Secretary-General's press conference [full transcript]
Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam, 10 October 2013
SG: Good evening ladies and gentlemen,
Before I say a few remarks let me just say what had happened in Libya. I was shocked to hear that the Prime Minister of Libya, Mr. Ali Zeidan, was abducted this morning. I condemn this abduction in the strongest possible terms. I sincerely hope that this report coming from Libya that he had been released would be true. But it is not yet confirmed. I have just spoken to my Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Libya, Mr. Tarek Mitri, and we discussed about this matter. He is working very hard in close consultation with the Libyan Government and all key partners to ensure his safe release and also to make sure that the political transition of Libya will be continued as scheduled.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me just say about the UN and ASEAN partnership.
I am pleased to be in Brunei for the fifth UN-ASEAN Summit meeting.
I commend Brunei and His Majesty Sultan Bolkiah for ably convening this Summit meeting and for his hospitality.
Brunei Darussalam has played an important role in strengthening the relationship between ASEAN and the United Nations during this year.
We have just reviewed the Joint Declaration on Comprehensive Partnership between the United Nations and ASEAN which was adopted two years ago in Bali, Indonesia.
Our collaboration covers a wide span – from disaster management to addressing climate change; from human rights to conflict prevention; from social welfare and HIV/AIDS to culture and education.
I look forward to our continued partnership, based on producing tangible results for the people of Southeast Asia.
ASEAN is at the threshold of an exciting new era as it moves towards the establishment of the ASEAN Community in 2015.
2015 is also a major year for the United Nations for three reasons.
First, it marks the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals. The United Nations is accelerating together with the Member States to realize the Millennium Development Goals.
And second, 2015 is when we must finalize an ambitious legal climate change agreement. The Member States have agreed in Durban in 2011 that they would agree to a legally binding climate change agreement by 2015, and allow five more years for ratification so that by 2020 the international community would have a legal document on climate change.
Thirdly, we have to define a bold and ambitious but practical sustainable development – that means post-2015 development - agenda.
I count on the contribution of ASEAN countries towards all these objectives.
Just over 800 days remain to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
Southeast Asia has shown considerable progress, but gaps remain within and among countries.
We need to harness the region’s dynamism to set new standards for equitable growth and sustainable development.
The United Nations is proud to work with ASEAN countries to this end, and we look forward to furthering our partnership with Myanmar as the Chair of ASEAN 2014 and Malaysia in 2015.
Thank you for your attention. I will now be glad to answer a few questions.
Q: On Libya, how concerned are you about the situation on the ground?
SG:. It is not only in Libya. In many countries where they have experienced by this transformation for democratization we still see continuing violence and political instability. The United Nations, through UNSMIL, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya, have been working very closely with the Libyan authorities and neighbouring countries to help them to, first of all, establish their political stability and establish rule of law. And we have been trying to provide socio-economic support so that they could be able to move ahead with this political transition. It would be very important for the Libyan Government and leadership to have inclusive dialogue and reconciliation so that all the people can really join this political transition. We will continue to do that. This very unfortunate abduction of a Prime Minister is a clear wake-up call, not only for Libyan people but all other areas where they are experienced these political transformations. The United Nations and key Member States of the United Nations are very closely coordinating on this issue.
Q: Do you have any advice for youth and the future generations? And what should we do to prepare for the Asia-Pacific period?
SG: This world is very young. More than half the world population is under the age of 25. So it is only natural that world leaders should focus more and do more for our future leaders. They are soon going to be the leaders of tomorrow. In fact all these democratic transformations have been taking place with the initiative and active participation of youth and women. The United Nations is focusing and taking as a priority to do more for gender empowerment, women’s empowerment, as well as providing equal and better opportunities for young people. That is why for the first time in the United Nations history this year I have appointed a Special Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Ahlendawi - he is a 29-year-old Jordanian young man - to first of all raise the awareness of the international community about the importance of doing more on youth. We have to provide good opportunities, decent opportunities, for their social-economic [future]. And you can count on the United Nations. And on the countries in the Asia-Pacific, I think this is a source of innovation and source of economic growth. I am very happy to be cooperating and working together with the leaders of Asia and Pacific.
Q: The UN human rights envoy to Myanmar, recently on his last visit complained about some harassment and lack of security provided by the Myanmar authorities. Is this something you managed to raise during your time here? Second unrelated question, some of the cholera survivors in Haiti are suing the UN, they say, over the outbreak of the disease there. Can I get your response to that?
SG: On Myanmar, the United Nations has been actively engaging to help Myanmar’s democratization. As you will agree that we have seen considerable, remarkable, progress in their participatory democratization. At the same time we all agree and we are also concerned that there are still many more challenges, particularly communal violence which they have been experiencing in Rakhine State involving the Rohingya minority group. We have been working very hard and myself, through my special adviser, Mr. [Vijay] Nambiar, have been engaging to encourage the Myanmar authorities to have inclusive dialogue and reconciliatory policies. I am going to have a meeting tomorrow morning with President Thein Sein of Myanmar and we will discuss more on this matter. On your second point, the United Nations has, again, been working very hard to help Haitian people who have been contaminated by this cholera. I know that there was some legal issue therefore it would not be proper for me at this time to speak more about this case as there will be some legal process going on. But I can make sure that the United Nations will continue to work together with Haitian Government as well as key donor countries to provide the necessary support for the Government and people of Haiti to help those people.
Q: Myanmar is going to take over the ASEAN chairmanship. Will they need to do more to address this communal violence? What do you hope to see?
SG: The Chairmanship of Myanmar is a recognition by the Member States of ASEAN that the Myanmar Government has been really trying to make progress in the social-economic and well as their democratic transition. I myself have been working very closely with the Myanmar authorities. And this Chairmanship of ASEAN next year will provide a very good opportunity for Myanmar and also the Presidential election in 2015. Those two occasions will be very important milestones for the future of Myanmar. It is important that ASEAN countries as well as all United Nations Member states fully encourage Myanmar authorities so that they can do more on this participatory democratic transition. As you know last month I chaired a Group of Friends of Myanmar; that was a ministerial meeting. And we reviewed the current situation and we also reviewed how and what more the international community can [do to] help them. And for the first time the Myanmar authorities, they have sent a Minister, Cabinet Minister, to this meeting – Mr. U Khin Yi, who is the Minister of [Immigration] and Population. It was quite encouraging. I am committed to work closely with ASEAN and Myanmar authorities first of all to help them with a smooth and speedy democratization process. Thank you.