New York

1 November 2013

Secretary-General's remarks at press conference with World Bank President announcing visit to the Sahel Region [unofficial transcript of Q&A follows in English, as do the opening remarks in French]

Good morning everyone, and President Jim Yong Kim. It is a great pleasure to see you. 

I am pleased to be joined this morning by Dr. Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group.   Earlier this year, President Kim and I travelled together to the African Great Lakes region in support of a new peace framework aimed at tackling the roots of long-running conflict and under-development.

It was the first joint visit by a United Nations Secretary-General and a President of the World Bank Group.   Today, we are here to announce that we will team up once again and travel next week to the Sahel region of Africa.   We are honoured that we will be joined by Dr. [Nkosazana] Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission. 

We are also pleased that Mr. Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank, and Mr. Andris Piebalgs, Commissioner for Development of the European Union, will also take part – along with my Special Envoy [for the Sahel] Romano Prodi.

The joint visit will start from Mali and continue to Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad.   The Sahel is one of the most impoverished and fragile places on the planet.   At this time last year, Mali was in crisis.  Since then, our collective efforts have helped not only improve the political and security situation in Mali but also address some of the broader challenges in the Sahel. 

The time is ripe to build on these gains.

Let me highlight three reasons why this visit is so important.

First, the crisis in Mali has underscored the need to do more than fight fires in the region – we need to clear away the problems that could ignite conflict and instability.  

Second, we must take a regional approach.  The challenges in the region respect no borders – neither should our solutions. 

More than eleven million people are food insecure.  Five million children under five are at risk of acute malnutrition.  The region is awash in weapons, and highly vulnerable to terrorist and criminal networks.   The Sahel has suffered its third major drought in less than a decade, and the effects of global warming are being felt as never before.   These challenges cannot be overcome by any government or organization alone. 
The issues are connected and we need an approach that connects our efforts. 

Our United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel – endorsed by the Security Council -- does just that.  It puts a priority on good governance, security and resilience.  It stresses human rights and opportunity for women and young people.
Above all, it is anchored in supporting the priorities of the governments and people of the region. 

That is my third point.  The leaders of the Sahel are coming together to tackle their challenges in a concerted way. 

They need our support. 

We are going together to listen and act. 

We are convinced that the cycle of crises in the Sahel can be broken. The region can move from fragility to sustainability.   President Kim and I have learnt from long experience that peace is not sustainable without development – and development is not sustainable without peace.  Our message on this critical visit and around the world is that peace and development must go hand-in-hand. 

I thank you.

Q: On behalf of the UN Correspondents Association, thank you very much, President Kim and the Secretary-General, for giving us this press conference.

I actually had a question for both of you, which is: this sounds like an incredibly ambitious plan, and President Kim, you said you are going to be trying to mobilise private and public resources. Is there any financial target of the amount of money that is going to be needed to carry out this programme? And is there also a timeframe? Are we talking about something that is going to be done in two years, five years, ten years? Thank you.

SG: I think your question seems to be more directed to the World Bank President, but before he takes the floor, I do not have any financial target myself, as United Nations Secretary-General, but when we travelled together in the Great Lakes region last May, the World Bank Group has mobilized one billion dollars for the Great Lakes region. That was huge support and commitment of the international community.

The main purpose of our joint visit this time with the World Bank Group, myself and other political and regional development agencies, regional groups, is to demonstrate our strong support and our shared commitment to the people in the Sahel region. The countries and the people in the Sahel region have been suffering for far too long, and too much – instability, malnutrition, lack of food and nutrition, water scarcity and sanitation, terrorism – these are some things which are happening every day. Mali was in crisis last year; it was one of the top concern areas, with only very effective intervention by the international community, that we now have the third largest peacekeeping operation in Mali, with 12,000 [ceiling] of our peacekeeping operations. We have to really help these people, and countries, so that they can really build upon the international support. That is why we are going there to really reaffirm our strong political support, and also financial support.

This is a multifaceted and also comprehensive purpose. I hope that leaders in Mali, and particularly in the Sahel region - Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad - will engage in inclusive political dialogue, and inclusive reconciliation.

I am encouraged that people are now returning to the north of Mali, even though we have seen a tragic terrorist attack in Tessalit a few days ago. But, again, we are very much committed. The United Nations is leading, together with the regional groups and the World Bank and Development Bank groups, so I am very much encouraged and grateful to Dr. Kim’s strong commitment and leadership for world peace and development.

