Press Conference by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at United Nations Headquarters

14 December 2011
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 on 14 December:

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.  It is a great pleasure to meet you.  And I look forward to seeing you later this evening during the annual UNCA [United Nations Correspondents Association] dinner.

We are nearing the end of my first term as Secretary-General, and this is also the day when I can discuss with you my last five-year situation.  This has been an extraordinary and remarkable year.

The “Arab Awakening” or “Arab Spring” has transformed the geopolitical landscape.  We spoke out — early and forcefully, calling on leaders to hear the voices of their people.  And we acted, decisively, in concert with the international community.

We played an essential role in the liberation of Libya.  We stand ready to continue to help Tunisia and Egypt at their request.

The agreement mediated by our UN envoy in Yemen sets the stage for an end to fighting — and the creation of a new Government of national unity.

We welcomed our 193rd Member State — the Republic of South Sudan.  The birth of this new nation followed a successful referendum in January this year, made possible by UN peacekeeping and diplomacy that included, four years ago, our deployment in Darfur of peacekeepers.

And in Myanmar we see a promising new opening — we will persist through our good offices and other efforts.

Elsewhere, events continue to test our resolve.

In Syria, more than 5,000 people are dead.  This cannot go on.  In the name of humanity, it is time for the international community to act.

In Afghanistan, we face continued insecurity.  Last week’s conference in Bonn reaffirmed the international community’s commitment to our partnership through 2014 and beyond.

With the help of the Quartet, we must continue to push for peace between Israel and Palestine.

In the Horn of Africa, people still face famine.

From the beginning of my time as Secretary-General, I have sought to advance a practical, action-oriented vision of the UN as the voice of the voiceless and the defender of the defenceless.

That is why, together with the President of the General Assembly, I went to Somalia last week — the first visit of a Secretary-General in 18 years.  And of course, the first time ever in the history of the UN that the Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly travelled together to Somalia.  And it is why I visited the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, where we are helping to feed and shelter half a million Somali people.

From Somalia to Sudan, Yemen to Afghanistan, Haiti to the Philippines — millions need our help.

Today in Geneva, we asked for $7.7 billion to assist 51 million people in 16 countries next year.

Economic times are hard.  But we cannot balance budgets with the lives of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable.

2011 also delivered warnings about our common future.

The disaster at Fukushima revived concerns about nuclear safety, and the UN mobilized a global response.

We saw record floods in Pakistan, Thailand, Colombia and El Salvador — a vivid reminder of the increasing incidence of extreme weather.

I came to office speaking of climate change as the defining challenge of our era.  I was determined to raise it to the top of the global agenda.

Five years later, we have made significant progress — from Bali to Copenhagen to Cancún and, now, Durban.

At Durban, we defied the sceptics.  We showed clearly that UN multilateral negotiations can deliver: consensus on a clear target and timeline for reaching a legally binding agreement involving all countries; a recommitment to the Kyoto Protocol and the institutions that have produced major reductions in greenhouse gases; advances on technology and financing, including the Green Climate Fund.

Looking ahead, we will build on this Durban spirit of cooperation to advance on climate change financing and, in particular, our new initiative on Sustainable Energy for All.

There is a broader lesson.  Whether the issue is climate change, peace, security and human rights, or humanitarian relief, the United Nations has never been so needed.

I believe we are at an inflection point in history.  All is changing.  The old rules are breaking down.

We do not know what new order will emerge.  Yet we can be confident, the United Nations will be at the fore.

That is why, at the General Assembly in September, I set out a vision for the next five years — a vision of solidarity for an era of upheaval and uncertainty.

I identified five global imperatives — five generational opportunities to create the future we want.  First, sustainable development; second, a safer and more secure world; third, the importance of prevention; fourth, helping countries in transition; and fifth, doing more for the world’s women and young people.

I will lay out our plan of action in January to the General Assembly.

