekeepers where there is no peace to keep. In the case of Somalia, we have deployed AMISOM, because at that time, our position was that there was no peace to keep. Then we had to deploy peacekeeping operations in Mali and in the Central African Republic.  These changes have been forcing us, where we have to review all these current situations on peacekeeping, peacebuilding as well as Special Political Missions. The last such review was done in 2000 by Lakhdar Brahimi. The Lakhdar Brahimi report provided all these guidelines of our peacekeeping operations. I thought, as Secretary-General, it is high time for us to review our missions. That is why I have established an independent high-level panel of peace mission operations. I expect the recommendations will be submitted around the middle of this year. On the basis of that, we will review the recommendations, how to improve the capacity and functions and actions and support mechanisms of the peacekeeping and Special Political Missions, including training, funding, equipment and all aspects of peacekeeping operations and political missions. Thank you.

Q: In the light of that, how do you see the UN involved in the African Union’s mission against Boko Haram?

SG: As I said in my remarks, I welcome the decision of the African Union and particularly by regional countries to establish a Multi-national Joint Task Force to address Boko Haram. Like al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and ISIS, all these terrorists, they have committed unspeakable brutality against humanity. Not a single country, even the regional countries, can handle this alone. Therefore I’m asking that those terrorists should be addressed by regional and international coordination and cooperation. At the same time, the military means may not be the only solution. There should be very careful analysis of the root causes why this kind of terrorism, and extremism, violent extremism, are spreading. This is another very important aspect. In that regard, I am urging all the international community, whoever has capacity and influence, to join their hands. The United Nations is ready to fully cooperate with the African Union.

Q: [Inaudible] My question is that, in September, your Human Rights Council issued a resolution concerning the appointment of a Special Rapporteur for the [inaudible] areas. The population of the affected countries are awaiting for this office to provide the necessary funding to [inaudible] the people. Thank you.

SG: This Human Rights Council, the Special Rapporteurs are appointed by the Human Rights Council and the Secretariat, particularly the officials of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, who I appointed, and his office is always in close coordination to support the activities of the human rights monitors or Rapporteurs, including the funding and activities. For detailed matters, I would like to ask the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Mr. Simonovic, if you can answer this question.

ASG Simonovic: We can do it bilaterally after the conference, I can take this question.

SG: That would be better. Thank you.

Q: Thank you Secretary-General. Simona [inaudible], Deutsche Welle. Do you believe that for the purpose of accountability, the results of the inquiry of the AU Commission into South Sudan should be made public, no matter what the outcome of the negotiations? Thank you.

SG: I took note of the decision of the African Union and yesterday I had a brief talk with former President Obasanjo, who led this Commission of Inquiry in South Sudan. I trust that this is just a deferral. Accountability remains essential in South Sudan. Peace and justice are elements that reinforce each other. They need to be pursued in a complimentary way. Peace without accountability or justice cannot be sustainable. That is our firm principle. We have seen it all over the world, without accountability there can be no lasting, sustainable peace. Therefore I am again emphasizing the importance of accountability and justice processes in peacebuilding. Thank you.


Off-the-Cuff on 31 January 2015