Welcome to the United Nations. It's your world.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Secretary-General's press conference in Vaduz [unofficial transcript]

Vaduz, Liechtenstein, 1 September 2010

SG: [Opening greetings in German]

I am very pleased to be visiting Liechtenstein on the 20th anniversary of your joining the United Nations.

This is one of the particularly important duties of a Secretary-General to visit Member States on such auspicious occasions celebrating 20 years of collaboration and contribution to the United Nations.

I have been visiting many countries during several years as Secretary-General. Now rarely [have I experienced such] excitement as I am having today in Liechtenstein, compared with other places.

I am grateful for your hospitality and friendship.

As I knew already but as I have seen again today, this country's reach goes far beyond your size.

Liechtenstein has been a generous supporter of the United Nations agenda, all the agendas, particularly humanitarian assistance over the years. You have been fighting for establishing the international justice systems. You have been standing in front in countering terrorism. You have been helping all development agendas and peace agendas. And I am very much grateful for your contribution. It is one of the highest per-capita donors of our Central Emergency Response Fund, and I am very much grateful as Secretary-General for your generous support for Haitian people and, this time, for Pakistani people when they are suffering from this unprecedented flooding.

Liechtenstein's bridge-building efforts were crucial to the success of the review conference of the International Criminal Court which was held in Kampala in June this year. And I am very much grateful again to Foreign Minister Frick and Ambassador Wenawasser. Ambassador Wenawasser has played a role as President of this review conference, and it was a great success and we need to build more upon this process, how we can make and help the ICC more properly function with universality of the membership and also more coordination and support from States Parties.

Liechtenstein is working actively with other Member States of the United Nations to ensure the success of the Millennium Development Goals. We have only five years remaining before we hit the target of 2015. These MDGs are a blueprint adopted by our world leaders to address this world poverty and disease and equal right for gender, and also to address all these equal decent economic opportunities. And this is the blueprint we must implement by 2015. As you know, I am convening a Summit meeting on 20th of September this month. We have only three weeks before the convening of this MDG Summit meeting. We count on support and active participation of Liechtenstein.

Later today I will be speaking in the Vaduz-Saal on global governance. Liechtenstein is providing leadership here, too, as a member of the Global Governance Group, known as 3G.

In short, this country is a fine example of the indispensable role played by the small States in the United Nations. I am pleased to be here to strengthen such ties between Liechtenstein and the United Nations, and I hope that through my visit, through my discussions with the leadership of Liechtenstein, that we will be able to further strengthen such partnership between Liechtenstein and the United Nations.

Thank you. I would be pleased to answer some of your questions.

Q: Today you are in Liechtenstein and [tomorrow] talks begin between Israelis and Palestinians. What is your opinion about these talks?

SG: That's a very important subject, on which the international community should work together to establish lasting peace in the Middle East. I am very much encouraged, together with all international community members, that direct peace talks are going to be formally launched tomorrow in Washington DC with President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority and Prime Minister Netanyahu participating. As you know, the United Nations and I myself as Secretary-General of the United Nations, have been actively participating as a member of the Quartet to help establish lasting peace in the Middle East, including the launching of direct talks between Israel and Palestine. As you said, the talk itself may not be important but talk itself should be substantively addressing the real and core issues of all the issues in the Middle East. These are the core issues for the lasting peace in the Middle East in general. I am ready and committed to work very closely with others [in] the international community to help to facilitate a smooth process, progress, of these peace talks. I am going to convene the Quartet principals meeting in later part of September on the margins of the General Assembly and also will invite the League of Arab States representatives together with members of the Quartet. This is just one part of our continuing efforts to work together with the other members of the Quartet as well as Arab partners. We need the collective efforts to see the peace in the Middle East. Peace and stability in the Middle East has wider implications for the peace and security globally. Therefore, I wish that these peace talks will continue to make progress. I sincerely hope that the parties concerned will do whatever they should do to create the politically favourable atmosphere. Israelis, I hope they should extend the settlement freeze beyond 26th September and also the Palestinians they should not resort to violence. All the problems should be resolved through dialogue in a peaceful way, and the United Nations is committed to help this process toward a successful destination.

Q: Question on the prospects for Security Council reform.

