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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

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New York, 21 March 2005 - Secretary-General's opening remarks at press conference on his Report "In Larger Freedom"

Good Morning, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Let me first wish our Iranian and Kurdish friends a very Happy New Year – Nowrooz Mubarak!

I expect you all heard my speech a few moments ago, and I hope you have also had a chance to read the report – in fact, I gather some of you got hold of it much sooner than we had intended. I assure you that was not a deliberate leak on our part, but I am glad that the report has aroused so much interest.

The only thing I want to do this morning, before taking your questions, is to explain briefly why I am issuing the report at this time.

The General Assembly had asked me five-years ago to review progress on the Millennium Declaration, and had decided to meet and discuss at summit level in September. But frankly, I don't think a mere review would have done justice to the present world situation. I feel strongly that there are decisions which urgently need taking, in the areas of development, security and human rights, and changes that need to be made in the structure of the UN itself, if we are to make the most of our opportunities in the next ten years, and save many millions of people from death and disaster.

For instance, if governments take the decisions I'm suggesting in this report, I believe we have

a much better chance of turning the tide against HIV/AIDS and malaria in the next ten years;

a much better chance of containing the spread of any new infectious diseases, whether natural or man-made;

a much better chance of averting an attack by terrorists using nuclear or radiological weapons;

a much better chance of preventing countries like Haiti, Afghanistan and Sierra Leone from sliding back into chaos or crisis;

a much better chance of reaching a common understanding on how to deal with recalcitrant regimes like that of Saddam Hussein;

and a United Nations that is much better able to take effective action – through a strengthened Security Council and a new, authoritative Human Rights Council, both working closely with regional organizations – to put a stop to major crimes against innocent people, such as those we are witnessing in Darfur.

This report is the programme of action I have been working towards over the past two years. It is aimed at making sure that the commitments made to fight poverty are really carried out, in a way that brings results. It is aimed at healing the wounds in the international community left by the Iraq war. And it is aimed at restoring the credibility of the United Nations as a leader in the worldwide struggle for human rights. By publishing it now, I am giving world leaders six months to consider and debate it with their peoples, in the hope that they will come here to New York in September ready to take decisions.

Thank you very much. It's now your turn.

Statements on 21 March 2005