Stockholm, Sweden

30 March 2016

Secretary-General’s joint press conference with the Prime Minister of Sweden [Scroll down for Q&A]

Your Excellency Prime Minister Löfven,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to be back in Sweden for my fifth visit as Secretary-General. 

I am grateful to the Prime Minister and the Government of Sweden for their warm welcome. 

Most of all, I would like to express my appreciation to the people of Sweden for their outstanding efforts to safeguard and promote the values and objectives enshrined in the United Nations Charter.  

Sweden is a trusted and indispensable partner of the United Nations across the global agenda, from sustainable development and humanitarian action to human rights, peacekeeping, peacebuilding and conflict prevention.  

Sweden’s feminist foreign policy is helping to empower women and girls – one of the keys to future prosperity and security around the world.

Sweden is also helping us to reflect on how to strengthen our work and modernize the United Nations.

Prime Minister Löfven and I have just had a constructive set of meetings.

We discussed the challenges posed by the large-scale movement of refugees and migrants to Europe. I continue to call for more countries to join Sweden in resettling refugees and sharing what is a global responsibility. Prime Minister Löfven and I also agreed on the need to speak out against the discrimination faced by refugees and migrants. To strengthen global efforts to address this challenge, the United Nations will convene a high-level meeting on September 19th in New York. 

It is essential to address root causes -- and a central one is working for peace and addressing the situation in Syria and Iraq, including efforts to counter Daesh. I am encouraged that the cessation of hostilities is holding; we must strive now for a nationwide cease-fire and progress in the talks, which will resume next week.

Implementation of the new Sustainable Development Goals -- or SDGs -- is also vital.  I am encouraged by Sweden's efforts led by the Prime Minister to ensure that we hit the ground running. That is further boosted by Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Victoria.  I am very pleased she has agreed to be one of my SDG advocates. 

The Prime Minister and I also exchanged views on the World Humanitarian Summit to be held in Istanbul on May 23rd and 24th.   This will be a major opportunity to agree on new ways of providing assistance, protecting people and building resilient societies.

Finally, we discussed the work we are doing to reform and modernize the United Nations.  An effective, accountable and transparent Organization is crucial in helping Member States and people meet the challenges of our time.

In closing, let me say that I am honoured to have been invited to deliver the annual Dag Hammarskjöld Lecture – and I look forward to joining many Swedes in historic City Hall in just a short while.  Mr. Hammarskjöld set the standard for principled leadership and global citizenship.  He remains a hero for us all – a 20th century giant whose example can help us address the serious challenges of the 21st.

Thank you.

Q: Do you yourself or UNHCR have had some concern, worries about the deal between European Union and Turkey about ending back refugees from Greece and Turkey?  What do you say to this? Is this in accordance to the United Nations rules and conventions on asylum?  And secondly, a question important for many Swedes. What is your comment on the treatment on the whistleblower Anders Kompass in your Geneva office, a Swedish citizen UN employee who warned about sexual abuse among UN peacekeeping troops?

SG:  On your first question this morning with Geneva I opened together with the High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi at the High Level Ministerial Meeting on “Resettlement +”  We deeply appreciate the many European Leaders who have been - despite the very different political, social and economic challenges, they have showing great, compassionate leadership. Sweden, under the leadership of Prime Minister Löfven, is by [inaudible] the largest and biggest country accommodating refugees. Now what is the EU and Turkey agreement? I think it is clear that we need to be speaking solutions—solutions based on shared responsibility. I’ve been calling for countries to work together in a spirit of shared responsibility. The key to this agreement is implementation—how this will be implemented. Of course, the High Commissioner for Refugees has expressed a certain concern about some processes in the Greece detention or other detailed issues, but by and large we are very much appreciated for such kind of work, political efforts to address these issues. This is not only a European issue. This has become a global issue. And what I’m asking and calling for all the leaders of Europe and elsewhere to show their compassion and their generosity for those people who otherwise would be defenseless and voiceless and whose lives will be threatened. Therefore it is important not to reject them, not to scapegoat them, and provide the lifesaving support. And, one of the good ways to expand the capacity is to expand some normal pathways so that migrants and all refugees, particularly refugees who are fleeing their homes because of persecution, because of the fear or the danger for their security, so that they can be accommodated. As I said in September, we are going to discuss at the global level, globally.

About this second question, as you know, I established the High Level Independent Panel, led by former Canadian Supreme Court Judge Marie Deschamps. She and her panel members presented recommendations and I have accepted and reported to the General Assembly. I have taken [inaudible] recommendations necessary on matters. When it comes to sexual violence, the United Nations, and myself as Secretary-General, take zero tolerance policies. I am very much sorry for all these continuing allegations. Even one single allegation is too important to seize. I will make sure that whatever allegations come, we will make sure that this will be investigated, and that we will take for the victims wellbeing and support. We established a Special Trust Fund to help the victims or families of those affected persons. Human rights and human dignity is the number one priority, and I launched this Human Rights Up Front policy.

Q:  Mr. Secretary-General, there is a signing ceremony in New York on April 22 for the Paris Climate Agreement. I was wondering if you can give us an update about how many Heads of State of Governments are expected to attend, and also what do you expect from them, besides signing the agreement? Are you expecting them to update their climate plans? Perhaps even include on what they committed to before the agreement?

SG: As the Prime Minister said last year, world leaders have shown their great visions and commitment for global prosperity and wellbeing for the people for whom they serve and who they work. The Climate Change Agreement in Paris was one of the good examples of this. Now, on April 22, my ambition is that as many parties as possible come to New York and sign this Agreement. Normally when an agreement or treaty is open for signature, sometimes it takes years to get all the parties to sign. Our ambition is to get it done in one day so that we will immediately enter into the ratification process. The ratification process will be given five years but out ambition is to make this Paris Agreement come into effect as soon as possible. I’m getting already lots of Heads of State and Government confirmations. This will be a most important occasion, first of all, to raise awareness on the importance of implementing this one. And I am asking the world leaders if they can take already some ratification process through their legislative bodies or domestic procedures, than it will be most welcome, so that they can sign and immediately present ratification [inaudible] of this climate change agreement. We will continue to raise awareness. In early May, we are going to have another very important occasion, Climate Action Day in Washington D.C – early May.  So this will also provide a good opportunity when government leaders, leaders of business community and civil societies again show their strong commitment for early implementation of this Climate Change Agreement.