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

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

Secretary-General:  I welcome this opportunity to gather one last time before the end of the year — and I wish you and your families all the best for 2023.  Our world faced many trials and tests in 2022 ‑ some familiar, others we might not have imagined just one year ago.  There may be plenty of reasons for despair.

Geopolitical divides have made global problem solving ever more difficult — sometimes impossible.  The cost-of-living crisis is hitting hard and inequalities are growing — affecting the world’s women and girls the most.  Most of the world’s poorest countries find themselves on what one could call, “debt row” — staring down the abyss of insolvency and default.  This year alone their debt service payments skyrocketed 35 per cent — the largest increase in decades.  The poor are getting poorer.

These and so many other challenges make some want to throw up their hands and give up on international problem solving and diplomacy.  But, I end this year with one overriding conviction:  This is not a time to sit on the sidelines, it is a time for resolve, determination, and — yes — even hope.  Because despite the limitations and long odds, we are working to push back against despair, to fight back against disillusion and to find real solutions.

Not perfect solutions — not even always pretty solutions — but practical solutions that are making a meaningful difference to people’s lives.  Solutions that must put us on a pathway to a better, more peaceful future.  The most recent example comes from just this morning, at 3 a.m.

Delegates at the COP15 UN Biodiversity Conference in Montreal agreed on a new Global Biodiversity Framework.  We are finally starting to forge a peace pact with nature.  This Framework is an important step for determined diplomacy and I urge all countries to deliver.

We are also seeing a measure of progress to help address some, unfortunately not all, but some of the world’s festering conflicts.  Much more, in any case,  must be done in all situations.  But, diplomacy has helped pull several conflicts from the brink.

In Ethiopia, efforts by the African Union to broker peace are a reason for hope.  A cessation of hostilities and implementation agreements are in place.  A pathway to assistance in the northern part of the country is emerging.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, diplomatic efforts led by Angola and the East African Community (EAC) have created a framework for political dialogue to resolve the crisis in the eastern region of the country.

The truce in Yemen has delivered real dividends for people.  Since then, even if very fragile, there have been no major military operations in a conflict where innocent people have been paying the highest price.  Civilian flights have resumed from Sanaa.  Vital supplies are finally getting through the port of Hudaydah.

And even in the brutal war in Ukraine, we have seen the power of determined, discreet diplomacy to help people and tackle unprecedented levels of global food insecurity.  Despite ongoing challenges, the Black Sea Grain initiative to facilitate exports of food and fertilizers from Ukraine — and a memorandum of understanding for unimpeded exports of Russian food and fertilizers to global markets — are making a difference.

Over 14 million metric tons of grain and other foodstuffs have been shipped from Black Sea ports in Ukraine.  Russian wheat exports have also multiplied three-fold.  A clear majority of wheat exports under the Black Sea Grain Initiative has been shipped to developing economies.

This includes some 380,000 metric tons transported by the World Food Programme (WFP) to support ongoing humanitarian operations in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Somalia and Yemen.  And the FAO Food Price Index declined for eight months in a row — by around 15 per cent — keeping millions of people across the globe from falling into extreme poverty.  But, much work remains to be done.  Food prices are still too high and access to fertilizers still too limited.

We will continue to strive around the clock to support the full implementation of these initiatives — clarifying exemptions for food and fertilizer within the different sanction regimes, addressing indirect constraints, and pressing for greater efficiencies in the implementation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative to increase the volume of cargo being moved out of Ukraine’s ports.  And we will not relent in the pursuit of peace in Ukraine.  Peace in line with international law and the United Nations Charter.

Climate change is another area where good news can be hard to find.  We are still moving in the wrong direction.  The global emissions gap is growing.  The 1.5°C goal is gasping for breath.  National climate plans are falling woefully short.  And yet, we are not retreating.  We are fighting back.  We are fighting back to help emerging economies shift away from coal and accelerate the renewable energy revolution.

This year, major multi-billion-dollar Just Energy Transition Partnerships were launched with Indonesia, South Africa and just last week, Viet Nam.  We are fighting back to restore trust between North and South.

This year, COP27 delivered a groundbreaking pathway on the long-stalled issue of Loss and Damage.  We are fighting back to cut through the fog of greenwashing.  This year, our High-Level Expert Group launched a “how-to” guide on the credible implementation of net-zero pledges for businesses, investors, cities and regions.