SG: This is a subject which I have discussed with the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister a few minutes ago. This is also one of the most important governance issues, one of the most important reform issues of the United Nations. Considering dramatic circumstances and changes which have taken place since the foundation of the United Nations, all Member States believe that the Security Council needs to be reformed. In terms of size of its membership they believe that this should be expanded. In terms of working method there should be change. Now Member States have been discussing this matter for at least 17 years. During the last two years, Member States have made very important stride in bringing this matter to informal General Assembly negotiation forum. They have had five negotiations and now they are going to begin another round of negotiations based on text. So this is quite an important and crucial stage where Member States are now focusing more substantively, in a more concrete way. The question is in terms of size how many members should be represented. In terms of working method how they can ensure that this should be a more representative, democratic and transparent way. And there are some other issues like what to do with the veto right. All these are something to be determined by the Member States. I sincerely hope that Members States will find a very pragmatic and realistic solution as soon as possible through their negotiations. As Secretary-General I have been always trying to facilitate and create a certain political atmosphere under which Member States can continue their negotiations on this matter.

Q: Question on US ending combat role in Iraq.

SG: As you know the Americans are withdrawing. They are ending their combat operation in Iraq, even though there will still be 50,000 soldiers remaining. But I know they will be mainly engaged in training and for other purposes. Then, the United Nations has been there to provide the necessary social-economic support and also humanitarian support to the Iraqi people. The UN will continue to provide such assistance, provided that security and safety is ensured. We will gradually expand our scope of operations in Iraq as security becomes more and more stable. In fact, during the last three years we have been expanding our presence in provincial areas. We will see, considering the security situation, how much and how soon we can expand our operation in the area social-economic and humanitarian assistance. At the same time safety and security is also a paramount concern to us. As you know, seven years ago there was a very tragic terrorist bombing against our staff. Many people were killed. Now we are in the process of discussing with the Iraqi government how we can ensure our safety and security when the American forces and all other multinational forces are withdrawn.

Q: Will you work together with the US on this?

SG: The US can provide some help. Until now, the US has been providing security support. We will have to discuss with the Iraqi government primarily and also with the US government if necessary.

Q: Question on climate change policy after Copenhagen.

SG: Addressing climate change is still one of the highest priorities of the United Nations and of the international community. We have been working very, very hard and very closely after the Copenhagen summit meeting. As you know, even though we were not able to have a globally agreeable solution in Copenhagen, Member States have made great contributions and more than 120 Member States have supported the Copenhagen Accord. I hope that these elements of the agreement, of the Copenhagen Accord, will be used as a basis of further negotiations. Those are the works of many heads of state and government, direct involvement. After the Copenhagen agreement leading to the Cancun meeting, we have been working with the strategy that we will try to make some tangible progress in sectoral areas. For example, financial support for developing countries. I think we are making good progress. I have established a high-level advisory group on climate change financing with the chairmanship of Prime Minister Stoltenberg of Norway and Prime Minister Meles of Ethiopia. They will meet again next month in Ethiopia to provide me a final recommendation how the developed countries can provide 100 billion dollars annually up to 2020. And I have been contacting with all the members of the OECD to provide fast-start financial support in the amount of 30 billion dollars up to 2012. This will work as very significant bridge building between developed and developing countries. This is one area. There has been good progress in what is known as REDD [reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation]. As you know, deforestation takes 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, globally. This is significant, one fifth of total global greenhouse gas emissions. Prime Minister Stoltenberg and many forest nations' leaders they have been working very closely. We are working very hard to make tangible progress to have some moratorium on deforestation. Then for that we need to provide alternate job opportunities for those people who are engaging in deforestation. We need to provide financial support. I think we are making good progress in this. And in technology sharing we are making progress and adaptation and capacity building. All those five areas we are making progress. Of course we have been working very hard to have some global commitment on mitigation but the levels of mitigation by the Member States are varying, depending upon the countries. We have to work harder. Our strategy is that in Cancun we will try to agree as much as [we can] on those sectoral areas which have been making tangible progress. On the basis of this we will build upon [it] next year, leading to the UNFCCC meeting in South Africa. I think that while we are moving toward the right direction I would like to appeal again is that this is a global challenge requiring a global response and global efforts. Member States should be able to overcome and look beyond their national boundaries. Every country has its own concerns and problems but if Member States of the UNFCCC, of the United Nations, just mind their own domestic situation we will never be able to agree on that. Therefore what is important is that there must be a strong political commitment and will and they need to look beyond their national agenda.