8 June 2016

Secretary-General Pledges to Continue Defending Rights of Journalists at United Nations Correspondents Association Directory Reception

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks as prepared for delivery to the United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA) Directory Reception, in New York today:

It gives me great pleasure to attend this annual reception and to receive a copy of the UNCA Directory for one final time as Secretary-General of the United Nations.  When I am relaxing with my grandchildren next year and they ask me, “What did you do when you were Secretary-General?” I can show them the photos in this directory and tell them: “I had to answer tough questions from all these people.”

Tomorrow, I will take your questions at a press stakeout, and I know some of them will be hard to answer.  But I am looking forward to it because I have always valued the work you do.  Put simply, we couldn’t succeed without you.  I thank you for all you have done, and once more, I pledge my support for you and all your colleagues.

I will continue to defend the rights of journalists and to do everything possible, publicly and privately, to ensure that journalists have the freedom to work.  I am pleased to say that our efforts behind the scenes to free detained journalists have had some success, although we cannot speak publicly about specific cases.

I am extremely disturbed by recent remarks by the President-elect of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte.  I unequivocally condemn his apparent endorsement of extrajudicial killing, which is illegal and a breach of fundamental rights and freedoms.  Such comments are of particular concern in light of ongoing impunity for serious cases of violence against journalists in the Philippines.  I will also continue to stand up for the rights of journalists and their defenders to be represented here at the United Nations.

I have expressed my disappointment that the Non-Governmental Organization Committee voted to deny the Committee to Protect Journalists consultative status with the Economic and Social Council.

Today, I want to thank two UNCA members in particular.  Edie Lederer has marked 50 years of service with the Associated Press.  Congratulations, Edie.  You are a true pioneer, and I hope and expect that you will hold my successor to account, just as you have done for me.  I also thank Lou Charbonneau, who is leaving Reuters to become the new United Nations Director of Human Rights Watch.  Lou, I am sure you will bring your sharp reporter’s eye to this new task.

And I have presents for each of you.

For information media. Not an official record.