We are fighting back to ensure protection plans for humanity in the face of worsening climate disasters and natural ecosystems.  This year, we launched an action plan to cover every person in the world with early warning systems within five years.

Going forward, I will keep pushing for a Climate Solidarity Pact, in which all big emitters make an extra effort to reduce emissions this decade in line with the 1.5°C goal and ensure support for those who need it.  There is no doubt that without it, the 1.5°C goal will soon disappear.  I have pulled no punches on the imperative for all of us to confront this existential threat.  And I will not relent.

So today I am announcing that I will convene a Climate Ambition Summit in September 2023.  I call on every leader to step up — from Governments, business, cities and regions, civil society and finance.  They must come with new, tangible and credible climate action to accelerate the pace of change.  The invitation is open.

But, there is a price of entry and the price of entry is non-negotiable — credible, serious and new climate action and nature-based solutions that will move the needle forward and respond to the urgency of the climate crisis must be presented.  It will be a no-nonsense summit.  No exceptions.  No compromises.  There will be no room for back-sliders, greenwashers, blame-shifters or repackaging of announcements of previous years.

The Climate Ambition Summit will be convened alongside a crucial gathering of world leaders to accelerate action at the midway point of the Sustainable Development Goals.  I am more determined than ever to make 2023 a year for peace, a year for action.

We can’t accept things as they are.  We owe it to people to find solutions, to fight back and to act.  At times, discreetly but always with determination — we will fight back.  To promote peace and security.  To advance the Sustainable Development Goals and address inequalities.  To reform a morally bankrupt international financial system.  To ensure human rights for all as we mark next year’s 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  And to deliver a livable planet to our children and grandchildren.  Thank you.

**Questions and Answers

Secretary-General:  Thank you. I'm at your disposal for questions.

Spokesman:  Thank you, sir. Before we go to questions, just to note, we have your interpreters if you want to ask a question in French or in Spanish.  As always, I would like to ask you to limit yourself to one question, and we'll go to Edie to see if that works. Go ahead.

Question:  Mr. Secretary‑General, thank you very much, on behalf of the United Nations Correspondents Association, for doing this briefing.  We all wish you and your family very happy holidays.  We are reading, hearing reports of a build‑up for a Soviet… a Russian offensive in Ukraine with President [Vladimir V.] Putin going to Belarus today.  Are you concerned about a new serious escalation of the war that possibly could bring in other countries?  Because all of the political pundits are saying that Putin is going to ask for Belarus' help in launching a new offensive against Kyiv.  And what would the implications be of any kind of new offensive that brings in outside countries?

Secretary-General:  Well, first of all, we have seen a massive escalation already with the heavy bombardment of electrical infrastructure, which, of course, is having a dramatic impact in the living conditions of the Ukrainians at the present moment, and we'll have terrible consequences for the future.  So, we don't need more to talk about escalation.  Obviously, we'll see what happens.  There are many rumours about possible new offensives.  My position is very clear.  There is never a military solution for these problems, but it is important that a solution is in line with the UN Charter and with international law.

Question:  And can you explain, for people who don't really know what's in the UN Charter and international law, what that would mean?

Secretary-General:  The UN Charter is very clear in relation to the territorial integrity of countries to be respected.  The UN Charter is very clear about the use of force not to be accepted in order to change, in any way, that territorial integrity.

Spokesman:  Thank you.  Michelle?

Question:  Thank you, Secretary‑General.  Michelle Nichols from Reuters.  Again, on Ukraine, can you please give us an indication of whether you see any opening at all for peace talks in Ukraine?  And then, also, on the use of drones in Ukraine…?

Secretary-General:  The use?

Question:  Of drones in Ukraine.  You've come under some pressure from Western countries.  You've come under pressure from Russia over whether to send an inspection team to Kyiv or not.  You haven't sent one yet.  Why not?  Are you worried this could affect your diplomacy in other areas related to the conflict?

Secretary-General:  Look, first of all…  your first question, sorry, was?  Before the drones?

Correspondent:  Opening for peace talks.

Question:  Is there any opening for peace talks?

