Nay Pyi Taw

12 November 2014

Opening remarks at press conference

Ban Ki-moon

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honour for me to be back in Myanmar to co-chair the Sixth ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations)-UN Summit and to attend the Ninth East Asia Summit. I congratulate the Government of the Union of Myanmar for successfully hosting these meetings. I thank ASEAN’s leaders for their commitment to cooperation with the United Nations.

The leaders of ASEAN and East Asia have gathered in Nay Pyi Taw at a time of test for the international community. The world faces multiple crises. The region faces major challenges. I would like to highlight three issues of particular importance for Asia and, indeed, all humankind.

First, I am concerned that historical tensions and competing territorial claims in the region could hold the region back. I am encouraged by recent steps to enhance dialogue, and hope that this will prevent any needless escalation. Leaders have a responsibility to resolve their disputes peacefully, through dialogue. An Asia that can overcome legacy issues and look to a shared future will be even better placed to advance prosperity for all.

Second, here in Myanmar, the process of democratization is at a defining moment. An inclusive and transparent election next year will be crucial for the country’s future. Earlier today I had meetings with senior officials from the Myanmar Government, including Vice President U Sai Mauk Kham. Tomorrow morning, I will have a meeting with President Thein Sein. In my meeting this morning, I commended the Government’s efforts to implement an ambitious reform agenda. I also expressed my concern about the Rohingya population, who face discrimination and violence. I encouraged the leaders of Myanmar to uphold human rights, take a strong stance against incitement and ensure humanitarian access to Rohingya living in vulnerable conditions. At a time of rising extremism and intolerance in many countries, progress on this front in Myanmar would keep that country’s transition on track and send a positive message to the world.

Third, the world needs to do even more to address the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa. The rate of new cases is showing encouraging signs of slowing in some of the hardest-hit parts of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. The international strategy is working. At the same time, people are dying every day. I thank the many countries, including some of those here, that are contributing to the response. But I also encourage them to fill the huge gaps in funding, equipment and medical personnel. We are on the right track. But we must speed up efforts to get the crisis under control and bring it to an end.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The leaders of ASEAN and their partners represent more than half the world’s population.

I urge them to use this opportunity to take real steps that will enable people to enjoy stability, prosperity, democracy and human rights.

But before taking your questions, I want to commend President Xi Jinping of China and President Barack Obama of the United States for their leadership on climate change that they demonstrated today in the joint announcement agreed to in Beijing.

The decision on their post-2020 action on climate change, notably the commitment to increase their level of commitment on reducing CO2 emissions, is an important contribution to the new climate agreement to be reached in Paris next year.

I urge all countries, especially all major economies, to follow China and the United States' lead and announce ambitious post-2020 targets as soon as possible, but no later than the first quarter of 2015.

I thank you for your attention.