For now, let me say that we will focus on the links among issues.  We must connect the dots — between climate change, energy, food, water, health and education, and oceans.

All these will be front and centre at the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development in June next year.

Meanwhile, we will build on the progress of the last five years.

Our new emphasis on preventive diplomacy and mediation has produced encouraging results — in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Kyrgyzstan, Cyprus and Nepal.

We have advanced the “responsibility to protect”.

In Côte d’Ivoire, Laurent Gbagbo sought to subvert the will of his people.  We stood firm for democracy — and today he is in The Hague.  We stood, as well, against Muammar Qaddafi when he vowed to slaughter his people like “rats”.

These are important victories for justice and international law.  During the last five years, we have stood repeatedly for accountability against impunity.  We have strengthened the rule of law and the International Criminal Court, now ratified by 120 nations with more soon to come.

On disarmament and non-proliferation, we have seen growing support for the five-point plan introduced early in my first term.

We continue to champion the rights of women and children.  The creation of UN-Women [United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women] culminated a long effort, grounded in our conviction that women are key to development and peace.

Our “Every Woman, Every Child” initiative has the potential to prevent millions of needless deaths.  Coupled with our success in fighting malaria, we have a powerful model for the future.

What we preach to others, we must practice ourselves.  Women hold more senior positions than ever in UN history.  You will see many more during my second term, not only at the top.

We can accomplish little without a strong United Nations.

People are outpacing traditional institutions — in their desire for change, in their demands for democracy, justice, human rights and new social and economic opportunity.  Our challenge is to keep up, to adapt and to deliver.

As my Chef de Cabinet announced on 1 December, I intend to build a new team for my second term, a team that is strong on substance and diverse in composition, a team that works as one.

Leading by example, I have placed priority on mobility — combining fresh perspective and institutional continuity and synergy.

With these criteria in mind, I am undertaking a thorough review of my entire team and its management structure.  In the coming days, additional announcements will be made as appropriate.

Thank you, and I will be happy to answer your questions.

Question:  Mr. Secretary-General, on behalf of the United Nations Correspondents Association, thank you for this press conference and for attending tonight’s dinner.  My question is this; the Human Rights Council presented a devastating report on Syria.  Are you going to submit it to the Security Council soon — this report, after 5,000 people [were] killed?

Secretary-General:  I think I have transmitted the report of the International Commission of Inquiry a couple of days ago.  Of course, it is for members of the Security Council.  It has also been transmitted to the General Assembly.  So it is for Member States to review and take the necessary decision.  The situation is very worrisome and I have repeatedly expressed my deepest concerns.  I hope that the United Nations and the international community will be able to take concerted, coherent action.  In that regard, I highly commend the initiative and leadership of the League of Arab States nations and I have been very closely consulting with the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States how the United Nations and the League of Arab States and the other international community, in a broader sense, can work to resolve these issues.

Question:  Mr. Secretary-General, when the Arab Spring first started in Tunisia and then spread to Egypt, you spoke in favour of change.  Now that the results of the elections are out — so far, you know the results — are you concerned about the future of democracy and political stability in the region?

Secretary-General:  That is why I reported to the General Assembly one of my five imperatives for next year, for a five-year second term, would be helping those countries in transition, particularly those countries who are able to attain their initial aspirations, like Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen.  It is very important that their success should be a sustainable one.  We have been trying to help to provide technical and logistical support to Egypt and Tunisia in electoral processes, and we are also discussing with world leaders how we can provide the socio-economic support so that they can provide the good opportunities to particularly young people and women, and marginalized groups of people.  This is going to be one of the top priorities.

Question:  Mr. Secretary-General, when you look back on the whole of the Arab Spring, tens of thousands of people have been killed in these different countries, and the UN and the international community has reacted at a different pace in each case.  Has this been a victory overall, the past year for the international community, its reaction?  Has it been a success rather than a moral victory?

