Press Conference by Secretary-General António Guterres at United Nations Headquarters

Following is a transcript of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ press conference, held in New York today:

Ladies and Gentlemen of the media,

It is a pleasure to see you as we begin a new session of the General Assembly and welcome world leaders to New York next week.  Let me start by highlighting two pressing peace and security challenges.

When we met last week, I repeated my appeal to avert a full-scale military operation in Syria’s Idlib province.  I welcome the agreement three days ago between President [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan of Turkey and President [Vladimir] Putin of Russia to create a demilitarized buffer zone in Idlib region.  If properly implemented, this could save 3 million civilians — including 1 million children — from catastrophe.

I call on all the parties to implement the agreement with a strong commitment to the protection of civilians, and to ensure humanitarian access, adhere to international humanitarian law and work urgently for greater progress in the Geneva process, particularly in supporting my Special Envoy in the creation of a constitutional committee.

Civilians also continue to bear the brunt of the war in Yemen, including from air strikes by the Coalition forces and ground fighting by all parties.  In addition, missiles continue to be fired by Houthi forces into Saudi Arabia.

We are all aware of the difficulties being encountered by my Special Envoy in his tireless efforts to create conditions for dialogue and for a political process.  I call on all sides to engage seriously — and I call on their supporters to avoid steps that fuel the fighting.

Alongside these prolonged nightmares, we can see progress in some situations.

Last Sunday, I joined the leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea to celebrate their declaration of peace.  I applaud their vision in opening a new chapter in their relations, and I thank Saudi Arabia for facilitating the agreement.

The Presidents of Djibouti and Eritrea subsequently launched in Jeddah a dialogue for peace as well.  And last week’s signing of a peace agreement on South Sudan, following efforts by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), in the IGAD Summit in Addis Ababa, is a further step in the right direction for the region and beyond.

Allow me to turn now to three key meetings I am convening in the days ahead.  First, on Monday, I will launch a new strategy called “Youth2030”, as well as an initiative named “Generation Unlimited”.  These are grounded in two specific actions:  First, doing more to respond to the aspirations of young people, in particular quality education and decent jobs.  And second, giving them a voice in decision-making at all levels.  This is crucial for their own well-being and for their countries’ development.  It will also contribute to preventing radicalization.

The second key meeting is also on Monday, at which I will launch a strategy to mobilize financing for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

I often speak about a surge in diplomacy.  Our world also needs a surge in investment in the Sustainable Development Goals.  It is important that all developed countries meet the commitments they made in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.

The United Nations, for its part, will continue to support developing countries in creating conditions for mobilizing domestic resources, including through tax reform and other good governance measures.

Simultaneously, I appeal to the international community to take much more effective steps to fight illicit flows of capital, money laundering and tax evasion, which continue to siphon away much-needed funds for development from the developing world.  We also need to be much more active in developing innovative financing and in mobilizing private investment, without which the Sustainable Development Goals are unachievable.

Third, on Tuesday, as part of the Action for Peacekeeping initiative, we are gathering with leaders of Member States and regional organizations to strengthen UN peacekeeping.  Our aim is to build on the peacekeeping successes of the past and to help our missions succeed in today’s protracted and volatile contexts.

Peacekeepers are facing increasing threats while seeking to implement frequently large and complex mandates.  Peacekeeping fatalities are at the highest level in a generation.  Equipment is often inadequate, and political processes remain fragile or absent in several of the situations.  There is much to do and much at stake.  Success depends on all partners doing their utmost.

The Declaration of Shared Commitment represents a clear and urgent agenda for peacekeeping, and all stakeholders have made very specific commitments.  It has already been endorsed by 128 Member States and also by international and regional organizations.  Peacekeeping is a collective responsibility.  And together, we need to get it right.

I also want to update you on our efforts to achieve gender parity at the United Nations and ensure zero tolerance for sexual harassment.

