16 December 2016

Opening remarks at press conference

Ban Ki-moon

It is a great pleasure to see you this morning. Usually we gather at this time around this year but now we meet at the end of my term. 

Believe it or not, I will miss these exchanges.  We have spent much time together in this room, in the halls of this building and around the world over the last ten years.  You are part of the UN family. And I thank you for your strong commitment and working together, working for the United Nations. 

More than that, you have an important job to do – informing the world about our work -- when we make progress and when we fall short.  I deeply believe in your mission.  I have been saying that you are connecting the world, connector between the United Nations and the people of the world. And at a time when Governments across the world are harassing journalists and cracking down on press freedom, I have worked hard to be your ally and defender.  The fight for freedom of the press is everybody’s fight. 

I will be brief today to allow maximum time for questions.  Let me make just three points. 

First, the carnage in Syria remains a gaping hole in the global conscience.   

Aleppo is now a synonym for hell. 

As I told the Security Council three days ago, we have collectively failed the people of Syria.  Peace will only prevail when it is accompanied by compassion, justice and accountability for the abominable crimes we have seen. 

Second, I am closely following the deteriorating situation in South Sudan. 

This week marks the third anniversary of the fighting.  The country’s leaders have betrayed their people’s trust, and squandered a peace agreement.  Tens of thousands lie dead. 

Most immediately, my Special Adviser Mr. Adama Dieng, has warned of the risk of genocide.  We continue to push for access for lifesaving relief.  And I urge the Security Council to take more concerted action, including through punitive measures.   

Third, we will continue to support the global momentum behind the Paris Agreement on climate change.   
Climate action means jobs, growth, cleaner air and better health.  Leaders from across the globe and on every front understand this -- from Fortune 500 CEOs to Governors and Mayors.   

The Paris Agreement on climate change is a precious achievement that we must support and nurture.  There is no turning back. 

I will undertake one last trip during my final days in office -- to speak at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, and to visit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield.   

One can draw a straight line from the principles that President Lincoln defended to those that represent the best spirit of the United States and that animate the United Nations.  Lincoln was a heroic force for equality, integration and reconciliation; and desperately, we need that spirit today. 

This has been a decade of unceasing test.  But I have also seen collective action change millions of lives for the better.   

Difficult as it may sometimes be, international cooperation remains the path to a more peaceful and prosperous world.   

I will continue to spare no effort to appeal to world leaders, long-standing or newly minted, to recognize and embrace that preeminent 21st-century fact. 

Finally, I wish to express my appreciation to our host country and host city. 

Yesterday in Washington D.C., I thanked President Obama, Vice-President Biden and National Security Adviser Rice for their strong support over the years.  We all stressed the centrality of close, productive ties between the United States and the United Nations. 

I have also recently met with Mayor de Blasio of New York and Governor Christie of New Jersey, and will speak soon to Governor Cuomo of New York.  The United Nations continues to draw strength from its home here in the New York metropolitan area. 

Thank you again for your friendship over the past decade.  And I wish you continued good success, and work and engage more closely with the UN, so that you will always deliver and connect the world with the United Nations. And thank you very much. 

Now, let me say one last thing, I am happy to take your questions.

Thank you.