Secretary-General:  Oh, opening for peace talks, yes.  I am not optimistic about the possibility of effective peace talks at the immediate future.  I do believe that the military confrontation will go on, and I think we'll have still to wait a moment in which serious negotiations for peace will be possible.  I don't see them in the immediate horizon.  And that is why we are concentrating our efforts on different other aspects in relation to increased efficiency of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, in relation to starting the possibility of adding new components to that initiative, namely, in relation to ammonia exports.  We are very interested in accelerating the exchange of prisoners of war and especially when we are approaching Christmas, and both sides celebrate Christmas in January.  I think this would be something very important.  I can't imagine how dramatic it is to be a prisoner of war in another country with the kind of war we are witnessing in the Ukraine.  So, we'll go on trying to be useful, offering platforms of dialogue for these aspects to minimize suffering, but we have no illusions that a true peace negotiation would be possible in the immediate future.  Of course, the bombardments that are taking place massively over electric infrastructure are something that is causing terrible trouble for the people.  And in relation to the question we asked, we are looking into all the aspects of that question and in the broader picture of everything we are doing in the context of the war to determine if and when we should do what you have asked for.

Spokesman:  Benno?

Question:  Thank you, Secretary‑General.  Benno Schwinghammer with the German Press Agency.  So, there has been a couple of coups and coup attempts this year, and there has been one coup attempt in a country which seemed unlikely, which is Germany.

Secretary-General:  Coup attempt in?

Spokesman:  In Germany.

Question:  Germany.  There was a coup attempt in Germany by German right-wingers.  And I wonder how you put this into perspective for the rise of right-wing ideology in Europe and North America right now.  And then, about Elon Musk, Twitter is in the hands of a person that seems to have his very own definition of free speech and press freedom.  In your opinion, is Elon Musk a threat to free speech?  And…

Secretary-General: Elon Musk?

Question:  Is Elon Musk a threat to free speech? And would you be relieved…?

Spokesman:  Is Elon Musk a threat to free speech?

Question:  And would you be relieved if he would actually step down as head of Twitter?

Secretary-General:  So, in relation to the first question, it has been demonstrated that the biggest threat of terrorism today, in Western countries, come from the extreme right, neo‑Nazism and white supremacy.  And I think we must be very clear and very firm in condemning every form of neo‑Nazism and white supremacism, any form of anti‑Semitism, anti‑Muslim hatred that we are seeing multiplied in Western societies and also in other parts of the world.  This is clearly a threat, and we must fight that threat with enormous determination.  And what has happened in Germany is just one of the examples of this threat to…  namely, to democratic societies around the world.  Second, I think there is a particular responsibility of social media platforms to preserve the freedom of press, and at the same time, to avoid hate speech and to avoid forms of extremism.  And I would be particularly shocked if we would see the freedom of press being threatened, journalists not being allowed to do their work, and at the same time, hate speech proliferating.  And so, obviously, my recommendation to whoever owns any platform is to make sure that the freedom of expression, especially of journalists, is respected and that hate speech, neo‑Nazism, white supremacism, the other forms of extremism, do not find their way through those social platforms.  I have no personal feelings in relation to who manages a platform.  I'm very interested in about how the platform is managed.

Spokesman:  Sherwin?

Question:  Secretary‑General, thank you very much.  You've just talked about how you are not optimistic about the effectiveness of peace talks as it relates to Ukraine.  I wonder, sir, what you are optimistic about in your reference to 2023.  What do you consider the low‑hanging fruit for 2023 when you talk about these geopolitical divides?  What can we see solved in the short term?

Secretary-General:  Now, first of all, when I said I do not see chances for a true peace negotiation in the immediate horizon, I did not mean the whole of 2023.  I strongly hope that, in 2023, we'll be able to reach peace in Ukraine.  The consequences for the Ukrainian people, the consequences for the Russian society and the economy, and the consequences for the global economy, especially for developing countries, with high prices of food and energy and with all the other difficulties that compound those high prices, I mentioned debt increase.  I mentioned lack of fiscal space and the dramatic situation of increased inequalities that the developing countries are suffering.  All these are reasons for us to do everything possible to make a peace solution happen before the end of 2023.

Spokesman:  James Bays, and then we'll go to Pam.

Question:  Secretary‑General, as this is your end‑of‑year press conference, I'd like to take stock of where we are with regard to Ukraine.  In terms of the history of the UN and your time as Secretary‑General, this is clearly one of the worst global crises.  So, can I ask you, how much of a challenge has a war started by a permanent member of the Security Council been for the United Nations?  And in your view, how well has the UN fared?

