Auckland, New Zealand

02 September 2014

Secretary-General’s remarks at joint press conference with John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand

Thank you, Prime Minister John Key. Ladies and gentlemen from the media, thank you.

It is a great pleasure for me to visit Auckland, New Zealand. I was here three years ago to participate in the Pacific Island Forum summit meeting, under your leadership. I appreciate your very kind hospitality and meeting with me early this morning.

I know you are going through two very important elections, domestic elections and Security Council elections. Despite such a busy schedule, you have shared generously your very valuable time for me to meet you.

It is always a great pleasure to work with New Zealand and New Zealand people. Since the beginning of the United Nations in 1945, you have been a champion and an example among Member States in addressing the three pillars of the United Nations: peace and security, development and human rights.

When it comes to human rights, you are really a champion in upholding gender equality. You are the first country in the world to have given voting rights to women. That kind of example has been built up by Member States over seven decades.

The Prime Minister has just mentioned Small Island Developing States. New Zealand is also a small country in terms of size and population but it has much bigger and broader heart; that, we really appreciate.

As you know, I am coming from Samoa. We have participated in the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States. As you know, they have inherent vulnerabilities because of separation from normal trade and normal transport and interactions from most of the world, because of the vastness of the ocean. That challenge can be overcome by strong support from the international community.

New Zealand is one of such strongly committed countries. I found all Member States of Small Island Developing States to be very much grateful to the New Zealand Government and people for their very generous support, without which it might have been very difficult for them to have such a successful and smooth meeting.

What is more important, the SAMOA Pathway, which was adopted as a decision and final document of the meeting should be implemented. I have assured that this will be fully supported and reflected in the ongoing negotiations and discussions on shaping the post-2015 development agenda. That is what we need to do and I am sure Prime Minister Key and his Government will fully support this one [document].

As the Prime Minister has just said, we have discussed many, many issues starting from the situation in Ukraine and the problems in Iraq caused by terrorist activities by ISIL. We have also discussed the situation in Afghanistan and the Middle East.

We are living in an era of instability and upheaval.  We need strong support and coordination, solidarity of all Member States of the United Nations. 

On top of regional crises, we have the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. We also discussed this matter.

In all these crises and development challenges, New Zealand has been playing a very important role. You have been very generously strongly committed in peacekeeping and development and human rights. We appreciate your participation in many peacekeeping operations; as I understand, you have been participating in more than 40 since the beginning of these peacekeeping operations, in many places. We really appreciate your people who have been working for peace.

I’m here also to learn more about what and how [New Zealand is] doing for sustainable development. This afternoon, I will visit the Tuaropaki Trust in Taupo and learn more about sustainable agriculture and energy production there, and I congratulate your Government’s very far-sighted vision of using more renewable energy, targeting 95 percent of renewables by 2025. This is again exemplary vision. I hope many Member States will follow this one.

As I am going to convene the climate change summit meeting on 23 September in New York, I hope all Member States and leaders will come to New York with bold and ambitious targets so we can have visions and political will generated there. Again thank you very much.

Lastly, I really appreciate your strong commitment to disarmament and the Arms Trade Treaty. I hope it will become effective by the end of this year with your country’s ratification.

Q: What is your position on air strikes in Iraq?

Secretary-General: The situation in Iraq is very worrisome and the terrorist activities by ISIL are totally unacceptable by international human rights and international humanitarian law, for whatever reason. The international community must show solidarity.

Not a single country or any organization can handle this international terrorism. This has been a global concern. Therefore, I really appreciate some key countries which have been showing very determined, decisive actions, but all these actions should be supported by the whole international community.

The United Nations is very closely coordinating, through our Counter-Terrorism Centre and  Strategy working with key countries but first and foremost we have to protect human lives [from threats] caused by these terrorist attacks. I urge Member States to work together on this.

Q: [Follow up on possibility of flying military equipment to the Kurdish fighters].

Secretary-General: This is a New Zealand Government decision but whatever is necessary to address all this instability, social and political instability, caused by terrorist actions, should be addressed with strong solidarity of the international community.

New Zealand is a peace-loving country. I believe they have capacity, sometimes influence. I have been asking and urging Member States who have influence and capacity to help address this situation.

All these situations should be addressed in a comprehensive way. But first and foremost, it is important that countries and their people be able to live without fear. They should be able to live in peace and security.

Whatever the grievances, whatever the rationale may be, it is totally unacceptable that they use very violent means, killing people, without [respecting] any humanitarian and human rights law. This is not acceptable. That is why we are very much concerned.

There are crises caused by terrorists, by Boko Haram in Africa, and many such terrorist activities are spreading: we have to really address this issue by containing the spread.

Q: Is it increasingly necessary for humanitarian activities to be accompanied by military intervention?

Secretary-General: All these crises cause humanitarian crises too. It really makes it very difficult, for example, when political and social security is not ensured. It is about people, very innocent people, young people, women and girls and old people, who do not have much capacity.

At the same time, without addressing this issue through certain means, including military and counter-terrorism actions, we will just end up allowing these terrorist activities to continue. So that, we have to be firm [against] and address the issue.

The United Nations is really trying to mobilize all our capacity and agencies to provide humanitarian assistance for those people who have been affected.

Q: What is your view on the situation in Ukraine and Russia blocking the Security Council?

Secretary-General: This is another source of great concern. It has regional and even global implications.  That is why I have been reaching out to Ukrainian and Russian highest authorities to address this issue by sitting down together and resolve peacefully through dialogue.
I was very much hopeful when they met for the first time on August 26th in Minsk, Belarus, but it is quite regrettable that only after two days of their first summit meeting, the situation has deteriorated into a very chaotic and dangerous situation.

I know that the European Union, the Americans and all Western countries are also discussing very seriously how to handle this matter. What is important at this time [is that] they should know there is no military solution. There should be a political dialogue for a political solution. That is the most sustainable way.

Q: How much pressure is the United Nations putting on Russia?

Secretary-General: It is not about putting pressure on Russia or any other side. I, as Secretary-General, have been meeting with President Putin and I have been speaking over the phone with him and Russian authorities, and of course speaking to President Poroshenko of Ukraine.

I have been there myself and about ten days ago, I dispatched my Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs to find out how the United Nations can provide good offices in this very difficult and very sensitive crisis.

We must prevent further evolution of this situation into a more fragile situation, and I urge again the leaders of the concerned parties to engage more, to have a political dialogue for a political solution. I will continue to do that.

Q: Do you think New Zealand’s bid for a UN Security Council seat will be successful?

Secretary-General: I am aware that New Zealand is very much enthusiastic to serve in the Security Council but as you may appreciate, as Secretary-General, I’m not in a position to say anything because this is a matter to be decided by the Member States themselves.

At the same time, I am aware of how actively you have been engaging and how actively you have been contributing to peace and security, and development and international human rights issues since 1945.

Q: [Follow up on potential US strikes in Iraq]

Secretary-General: I hope that this security situation as it develops [will] be discussed more at the Security Council – how the international community can have more of a concerted way. But at the same time, when the situation really goes out like this, it is also important to contain the further spread of this political instability.

For that, I really appreciate those countries who have the capacity and for having really been addressing these issues.