Secretary-General:  As I said, this has been remarkable in terms of our commitment to help those people who have been oppressed, under oppression.  You have not seen such a dramatic situation where people were speaking out, where the international community was speaking out together with those people to help them.  Of course, more needs to be done, and it is quite sad and tragic that so many people have been killed, lost their lives and have been wounded in the course of these demonstrations and expressing their freedom of speech and their aspirations.  That is why I have been, and the United Nations and the international community have been continuously, consistently speaking out that the leaders should listen to the voices of their people and take up all the reform measures before it explodes, like this way.  So we will still have to see and [remain] continuously engaged with the countries.

Question:  Mr. Secretary-General, as another follow-up on the Arab Spring, we have seen actually these protests from very developed countries, including the United States and also in Russia and in some European countries which are not usually on the United Nations agenda.  Do you see that there is some kind of a real world trend that perhaps the United Nations and you as the Secretary-General should be looking at and addressing?

Secretary-General:  We are living in an era of uncertainty and inequity.  And we need to look at this issue and address this issue from a broader perspective, even political and historical perspectives.  It is, as you said, not only those countries under oppression, but even in the developed world, we have seen so many people demonstrating out of frustration.  That’s why I have been saying that this is quite a generational opportunity for the United Nations to address these issues.  These generational opportunities do not come along often.

If I may say a little bit historically, in terms of the democratization process, we have seen such yearnings for democracy as early as in the 1950s, in Eastern European countries under communism.  Then you have seen some countries in Asia, like in the Republic of Korea.  Then in 80s, late 80s, you have seen the collapse of the Cold War era with the reunification of Germany.  Then another 20 years or another generation later, we are seeing such yearnings, like a wildfire, spreading across the Middle East and North Africa, because they have been oppressed by tradition, by culture, by authoritarian leaders.  It is only natural, only natural an evolution of history; we have to look at that from that perspective.  That is why I termed it as a generational opportunity.  This is the moment which we have to seize and help them.

The worst case in the developed countries like the United States, where you have seen Occupy Wall Street and which had been spreading all throughout the developed world.  That is in the course of rapid industrialization and globalization; there has been some gap between the peoples.  They have been marginalized people, and there has been inequity between rich and poor and particularly we have not paid much attention to the women and youth groups.  That is why, again, one of my priorities.  This all comes from historical perspectives.  It is not coming out of just responding [in a] reactive way.  I have thought, with my senior advisers, very seriously how the United Nations can be relevant and can be helpful in addressing these issues.  So that’s why we have to do more for women and youth groups. 

Often, we have been saying that the young people will be the leaders of tomorrow.  But they have already taken the leadership role today already.  These were the people who were shouting and demonstrating in Tahrir Square, and Mohammad Bouazizi, in Tunisia, he set himself on fire.  He was a young, helpless [person].  But his sacrifice has provoked and ignited this flame of democratization.  Therefore, we have a political, moral and historical responsibility.  That is why I am asking you to be part of this process.  Journalism, the media, can play a very important role.  Without your help, how can their voices be heard to the outside world?  Of course, there are many means of communication — social media, all these — but still your views, viewpoints can be very helpful in helping this world to bridge the gap of inequity and provide equal opportunities to as many people as possible.

Question:  Thank you, Mr. Secretary-General.  Now that Palestine has been officially admitted as a member of UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization]; I believe its flag was raised the other day.  And this was followed by a cut-off of funding for UNESCO by the United States, and the Palestinians are also still seeking full UN membership.  You have expressed some concerns in the past regarding further efforts by the Palestinians to seek membership in other UN bodies, if that would have an adverse impact on funding.  Do you still have such concerns going forward?  And if so, have you communicated those concerns with Palestinian authorities?