Secretary-General:  The UN is a complex organization that has different dimensions and different parts.  Obviously, for the Security Council, this war has been a very dramatic factor of inefficiency.  I will recall that not even the Black Sea Grain Initiative could be welcome because the Security Council couldn't approve anything in relation to the war.  But, this war has demonstrated the enormous value of humanitarian action led by UN and UN agencies.  What has been done to minimize the suffering of the Ukrainian people is absolutely remarkable, not only the UN, of course, the civil society, national and international in all its dimensions, and the people of Ukraine in itself.  And on the other hand, these have demonstrated that the UN is probably the only platform that was able to seriously talk with both sides to try to solve not the war, unfortunately, but some specific problems that have dramatic impacts at global level.  The questions related to the food crisis are a good example, which means that, without the UN, there probably would not be any other entity able to establish a dialogue with both parties and with other actors.  Let's not forget the recent decision of the European Council in relation to the fertilizers.  Without the UN, I don't think it would have been possible to establish the partial limited agreements that existed in the war of Ukraine that did not solve the problem of the war but that contributed to minimize the dramatic consequences of the war in Ukraine and in the rest of the world.

Spokesman:  Thank you.  Pam?  And then we'll go to Dezhi.

Correspondent:  Thank you, Steph.  Thank you, Secretary‑General.  It's Pamela Falk from…

Secretary-General:  Oh, sorry.

Correspondent:  No, no, that's all right.  From CBS News.

Secretary-General:  With the masks, I was a bit…

Correspondent:  Yeah, yeah.

Secretary-General:  You have no mask, but the wearing of the masks, and I was puzzled.

Question:  Thank you.  It is the end of the year.  On the bigger‑picture, end‑of‑the‑year questions, largely because of Ukraine, many critics feel the UN… there's something moving in the front of the room, but we'll ignore it.

Secretary-General:  The war is…?

Correspondent:  Sorry.  Oh, good.  Yay.  Nice job.  Good job, Michelle.  It was too distracting.

Spokesman:  A girl from the outback, yeah.

Correspondent:  All right.

Secretary-General:  We could have a debate…

Question:  How do you feel about cleaning up the UN?

Secretary-General:  We could have a debate about how we were rescued by this threat or if there was a threat to biodiversity.  Which means there are always two ways to look at the same thing.

Correspondent:  Yes, it's good to know that animals are existing.

Secretary-General:  Yeah.

Question:  All right.  Onto the next…  sorry.  It was right in front of our eyes.  So, on how to deal with the UN…?

Secretary-General:  How to deal with UN?

Question:  With the UN.  Not cleanliness.  In terms of the war, many critics feel that it's time for a change at the Security Council and including P5 members the United States is on board to try to move things forward and feel that that is part…  the biggest part of the problem in terms of the UN not being fit for purpose for war and peace, although it does very well on humanitarian aid.  What is your feeling about reforming the UN at this point in order to deal better with this major war we see?  Thank you.

Secretary-General:  Well, we have done many reforms in the areas of responsibility of the Secretariat and the UN agencies, and I think that the effectiveness of the response in relation to the humanitarian consequences of the war demonstrates that those reforms were positive.  I mean, if you look, also, the way our country teams are working today in a much better and more effective way than just a few years ago, there are reforms of the UN that are taking place.  But of course, the crucial aspect being discussed is in relation to the reform of the Security Council, and I would say the revitalization of the General Assembly and the strengthening of ECOSOC [Economic and Social Council).  Now, we have witnessed some important progress in the revitalisation of the General Assembly.  Let's not forget that now any veto in the Security Council leads to a discussion in the General Assembly and to the explanation of the reasons of the veto.  This is a very important change in the relation between the two bodies.  But, of course, the central questions are related to the composition of the Security Council and to the right of veto.  Now, these are matters for Member States.  The Secretariat has no influence in these negotiations, but I think that, during our General Assembly session in September, for the first time, I heard from the United States and from Russia, clearly, the indication that they were in favour of an enlargement of the number of permanent members of the Security Council.  There was, from France and UK, some time ago, a proposal for some restrictions in the use of the right of veto.  But, I remain pessimistic about the possibility of the right of veto to be seriously put into question.  Let's not forget that we need to reform the Security Council, two thirds of the vote of the General Assembly, plus the five positive votes of the five members of the Security Council.  So, I think that there is now space for a much more serious discussion in relation to the Security Council reform.  I think that the possibility of enlarging the Security Council is now seriously on the table.  I'm still not optimistic about [reforming] the right of veto.  Thank you.

