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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Secretary-General's press encounter following his participation in the 2011 ECOSOC High-Level Segment

Geneva, Switzerland, 7 July 2011

SG: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen of the media.

It is a pleasure to see you in Geneva. As you know, this is my first visit to Geneva Headquarter after I was confirmed and re-elected as Secretary-General for the year beginning from next year until 2016. I look forward to having many, many more meetings and encounters in the years to come with you. I appreciate your covering the activities of the United Nations and I highly appreciate your contribution as your role connecting the United Nations and worldwide and I really appreciate that you will continue to do so.

You have heard my statement on the Cyprus talks. I think it speaks for itself.

In a few minutes I will meet with the heads of all UN funds and programmes and specialized agencies and other international organizations based in Geneva.

Our purpose is to look ahead – to think not only about our agenda for 2012 but far beyond, hopefully for the coming five years. More than ever before, people of the world are looking to the United Nations. Never has the United Nations been so relevant, so urgently needed by so many people around the world. That really makes me humble and motivated as a Secretary-General to do much, much more for many people who are in need of our help.

We must rise to this generational challenge. We must think big. We must be faster and more innovative in using the resources available to us. Above all, we must deliver concrete results that make a real difference in the daily lives of the world's people.

Our plan is to lay out an ambitious vision for the next five years at the beginning of the General Assembly in September. We will follow that up with a specific action plan by the end of this year.

We have major opportunities in the immediate future. These include September's high-level meetings on non-communicable diseases and on nuclear safety and security, the December climate change negotiations in Durban, South Africa, and next year's Rio + 20 meeting in Brazil.

Beyond that, the 2015 deadline for Millennium Development Goals is approaching fast and I have just launched the Millennium Development Goals Report for 2011. As you all know, it shows important progress. Yet let us face facts: too many people are still being left behind. Too many people live in poverty. Too many people die needlessly, especially mothers and young children. Everywhere, social inequalities have grown too wide.

We need to change that. We need to do things differently. We need a renewed global partnership for global social progress.

Sustainable development is the key – development that connects the dots, that deals with particular problems as part of a comprehensive whole that offers integrated solutions to issues of climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, food crisis and global health and also women's empowerment.

Ladies and gentlemen – we are being tested. Our sense of shared humanity is under challenge. Let us not fall short.

Before turning to your questions, let me say a few words about recent developments around the world:

First, Libya.

We are far from reaching an agreement to end the conflict, but a negotiation process is under-way. That process must be given space to bear fruit. My Special Envoy Abdelilah al-Khatib is playing a crucial coordinating role and will be intensifying his efforts.

In this regard, I want to emphasize the importance of international unity. It is imperative that all efforts to end the conflict be closely coordinated. The United Nations will be critical in managing not only the realization of a ceasefire and eventual peace, but also its aftermath – the construction of a free and democratic Libya. We have already started the early planning for the post-conflict phase, for the peace-building and peace-making phase, and I have appointed a Special Advisor for that specific purpose. Mr. Ian Martin is working for that.

Second, Sudan.

This evening, I depart for Juba. The independence of South Sudan is a historic event. This new State – soon to become the 193rd member of the United Nations – will begin life facing enormous challenges. Yet it also possesses vital and vast potential. It can only realize that future through partnership – with the United Nations, with its neighbours in the region, and with the entire international community.

The United Nations will remain strongly committed, including through the new peacekeeping operation that should begin on Saturday.

It is critical that this transition take place peacefully. Once again, I call for an immediate cessation of hostilities in southern Kordofan. North and South Sudan share a common future, just as they do a common past. Let us commend the leadership of both North and South for the progress they have made to date. And let us emphasize that the path of prosperity and stability lies in peace and partnership – cemented at the negotiating table, and supported by the entire international community.

Let me note, in this regard, that the United Nations Interim Security Force in Abyei will soon deploy. I thank the Ethiopian government for its extraordinary efforts on behalf of peace and stability.

Lastly, a few words on Syria and Bahrain.

We welcome the opening of a national dialogue in Bahrain. Conducted properly, it can be a force for stability, national healing and change. That dialogue must be genuine, fully inclusive and concrete. It must set the stage for real reforms that meet the legitimate aspirations of Bahraini people.

In Syria, meanwhile, the killing continues. This must stop. Once again, I call on the Syrian leadership to deliver on its commitments and allow the United Nations humanitarian assessment team and a human rights fact-finding mission mandated by the Human Rights Council. It is time to see progress there. We cannot go on like this.

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much. Now I will be happy to answer your questions.

Q: Thank you Mr. Secretary-General. My question is on Turkey. You have mentioned the events in Libya, Syria and the dramatic situation in Bahrain. What role to you attribute to Turkey in these events? What are your expectations from Turkey? And my daily paper gives a lot of importance to images; could you attribute me a picture if possible? Thank you.