One year ago, I launched a system-wide gender parity strategy with specific commitments.  We have already achieved parity in the Senior Management Group and among Resident Coordinators around the world, being as they are our team leaders in the field.  We also now have the most female heads in UN history, and we are stepping up to do more.

At the same time, the advancement of women in crisis contexts and peace operations has stagnated.  I have therefore convened a senior-level working group to devise emergency measures to get us on track in those most difficult situations.

But this is not just about numbers; it is about an inclusive and effective workforce.  Our aim is to shift the long-standing power imbalances that have held the United Nations back, and to elicit the best contributions from all staff to take the Organization forward.

Such a shift will also help to address sexual harassment.  Our focus here is on prevention, responding rapidly to allegations, supporting victims through their trauma and ensuring accountability for perpetrators.

Since my last briefing to you in July, we have taken further important steps.  Specifically, investigators for the new specialized team on sexual harassment within the Office of Internal Oversight Services have now been selected.  Five of the six new members are women.  They will work with a victim-sensitive approach, based on their specialized capacity.

All investigations are now fast-tracked, and staff counsellors and ethics officers have increased their engagement.  The 24-hour hotline continues to receive and respond to calls on sexual harassment and other abuses of power since going live in February.  More than 16,000 staff have taken a new mandatory training course on sexual harassment.

Next month, we will launch a staff survey to gain the deepest possible understanding of the prevalence and nature of the problem.  We are extending the survey beyond the Secretariat to include more than 20 UN entities.

With these and other efforts, we are moving aggressively to make our policies and practices even more robust — and equal to the clear challenge we all face.

Finally, let me note one overriding concern in our increasingly globalized era:  multilateralism is under attack from many different directions precisely when we need it most.

I will use my meetings and other opportunities next week to press for renewed commitment to a rules-based global order and to the United Nations.  The United Nations is the world’s indispensable forum for international cooperation.  The presence of 84 Heads of State and 44 Heads of Government is eloquent proof of the confidence of the international community in the United Nations.

Thank you.  I am at your disposal now.

Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General:  Sherwin.

Question:  Thanks, Stéph.  Secretary‑General, Sherwin Bryce‑Pease, South African Broadcasting.  On behalf of the UN Correspondents Association, thank you for coming to speak with us, and also thank you for your personal intervention, that of the DSG [Deputy Secretary-General], the Spokesperson's office, and various members of DPI [Department of Public Information], in ensuring that the media is not underground during this… this session, but above ground.  [Laughter] And we really appreciate that, and we will continue to engage you to ensure that we are able to return to the Secretariat next year and beyond that.  My question is about the DRC [Democratic Republic of the Congo]…

Secretary-General:  Obviously necessary to do so.

Question:  I like to be above ground, sir.  [Laughter] My question is about the DRC.  I understand that you, sir, have received a recommendation from DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations] that several hundred South African troops that are members of that mission be repatriated over consistent allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation.  Can you confirm that you've received this recommendation?  And is it something you will be addressing with the South African delegation when they visit here next week?

Secretary-General:  That has not yet happened, and so I will not comment on something that has not yet happened.  Of course, I will be ready to discuss with the South African delegation whatever is relevant in relation to the presence of South African troops, and we cherish a lot the country of South Africa to peacekeeping.

Spokesman:  Talal?

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  Mr. Secretary‑General, I would like to raise the question of the letter sent to you by the Yemeni Government protesting the signing of the note verbale of the humanitarian medical air bridge in Yemen by the Humanitarian Coordinator, Lise Grande.  They see this  as a behaviour that will give the Houthis the… which they did celebrate, the perception that they are the legitimate government, and there was a lot of protests from the Coalition and from the Yemeni Government concerning this behaviour.  Now, this note verbale has been refused in its contents by both the Government and the Coalition.  It also understands that this note verbale contains details [about] who will pay for the cost of this air bridge, which is the Coalition.  And it is something that the Coalition is saying, they should be consulted before signing such a paper with the Houthi so‑called government.  How do you react to this letter?  Are you going to issue instructions to your officials not to sign agreements in the name of the United Nations that gives these people, the coup plotters, the appearance of being legitimized and maybe tacitly recognized by the Secretariat because of their need to coordinate in the humanitarian level, and that's been used by the Houthis? Thank you very much.

