San Jose, Costa Rica

30 July 2014

Secretary-General’s remarks to media on arrival in San Jose, Costa Rica

Es un placer para mi realizar mi primer viaje a Costa Rica como Secretario General y estar en su hermoso pais.

Estoy muy feliz de estar en Costa Rica. Muchas gracias.

Thank you, Mr. President, for your warm welcome, ‎and I'm very much impressed and overwhelmed by such a warm welcome, and particularly by young children who are the hope and future of, not only Costa Rica, but the whole world. We ‎work for these young people and they are our hope and our future.

Mr. President and Madame First Lady,
Ministers and ladies and gentlemen,

This is my first official visit as Secretary-General of the United Nations, but personally, this is my second visit. I was here in 2004 as Foreign Minister, accompanying, at that time, the Korean President, and participating in a SICA summit meeting in Costa Rica.

I still remember and cherish such very strong and beautiful impression which I had. Since then, I've been speaking to many of my colleagues and friends and people of how beautiful a country Costa Rica is, how good, kind and warm the Costa Ricans are. I'm very happy to be here.

Costa Rica is a very important Member State, as a founding member of the United Nations, and it [has shown] many good examples under the United Nations Charter.

Peace and security - you are one of the few countries which does not maintain an army. You are one of the few countries in the region where people can freely walk around without feeling any fear of danger or threats. 

You are an environmental example [and a] model country - such clean air, rainforests.

The [United Nations] climate change [efforts] are now being led by a very distinguished Costa Rican citizen, Christiana Figueres, who is working as the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC.

And I want, Mr. President, and the Government of Costa Rica to lead by example. Send a strong and ambitious message during the climate change summit meeting, which I am going to convene on 23 September.

You have been showing examples in disarmament, not only in the region, but all throughout the world. And I really appreciate your convening the Fifth State Party Conference on Cluster Munitions this year in your country.

You have also shown strong leadership in meeting the Millennium Development Goals and you have shown your leadership in shaping the future development agenda, post-2015 development agenda for the sustainable future of our world - social, economic and environmental dimensions.

I am going to address the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. This is again a very good example that you are upholding and protecting human dignity and human rights.

All in all, you are a very model country which, I hope, many Member States will emulate.

Mr. President, if you allow me, just let me say a few words about the current situation in Gaza.

I thank you very much for your strong support and concerns expressed about this ongoing fighting in Gaza.

More than 1,200, almost 1,300 people have been killed, and almost 6,000 people have been wounded.

The United Nations is hosting 140,000 displaced persons in United Nations facilities, including many schools.

In this regard, I'd like to say just a few words.

First, I must denounce the latest tragic developments in Gaza.

This morning, yet another United Nations school sheltering thousands of Palestinian families suffered a reprehensible attack. All available evidence points to Israeli artillery as the cause.

Nothing is more shameful than attacking sleeping children. At least 16 civilians are dead and many more are injured. I want to make it clear that the precise location of this Jabalia Elementary Girls School had been communicated to the Israeli military authorities17 times - as recently ‎as last night, just a few hours before the attack. They were ‎aware of the coordinates and exact locations where these people are being sheltered.

Families had been instructed to seek sanctuary at UN sites, including the one repeatedly shelled today.

I condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms. It is outrageous. It is unjustifiable. And it demands accountability and justice.

I repeat again my call on Israel and all parties to do vastly more to ensure the safety of these United Nations sites and the security of the women, children and families who have sought protection there.

I call on the parties to stop the fighting and agree on an immediate, unconditional ceasefire.

I again call again from Costa Rica, a symbol of peace, that all the parties must stop now the violence and return to the dialogue table and address all the root causes, which have already been identified, whatever legitimate causes or grievances they may have.

They cannot continue like this, letting their people [be] killed all the time. This is unacceptable, and as Secretary-General of the United Nations, I have proposed and appealed [for an] immediate, unconditional humanitarian ceasefire, which will allow these wounded people to be taken care of and also which will allow for them to have dialogue, to resolve t‎his issue through dialogue in peaceful means.

Again, I thank you very much, Mr. President, and I'm committed to working with you and your people to promote peace and security, development and human rights.

Muchas gracias.