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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Secretary-General's remarks at press conference with Foreign Minister of Turkey and President of Somalia's Transitional Federal Government

Istanbul, Turkey, 1 June 2012

Good evening. I am pleased to be here with Foreign Minister Davutoglu of Turkey, and H.E. President Sheikh Ahmed of Somalia.

Today we held the second international conference on Somalia this year. We had a very successful meeting in February in London.

I thank the Turkish Government for their leadership for bringing us together with the Somalia leadership and also nearly seventy foreign governments and major international development organizations together in Istanbul.

Today’s conference has produced clear results.

First: We reaffirmed that the Somali transition must end by August 20th. I am encouraged that I was assured by President Sheikh Ahmed and all the delegations hoped and expected that this transition should end by that date. By then, Somalia must have broad-based and inclusive political governance.

Beyond August, the peace process must continue with the participation of all Somalis. They must work together on a constitutional order and structures for a federal Somalia grounded in international human rights. If security conditions allow, there should be a public referendum and elections.

Second: We agreed that rebuilding Somalia will take long-term commitment by the international community. The Somali Government will need to expand its authority throughout the country, including the areas recovering from Al Shabaab and deliver basic services, and create inclusive institutions that its people can trust.

This process is owned and led by the Somali people – but the international community has a responsibility to help.

Participants made concrete pledges to develop Somali institutions, notably in the security sector.

I congratulate Somali leaders for coming so far. I especially applaud their commitment to ensure that women hold 30% in the Constitutional Assembly and National Parliament and the role of women will be enshrined in their new constitutions.

Third: We agreed on the need to ensure that international assistance is predictable, transparent and coordinated.

This can be best done when Member States have a presence on the ground.

As you know Special Representative Augustine Mahiga has been resident in Mogadishu since December. This is the first time since the absence of almost two decades and I applaud the very wise decision by the Turkish government to establish their Embassy in Mogadishu. And I ask other partners to follow suit.

The United Nations stands ready to lead the process of advancing all these goals.

The peace process is in the hands of the Somalis. They have come far on this road. As they seek to complete the journey, it is our job to help them.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me just briefly touch on two important issues.

First the situation in Syria, because this has figured large in all my discussions with leaders participating in this conference, as well as with global leaders recently.  Let me repeat what I said yesterday. The United Nations has not deployed observers in Syria to passively bear witness to the slaughter of innocent citizens. We are there to help bring about a ceasefire. We are there to record violations of human rights and also violations of the Annan Peace Plan. And we will speak out so that the perpetrators of crime can be brought to justice.

In El Houla last weekend the United Nations Mission was able to give an authoritative and unbiased account of what happened based on eye witness evidence. Had we not been there on the ground we would have heard yet another round of unverified claims and counter-claims. We will do the same with regard to the latest reports of atrocities. No-one else could do this.

I firmly believe that if the international community knows more it will be better positioned to advance our efforts to find a durable political solution, a solution that halts the bloodshed and safeguards lives and interests of all Syrians.

If the escalating violence shows anything it is that we urgently need bolder steps.  

The Joint Special Envoy, Kofi Annan, has set forth a Six Point Plan for Peace. The government of Syria has committed itself to its requirements. So has the opposition. The Annan Plan offers a realistic and achievable road map to succeed.

It is essential that the united international community bring its full influence to bear. Above all it is incumbent on the government of Syria and its leadership to act in line with their commitments to the Joint Special Envoy, as well as their moral and legal obligations under international human rights law.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Finally, let me say a word, something very special and important to all of us, including Somalia.  This is about sustainable development.  Because we have only twenty days left before this very important, once-in-a-generation opportunity for humankind, it is going to take place in Rio de Janeiro, so I cannot but utilize this venue, forum, where all the media and delegations are present.

The well-being of billions of women, men and children rests to a great extent on what we will do at Rio.

Our challenge is to galvanize global support for a transformative agenda for change. We need new thinking. We need to focus on people. We must put our people first, especially women and youth. We need to protect our planet Earth.

We must remember that our planet Earth has its own limitation. We must not abuse these limitations, the resources which we have.

This is a moment for the world to unite in common purpose around a shared vision of our common future — the future we want.  Again, lastly, I would like to deeply thank the Government of Turkey – Prime Minister Erdogan and Foreign Minister Davutoglu for their commitment and leadership to have brought us here and I count on your continued support and I count on all the delegations and media to support our dear friends, the Somali people, so that they can enjoy genuine freedom, security and socio-economic development and their rightful place in the international community. 

Thank you very much.

Q:  I am wondering, first of all, you mentioned the need for international organizations to relocate to Mogadishu. Are you willing, is your Organization willing to take the lead?  I know there have been some moves.  I know the head of OCHA for Somalia has taken the decision to relocate.  But there are many, many organizations based in Nairobi, there is a Nairobi access, if you like, that needs to shift.  Are you willing to direct your Organization to move to Mogadishu?

SG: Thank you for your question and for your concern.  As you have rightly pointed out, the United Nations has been operating basically until December last year based from Nairobi, Kenya, simply because of the concern for the security and safety.  As you will agree, the security situation in Somalia has been very, very difficult and tough, very dangerous.  So mostly we have been operating from Nairobi.  That has not been enough.  When I visited Somalia, Mogadishu last year, again for the first time in almost twenty years as Secretary-General of the United Nations, I decided and I promised to President Sheik Ahmed, that from January this year we will deploy permanently our mission.  That’s what we did. The United Nations political mission in Somalia, called UNPOS, has deployed since January this year – a small number - there are some 30 or 35 people of the demining team currently deployed in Somalia.  With this roadmap implemented by the August 20th, of course we will increase our deployment of UN staff, not only UNPOS, but all the United Nations development-related agencies.

This afternoon I had a good bilateral talk with President [Yoweri] Museveni of Uganda.  The agreement and understanding which we have been doing with AMISOM is that AMISOM, particularly led by Ugandan forces, will provide guard force for the United Nations Mission in Mogadishu, so that we will be able to discharge our work safely with the security. And we can also receive incoming guests, visiting guests, or tourist investors.  This is a plan which we have.  We will try to implement this plan so that the United Nations can operate based in Mogadishu, close to the people and the government of Somalia.  I think that’s the most efficient and effective way to work with the Somali government.  Thank you very much.