Secretary-General:  I understand that perceptions are as important as realities, but let's first see the reality, and the reality is very clear.  We only recognize one Government of Yemen, but, as we do in many other parts of the world, for humanitarian action, it is absolutely essential to deal with de facto authorities that exist on the ground.  And that was the reason for this initiative, and it doesn't mean at all the recognition of a Houthi government, and it doesn't change at all our policy, which is to recognize only one legitimate government in Yemen.

Question:  If I may follow up, are you going to continue tolerating this behaviour from your officials, addressing them as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Health, taking official pictures with these people, legitimizing them in the eyes of many in the Middle East and especially in the eyes of the legitimate government and the Coalition?

Secretary-General:  As I said, we don't recognize any other government.  We need to deal with the de facto authorities because, if not, we cannot provide humanitarian assistance.  But nothing that has happened can be interpreted as a recognition of any other government, and I will make clear that to all colleagues everywhere.

Spokesman:  Celia, VOA?

Question:  Thank you.  Secretary‑General, thank you for taking our questions.  I will ask in Spanish, if you may please answer in Spanish.

Esta sesión setenta y tres de las Asamblea General va a ser fundamental para las Américas en especial en este momento donde hay una crisis migratoria en Venezuela donde Naciones Unidas ha reconocido los problemas humanitarios que se están presentando allí.  ¿Cómo podríamos ver la acción por parte de las Naciones Unidas, de qué manera podríamos ver el trabajo de la OIM [International Organization for Migration], la agencia para refugiados [United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] (UNHCR) y el grupo que usted ha creado para enfrentar esto?  En segundo lugar, Nicaragua también ha tenido una situación difícil y sabemos que el Presidente Daniel Ortega estará aquí, no ha venido en varios años, ¿espera comunicarse directamente?  Y sabemos que él quería que Naciones Unidas estuviera en los diálogos.  Finalmente…

Secretary-GeneralGracias.  ¿Puede preguntar una más, no?

QuestionSólo acerca de CICIG [International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala] en Guatemala, usted fue claro el día de ayer con su apoyo con el señor [Ivan] Velásquez en esa posición, ¿qué nos puede decir al respecto?  Gracias.

Secretary-GeneralMuy bien.  En relación con Venezuela, tomamos la decisión colectivamente porque hay que respetar los mandatos del UNHCR y de la OIM, de no solamente de desarrollar el trabajo que hay existía, una plataforma de coordinación de todas las agencias que prestan ayuda humanitaria a los Venezolanos que salían para el exterior, pero establecer un mecanismo más fuerte de coordinación donde hay un elemento de la ACNUR, un elemento de la OIM y un coordinador general - mecanismo que va a permitir una labor más coherente en la acción de Naciones Unidas apoyando a los Estados que han recibido a muchos Venezolanos y coordinando toda la ayuda humanitaria para los Venezolanos.  Ese mecanismo estará funcionando y creo que es una respuesta absolutamente necesaria dado el número muy elevado de personas que han salido del país.  En relación con Nicaragua, nuestra posición se mantiene la misma.  Sólo un diálogo inclusivo en un ambiente de tolerancia y de paz es la solución para los problemas de Nicaragua.  Este es el mensaje que estará en todos los contactos que tenemos con las autoridades de Nicaragua aquí y allá.  Sobre el CICIG es muy claro.  Yo no veo razón para retirar la confianza al Comisionado, pero hay una situación de hecho en este sentido y se ha hecho la recomendación e incluido con una consulta al Estado de Guatemala de establecer un vice, o deputy (Comisionado Adjunto), que en el terreno tenga la posibilidad de coordinar la acción de la CICIG sin poner en causa como dice la confianza en el Comisionado.

Spokesman:  James?

