07 December 2013

Secretary-General's remarks at press encounter at Elysee Summit on Peace and Security in Africa [unofficial transcript]

Je tiens à remercier le Président Hollande d’avoir accueilli cette réunion au sommet, qui a été très fructueuse.

Je suis heureux d’avoir à mes côtés les dirigeants de l’Union africaine et de l’Union européenne.

Le Sommet s'est déroulé tandis que le monde entier pleure la disparition de Nelson Mandela. Il a profondément marqué nos vies et nous a montré ce qui était réalisable, en Afrique et dans le monde entier.

Le peuple sud-africain et le monde entier ont perdu un héros. Son œuvre, impérissable, continuera de guider l’action de l’ONU.

Mesdames et Messieurs,

Nous sommes réunis ici pour faire passer un message de solidarité et d’espoir : que chaque femme, que chaque homme, et chaque enfant d’Afrique ait un avenir pacifique et prospère.

Depuis de nombreuses années, les Africains écrivent une nouvelle page de leur histoire. Notre objectif commun est de faire fond sur ces progrès et de franchir les sérieux obstacles qui subsistent.

Le Sommet de l’Élysée a permis de couvrir de nombreuses questions importantes à un moment décisif.

Nous avons évoqué la prévention des conflits et la gestion des crises.

Nous avons dressé le bilan de nouvelles stratégies de maintien de la paix plus robustes, qui portent leurs fruits.

Nous avons passé en revue les menaces toujours plus grandes que sont le terrorisme, l’extrémisme, la criminalité organisée, le trafic de stupéfiants et la piraterie.

Et nous nous sommes penchés sur des situations particulières, dont celles du Sahel, de la région des Grands Lacs et de la Somalie.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Right after this press conference, we will re-convene for a Summit on the Central African Republic, - Prime Minister of Central African Republic is here with us - where the chaos and suffering pose a major test for the international community. There is an urgent need to avoid further deterioration and to implement the Security Council resolution adopted two days ago.

I commend the engagement and commitment of the Economic Community of Central African States and the African Union. I am grateful to all countries contributing soldiers to MISCA, and in particular to France for boosting its military support. Again, I highly commend the leadership of President Hollande to deploy French contingent on the ground so rapidly and effectively. France has also been instrumental in mobilizing the Security Council at this critical time.

In all my meetings at the Elysee Summit, the nexus between peace, development and human rights was foremost in mind.

In that regard we also focused special attention on climate change, just as it has been explained by President Hollande. I invited Africa’s leaders to the Climate change Summit I will be holding on September 23rd of next year in New York. Reaching a new climate agreement in 2015 here in Paris means doing much of the heavy lifting in 2014.

Let me once again express my gratitude to President Hollande and France for their contributions to peace efforts in Africa.

I thank all the African leaders and ministers who have attended this Summit, and pledge to them all the continued full support of the United Nations.

Thank you.


Q: (about Syria and the destruction of chemical weapons)

SG: The process of destroying chemical weapons has been moving as scheduled smoothly. As you know we have reported three phases. The first phase and the second phase have been completed satisfactorily by the end of 30 November. As of 1 December we have entered into a third phase that is the process of actual destruction of chemical weapons which have been identified by our joint mission team. The Government of Syria has been quite cooperative in this process. Now we have to finish this third phase by the end of June next year. The first phase in this third phase would be to bring all these chemical weapons and try to find the location where exactly these chemical weapons should be destroyed. You must have been following that there has not been much voluntary countries where they would be willing to have these chemical weapons destroyed. A lot of options are now being considered, including destroying these chemical weapons in high seas on ship. This is one of the ideas which is now actively considered. We are still working to find the exact modality, how to bring these chemical weapons safely to the port and deliver these chemical weapons. This is something which we are now seriously considering as an actual way of destroying chemical weapons. As Sigrid Kaag, the Special Coordinator for this joint mission of chemical weapons destruction has reported Security Council last week, I think everything is now moving on as smoothly. I hope we will be able to finish it by the end of June next year. A second question is: even though we will be able to completely destroy all chemical weapons, that does not mean that there is peace. Fighting is still going on every day where a minimum of hundred, 200 hundred people are being killed. Therefore, our priority should be, first stop this fighting between the two parties and bring a political resolution through political dialogue, Syrian-owned. As you are already aware, I have announced that Geneva II conference will be convened on 22 January. A lot of preparations are going on. I am going to have a meeting with Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi here in Paris tomorrow morning. And we will again discuss more in depth. There will be another preparatory meeting on 20 December in Geneva among Security Council members, permanent Members of the Security Council. By that time, we will have a much clearer picture about the preparations of this. The main purpose of this Geneva II conference will be to establish a transitional governing body with full executive power. This is a very important theme which we will have to implement as was agreed through Geneva I agreement on 30 June last year. It is not an easy process. We expect and urge the opposition forces to come and participate with a coherent and unified manner in their delegation. There will be some other issues of who should be invited. And with the result of the preparatory meetings on 20 December, I will try to extend an invitation by the end of this month so that we will have this 22 January meeting as scheduled. Thank you.

