Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York
Press Conference by Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon at United Nations Headquarters
Following is a transcript of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s press conference held in New York today, 28 October 2009:
We have also seen disturbances at the Haram Al-Sharif/Temple Mount compound.
Events in Jerusalem can undermine trust throughout the region, and I call upon all to avoid provocative acts. We should see this as a reminder that, in the absence of progress in direct Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, political tensions in the Middle East will only grow.
The Human Rights Council has now referred the Goldstone Report to the General Assembly, which will consider its findings and recommendations. I look forward to its decision. I have called repeatedly on both the Israeli Government and the Palestinians to carry out full, independent and credible investigations.
Meanwhile, 10 months after hostilities ended in Gaza, we see no progress on reconstruction or the reopening of borders. At the donors’ conference in Egypt, we raised $4.5 billion in financial assistance. Little if any of that money has been delivered. Families have not been able to rebuild their homes. Clinics and schools are still in ruins. I urge Israel to accept the UN reconstruction proposals as set forth, recognizing that the only true guarantee of peace is people’s well-being and security.
Thank you very much, and now for your questions.
The second issue has to do with the Goldstone Report. There were specific recommendations that were made for you as Secretary-General, but [Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs] B. Lynn Pascoe yesterday made clear to us that they don’t see a direct line between the Human Rights Council and the Secretariat in terms of responsibility and obligations. Why is that? If you could explain things on those two. Thank you.
On the second question, Goldstone — as you know, the Human Rights Council is a subsidiary body of the General Assembly, thus their report is now in the hands of the General Assembly. I understand that the General Assembly President is now going to hold a General Assembly meeting to discuss this matter. This is what I have discussed with the President of the General Assembly. I met at least twice with the representatives of Arab Member countries and, also, I have spoken with the Israeli leadership; I have spoken with the Foreign Minister of Israel, I met the Vice Prime Minister of Israel. And I will continue again to discuss this — as I said in my remarks, I am waiting for any guidelines and decisions or recommendations by the General Assembly for me to act upon.
Question: Mr. Secretary-General, about your continued appeals to Israel to respond to the different things you were asking, from the borders to the internal investigations to stopping violations of Lebanon, they seem to be always falling on deaf ears, including that related to Mr. [Richard] Goldstone’s Report. And the impression is that everybody is passing the buck when it comes to Goldstone’s Report and the Security Council. I understand now that you said you’re waiting for the [General Assembly], but can you pronounce yourself on the substance of the Goldstone report — in the sense that, do you feel that this issue, his recommendations regarding both Israel and Palestinians involved in war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity, should this arrive at one point to the Security Council and to the ICC [International Criminal Court]?
Secretary-General: I have stated my position in the past. I have clearly stated my support for the Goldstone Mission. And I have tried my best to provide necessary administrative and technical assistance for their activities. Now that the Goldstone Report was adopted by the Human Rights Council and is in the hands of the General Assembly, I am now waiting for a debate among the General Assembly Member States. And I will decide my own course of action upon that. I have again made my position clear; wherever and whenever there is violation of international human rights law and international humanitarian laws, there should be necessary investigation and the perpetrators of these crimes and violation of human rights should be held accountable. This is what I can tell you at this time. I am aware that the Government of Israel and the Palestinian authorities are now going to have their own investigations. I have not received any further details, but that is positive, I would say. I have been repeatedly urging the Israeli Government to institute a credible domestic investigation process.
Question: Like Sylviane was saying, there was some straight criticism for Mr. Roed-Larsen yesterday, that he is expanding his mandate and covering stuff that is really not related directly to his mission, and also the criticism that his reports always stress the request of disarming the Lebanese militias and non-Lebanese militias, while only referring very briefly to the Israeli violations. That’s criticism by several countries at the Security Council yesterday of Mr. Roed-Larsen.
Secretary-General: All my Special Representatives and Envoys, while conducting their missions, are required and they are in fact doing in close coordination with the relevant departments and concerned Governments. And also they conduct their missions strictly under my guidance and instructions.
Question: Thank you. With reference again, Mr. Secretary-General, to the Goldstone Report, I think what would happen in the General Assembly and in the Security Council is reasonably predictable, but it occurs to me that there have been allegations made with reference to the Hamas government that they are hiding behind their own civilian population, that they are putting their military installations, artillery pieces and such, in civilian areas. If these allegations were in fact true, it would be next to impossible to establish that unless you get some colossal group of international whistleblowers, and take them and put them in some kind of international witness protection programme. Without that, do you not think it would be impossible to prove that or establish it?
Secretary-General: All the allegations of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law must be addressed and investigated. Whoever may be responsible should be held accountable for that. The Goldstone Report has stated that both these violations committed by Israelis and also committed by Hamas should also be subject to be investigated. This is what he has made findings and made recommendations to the Human Rights Council. I hope that all aspects and all the allegations should be fairly addressed.
Question: Do you have an update, Sir, to your request you made to the Israeli Government over three months ago regarding the compensation they should have paid for damages they made during the Gaza war? And the number of the compensation — it was over $11 million. Do you have an update on that?
Secretary-General: As you know, the Legal Counsel has submitted officially the request for financial compensation for the damages inflicted upon the UN premises. This is now, I understand, being considered by the Israeli Government. Last week, when I met the Vice Prime Minister, Mr. [Silvan] Shalom, I raised this issue. And I again urged, in my telephone talk with Foreign Minister [Avigdor] Liberman, that they should expedite this process as soon as possible. I understand that they are considering this issue. I expect that they will come back to me as soon as possible with necessary actions. Thank you.
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For information media • not an official record