Question:  James Bays from Al Jazeera English.  Can I ask you about the Security Council meeting that will be coming up next week presided over by the current president of the USA, President [Donald] Trump?  You'll be speaking at that meeting on non‑proliferation.  Will you, again, be expressing your support for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal [Joint Comprehensive Programme of Action] (JCPOA)?  Because you know that President Trump is not part of that deal.  He's pulled out of that deal, and it looks like there's no way you're going to change his mind.  Isn't the deal really now just destined to die?

Secretary-General:  Now, first of all, these meetings, like other meetings of the Council during this week, are meetings without briefing by the Secretariat.  So, this will be a meeting in which only Member States will intervene.  That doesn't change my position about the JCPOA.  I have always said that, independently of concerns that might exist in relation to Iran's presence in other countries or support to the Houthis or things of the sort, independent of these concerns, I believe that the JCPOA was a positive step in non‑proliferation.

Question:  Is it dead, though?

Secretary-General:  It's not clear.  I think a lot of contacts have been taking place.  A lot of negotiations have been taking place between different Member States and Iran.  And so, I think there is an effort to avoid… to avoid proliferation, and I hope that non‑proliferation prevails, because to see a race in relation to nuclear weapons in the region would be, in my opinion, very dangerous for all peace.

Spokesman:  Michelle Nichols…

QuestionEn Francais

SpokesmanUn second.  Michelle?

Correspondent:  Oh.  Thank you, Secretary‑General.  Down the back here, back row.

Secretary-General:  Sorry.

Spokesman:  All the way in the back.  There she is.

Secretary-General:  I don't see you.

Correspondent:  Oops.

Spokesman:  All the way there, in the back.

Correspondent:  Just here, just here.

Spokesman:  Straight ahead, waving at you.  [Laughter]

Secretary-General:  Oh, sorry, yes.

Question:  Sorry.  Thank you, Secretary‑General.  Another question, sorry, about one of the key leaders to be attending next week, President Trump.  Do you think that President Trump is a threat to multilateralism and… yes or no and why?  And also, a question on Myanmar.  You may have heard Aung San Suu Kyi's remarks last week about the Reuters reporters who are imprisoned there.  How did you feel about her remarks?  And do you think the UN Security Council should refer the situation in Myanmar to the ICC [International Criminal Court]?  Thank you.

Secretary-General:  First, I don't like to personalize things.  I think we are facing a situation in which, in different areas and for different reasons, the trust of people in their political establishments, the trust of states among each other, the trust of many people in international organizations has been eroded and that multilateralism has been in the fire.  And so, this is a concern, and that is the reason I said today and I will say it again in the General Assembly, that it's essential to preserve multilateralism.  Now, Myanmar, I have to say that I do believe that it is not acceptable to have the journalists of Reuters in jail for what they were doing.  It is my deep belief that that should not happen, and I hope that the Government will be able to provide a pardon to release them as quickly as possible.  And there was an initiative already by Bangladesh in relation to the ICC.  So, the question is already on the table.  And, as far as I understand, the ICC has recognized its capacity to deal with the issue.  So, I think that this is already on course.

Spokesman:  Right here in the front row.

Question:  Hi.  I'm from Afghanistan.  I work for Bloomberg News.  I came as part of the RAF [Reham al-Farra] Fellowship programmes, sponsored by the United Nations.  My question is about Afghanistan.  It's… as you know that security is getting worse day by day by the different terrorist groups in my country.  Is Afghanistan on the right track to finally achieve peace with the cooperation of the United Nations?  And we have elections in the next month, and we expect that we will have fraud and insecurity that could diminish and damage the elections.  What could the United Nations help to address those issues, as well?

Secretary-General:  Well, first of all, we know that the way for peace is difficult, but I'm a strong believer that, also in Afghanistan, dialogue is necessary; in this case dialogue between the Government and the Taliban.  And I hope that the circumstances will allow for that dialogue to take place and for that dialogue to be successful.  I know it's complex.  I know it's difficult, but it's also the only way possible to then be able to more effectively combat terrorist organizations that operate in the country.  On the other hand, we are not organizing the elections, and we do not have, as you know, presence of peacekeeping forces in Afghanistan, but we'll do everything that we can in order to support a process to make it successful.  But we know that our capacity in that regard is obviously limited.  We don't have, as I said, a security presence in Afghanistan.