Q: (about the representation of Africa at the Security Council)

SG: As you are well aware, Member States have been actively negotiating on the very important issue of reforming the Security Council. It has been discussed now for 20 years. There has been some progress in the format of discussing this matter. When it comes to substantive matters, about the size of the Security Council, or category of the Members, like permanent membership or elected membership, and how to divide this membership (inaudible) all the important issues have not been agreed upon while they have been actively engaged in. I think again next week the General Assembly will discuss this matter. I would hope that Member States will continue to discuss this matter. I am aware of such a long-standing aspiration of African States to be more represented at the Security Council. But you should know that this is in the hands of Member States. Members States should decide.  Thank you.

Q: (about the Central African Republic)

The Security Council has adopted the resolution 2127. Let makes it clear. It is a Security Council’s decision, under Chapter VII of United Nations Charter. I have made my own recommendations. I have  put forward to the Security Council for their consideration, five options. (inaudible) These options were made on the basis of a multidisciplinary assessment mission of the situation in the CAR. I am very much grateful that Security Council has taken very decisive action by adopting this very strong resolution. As you may know, France is now working as the President of the Security Council. Therefore, I am very much grateful for the leadership and initiative of French Government and particularly President Hollande. I think this is the right decision to prevent and stop this ongoing violence. As President Hollande said, the security situation is almost a chaotic situation. We were very much concerned that if this kind of situation continues, many more civilian people might have been killed. And the humanitarian situation is again very dire. A minimum of 400,000 people have been displaced and almost all 4 million population has been affected by this situation. There is no functioning Government. Therefore, it is only proper that UN has authorized this African-led peacekeeping force MISCA together with additional forces by France. We will continue to keep the situation under control, protect the civilian population, and in accordance with the Security Council resolution after three months of evaluating the situation I have to report to the Security Council, again for another decision, what kind of eventual form of intervention by the international community should be.

Q: (about the Democratic Republic of the Congo)

It is true that we are maintaining the largest peacekeeping mission in DRC. The mission has been there at least 14 years or 15 years. It has been quite frustrating that we were not able to carry out mandate properly. There were a lot of human rights violations and killings of civilian populations. There was a very disturbing and frustrating situation happening last year. The Security Council, upon my recommendation, has taken a robust mandate by deploying the intervention brigade. This is quite a new concept, but a very effective one. With all this active involvement of FARDC and also support of MONUSCO together with intervention brigade, the Congolese Government was able to defeat the M23. But this is not the end of the situation. This military victory does not bring durable, sustainable peace. Therefore, I have been urging President Kabila and Congolese leadership, as well as the leaders in the region, who have signed this agreed Framework on Peace, Security and Cooperation in DRC and the Great Lakes region, which was signed in February this year by eleven leaders in the region. It was supported and witnessed by four guarantor organizations, including the United Nations, African Union, SADC, and the International Conference of Great Lakes region. So this is part good framework as well as robust peacekeeping mandate. On this, we were able to see this defeat of M23. I have been urging the parties concerned that the Kampala peace talks should be concluded as soon as possible. I met President Kabila here in Paris yesterday. We discussed in depth. I know that President Hollande has also met him. A lot of leaders have been urging President Kabila as well as the leaders in the region to conclude these Kampala talks as soon as possible, then address the root causes of this issue. Military victory does not mean all. Political dialogue, inclusive dialogue, reconciliation, and providing livelihood to the people in the country, that will help maintain sustainable peace and security. Thank you.