Q: Considering the Washington Post article about money laundering in charitable organizations, especially with concerns to how they were directed into the countries and corrupt leaders effectively took a lot of that money, how much of your funds or your re-programming of the funds as you put it will actually, do you expect, will actually reach the people in the Sahel region?

SG: Let me answer before Dr. Kim also takes part.

It is not only in Sahel but all throughout our development projects that good governance and transparency and accountability are key words and key priorities for the United Nations and all the rest of the international community. It is important that the money pledged and invested must be used for the true purpose and principles - with oversight, with accountability and with transparency. That we will make sure.

We have seen so many corrupt practices all throughout the world. That is one of the top priorities. That is what I said in my earlier remarks, that the United Nations integrated strategy for Sahel is aimed at good governance, and also resilience, and also promoting security and development, comprehensive development.

Q: Thank you. My question is on the International Support Group for Lebanon, that you initiated, Mr. Secretary-General, and you took part President Kim, in the first launching in New York and then in Geneva. And then, President Kim, you have warned in October about the catastrophic situation in Lebanon because of Syrian refugees. And then there are pledges; some countries didn’t come through; they fall apart; they didn’t pay their dues - like France, Russia, Qatar, and the EU. What are the mechanisms or what are the new ideas put in place in order to help resolve this catastrophic situation? Thank you.

SG: Thank you for your concern. As you know, during the General Assembly, I have convened many small and big international conferences, focussing on specific situations. The International Support Group meeting which I convened together with President [Michel] Sleiman of Lebanon was one of the most successful and important ones.

As you know, Lebanon is one of the hardest hit countries caused by the Syrian situation.  The number of refugees being accommodated by Lebanon has reached more than 800,000 and it is expected that this number will reach one million by the end of this year. This is not sustainable, not possible for the Lebanese Government to observe this heavy burden. It does not create only an economic burden, but it creates many social and even political problems.

The Lebanese Government is not fully formed yet. The Prime Minister has not yet been officially inaugurated, after the current Prime Minister expressed his resignation. Then we hope that the Government will be formed as soon as possible. The international community has an obligation to support the Lebanese Government. We have more than two million refugees. Then almost one third of refugees are now in Lebanon. There is ethnic tension inside Lebanon which is quite worrisome now. That is why we are really trying our best to resolve this issue through political dialogue which we are aiming to convene within the month of November.

In any case, peace and stability in Lebanon is one of the top priorities. We are constantly talking and discussing this matter, not only with the Lebanese Government, but with other key actors in the region.

Q: I will go back to Sahel, Mr. Secretary-General. Can you please enlighten us on how you are going to spread this project to the real people, and how are you going to create jobs, how are you going to invest in agriculture, for example? Can you enlighten us how this process is going to work?

SG: This United Nations integrated strategy covers all political, social and economic aspects of our challenges facing the Sahel.

This has been very strongly supported by the Security Council. That is why we are going there.

I am encouraged that the Malian Government has convened a ministerial meeting, more than thirty countries are now sending their Ministerial level senior officials so that we can sit down together and discuss all the aspects of the problems facing Sahel. That will be held on the 5th of November in Bamako, Mali. That will be a very important mechanism. I understand that they will be meeting every six months under rotating chairmanship in the region. So there is a mechanism, but at this time we really need to have some structured way of supporting the people in the Sahel region - how to empower women, and how to provide decent opportunities for young people who have been very frustrated by not being able to participate equally and with decency. Those are some very important aspects.

Before that we have to stabilize the situation – the political stability, the security situation. That is why MINUSMA [United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali] has been deployed there. We have to accelerate the full deployment of MINUSMA. Out of a ceiling of 12,000, we have just half of the manpower been deployed. We need more support from the international community. It has been basically mostly French military support, led by SERVAL.  But they are now considering withdrawing, then the Malian national government forces and forces in the region should be able to take over this one. The UN mission will continue to be there.

We need support in terms of critical assets, like helicopters. I am deeply grateful to the Government of the Netherlands, which has just announced that they are going to deploy some 360 soldiers, together with four Apache helicopters. This is great support for MINUSMA and the United Nations.  We need strong mobility; we need crucial assets; we need hospital support – this requires all the international community’s support. That is why we are teaming up together with the World Bank Group, the African Development Bank, the European Union and the African Union Commission. So, we hope that this will provide a good opportunity for both the people in the Sahel region and the international community can really work together.

