Secretary-General's remarks at joint press encounter with Prime Minister of Canada [scroll down for Q&A]
Ottawa, Canada, 11 February 2016
Monsieur le Premier Ministre,
Mesdames et Messieurs,
C’est la cinquième fois que je viens au Canada depuis que je suis Secrétaire général. C’est la première fois depuis que M. Trudeau est Premier Ministre. Nous venons d’avoir des échanges très constructifs sur toute une série de questions importantes. Nous avons parlé des changements climatiques, des opérations de paix, du développement durable et de la situation des migrants et des réfugiés. Nous avons également parlé des points chauds de la planète, dont la Syrie.
Je remercie le Premier Ministre de sa collaboration vigoureuse avec l’Organisation des Nations Unies. C’est un grand plaisir de travailler avec lui et avec le Gouvernement canadien.
Ladies and gentlemen.
The weather here is quite cold, but the relations between the United Nations and Canada are very, very warm.
Since the United Nations was founded, Canada has always been one of our most important partners.
We thank former Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Lester Pearson for helping to pioneer United Nations peacekeeping.
Prime Minister Trudeau has declared Canada’s recommitment to the United Nations. I am here to declare that the United Nations enthusiastically welcomes this commitment.
At the Climate Conference last December, Prime Minister Trudeau’s leadership helped us secure the breakthrough we needed for the historic Paris Agreement on climate change. Now we need Canada to put the Agreement into action and help keep the rest of the world on track. I have invited the Prime Minister to attend the signing ceremony in New York on April 22. This will be the best possible way to mark Mother Earth Day.
I also commend Canada for its compassionate approach to migrants and refugees. Later today, I will visit the Catholic Centre for Immigrants.
This will build on my many meetings with refugees and migrants around the world. They have lost their homes and their family members. They deserve opportunity, human rights protection and peace. Canada is helping to give them hope. I applaud highly Canada’s commitment to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees. This is a great demonstration of compassionate leadership.
I also commend the Prime Minister for committing to addressing United Nations human rights recommendations on indigenous peoples in Canada, particularly violence against indigenous women and girls.
I am impressed by Prime Minister Trudeau’s commitment to young people. Later today, we will meet together with high school students. He is showing and leading by example by combining his portfolio as Minister of Youth with his premiership.
Although I will be in Canada for only three days, we are laying plans to strengthen our collaboration for years to come.
I have brought a number of my top senior advisors – including senior officials dealing with peacekeeping, humanitarian emergencies, sustainable development and youth. We are focused on concrete results. I am confident that our collaboration will have a meaningful impact on the lives of people around the world.
Thank you. Merci beaucoup.
Q: Good afternoon. Thanks for taking our questions. Secretary-General, you have spoken a lot of human rights violations in Saudi Arabia committed by the Saudi Arabian regime in a recent speech in London. And you called on States that are parties to the arms treaty to control the flow of arms to actors preaching international humanitarian law. I am wondering – do you have concerns about Canada’s $15 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia – was this something that was discussed during your meeting?
I have been repeatedly saying that there is no military solution. Sometimes when you address very brutal attacks like terrorism and extremism, sometimes we have to mobilize all legitimate means including military means. At the same time, we think that solutions through political dialogue, inclusive political dialogue, which is very much important and crucial – that’s what the United Nations has been repeatedly emphasizing. What we see in Syria and come conflict-zones in Africa – there is constant flow of arms to either side – Government side or opposition side.
The United Nations has been making it quite clear that all these conflicts should be resolved through peaceful means, through engaging all the parties in inclusive dialogue – that is what the United Nations is working very hard for peace in Syria. We are working again very hard to resume this suspended meetings between the parties of Syria. I sincerely hope that the International Syrian Support Group (ISSG) meeting in Munich will make some renewed commitment to be able to resume this negotiation.
Q: Deficits in Canada are soaring higher than even the Prime Minister would have realized when he first came to power. You have called on countries such as Canada and other OECD countries to reach the 0.7 per cent of the GNI target on development aid. Do you think it’s too hard for Canada to do that? Do you want to see Canada in the Security Council?
This is a very important commitment declared and promised by the world leaders many years ago, decades ago, to earmark 0.7 per cent of their GNI. There are not many countries – five countries in the world who have met this target. The Sustainable Development Goals suggest that they should meet these targets by 2030. Canada is one of G7 and G20 Member States – very important, very well to do and rich country – I believe Canada has the capacity and resources. I know that Prime Minister may have different priorities. I am sure that Prime Minister Trudeau and his Government will play more focused on this matter and I count on your leadership.
Q: [Question in French on peacekeeping]
Recently we have been outraged by the sexual violations either by UN Peacekeepers or peacekeepers outside the command of the United Nations. I have condemned all this and I have taken various measures to first of all put all these perpetrators in justice process as well as to prevent further occurrence of this kind of unacceptable violation of human rights.
When it comes to sexual violations cases, which happened in Central African Republic, I have established the independent expert panel of investigation led by Canadian Justice Madame Marie Deschamps – she accepted my offer and she presented her findings and recommendations. I am going to implement these recommendations and I have recently appointed a very senior adviser of the United Nations – Jane Holl Lute – to take charge of implementing these recommendations – so that first of all, this will send a strong message and also to prevent this and to make sure that everybody’s human rights and dignity, particularly women and girls in conflict zones and where United Nations peacekeeping or United Nations other missions are located. This is my firm, firm commitment – to make sure that this will not happen again.
Off-the-Cuff on 11 February 2016