Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the Algeria Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Algiers today:
Je suis profondément ému d’être de nouveau en Algérie, à l’occasion de cette visite, qui a été pour moi très stimulante.
Dès que je suis arrivé à Alger ce matin, je me suis rendu à Maqam al-Chahid, le Mémorial du martyr.
Cette visite solennelle m’a fait une forte impression. J’ai pensé aux énormes sacrifices que l’Algérie a dû consentir en vue de sa liberté.
J’ai rendu hommage aux héros de la guerre d’indépendance en Algérie.
Ils ont dédié leurs vies aux valeurs que l’Organisation des Nations Unies considère les plus sacrées.
Aujourd’hui, je souhaite évoquer les liens puissants qui unissent l’Algérie et l’Organisation des Nations Unies dans ce monde en évolution.
Le message que j’aimerais vous faire passer est simple: l’Algérie peut être fière de son histoire, qui porte en elle tous les éléments nécessaires pour permettre au pays, et au monde entier, de connaître un avenir meilleur.
Cette histoire, c’est celle d’un attachement indéfectible à de nobles principes, d’une foi dans la jeunesse, et de la défense de la justice à l’intérieur et à l’extérieur.
Il est crucial qu’aujourd’hui l’Algérie réaffirme sa foi en cet héritage.
La situation qui règne au Moyen-Orient, dans le Sahel et dans le Maghreb est préoccupante.
Il y a des raisons d’espérer, comme l’adoption l’an dernier du Programme de développement durable à l’horizon 2030 et de l’Accord de Paris sur les changements climatiques.
L’Algérie peut énormément contribuer au progrès si elle retrouve l’esprit qui a présidé à sa fondation.
At the Monument of Martyrs today, I mourned the brave Algerians who died so young in their struggle for national liberation. They were men and women who bravely gave their young lives to the fight for their country. Their names live on. Their legacy is eternal.
We are now on the eve of International Women’s Day. I think of Hassiba Ben Bouali and her sisters who fought for independence. And I think of the young Algerians today who thirst for a better future.
I can already see great progress since I visited here in 2007. That was a very traumatic time for me to visit. I came in the aftermath of the terrorist attack against the UNDP [United Nations Development Programme] headquarters here. We mourned many Algerians among United Nations staff. I cried with their families and I burned with anger.
The problem of violent extremism has grown even worse since then. Moving from violence to reconciliation is not easy. Algeria has built reconciliation into its Constitution. President [Abdelaziz] Bouteflika has often said national reconciliation has marked an Algerian renewal.
Around the world, many young people are struggling to find jobs, to use their time productively, to take pride in their work. It is very important for any country, including Algeria, to provide decent job opportunities, and political, social, economic opportunities. Half of this global population among 7 billion, half of them are under the age of 25. We can still say that this world is very young.
We normally see the older generation, like yourselves and myself, but when you see outside of your Governments or businesses or institutions, the whole world, they are either young people or women. Therefore, we have to empower women and young people. Otherwise, we will be wasting at least 50 per cent of our productivity. If we add women and young people we can have 100 per cent productivity. That has been my consistent message. This is again I am repeating the same things.
There is widespread fear about terrorist and criminal networks preying on these youth. If young people are disillusioned and frustrated, then where can they go? They become easy prey and they fall in the trap of this extremism. I see this dynamic differently. Instead of worrying that young people will become one day radicalized, we should empower them to stop violent extremism.
Last year, the Security Council adopted its historic resolution 2250 (2015), affirming that young people can drive peace. My Plan of Action to Prevent Extremism, which was adopted unanimously by the General Assembly last month, contains a major section on engaging youth.
I have appointed the first-ever in the history of the United Nations Youth Envoy, Ahmad Alhendawi. I have appointed numerous special envoys, special representatives, whatever title may be, people of certain age. But, first time I invited a special envoy who was just 28 years old — I think youngest and senior-most in the history of the United Nations. That means the United Nations has been neglecting [youth issues] during at least the last 65 years before I appointed him as Special Envoy. We have to do much, much more.
This country was liberated by young people. I call for investing in a new generation of activists who can open the way to a better future. Peace, development and human rights are inextricably linked. That is why it is so important for all countries to protect human rights defenders — and give full political, social space for civil society to operate freely.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development gives life to our values with clear targets for progress. The United Nations stands with Algeria in carrying out all these 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The Paris Agreement on climate change offers hope for a global breakthrough to keep temperatures rise at least below 2°C. We have another opportunity to galvanize the international community at the World Humanitarian Summit which I am going to convene in May in Istanbul, Turkey.
All these initiatives can help mobilize support for forgotten crises, including the plight of the Sahrawi people. During my nine years as Secretary-General, I have been dealing with many crises. Normally, we deal with so-called “headline crises” — the ones you hear or read from TVs or newspaper headlines, like Syria, I think these days you only talk about Syria, a little about Libya, Mali, but you never talk about what I term as forgotten crisis. You talk always about headline crises while millions and millions of people are suffering without being given any attention, like in Western Sahara.
I have just come from Tindouf last night, where I saw first-hand the very harsh conditions of the refugees. For more than 40 years they have been separated from their families. I was deeply, deeply saddened, and especially concerned about the children who may not be able to imagine life beyond the camps. The children who were born 40 years ago, they have become 40 years old — can you believe that? Young children, boys and girls, I was so sad, particularly sad for them because if they think that the end of their camp is the end of the world, end of their vision, end of their dream, then what will happen to them? We have to be responsible. We have to do much, much more.
I saw tens of thousands of people yesterday. They all came out of refugee camps. It was 18 years after when the last Secretary-General visited that camp. Kofi Annan, my predecessor, was there in 1998. Eighteen years after, I was there. It was too late and I felt very much guilty sense that why am I here so late? But, I thought never too late, anyway. I have seen from their faces who are sending their urgent appeal, messages, out of frustration, out of anger, against the international community, against the United Nations and maybe the countries who can have influence on them, including the members of the Security Council.