Spokesman:  Edie?

Question:  Sorry.  Thank you very much…

Secretary-General:  A military presence.

Question:  Mr. Secretary-General, I wanted to ask you about North Korea, which we've just seen what seems like a positive meeting in Pyongyang between the leaders of the North and South Korea.  What are you expecting… first of all, what's… we saw your written reaction, but what is your personal reaction to this?  And how do you think this will play into the US‑North Korea relations and efforts to bring about a denuclearized Korean Peninsula?  And are you expecting any meetings with… I see the North Korean Foreign Minister is going to be here.  Is there any chance that Kim Jong Un himself might show up?  [Laughter]

Secretary-General:  Well, first of all, I think that the recent summit between the two presidents was a positive one.  I think the results were positive, but it is clear for me that there will not be success in intra‑Korean negotiations if there is not simultaneous success in the American and North Korean, or the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, negotiations to achieve the full and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in the context of regional security.  I think this is the objective that is essential.  Now, I have taken note of the fact that Secretary of State [Mike] Pompeo is ready to start negotiations again, and I'm hopeful.  I've seen that the two leaders, President Trump and Kim Jong Un, were very committed to a process in their summit in Singapore, and I was very happy with that fact, and I praised their courage and their determination.  And I hope that it will produce the result we all want, which, I repeat, is full and verifiable denuclearization of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the Korean Peninsula in the context of regional security.  I…

Question:  And just as… just as a…

Secretary-General:  I have no… I mean, of course, I will receive the Korean minister as I did last year, but I have no indication whatsoever about any change in the Korean delegation.

Question:  There was a mention in the communiqué between the two Koreas of some kind of experts coming.  Has the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) received any requests to be part of that expert group or to lead it?

Secretary-General:  There are different aspects.  Those that are related to the denuclearization are related, obviously, to the negotiations between the US and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.  And there, depending on the progress made by the negotiations, we will be at their disposal for the [International Atomic Energy Agency] to play the role that might be considered necessary.  So, it is clear that the negotiations are led in this regard by the two countries, and our role will be to support, according to the will of the two countries, whatever is in demanded in the capacities of the UN system.  But we are not creating a parallel track.  I think that, when you have too many parallel tracks, you just complicate things.  I think now all the effort must be to support those that are in the lead in the negotiations to be successful in their efforts.


QuestionL’Assemblée générale vous a autorisé à produire un rapport, qu’en est-il?  Ça c’est un.  Deux, la Côte d’Ivoire risque de revivre la situation de 2010 en 2020 parce que très bientôt on aura des élections présidentielles en 2020.  Alors qu’on a vu un geste important de médiation de l’ONU pendant la crise de 2010, l’ONUCI s’est retirée de la Côte d’Ivoire.  Quelles dispositions vous entendez prendre pour sécuriser les élections en 2020 en Côte d’Ivoire? Merci.

Secretary-GeneralNaturellement que, aujourd’hui, la Côte d’Ivoire est elle-même en train d’organiser ses élections.  Aujourd’hui, il n’y a pas une mission des Nations Unies mais l’Équipe de pays des Nations Unies est à la disposition des autorités ivoiriennes pour appuyer le processus électoral [en] accord avec les besoins ou les intérêts que les autorités ivoiriennes puissent avoir.  Et nous sommes prêts à jouer n’importe quel rôle en respectant naturellement maintenant la souveraineté ivoirienne.