Correspondent:  Thank you.

Spokesman:  Dezhi?  And then we'll…

Question:  Secretary‑General, this is Dezhi Xu with China Central Television.  Just one brief question.  Last time you were here, you talk about you want the Black Sea Grain deal be extended and expanded.  Now it's being extended.  What's your imagination of an expanded grain deal?  And we know that Russian side has been criticizing and quite vocal about the fertilizer and foods from Russian side to export to the rest of the world.  And what's your response to their criticism and how the UN help the fertilizer and food from Russia to export?

Secretary-General:  Our response to the criticism is action, and I believe that two very important things were achieved.  One was in the core repair but in close association with the European Council that took place last week.  There was a set of derogations that will allow the Russian companies that do the exports — and some of them have some links to personalities that were in the sanctions regime — that will allow those companies to move their funds for the purpose of exported food and fertilizers.  This was remarkable progress, and I believe that there is a recognition that the UN had a role on it.  On the other hand, you remember that there was a number of fertilizers that were stuck in several European harbours.  There was a donation by the companies owning those fertilizers for the UN to be able to move them.  It was possible now to move a first ship from Rotterdam to Malawi…  I mean to Mozambique to go to Malawi, and we have now inspections concluded in the other quantities that exist in Rotterdam and in Antwerp and in Estonia, and the exports were already authorized.  These are non‑commercial transactions because these are donations.  But, of course, you need to find the ships.  You need to find the insurance, and you need to find the way to distribute, and we have the support of the World Bank for that purpose.  And Latvia, that has 190,000 tons of fertilizers, has also agreed — inspections are taking place — has also agreed to that movement.  The problem of that movement is that, if you have potash, you cannot just put potash on the land.  You need to mix.  So, we are working with World Bank very seriously and with potential other donors in order to be able to create some forms of mixing fertilizers to be able to distribute them effectively to countries in need, because you just cannot move 190,000 tons of potash and distribute them, because you cannot use the potash if it is not associated with nitrogen and phosphate.  So, it's a lot of work that is being done, which demonstrates our firm commitment, our firm commitment, to make sure that the Memorandum of Understanding that we have signed with the Russian Federation is effectively implemented.

Question:  How’s the expansion?

Secretary-General:  Sorry?

Question:  How's the expansion?  How's the expansion?  You talked about the expansion last time.

Secretary-General:  Oh, I mean, we would like… as I said, we would like to see the possibility of increase the volume of exports.  There is a question about the number of inspections that we would like to see increased.  At the same time, we believe it would be an interesting development if we could have exports of ammonia through these harbours.  And obviously, there are other harbours that might, one day, be considered depending on the situation evolves.  But, we will spare no efforts to take profit of all opportunities.  But, at the present moment, we are totally engaged with the consolidation of the present agreement and in making sure that we do, in relation to the Memorandum of Understanding, everything for the… especially the fertilizer market to be, I would say, enlarged, clearly enlarged.  We have a situation in which the price of fertilizers was 250 per cent of what it was before COVID.  And for many countries, if fertilizers are not available in quantity and price, it means that there will be less food production in 2023.  And so, in 2022, we had enough food.  It was not well distributed.  If we don't solve…  and I think now we are on the way to entirely solve it.  If we don't solve the problem of fertilizers, we might then have, in 2023, a problem of lack of food.

Spokesman:  Maggie and then Célhia.

Question:  Secretary‑General, it's Margaret Besheer with Voice of America.  I'd like to ask you about the protests in Iran.  You haven't been terribly vocal on them, but in the meantime, the authorities have been escalating their crackdown.  Two protesters have been executed.  Hundreds, thousands, maybe, have been jailed.  And over the weekend, a prominent actress was also arrested.  What's your message to the Government of Iran and to the protesters?

Secretary-General:  No, it is very clear that it is totally unacceptable the way in which Iran has reacted to the demonstrations, and we are witnessing massive violations of human rights that we strongly condemn, and the [United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights] is very actively in relation to that.  I, myself, had also the opportunity to raise the issue directly with the Iranian authorities, independently of the clear position we have about the situation that, as I mentioned, is totally unacceptable and especially because it's very much linked to questions of gender equality and gender equality is, as you know, a central objective of my exercise of my responsibilities.