Secretary-General: We have to look at this issue in a different angle.  Admission of Palestinians into the United Nations is a separate one.  I support their aspirations to be admitted into the United Nations and to be able to work in other international organizations as a full member within the context of the two-State vision where Israel and Palestinians can live together side by side in peace and security.  Then the funding gap, which has been caused by the US cutting this funding over the case of admission into UNESCO; that is another matter.  As the Secretary-General of the United Nations, I hope and I am working very hard that all the United Nations agencies should be able to operate with adequate funding, adequate resources to deliver to those people who need our help.  That is my concern.  That is my concern, that UNESCO will have a shortage of funding.  I have been expressing this concern to world leaders, whomever I met, so that we would be able to find some practical mechanisms where we can address this shortage of funding.  So these are separate issues.

Question:  Mr. Secretary-General, you made a very unusual trip to Somalia and you told the Transitional Council to either become permanent, hold elections, dissolve itself, whatever.  How did they react?

Secretary-General: I have very sincere constructive talks with the President, Parliamentary Speaker and Prime Minister and other leaders.  And I met the families of refugees and also representatives, leaders of refugee camps.  So, these discussions with them and meetings with them were quite constructive and useful and appreciated by many people in Somalia.  They are committed to make progress.  It is true that they have missed, this Transitional Federal Government, they have missed some important opportunities.  I have clearly told them that further extension of the road map beyond August next year will be untenable.  So, they should be doing all they can to implement this road map, including constitutional, parliamentary and political reforms.  They said they are committed.  And they should also be able to expand their governing jurisdiction.  They have a very limited window of opportunities gained through these military operations done by African Union peacekeeping mission, AMISOM [African Union Mission in Somalia], and Somali forces, and with the help of the international community.  This is a very limited window.  Unless they take this opportunity to expand their institutional capacity in the liberated areas, then there may be a danger [of a] resurgence of warlordism, and also military [comeback] by Al-Shabaab.  So they have to take these opportunities when there is a heightened attention and support from the international community.  The Kenyan Government has made sure that they will send their troops additionally to AMISOM, and Burundi is going to dispatch another additional battalion, and the United Nations is going to be heavily and very focused, engaged by deploying UNPOS — the United Nations Political Office in Somalia — from January next year.  Then there is going to be a summit-level meeting in London in February next year.  So, these are very important occasions, very crucial occasion, [for] the international community to focus our efforts.

Question:  Thank you, Mr. Secretary-General.  My question is about the budget.  In the opening statement, you said that the UN is very much needed; but on the other hand, you proposed to the General Assembly a 3 per cent cut to the budget.  My question is, don’t you have any concerns to shrink the operation or the mission of the UN or to reduce the presence of the UN in the international arena by cutting the budget of the UN?

Secretary-General:  To my knowledge, it is quite an unprecedented initiative that the Secretary-General proposes a 3.7 per cent budget [cut].  Even with the 0.5 per cent growth, the United Nations budget has been increasing by generous contributions by Member States.  I thought that this is not the time [for] business as usual.  This is an extraordinarily difficult situation where the United Nations should not be an exception.  We have to adapt and change our way of doing [things].  That is why I have asked my senior advisers to come up with budget reductions.  With a 3.7 per cent [cut], this may cause certain concerns by the Member States or some departments, whether our mandate could be properly carried out.  Our mandate will be carried out without fail.  How we can then reduce our budget by modernizing our way of working, by being creative, by being more disciplined in executing the budget — I think we can meet this requirement.  That’s my firm commitment and it is the consensus view of our senior advisers.  We can deliver what had been requested by the General Assembly or other intergovernmental bodies.  These mandates will be delivered without fail, but we will reduce our operational costs, so we can use some different ways of communicating with us.  We can reduce our travel.  Instead, we can use VTC [video teleconferencing] or some other means of communication.  By modernizing, by introducing ICT [information and communications technology], I think we can reduce the budget.