QuestionVous devez produire un rapport sur la présence de l’ONUCI [United Nations Operation] en Côte d’Ivoire, un rapport…

Secretary-GeneralLes rapports qu’on doit produire, je dois vous dire, ils seront produits.  Moi, j’ai signé l’année passée 430 rapports.  C’est difficile pour moi de savoir exactement quels sont les rapports qui sont prêts pour signature.  Mais il y a une chose que je peux vous garantir:  quand l’Assemblée générale ou le Conseil de sécurité nous demande un rapport – et ils en demandent beaucoup – on fait le rapport.

Spokesman:  Mario?

QuestionVolviendo al asunto de Guatemala que comentaba antes, más allá de su carta de ayer y de esa decisión de nombrar a un Comisionado Adjunto, ¿va a tomar alguna medida si el gobierno sigue sin permitir el trabajo del señor Velásquez y va a tratar el asunto la próxima semana con el presidente del país?

Secretary-GeneralVamos a ver, la posición nuestra fue muy clara ¿no?  Nosotros mantenemos la confianza en el Comisionado.  Nosotros consideramos que hay una situación de hecho que debe ser resuelta y esperamos que en consultas con el gobierno sea posible encontrar un adjunto para coordinar la acción al interior del país.  Y naturalmente, en el contexto de los contactos regulares con Guatemala hay una negociación prevista en el tratado y lo mismo, y nosotros estamos interesados en proseguir esa negociación usando el perfeccionamiento de la acción de la Comisión.

Question¿Se reunirá con el Presidente [Jimmy] Morales la próxima semana?

Secretary-GeneralYo aún no tengo la lista de las reuniones que tendré.  Naturalmente estaré totalmente a la disposición.  Hay como dice ciento veintiocho jefes de Estado y de Gobierno, más unos cuatro vicepresidentes y cuarenta y tantos ministros de relaciones exteriores.  Entonces se está organizando ahora el calendario porque aún tengo que hablar en cuarenta eventos y es imposible darle una garantía de cuáles finalmente son las reuniones que se tendrán.  Pero naturalmente estoy como siempre a la disposición del Presidente de Guatemala.

Spokesman:  Valeria?

Question:  Thank you, Secretary‑General.  Valeria Robecco from ANSA Newswire.  Regarding what Michelle Bachelet said about the human rights situation in Italy, is, realistically, the situation an issue of concern for the UN?  Are you worried about potential racism against migrants in Italy?  And do you plan to raise the issue if you meet the Italian Prime Minister next week?  Thank you.

Secretary-General:  I think the problems of racism against migrants, against refugees, is a generalized problem.  I mean, I don't think it's specific of any country.  Of course, Italy is in a particularly vulnerable position because of its proximity in relation to the African coast.  And what we have always been saying is that, first, Italy must respect their obligations in relation, namely, to refugee protection and to the human treatment of migrants but that, essentially, what is lacking is a European‑wide approach to address this problem.  And I believe this is something that the Italian Government is also concerned about.  So, obviously, we are concerned with any manifestation of racism in Italy or anywhere else, but we still believe we need a European answer to address this challenge, because if it is done in solidarity by all European countries, it will be much better, both for Member States but especially for the people involved, for the suffering of the people to end.

Spokesman:  Benny Avni.

Question:  So, today… Benny Avni of the New York Post.  Hello.

Secretary-General:  I'm seeing you.  [Laughter]

Question:  So, today, Hassan Nasrallah, the chief of Hezbollah, said that his organization has enough precision rockets to threaten Israel and other threats against Israel.  The question is, do you still think UNIFIL [United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon] is doing an adequate job in preventing the arming of Non‑Governmental Organizations such as Hezbollah?  And, also, do you think that, as part of the end game in Syria, that there's going to be a clash between Israel and… and Iran and its proxies?  Also, can you talk a little bit about the Uighurs in China?