Question:  Could you just tell us when you raised it with them, when you raised it…?

Secretary-General:  Immediately when I was visited by the President that came…

Spokesman:  During the GA.

Secretary-General:  It was the first time in September.

Question:  But, that's when they started.  You haven't raised it again?

Secretary-General:  Yes.  No, of course.  I mean, we had several other moments, but it just…  since the beginning and our position is very clear.  There is no hint of any doubt about that.

Spokesman:  Célhia?

Correspondent:  Célhia de Lavaréne, Africa Confidential.  I'm here, Secretary‑General.

Spokesman:  Over here.  Over here.

Secretary-General:  Sorry.

Correspondent:  I'm going to ask my question in French, if I was allowed.


QuestionDepuis le début de la guerre en Ukraine, il y a une fracture ‑ mais vraiment une fracture ‑ entre le monde occidental et le continent africain.  Je suppose que vous l’avez ressentie, que vous en êtes conscient.  Que faut‑il faire? Et comment peut‑on rassurer les Africains quand ils disent, on est juste, on est juste, comment dire, on s’occupe de nous quand on doit voter, quand il y a un vote au Conseil de sécurité, et en dehors de ça, on est transparents.  Que peut‑on faire pour réunir ces deux mondes?

[In English: Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, there has been a real fracture between the western world and the African continent.  I'm sure that you have felt that, and you are aware of it.  What must we do…  how can we reassure Africans when they say that they are…  we're only cared about when there is a vote in the Security Council, but beyond that, we don't seem to matter?  What can we do to bring together those demands?]

Secretary-General:  La question essentielle qui gêne les Africains, et qui gêne d’ailleurs beaucoup d’autres pays dans le monde en développement, est la question de l’injustice liée à la croissance dramatique des inégalités à laquelle nous assistons.  Les pays africains n’ont pas bénéficié d’une distribution moralement correcte des vaccins.  Les pays africains n’ont pas bénéficié d’une façon, enfin, d’une façon nette de la distribution des droits de tirage spéciaux, qui ont bénéficié surtout [aux] pays les plus riches et la réallocation est très lente.  Les pays africains n’ont pas bénéficié des mécanismes effectifs de réduction de la dette.  Nous avons seulement trois pays en négociations, la Zambie, le Tchad et l’Éthiopie, et cette négociation traîne, traîne, traîne… Les pays africains se voient aujourd’hui dans une situation dramatique face à l’augmentation des prix des engrais, des aliments, de l’énergie et, en plus, au problème des chaînes de distribution — the supply chains.  Alors, il y a une énorme frustration dans le monde en développement face à cette injustice frappante qui existe aujourd’hui dans le monde.  Et la seule façon de rétablir la confiance, c’est en faisant des corrections majeures dans cette injustice, et dans les questions de la dette, et dans les questions de droits de tirages spéciaux et dans les questions du climat, et notamment du financement lié au climat, et dans toutes les autres questions qui puissent rétablir une certaine moralité dans les relations économiques et financières internationales.  Je crois qu’il faut que le monde développé comprenne, il faut que les pays occidentaux comprennent que cette frustration dans le grand sud et en Afrique en particulier, est une frustration réelle et qu’il nous faut une réponse effective qui s’adresse à la solution des problèmes qui ont causé cette frustration.

[In English:  The main problem for Africa and many other developing countries is the issue of injustice due to the sharp rise in inequality that we are witnessing.  African countries have not seen a morally fair vaccine distribution.  African countries, also, have not clearly benefited from special drawing rights, which tend to benefit the richest countries first and foremost.  And the reallocation of this is very slow.  African countries have not benefited from effective debt reduction mechanisms.  There are only three countries that are undergoing negotiations — Zambia, Chad and Ethiopia.  And these efficients are going on.  They're dragging on.  African countries are currently in a very difficult situation with regard to rising prices for fertilizer, food, energy in addition to problems with distribution of supply chains.  So, there's a great deal of frustration in the developing world in reaction to this striking injustice throughout the world, and the only way to restore trust is to make serious changes to correct this injustice when it comes to special drawing rights, when it comes to climate, essentially climate financing, as well as all other issues that could be used to restore a sense of morality in international economic and financial relations.  I believe that the developed world has to understand and western countries must understand that this frustration in the Global South, especially in Africa, is a real frustration, and we need to have an effective response to that that would provide solutions to the root causes of that frustration.]