Question:  Mr. Secretary-General, it’s been well known that Daniel Bellemare, who is the Prosecutor for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, has not been well, and not functional, quite frankly.  He announced today that he is resigning.  By now, I’m sure you have somebody in mind who will take his place.  Has this been concluded?  How long would the process be, had you not chosen somebody?  How will it affect the Tribunal in Lebanon?  And I don’t want to rain on your parade, Mr. Secretary-General; you’ve been upfront in supporting the Arab Spring, but quite honestly, we don’t hear much from you on safeguarding the rights of minorities and women, when it comes to the consequences of the Arab Spring.  It is nice to give women lip service and say, “We are going to give you positions, you’re going to be fine,” but functionally, on the ground, there has been a very high cost for women and minorities.  What do you plan to do tangibly to do something about that, specifically because you have been upfront on this issue?

Secretary-General:  On the first part of your question, Mr. Bellemare is the Prosecutor of Special Tribunal for Lebanon.  His term ends sometime early next year.  We will have to find his replacement. I had discussed this matter with the new President of the Special Tribunal of Lebanon yesterday, and my Legal Counsel, Patricia O’Brien, will be in contact with relevant people, like the Special Tribunal, and I think due process of selection will take place.  But I have not yet initiated it, but it will soon be initiated.

Then, the second question; from the beginning of this Arab Spring, whenever I had an opportunity of speaking or meeting with Arab leaders, I made it quite pointedly, this role of women.  When they create a certain committee for reform or when they were drafting constitutions or regulations, [or to] enact laws, then there must be a clear provision on protecting the human rights as well as providing equal opportunities to women and also youth groups.  It’s not just lip service.  I’m just making sure that it happens.  When I visited Libya, I also had a meeting with the whole of the NTC [National Transitional Council] and I raised this issue to Chairman [Mustafa Abdel] Jalil and members of NTC, that in Libya, women’s opportunity should be fully guaranteed and [they should be] empowered.  I will continue to make sure [that this happens].

Question:  Mr. Secretary-General, you mentioned the “responsibility to protect” and you said that the implementation of this concept led to the liberation of Libya.  At the same time, it led to a split among the members of the Security Council.  Some of them, including BRIC [Brazil, Russian Federation, India and China] countries, believe that NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] has exceeded the mandate provided by resolution 1973 (2011) and used this resolution as a pretext for regime change and at the same time caused harm to the very same innocent lives it clamed to be protecting.  In this context, Brazil has offered an interesting concept that might bring the two sides together.  The Brazilian President, in the general debate, argued that better mechanisms were needed to ensure that in an intervention, unwanted damage would be kept at minimum, calling it the “responsibility when protecting”.  What is your assessment of Brazil’s initiative and how it could bridge the gap between different groups in the Security Council?

Secretary-General:  The responsibility to protect has been gaining wider and wider support among Member States.  Since I appointed my special adviser, Ed Luck, on this issue, there have been several occasions in which the General Assembly Members have discussed this issue — how to implement the principle which had been agreed upon by the leaders in 2005 at the summit meeting.  I’m encouraged that they have been gaining momentum on this principle.  I know that there are some concerns expressed by certain countries.  That is why this process has been — even though it has been time-consuming, we’ve been very patient in getting support, so that there should be no misunderstandings on the principle of this and the application of this principle.  I’m also encouraged, for the first time, that the Human Rights Council and Security Council invoked this principle of the responsibility to protect.  As a result of all these demonstrations and democratization processes by the people, of course, there were changes of regime.  But I believe that these changes of regime where done by the people, not by the intervention of any foreign forces, including the United Nations.  Security Council resolution 1973 (2011), I believe, was strictly enforced within that limit, within the mandate.  This military operation done by the NATO forces was strictly within [resolution] 1973 (2011).  I made it quite clear, and I have been often discussing this matter with the Secretary General of NATO, to make sure that there should be no human rights violations, there should be no casualties among civilians.  I believe that this is what we have seen and there should be no misunderstanding on that.  On the Brazilian concept, still, the responsibility to protect is the subject of discussions among Member States, so all the comments and suggestions, including the Brazilians’, will be considered.

