Secretary-General’s press conference at G20 Summit in Turkey [with Q&A]
Antalya, Turkey, 15 November 2015
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen,
I thank Turkey for hosting this important meeting of the G20.
Let me start by reiterating my profound condolences to the people of France following the barbaric terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday night. My thoughts are with the families of the victims at this time of grief and loss.
Terrorists continue to commit atrocious acts across the world. Their inhumanity is clear; their ideologies are bankrupt. No grievance or cause can justify such violence. Those who claim to be acting in the name of religion are only harming their religion.
Terrorism is a threat to all humankind. As we have seen over the years with grim regularity, no country, and no city, nobody is immune. In the past four days alone, horrendous terrorist bombings have also killed dozens of people in Beirut and Baghdad.
It is heartbreaking to see so many families, communities and societies hardened or left in ruins. It is tragic to see so many people – largely young men -- so radicalized that they are willing to lose their lives in spasms of meaningless violence.
We will be discussing terrorism at this Summit.
I will stress to world leaders that our response needs to be robust, but always within the rule of law and with respect for human rights. Otherwise, we will only fan the fire we are trying to put out.
We also need to address the underlying drivers of violent extremism. I will soon present to the Member States of the United Nations a comprehensive Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism.
At this time of heightened tensions, I caution against actions that would only perpetuate the cycle of hatred and violence. I again offer condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims and to all the people of France.
This Summit takes place as we approach the end of what has been a watershed year for international cooperation.
Governments have agreed a new and visionary sustainable development agenda with 17 Sustainable Development Goals to the year 2030. These goals can set the direction for a prosperous, inclusive and environmentally sustainable world. They should be a priority at this Summit.
Governments will soon meet in Paris to finalize a global climate change agreement. One hundred and sixty-one countries representing more than 90 per cent of global emissions have now submitted their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions or INDC. These plans will bend the emissions curve downward, and move us in the right direction.
But they will not keep us under the dangerous 2-degree Celsius threshold. We have to go much further and faster.
I see four essential elements for success in Paris.
First, durability. Paris must send a clear signal to markets that the low-carbon transformation of the global economy is inevitable and beneficial.
Second, flexibility. The agreement must be able to accommodate changes in the global economy while striking balance between the leadership role of developed countries and the increasing responsibilities of developing countries.
Third, solidarity. An agreement must provide financing and technology transfer for developing countries. Developed countries must keep their pledge to provide $100 billion a year by 2020 for both adaptation and mitigation.
And fourth, credibility. An agreement must establish strong monitoring mechanisms, be able to respond to rapidly escalating climate impacts, and ensure that we are on a path to a low carbon economy, as science demands.
With two weeks left before the start of COP-21, it is urgent that all leaders work to find compromises.
I also count on G20 leaders for support as we address the biggest crisis of forced displacement since the Second World War.
This is not only a crisis of numbers; it is a crisis of global solidarity.
I pay tribute to Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon for hosting 4 million Syrian refugees.
We must ensure enhanced support to these and other countries accommodating the greatest numbers of refugees -- without at the same time cutting back on official development assistance.
I strongly appeal to European nations coping with mass forced displacement not to reduce development assistance to finance the cost of refugee flows. Helping people in need should not be a zero sum game.
I urge G20 leaders to heed the growing global call for a recovery plan for the region – perhaps akin to the Marshall Plan in scale.
We should also work together towards a much-needed global compact for human mobility.
I will soon present to the General Assembly further thoughts on this matter.
And of course, reaching a political settlement in Syria should be a top priority. I welcome the renewed sense of urgency that the International Syria Support Group is bringing to these efforts, and I commend the leadership of U.S. Secretary of State Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and others involved in the talks yesterday in Vienna. I urge the participants to move beyond their differences so that they can push further for a nationwide ceasefire, combat terrorism and address key governance and constitutional issues. After years of division, this is a rare moment of diplomatic opportunity to end the violence and advance the search for a negotiated political solution.
Question: Do you think the terrorist attacks in Paris will change the way the international community’s response to ISIS?
Secretary-General: Terrorist acts have been there since a long time but not as brutal as we are now seeing. That is very worrisome and that is really alarming. That is why I sincerely hope that, particularly G20 leaders who have the capacity, the political will and resources, will discuss this matter. This is the right time, a very opportune time for them to address this issue collectively.
They have made commitments but we need much more coordinated and concerted action at this time. We have seen so many, such large scale terrorist attacks against innocent citizens who don’t really know what happened to their lives. Whatever grievances, whatever political or religious reasons there may be, those are not acceptable and we have to take strong actions in the name of humanity.