Secretary-General:  About…? Very quickly, in relation to the first point, I think UNIFIL has improved its performance.  We worked hard in the renewal of the mandate, and I believe that all parties recognize it.  And I think they played a very important role, namely, in the delimitation that took place.  It is clear that it is not UNIFIL that can guarantee the security of Israel or the security of Lebanon.  That is very obvious.  What I believe is that it is absolutely essential to avoid any war between the Hezbollah and Israel.  I believe, if that war takes place, it will be much more devastating than the previous one.  And I hope that both Mr. Nasrallah and the Israeli authorities will be very conscious that everything needs to be done to avoid that kind of war.  On the other hand, we know that we are seeing a number of confrontations in the Syrian context, and I believe it's important that, in the context of the future political solution for Syria to be a country that is not only able to solve the problems of its people but also that is not a threat to any other country in the region.  And about the Uighurs, as in relation to any other cities in the world, we, naturally, hope that fully preserving and fully respecting the unity of the country that people are treated with full respect for their human rights.

Spokesman:  Ali?

Question:  Thank you, Mr. Secretary‑General.  My name is Ali Barada.  I'm with the Asharq al-Awsat newspaper and with France 24 as well.  My question is about that we have witnessed in the Middle East, a rise… a new rise in the use of the weapons of mass destructions in Syria.  We saw the use of chemical weapons.  Saudi Arabia has been targeted by ballistic missiles, originally all of that Iran involved in those actions.  Do you agree that this is an issue that should be addressed in the Security Council and that the international community should provide teeth for the norms and the obligations on… on those countries, namely, Iran in this case?  Thank you.

Secretary-General:  First of all, we have repeatedly condemned the use of ballistic missiles against civilian targets in Saudi Arabia by the Houthis.  It's clear; it has been our position, very clear.  In relation to Syria, we have always advocated for a mechanism of accountability through attribution to be established and to be established by the Security Council.  This was not possible, and a mechanism now exists in the OPCW [Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons].  And we fully support the work of the OPCW in this.  It is absolutely essential… and we should distinguish, chemical weapons are themselves banned.  Nobody should possess or use chemical weapons.  Missiles many people use in different circumstances, and as I said, their use against civilians, as it has happened in Saudi Arabia, is something that we condemn.  But chemical weapons are a much more dramatic situation.  It's a weapon that should not exist at all, should not be used by anybody.  And it's essential to have in place the mechanisms of accountability necessary to condemn those that use them.  As I said, unfortunately, the Security Council was not able to establish a mechanism effort attribution.  The OPCW is now operating in that regard, and we are hopeful that this will lead to adequate conditions allowing for accountability to exist.

Spokesman:  Melissa Kent?

Correspondent:  [Inaudible] weapons of mass destruction of ballistic missiles… weapons of mass destruction should be banned…

Secretary-General:  The weapons of mass destruction are nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, and biological weapons.  A missile can be a weapon of mass destruction if it has a nuclear warhead or if it has chemical or biological, but missiles are weapons.  So, I'm against the use of missiles, namely, in relation to civilian populations.  It has happened.  It is clear.  But the chemical weapons are banned.  So there, there is a treaty that banned them, and nobody can use them in any circumstance.  And so that is why it is so important to have a mechanism of accountability that is effective.

Spokesman:  Melissa Kent.

Question:  Thanks very much.  My question is about the…

Spokesman:  Can you stand up, Melissa, so we can see you.  Sorry.

Correspondent:  Sorry.

Secretary-General:  I'm seeing you.

Question:  Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Melissa Kent.  My question is about the global call to action on the world drug problem that's being convened by President Trump.  On Monday, you are taking part, making opening remarks.  I think there's maybe some confusion surrounding its purpose, and I wanted to ask you, there is a process in place by which drug policy's debated and adopted at the United Nations.  The annual commission on narcotic drugs.  You yourself delivered the opening video message last year, the 2016 UNGASS (United Nations General Assembly Special Session) with its outcome document.  I'd like to ask you, what is your understanding of this document, this declaration, and its purpose?

Secretary-General:  Well, this document is a document that the group of Member States have adopted.  So, it's respected as such.  The United Nations are, in this regard, mandated by two kinds of instruments, first by the Conventions that we need to respect, and, second, by the UN General Assembly declaration of, I think, 2016, which defines a broad view of the policies that we are supposed to pursue in relation to drugs.