Question:  Mr. Secretary-General, we know your efforts in bringing the leaders together on Cyprus.  My question is on Cyprus.  We know your efforts to bring the two communities to reach an agreement.  You last met the two leaders in Greentree [Estate] in New York.  And you also invited them to another meeting in January.  From this perspective, what do you want to see to be achieved before the meeting in January?  And what do you think are the prospects for the next year, Sir?

Secretary-General:  As you are well aware, I have invited the two leaders to Greentree in late January and I will spend two days with them.  This will be a more intensive consultation, negotiation, than the previous Greentree negotiations.  I believe that time is quite limited.  As you are aware, Cyprus is going to take the Presidency of the European Union from 1 July next year, so the window of our opportunity for further progress in negotiations is very much limited.  It may be politically difficult and sensitive, when the Presidency of the European Union is now going to be part of this.  And practically speaking, the Presidency of the European Union will be heavily involved in all other European issues.  Therefore, we are trying to maximize this progress in Cyprus.  And as I have issued in my statement at the conclusion of the previous meeting, we hope that with the positive result of the January negotiations, we can move ahead towards the international conference to deal with these issues.  But let us hope that, before they come to Greentree, both leaders must engage and make progress, accelerating their pace of negotiation.  And my Special Adviser, Alexander Downer, is working very hard, and I am also going to get a briefing from [my Special Representative] Ms. [Lisa] Buttenheim today on the progress on this.

Question:  Mr. Secretary-General, a quick clarification on Giampaolo’s question — I thought I heard you saying that you had transmitted on Syria a report from the Human Rights Council to the Security Council, and I didn’t think that was the case.  Is that right? Is that what you had said, you did transmit it to the Security Council?

Secretary-General: Yes, yes.

Question:  Oh, ok.  And the question is, if you can articulate your general position on the use of drones for cross-border attacks and surveillance?  There has been an increased use of these tactics, particularly by the US, but are you concerned at all about the legality of these operations?  And also concerned that, if you look five years down the road, everybody is going to be doing this, and that you will have the Russians using drone attacks in their area, you will have the Iranians doing it?  Is there concern that this could lead somewhere out of control?

Secretary-General:  I do not have much to say about all of this, what kind of means the Member States use.  This is something which national Governments, military authorities, they may decide.  I do not have any comment on that.

Question:  Even cross-border to other countries?

Secretary-General:  I hope all this is done within the agreed international regulations and understandings.

Question:  Mr. Secretary-General, I do have a little follow-up on that.  Your former envoy on extrajudicial killings, Philip Alston, did have quite a lot to say on drones, and I would love to know if you intend to move forward on any of those investigations.  But I do have a separate question, which is just on non-proliferation.  You made a point in the beginning of your administration to point to a potential non-proliferation in the Korean peninsula, and that it was a personal point of interest.  Is there any movement?  I have spoken to all the six parties.  I know that is outside the UN framework, but it seems to be somewhat stalled.  Do you have any sense that the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] will come back to the talks at any point?

Secretary-General:  It is quite regrettable that the situation in the Korean peninsula has not been moving ahead.  Recently, you have seen all the escalation of tensions over North Korean attacks against South Korean naval ships and Yeonpyeong Island that seemed to have created a mood on the Korean peninsula — almost in a negative way, frozen.  At the same time, there had been some diplomatic attempts by the countries concerned, like China, to revive the six-party talks, and there were some meetings between the Heads of State in the region.  I myself have been also trying to facilitate, to create a favourable atmosphere on the Korean peninsula, as Secretary-General, and also in my personal capacity as a Korean citizen.  I do hope to see the amelioration of the situation on the Korean peninsula, particularly between South and North Korea.  It is encouraging that Korean President Lee [Myung‑bak] assured me, and including the Unification Minister, that despite the current situation, the Republic of Korea Government will continue to provide the basic humanitarian assistance, particularly to children, infants, for their nutrition.  I think that is welcome.  I sincerely hope that there will be some more expansion of exchanges and cooperation through initiating humanitarian assistance to North Korea.  I also appreciate the Chinese role in trying to facilitate the six-party talks.  The six-party talks had been playing a very important role, a crucial role, in addressing North Korean nuclear issues, and there was a joint statement, which had not been, unfortunately, implemented.  I do hope that, since the current situation is not tenable, they should engage in dialogue and try to promote a politically conducive atmosphere.  It requires all the parties of the six countries — the United States, Japan, Russia, and both Koreas and China.