That is why, as I briefed in my earlier remarks, we are working very hard to present a comprehensive Plan of Action to fight violent extremism and terrorism to the General Assembly of the United Nations, and I sincerely hope that leaders will act.
Question: What do you think should be the role of civil society in international fora such as the G20?
Secretary-General: My experience and observation as a Secretary-General of the United Nations for the past nine years is that in this interconnected world, where we experience a dramatic transformation, […] we need the strong support and engagement of civil society.
I have been often saying that for leaders to establish good decisions or policies, they need to work in close partnership with business community, private sector and civil society. Having a tripartite partnership among us, in my case the United Nations, business community and civil society, that’s what I want to do. Whether civil society needs to be part of this G20 formula, that I can’t comment at this time but it is important that leaders, when they make a decision or an agreement among the G20, they should closely work with business communities.
We have seen on the margins of the G20, or G7 or G8, business communities have been meeting, have been forming their own type of G20: Business20 or L20. I have seen many such events of civil society so I would strongly encourage civil society to take an active participation and engagement.
We also expect when we have the Climate Change Summit in Paris, I understand that at least 30,000 civil society leaders will participate. We will listen very sincerely, very sincerely, to the voices and aspirations of civil society so that they are reflected.
For example, when the leaders adopted the very visionary Sustainable Agenda aiming at 2030, I made it quite clear that we must listen, combine and reflect the voices and aspirations of civil society. They were invited by the General Assembly and they expressed their views to the General Assembly. I have been reaching out to at least 8 million people: the Sustainable Development Goals, the 17 Goals, are the result of your voices and the business communities’ voices. So this, we will continue, thank you.
Question: What role do you think media play in the fight against terrorism and ISIS?
Secretary-General: In the past, terrorists were acting in secrecy. We heard not much, they were hiding or they were coming out but now ISIL or Da’esh have a very active communication strategy, they have space, they have their own resources for finance: this is very alarming.
That is why I have been asking and urging world leaders who the capacity to be united. That is why the coalition forces are taking action now. Since the way they behave and they operate is very calibrated, there should be much more coordinated and concerted response by the international community.
You heard that world leaders like President Hollande, President Obama and other leaders have been stating out their position; that is why the United Nations are now actively engaging with all the countries that have been affected by these terrorist attacks – so we have much more comprehensive, broader strategy by the United Nations.
As you may remember, in 2006, the General Assembly of the United Nations has adopted the United Nations Global Counterterrorism Strategy. Under this, we have established a Counterterrorism Centre but after all these years and having experiences all these kind of massive and brutal terrorist attacks, we have to think differently.
That is why I have been actively contacting many countries in the world, first of all to try to strengthen the countries’ immediate capacities – how we can bring their capacity up to the standard and how we can have some concerted efforts by the international community. That is what I am going to present to the General Assembly soon.
Question: How do you react to the Security Council being blocked and what does the UN do to bring a solution to the conflict in Syria and terrorism by ISIS?
Secretary-General: Your question is comprised of two questions but in a sense, they are related. When it comes to how to change or expect the Security Council to act in a more united way, the Member States have been discussing and negotiating this issue over 20 years. It seems to me that there is almost a unanimous view that the Security Council should be reformed in a more democratic, more transparent, more accountable and more representative. For that point, I think there are no different views.
How to change the Security Council’s methods of work, including the veto power? For that, you will find a number of different views, by many countries. The Security Council reform agenda has been given attention and we are now seeing some accelerations. This kind of division, acting in a non-united way has affected the resolution of the Syrian situation.
Now, I am very much encouraged that the five permanent Members of the Security Council and other major actors in the region, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran, have been sitting together for the second time in Vienna. I think they made a good agreement which may need to be implemented as soon as possible. The forming of a transitional Government within six months, a transition in six months and also having elections in 18 months, that is about two years, I think that is quite ambitious, encouraging agreement.
To make this possible, there should be a nationwide ceasefire. My Special Envoy, Staffan de Mistura, has been working and continues to work very closely with the different parties to first of all, establish a nationwide ceasefire, all throughout Syria, then move on forming this transitional body, in accordance with the Geneva Communique of June 2012.
It may be an ambitious timeframe but there is nothing that we cannot do when we are united. I’ve been urging the Members of the Security Council, particularly its five permanent Members, to show solidarity and flexibility […]. The United Nations have been mandated by this 20 country group to promote first of all this dialogue, this transition. And this election should be monitored by the United Nations and we will do our best with this.