The world cannot forget the Sahrawi people. They must enjoy their human rights — their human dignity; even minimum human dignity I couldn’t find from there — especially the right to self-determination within the framework of a mutually acceptable political solution. Addressing the Western Sahara issue is a major purpose of my visit to this region. I am here with an urgent plea for more attention and action. I intend to resume this trip with visits to Morocco and Laayoune.
I have three important objectives of my visit to this region. First, to assess the search for a settlement on Western Sahara. I am calling for a more positive spirit by all the parties. I am here with [Personal] Representative Ambassador Christopher Ross, but I have asked him to engage in more shuttle diplomacy, so that this dormant negotiation could be resuscitated as soon as possible
Second, to shine a spotlight on this neglected humanitarian tragedy. The world must address the terrible suffering of the Sahrawi refugees. And I’m going to convene soon in Geneva a donor conference.
And third, to pay tribute to the staff of our Mission there, MINURSO [United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara], and encourage them to continue their mission even though it may be very difficult. It’s the middle of desert, middle of nowhere. I was very much saddened, but I was very much grateful to these young women and men who were just sitting in the middle of desert where there was no other facilities, but engaging in monitoring the ceasefire, demining and providing water and sanitation to these people. We have many hard-working United Nations staff and international humanitarian agencies who are working day and night.
I have held very productive talks with the Foreign Minister this morning and I’m going to engage in continuing dialogue with His Excellency President Bouteflika and the Prime Minister and other Algerian leaders today. This country has played a key role on Western Sahara and I really count on the Government of Algeria and its people for their continuing support. I heard from particularly many women refugees, they were sending their appreciation to Algerian people.
Je remercie également l’Algérie pour son engagement au Mali, en en Tunisie et en Libye, où la situation est alarmante et l’on fait état de violences graves qui pourraient constituer des crimes de guerre. La situation humanitaire y est catastrophique et ne fera que se dégrader en l’absence de progrès politique.
Mon Représentant spécial, Martin Kobler, facilite les pourparlers en vue d’un Gouvernement d’entente nationale. Tout délai ne fera qu’empirer les besoins humanitaires qui sont déjà effroyables. L’avenir de la Libye est en jeu. On en ressentira les répercussions très loin. Pour le moment, nous faisons face au fléau terrible de Daech qui gagne du terrain en Libye et au-delà de ses frontières.
Je demande à toutes les personnes influentes de s’acquitter de leurs responsabilités, en vue d’apaiser la situation et de faire cesser les combats. Toute partie extérieure qui attisera les flammes causera des dommages irréparables.
Le fait que l’Algérie héberge les pourparlers sur la Libye correspond bien aux engagements qui ont été les siens dans le passé. J’ai été épaulé dans ma tâche par plusieurs Algériens de renom, y compris les vénérables bâtisseurs de la paix que sont Lakhdar Brahimi et Mohamed Sahnoun, ainsi que mon Représentant spécial pour la région des Grands Lacs, Said Djinnit, et ma Représentante spéciale pour le sort des enfants en temps de conflit armé, Leila Zerrougui.
Par leur action remarquable, ces fils et ces filles de l’Algérie témoignent au monde entier de l’engagement de leur pays. Je ne doute pas que d’autres Algériens sauront prendre leur place sur la scène mondiale.
We share deep concern about the situation in the Middle East. I fully condemn the violence and terrorist attacks. I also insist that the world face a simple truth: people will always resist occupation. Palestinians have been enduring this unbearable situation for nearly half a century.
Both sides are suffering. Israelis are in danger of losing sight of the possibility of a comprehensive peace. Palestinians are losing hope.
The United Nations is responding politically, including by working with partners to strengthen the Palestinian Authority. We are engaging with Arab countries to galvanize support for peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians. I held talks with Algeria’s leaders today on how we can advance progress. Friends of both sides know that we the time has come for all to realize that occupation undermines the future of both peoples. We must champion Israel’s right to exist and the right of Palestinians for their own State.
Many people told me about the football match last month with Palestine. I heard about how stadium full of Algerians, they cheered for the Palestinian team. This cheer was much deeper than a sports team or sports celebration. It was even more than a peaceful expression of support for the Palestinian cause. Algerians cheering for another team is a manifestation of global citizenship. It showed how Algeria’s commitment to justice extends beyond its own borders. To that I say: one, two, three, vive l’Algerie.
Likewise, I ask young students here to [be] global citizens. My message has always been consistent: it’s not important to talk about your own national passports. You can be proud of being [an] Algerian citizen, or European citizen, or wherever you are coming [from], but this world is very small now. My message now can be communicated to the end of this earth in half a second. Therefore, we need to talk about our world, our whole humanity. After all, you are the leaders of this time. The leaders of tomorrow will be out of young students. Some young people have become leaders of today already.
This is very important. One that is very powerless, just vendor, street vendor, Mohamad Bouazizi of Tunisia, he just changed whole world, he transformed; the Arab Spring started not from politicians. Political leaders of today are always reticent to abrupt changes. If you don’t change today then you will have to be changed. That is the message. That is what young people are sending to world leaders today. I am one of such world leaders today.
I may be going out next year. I am leaving this torch to other bearers. We must be very much sure that all together we work for this world; we work for global humanity regardless of where you are coming from. I am asking again young people, young leaders, to be a global citizen. Have a global vision. That is the only way.
The United Nations looks forward to [an] even stronger and much more prosperous, much happier and much [more] stable world. Let’s work together to make this world better for all. I count on your leadership and engagement.