SG: Avec plaisir après cette conférence de presse. Merci de me poser une question en français mais permettez-moi de répondre en anglais. On Libya, I think there have been several actors who have been deeply engaged in this process. Turkey is one of those actors who have been taking a very active role to bring about an immediate cessation of hostilities, and verifiable. The United Nations, the African Union, the European Union, Russia, Turkey and there are several others who have been really making their best efforts to bring about peace and stability. Unfortunately, as I said, we have no clear vision when this situation will end. But as I said, again, the negotiation and process for an end of this, I think, has begun already. The United Nations is recognized and encouraged by all actors and by all the international community to play a central role. That is what I and my Special Envoy, Mr. al-Khatib, have been doing. I have been speaking all the time, and I maybe speaking again very soon, with the leadership of Libya. Our goal is, through an internationally coordinated way, to bring about, first, a verifiable and immediate ceasefire. On the basis of that we have to expand our humanitarian assistance to many people who really need this assistance. The humanitarian situation has become worse in a city like Misrata and many other places where fighting had been going on. Then, in parallel with this, the political dialogue has been going on, by the United Nations and other actors. That is exactly what I said: that the international community should be united. While I welcome all these initiatives, all these initiatives should be coordinated and delivered in a coherent, unified manner. Then, lastly, as I said, the early planning for post-conflict, post-crisis, has already begun, and I am going to have my Representative, Special Envoy, discuss this matter at the forthcoming contact group meeting in Istanbul at the middle of this month. Again, it is crucially important that the leadership of Libya stop fighting and listen to their people's aspirations. They cannot go on like this. I again urge that they should fully cooperate for the sake of humanity. I thank you.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, on social development and the first high-level meeting here on education for all, when it comes to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, inequity has been an issue that really resonates in these negotiations. What are you proposing to Member States and partners in terms of political will, in terms of mechanisms that will really make real change on the ground?

SG: The Millennium Development Goal is a blueprint pledged by the world leaders to save billions of people from poverty, to provide decent education opportunities, to realize gender equality, gender empowerment, and to help many people who are suffering from diseases and who are dying from preventable diseases, and also to protect this planet earth, and make this planet earth environmentally sustainable. These are overall and blueprint roadmaps for all of us. This target must be met by 2015. The political leadership, political will, is most important. After all, we are living in an era of austerity. Every country, most of the countries are going through economic difficulty. That is why I have been working very hard to raise political awareness during the last four-and-a-half years. I have convened at least two summit meetings only concerning MDG, I have created an MDG advocacy group and we have taken many different initiatives. Even yesterday in Spain I had a good MDG advocacy group meeting with Prime Minister Zapatero. Here, and everywhere around the world, I will continue to raise resources and political will. We need a strong partnership. It is not the work of Governments, it is the work of business communities, philanthropists and NGOs, and even individuals, and each and every citizen can be a part of these common efforts. We have to meet this target. That is why, today, I launched this MDG report for 2011. Let us work together. We need the support from the media to raise the political will.

Q: Mr. Ban Ki-moon, in your report deforestation continues to be a problem in Latin America, you point out that it is still a problem. You just came back from Brazil – what was your message there regarding deforestation? And secondly, is the solution for Libya, one of the criteria, the exit of Mr. Qadhafi from power, or is there any other solution? Thank you.

SG: Deforestation takes at least one fifth of global greenhouse gases emissions. It is not known, but this is one of the biggest causes of climate change, the global warming phenomenon. I am very much encouraged by what the Brazilian Government has been taking to address these deforestation issues. In fact, the international community has taken this issue as a priority. Last year in Cancun, the leaders of the world made good foundations to build upon these initiatives on deforestation. Deforestation is one of the five areas where we have made progresses, including climate change financing, adaptation, technology transfer to developing countries and capacity building of the developing world. Prime Minister Stoltenberg of Norway has taken initiative and there were very good discussions among 43 countries last year, which was supported at the climate change meeting in Cancun. We have to build upon this by providing incentives to those people whose livelihoods depend upon this cutting of woods. We have to have wise investment in preventing further deforestation and use land in an environmentally sustainable way. We will continue to give priority and we have to again make good progress in Durban in December this year.

On your second part of the question: a lot of discussions have taken place, particularly on that specific question, whether Colonel Qadhafi should be part of this process, whether he should leave or stay in power. In principle, the future of the leadership, the form of leadership, wherever, is to be determined by the people of the country concerned themselves. But at this time, he has to listen much more attentively and seriously to what would be the best for the future of the Libyan people. He has been ruling that country 42 years. If he thinks that he has been the leader and he cares for the benefit and well-being of his country then he should know better than anybody else what course of action he should take. Thank you.

Q: A question on Sudan, sir. You are going to Sudan and I would like to know if you intend to have meetings with the Presidents of South Sudan and of Sudan about the nationality issue, particularly about the status of Southern Sudanese born and living in Northern Sudan?

SG: I am going to have a bilateral meeting with President Salva Kiir of South Sudan while participating in this independence ceremony and we will discuss, of course, all the pending issues. First of all, the international community should provide all necessary resources and political support for South Sudan. This is the newest country. With the lack of infrastructure and a lack of institutions we have to do all to strengthen their institutional capacity, to promote social, economic development, including physical infrastructure. There had been strong political support, but strong political support should be accompanied by physical support so that they can achieve sustainable development for the country. Unfortunately, while South Sudan is going to be born as a new country, there are still many pending issues between South and North Sudan, including the demarcation of the border, including the share of national wealth and citizenship, and security. That is why I have been expressing concerns about the peace and security in Abyei, in Southern Kordofan. That is why I have been urging them to stop immediately hostilities in the region. We have to really help them, encourage them, so that South Sudan will be able to carry out their very difficult challenge for the vision, the better vision of their countries by supporting politically and by stabilizing the situations. Thank you very much.


Off-the-Cuff on 7 July 2011