Thank you, Dr. Kim. Hope to see you in Mali.


Le Secrétaire général

Annonce à la presse de la visite au Sahel
New York, le 1er novembre 2013

Mesdames et Messieurs, bonjour.

Je suis heureux d’avoir à mes côtés M. Jim Yong Kim, Président du Groupe de la Banque mondiale.

Cette année, M. Kim et moi-même nous sommes rendus dans la région des Grands Lacs d’Afrique pour manifester notre appui à un nouvel accord-cadre pour la paix visant à régler les problèmes sous-jacents responsables de conflits interminables et de retards de développement.

C’était la première fois que le Secrétaire général de l’ONU et le Président de la Banque mondiale voyageaient ensemble.

Aujourd’hui, nous sommes ici pour annoncer que nous allons à nouveau faire équipe et que nous nous rendrons ensemble au Sahel la semaine prochaine.

Nous aurons l’honneur d’être accompagnés de Mme [Nkosazana] Dlamini-Zuma, Présidente de la Commission de l’Union africaine.

Nous sommes également heureux d’annoncer que M. Donald Kaberuka, Président de la Banque africaine de développement, et M. Andris Piebalgs, Commissaire au développement de l’Union européenne, seront du voyage, de même que mon Envoyé spécial [pour le Sahel], M. Romano Prodi.

Nous nous rendrons tout d’abord au Mali et, de là, au Niger, au Burkina Faso et au Tchad.

Le Sahel est une des régions les plus pauvres et les plus fragiles de la planète.

L’an dernier à cette époque, le Mali était en crise. Depuis, grâce à nos efforts collectifs, non seulement la situation politique et les conditions de sécurité se sont améliorées dans ce pays, mais des progrès ont été accomplis par rapport à certains des problèmes plus généraux du Sahel.

Nous devons saisir l’occasion et faire fond sur ces progrès.

Trois raisons en particulier font que cette visite est importante.

Premièrement, la crise malienne a montré que nous ne pouvons pas nous contenter d’éteindre les foyers d’incendie qui se déclarent dans la région; nous devons régler les problèmes qui risquent de déclencher des déflagrations et d’être cause d’instabilité.

Deuxièmement, nous devons aborder les problèmes à l’échelle régionale. Ces problèmes ne s’arrêtent pas aux frontières; les solutions que nous y apportons ne doivent donc pas s’y arrêter non plus.

Plus de 11 millions de personnes sont touchées par l’insécurité alimentaire. Cinq millions d’enfants de moins de 5 ans sont guettés par la malnutrition aigüe.

La région regorge d’armes, et est très vulnérable face aux réseaux terroristes et criminels.

Le Sahel a connu trois périodes de sécheresse grave en moins de 10 ans, et se ressent plus que jamais des effets du réchauffement planétaire.

Aucun gouvernement et aucune organisation ne peut surmonter seul ces défis.

Puisque les problèmes sont liés entre eux, nos efforts doivent l’être aussi.

C’est précisément l’objet de la Stratégie intégrée des Nations Unies pour le Sahel, qui a été approuvée par le Conseil de sécurité. Cette stratégie place au premier plan la bonne gouvernance, la sécurité et la résilience. Elle englobe les droits de l’homme et porte aussi sur les possibilités qui s’offrent aux femmes et aux jeunes.

Et surtout, elle repose sur le respect des priorités des gouvernements et des peuples de la région.

C’est là mon troisième point. Les dirigeants des pays du Sahel s’unissent pour régler leurs problèmes de façon concertée.

Ils ont besoin de notre appui.

Ensemble, nous allons les écouter, puis agir.

Nous sommes convaincus que la succession des crises peut être interrompue. La région peut surmonter la précarité et s’engager sur la voie d’un avenir mieux assuré.

M. Kim et moi-même savons d’expérience que la paix ne dure pas sans le développement, et que le développement ne dure pas sans la paix. Le message que nous voulons faire entendre à la région, à l’occasion de cette visite déterminante, ainsi qu’au reste du monde, est que la paix et le développement doivent aller de pair.

Je vous remercie.