On another question, Special Rapporteurs do not report to me, in fact.  They are the Special Rapporteurs nominated by the intergovernmental bodies like the Human Rights Council.

Question:  Mr. Secretary-General, you said that these drone attacks were carried out in consultation with countries concerned.  Do you think the recent NATO attack on Pakistan’s border post was the result of this kind of understanding, because Pakistan has reacted strongly?  It has shut down NATO’s fly routes; it has ordered its border forces to retaliate if there is any other activity like this.

Secretary-General:  As I said, with the rapid development of technology, many countries develop their own military means of getting, collecting information.  Other than that, I do not have comments on this matter.  If you really need any comments, I will get back to you later on.

Question:  My question is on climate change, and of course coming to an agreement on a legally binding contract.  We heard the former Presidents of Costa Rica and Bangladesh quote an [International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)] report saying that if something isn’t done by 2017 it will basically be too late to reverse the global damage being done.  So what can you tell us in terms of a reaction to a timeline, and maybe more importantly, implementation on some sort of global regulation?

Secretary-General:  One of the very encouraging decisions and agreements in Durban was that all Member States agreed that there should be a timeline.  As you may recall, I have been raising this issue to the top of the global agenda during the last five years.  There was no such definite firm agreement among the international community.  We really tried to seal a deal in Copenhagen in 2009.  They provided good foundations for further building up agreements, but there was not such an agreement.  Now that the whole international community is committed to an agreement, a comprehensive legally binding agreement, by a certain date, including ratification, it may have to be effective by 2020.  That means you need to have an agreement before that — by, say 2015 — to allow a few more years for ratification and also to take the necessary action.  What is important at this time, after the Durban platform was agreed, then all Member States should take actions on the ground, reduce carbon emissions and provide technological support to developing countries.  It is again encouraging that the Green Climate Fund was launched, as was agreed in Cancún, and several countries have already indicated that they would provide necessary funding.  Thirty billion dollars for short-term, fast-track financial support is almost identified.  Twenty seven or twenty eight billion dollars have already been budgeted in those national Governments.  The question is 100 billion dollars, how to generate 100 billion dollars per year by 2020; that may be a challenge, but it is doable.  It is doable.

I had a very intensive, good meeting, with Prime Minister [Jens] Stoltenberg of Norway, and Prime Minister Meles [Zenawi] of Ethiopia, who played the role as co-Chairs of my High-level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing.  We had a very big event in Durban.  I will continue to work with major donors, so that this money will be delivered.  The Kyoto Protocol is going to continue into the second commitment.  Those are very important developments and agreements and expressions of the commitment of the international community.  For the first time in almost 20 years, after 17 years, for the first time the international community is going to work in one framework, when we are able to have a legally binding treaty.  That is a most important development that we have to build upon in Qatar next year.  But, before that, we will have to meet in Rio de Janeiro next year in June — at the Sustainable Development [summit].  This will be the place where all the global challenges which we have been dealing with in separate forums, like climate change, the food crisis, water, energy, global health issues, oceans and gender empowerment — all these global issues which we the United Nations have been pushing — will be addressed comprehensively, in an integrated manner.  That is our very important priority.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.