Secretary-General press conference in Ha Noi
Ha Noi, Viet Nam, 23 May 2015
I am delighted to be back in Viet Nam. I had excellent meetings with President [Truong Tan] Sang as well as the Prime Minister [Nguyen Tan Dung] and the General Secretary of the Communist Party [Nguyen Phu Trong].
I really appreciate their hospitality. More than that, I welcome their commitment.
We reviewed many important issues, including the need to address climate change, which is affecting Viet Nam.
I was especially grateful that President Sang committed to attending the Special Summit on Sustainable Development in New York in September. He will be one of many world leaders there to adopt a bold, universal agenda for sustainable development for the next 15 years.
We had a very positive discussion on the importance of advancing human rights and fundamental freedoms in Viet Nam.
This One UN House is a powerful symbol of how Viet Nam can be a true pioneer for the United Nations. This country is helping to prove how well we can reform how we operate and enhance how we deliver as one around the world.
This magnificent new Green One United Nations House is one more concrete way the United Nations in Viet Nam is leading by example.
It is a model for energy efficiency and sustainability.
I want to once again thank the Government of Viet Nam and all donors for their support.
This building is good for the natural environment and for our working environment.
It reflects our commitment to do all we can to deliver a better more sustainable world for the people of Viet Nam.
Thank you. Cám on.
Question: I would like to know your comment on the situation in the South China Sea. China is speeding up reclamation in the Spratly Island. How the UN can support Viet Nam in dealing with this dispute?
Secretary-General: Thank you. I have discussed this matter with virtually all the leaders of Viet Nam. I have appreciated their strong concerns about what’s happening in this part of the world. I expressed to all the leaders that the United Nations has been closely following the development of this situation, on the issue of South China Sea or East Sea.
I have urged the parties concerned to exercise maximum retrain so that the situation will not escalate to the level of tension. We want to resolve this issue through peaceful dialogue. I know that ASEAN is working hard to have the Code of Conduct. I sincerely hope that this issue will be addressed peacefully, through consultation with the Chinese government based on the framework of the Declaration of Conduct of Parties, and also Code of Conduct.
Question: I would like to have questions about two matters. The first one is what’s your opinion about the role of Viet Nam in the peacekeeping operation and also the cooperation of Viet Nam in the Delivering as One initiative?
Secretary-General: We highly appreciate the commitment of the Vietnamese government and its people to work together with the UN by participating in the peacekeeping operation in Southern Sudan and the Central African Republic. Though Viet Nam has joined the peacekeeping operation recently, we highly commend their strong commitment. Your soldiers are working in very difficult and even dangerous circumstances. Your strong commitment to bring stability and peace in those regions is highly appreciated. I am also grateful by the offer of providing Level 2 hospital to peacekeeping operation. I asked the government authorities to discuss this matter in more details with our Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support.
On Delivering as One, Viet Nam is the pioneer champion in Delivering as One. Viet Nam was one of the eight countries starting on the Delivering as One as a pilot project. The Vietnamese government very generously hosted an international conference held in Hanoi to make sure that this message and commitment and ideas could be spread far and wide to the UN system. I really appreciate this cooperation with this green one UN house. This is a good example of how Vietnamese government is leading by example. That’s why I’m here to discuss how the United Nations and the Vietnamese government can strengthen further our partnership.
Question: Congratulations to you and your team on the inauguration of the one UN house. I would like to ask as you know, we have been seeing the situation with boat people in the region and countries in the region have been approaching this issue differently. What’s the UN’s stand at the moment? What actions have been taken to resolve this issue of boat people, including the Rohingya people from Myanmar?
Secretary-General: This is one of the serious issues which we are experiencing these days in this area. I have been discussing with regional leaders. I have spoken to the President of Myanmar, Prime Minister of Malaysia and Thailand. My deputy Secretary-General spoke with the foreign ministers of Bangladesh and Indonesia. I, of course, discussed this matter with the Vietnamese leaders. This is something which is happening in this region and of course there should be clear addressing of the root causes of this issue as to why people are fleeing their countries. At the same time, it’s important to save human lives, whatever the reasons maybe when they’re out at sea. Their lives are in danger. Therefore, I have been urging all the leaders in the region to, first of all, search and rescue, provide life saving humanitarian assistance and discuss how they could settle this matter: resettlement, reintegration.
What’s important in terms of humanitarian law role is the principle of non-refoulement -- not to send them back dangerous circumstances and situation. I appreciate that Thai government to convene a regional conference on May 29 in Bangkok. I understand that the Vietnamese government is also taking part in that. I sincerely hope that they will find some comprehensive plan of work on how they can address this from the root causes. But when people are drifting on the sea, how we can search and recue them and provide life saving humanitarian assistance – that’s the top priority at this time. That’s the top priority at this time. Likewise I have been discussing this matter with the European leaders. I will be visiting the EU next week to discuss how to deal with these refugees who are coming through the Mediterranean Sea to the European continent. This is a human rights issue, a human dignity issue. This is important to provide a helping hand to these people.
Question: What’s your comment on the US bringing their plane to the area that China is illegally exploiting in the Spratly Island and also the Chinese actions? As you mentioned about your meeting with Vietnamese leaders, the UN is willing to support sides on settling disputes in the East Sea issue. Can you clarify on the level of support?
Secretary-General: The first part of the question I’m not in a position to make a comment on this. For the second part, I strongly urge the Vietnamese government and leaders in this part of the world, particularly ASEAN members, will discuss all this issue very closely to address in a harmonious way through dialogue.
Off-the-Cuff on 23 May 2015