Spokesman:  Apostolos?

Question:  Thank you.  Apostolos Zoupaniotis, the Cyprus News Agency.  Mr.  Secretary‑General, following the conclusion of Crans-Montana Cyprus conference in 2017, you called for a period of reflection.  In the beginning of July this year, you asked Mrs. Jane Holl Lute to contact consultations with all parties to the Conference on Cyprus regarding the outcome of their reflection.  So, she concluded these meetings recently, and I guess everyone is eager to know what is going to be your next move.  And, also, if you have a comment on the 30 September referendum in Skopje, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Secretary-General:  So, first of all, in relation to Cyprus, Jane Lute is still conducting some additional consultations.  And, of course, I'm waiting as eagerly as you are for a report to see the way forward.  In relation to referendum, UN referendum…

Question:  [Inaudible] Skopje.

Secretary-General:  About the…

Spokesman:  The name.

Secretary-General:  … the name.  We considered the agreement between the two Governments to be a very positive one.  The UN has been involved for decades in trying to help the two parties come to this agreement, and we hope that, both in Greece and in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, we hope that, in both countries, the agreement will be ratified, because that will allow us also to be… it will be easier for us to describe the relations between the two countries.

Spokesman:  One last question from Pam.

Question:  Thank you very much, Mr.  Secretary‑General.  You've been asked about… Pamela Falk from CBS News.  You've been asked about the European side of the migration issue, but the US has just put caps on refugees, and you were the former chief of the Refugee Agency [United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] for so many years.  What is your message to President Trump about refugees and about the Global Compact on migration?  And the… separate and apart, do you have a favourite world leader? [Laughter]

Secretary-General:  Well, I've no personal messages to anybody.  I have general messages to everybody.  And my messages are three on this regard.  First, I am fully supportive of the two compacts, and I hope that the two compacts will be put in place and be an important instrument of international cooperation.  Second, I am a true believer that the resettlement of refugees is a very important tool, and I've seen myself how refugees have lived, for instance, in Dadaab camp, in the most terrible circumstances, benefitted either in the United States or in Canada or in the UK or in any other country of completely different conditions being entrepreneurs, having their children in university.  So, resettlement is for us very important, and I always appeal for countries not to decrease but to increase the resettlement quotas and, at the same time, that it is very important to look at migration and refugees in an objective way and to look into them based on facts, not based on fears or emotions, and based on facts to put human rights of people at the core of any policy that is developed.

Spokesman:  Great.  Thank you very much.

Question:  One more question on Palestine for the Secretary‑General.

Spokesman:  Go ahead.

Secretary-General:  Last question.

Question:  If I don't ask about Palestine, nobody will.  You have just submitted a report to the General Assembly about the protection.  You had four options there, and they are confusing.  You say, yes, we can put more officers, but we need money.  Yes, we can… we might need security crews, but we need the Security Council approval.  It ends up there is… like, there is no concrete step that you're recommending to do, not just to write about.  So, in light of the US new policy to dismantle the Palestinian issue completely and dismantle UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency], what do you really practically recommend that the Palestinian could enjoy at the… living day by day until there is… a solution is found?  Thank you.

Secretary-General:  First of all, we are not dismantling UNRWA.  I've been making a huge effort, and I think we have been able, until now, to have additional funding for UNRWA.  And we even took the decision to open the schools, even if we have not a guarantee that we would be able to fully fund the school year, because we thought it was very important to have the schools opened.  Now, in relation to the report, the report identifies the possibilities to do so, and some of those possibilities are real.  One of them, for instance, is based on things that are already happening on the ground.  So, the report offers the General Assembly the possibility [of] looking into it, discussing it, to take the decisions that only Member States can take.  It's an honest report that identifies all the possible options and gives to the General Assembly the tools and the instruments for the General Assembly to be able to decide.

Spokesman:  Okay.  Thank you.

Secretary-General:  Thank you very much.

For information media. Not an official record.