The Secretary-General's Press Conference in Yaoundé, Cameroon before departure (unofficial transcript)
Yaoundé, Cameroon, 10 June 2010SG: Good evening ladies and gentlemen of the media. Thank you very much for your taking time.
I have had an interesting and rewarding day in Cameroon, and I thank His Excellency President Paul Biya and other senior government officials -- and the foreign minister, sitting here, thank you very much -- for such kind hospitality and warm welcome. I am just moved by such a warm welcome.
This is a personal reflection. I wondered if perhaps my timing of my visit to Cameroon was wrong when I came.
Because I thought perhaps everyone's mind was elsewhere, on the World Cup, on the Indomitable Lions.
Now I found that my prediction was wrong and I have had a tremendous welcome and most rewarding visit this time.
Again I thank His Excellency President Biya and the people of Cameroon for their generous hospitality.
I do not claim to be a football expert.
But I already know, as I said in my speech to the parliament, who is the winner [of the World Cup].
Africa is the winner. It is a moment of pride for Africa. This is a symbol of achievement for Africa, let alone South Africa themselves. This is really a proud moment for all Africans.
I come at a time when many African countries are preparing to celebrate 50 years of independence.
All over the continent there is a new sense of maturity, progress and hope.
This is what I have come to see.
In September I will convene a summit meeting of the Millennium Development Goals.
Eight goals agreed by world leaders at the turn of the 21st century to reduce poverty and hunger ? increase education and opportunities for children ? and improve health for people and the environment and gender empowerment.
The deadline for achieving these goals is 2015.
Many countries have achieved much. But there is much more to do, especially on maternal health.
Healthy mothers mean a healthy society.
I have come to Africa to spread this message and to see what is being achieved.
I discussed these matters and many other matters when I met President Biya, and I spoke of them to the National Assembly. I have asked President Biya to discuss this matter with his colleagues, the leaders of Africa, when they meet in Kampala for the AU [African Union] summit meeting, to speak out and to come out with a strong message as African leaders for these MDGs.
I saw what can be achieved when I visited Mbalmayo this afternoon where the community and the government are working with the United Nations and other international partners.
I saw the progress they are making toward the Millennium Development Goals
What I saw today – and what I have seen in other countries in Africa – is the result of one simple truth:
Where we try, we succeed. When we don''t try, we fail.
Your Indomitable Lions know this too.
They are trying on the football field, but they are also helping us to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
Some of them are working as Goodwill Ambassadors of the United Nations, like Samuel
Eto''o, Alexandre Song, Rigobert Song and Idriss Carloss Kameni.
They are on our side.
And we are on your side.
The United Nations is working with the Government of Cameroon and all stakeholders for development ? for good governance ? and to help organize a credible presidential election in 2011.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As the World Cup approaches, all eyes are on Africa. People can see that the continent is capable of success.
I wish Cameroon every success in the World Cup, and for peaceful elections and continued development and prosperity.
Questions and answers.
Q: [inaudible] In French, on border demarcation with Nigeria.
SG: This is one of the good examples that the United Nations can help the countries that have disputes or conflicts of interests, to help them resolve them in a peaceful way. When there was an International Court of Justice judgment on this issue in 2002 and there was an accord in Greentree in 2006 through United Nations involvement. This was implemented. Of course there are other issues how you can have a border demarcation. Some parts of the border have been agreed upon but there are still more than 1,000 km that are undecided. The United Nations will continue to help the two parties address this issue, resolve this issue, in a peaceful manner through negotiation. That's what I have discussed and I am going to discuss with the Nigerian leadership.
Q: [inaudible] On elections and good governance.
SG: Elections they are the means and process to reach a fuller democracy, a participatory democracy, and we sincerely hope that the elections, including the presidential election in 2011, will be conducted in a fair, objective, transparent and credible manner. You have demonstrated such democratic capacity in the past and your country, Cameroon, is widely known as a beacon of stability in Central Africa. I am convinced that you will be able to have that capacity to conduct this election. Now, we have seen, unfortunately, in other parts of the world that elections have been fraudulent and there were irregularities and the result of the elections was contested. We hope that Cameroon will show a good example as we have seen in some areas. And the United Nations, and our mission here, will continue to provide technical and logistical support if the Cameroonian government requests it.
Q: [inaudible] On UN Security Council reform.
SG: Now, again, this is one of the important issues. The United Nations member states are now, continuing to negotiate. I am quite aware that there is an aspiration among African states that their rights, their voices, should be increased in the United Nations agencies and other bodies, particularly in the Security Council. Again, President Paul Biya also raised this issue. I believe that whatever the reforms should be, the Security Council reforms should be expanded, made in a transparent, democratic and representative manner. This is what the member states have begun to negotiate. Soon I believe that informal negotiation will take place based on a text submitted by the member states on their positions. I know African states, the African Union, have their own positions, but I advised President Paul Biya that Africa should also have some unified position in this very important issue. I know that Africa still has different views on this matter. After all, this is something that must be, needs to be determined by the member states, and I hope that this process will continue and accelerate and as the Secretary-General I will continue to provide my own support to create the favourable atmosphere so that this negotiation can move smoothly.
Q: [inaudible] Another on UN Security Council reform and on relations between the UN and Cameroon.
SG: I hope my previous answer will satisfy you on your question on Security Council reform. It is true that Africa does not have a single country that is represented among the Permanent Members of the Security Council. But it is not only the African continent. There are other continents where the countries are not represented in the Security Council as Permanent Members. That is why member states are now going through these negotiations.
On cooperation between the United Nations and Cameroon, I am satisfied with the level of support and cooperation between the UN and Cameroon. We have here a Country Team composed of 17 different agencies and funds and programmes operating here, working together with Cameroonian government officials. I hope that your government officials closely coordinate with our country team. Mr Thierry Mertens is our Resident Coordinator. I had very good discussions and meeting with all UN heads of agencies and funds and programmes this morning. I have asked them to have a very close relationship and cooperation with Cameroon. Cameroon, you have made some successes in some areas, but there are areas, at least four areas, in the Millennium Development Goals among eight goals where you have to do more. Now, you have made some success in poverty reduction. That's Millennium Goal One. And you have achieved some success in Millennium Goal Two, this is decent primary education. That is very important. I have encouraged Mr Paul Biya. That's a very good investment, having trained, educated human resources – that's the basis and foundation for all development, social-economic development, even political development. Then thirdly you have made some progress in gender equality, in gender empowerment. I have seen many female members of the parliament. And I have seen many women working very actively. But in the area of [MDG] numbers four and five, that is children's and maternal health, you are far behind this target. And you have to do more on HIV/AIDS and environment issues, and therefore the United Nations stands ready to fully cooperate with you, to provide political, logistical, technical assistance to you so that you can really get on board on the Millennium Development Goals so that you can really achieve all the goals by 2015. Thank you very much.
Off-the-Cuff on 10 June 2010