Question:  Thank you, Secretary‑General.  Betul Yuruk with the Turkish news agency, Anadolu.  My question will be on Syria.  Turkish President recently proposed to set up a trilateral mechanism with Russia and Syria to accelerate diplomacy, and he said "first, our intelligence agencies, then defence ministers, and then foreign ministers of the three countries could meet".  Have you been informed or consulted about such a mechanism?  And would you support it?  Thanks.

Secretary-General:  We have not been consulted, so it is premature to make any comment about that.  I must say that our main concern, at the present moment, in relation to the situation in Syria, is in relation to the renewal of the possibility of cross‑border humanitarian aid.  Now that we have made progress, indeed — and Türkiye has played a positive role on that — in increasing the cross‑line support, but of course, it's not enough, and in addressing the problems of resilience…  investments related to resilience within the Syrian territory.  So, that has been our major concern at the present moment.  We have not been informed about this mechanism, and I cannot comment on something I do not know in detail.

Spokesman:  Mario, EFE?

Correspondent:  Secretary‑General, Mario Villar with Spanish News Agency, EFE.

Secretary-General: Hablar en español.

Spokesman:  Unfortunately, we do not have the Spanish interpretation.

Correspondent:  Apparently, we don't have Spanish, so I'll do it in English.

Secretary-General:  But you can do it in Spanish and then do it in English.  No problem.

Question:  Okay.  ¿Le puedo hacer una pregunta sobre la situación en Perú? ¿Cuál es su visión sobre la actual crisis y cree que alguna medida como las que se están pidiendo en las protestas por ejemplo un adelanto de las elecciones puede ayudar aponer fin a la crisis?

Secretary-GeneralEstamos en una situación de parálisis político en el marco de una crisis económica profunda y naturalmente esta es una enorme preocupación para todos nosotros.  Yo espero que los dirigentes libaneses comprendan que independientemente de las divisiones que existen entre ellos, todos ellos tienen un deber fundamental para con su pueblo y para con su país y que la elección del Presidente de la República tenga lugar muy rápidamente y que se creen condiciones para que el sistema político pueda funcionar.

Spokesman:  If you could…

Secretary-General:  The question was related to Lebanon….

Spokesman:  Perú.

Correspondent:  Perú.

Secretary-General:  Sorry?

Spokesman:   Perú.

Secretary-General:  Oh, you said Perú.  I thought Beirut.

Spokesman:  No.

Secretary-General:  Oh, I'm terribly sorry.  I answered about Beirut.

Spokesman:  Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Secretary-General:  I heard Beirut.  Perú.  Perú.  Seguimos con mucha preocupación la situación en Perú y creemos que es absolutamente necesario que haya un diálogo entre todas las fuerzas políticas y sociales del país y naturalmente que la realización de elecciones anticipadas puede ser un factor importante para reestablecer la paz social en el país.  Y es muy importante naturalmente también que haya un máximo de contención y de respeto de los derechos humanos en lo que respecta a las manifestaciones del pueblo.

Spokesman:  Thank you.  Abdelhamid?

Question:  Hello, Mr. Secretary‑General.  My name is Abdelhamid Siyam.  I'm from the Arabic daily al‑Quds al‑Arabi.  The year 2022, sir, had witnessed a… it was the bloodiest year for Palestinians in…  since 2006 in the West Bank.  Journalists were targeted and killed, as you know, Shireen Abu Akleh.  At least 55 children were killed.  Two-hundred and nineteen also were killed, mostly civilians.  And not only that, Israel elected the most extreme government in its history.  And if you don't know who's [Itamar] Ben‑Gvir, you should read Kahanism and his ideology, which was banned by Israel itself.  Now they are in power, and they coming to… apparently, to wage a genocidal war against the Palestinians, yet your voice, sir, had not been loudly heard condemning all these atrocities committed against the Palestinian.  What the Palestinian can do?  Do they have the right to resist occupation the way the Ukrainians do have the same right?  Thank you.

Secretary-General:  Well, first of all, it's not true that I have not been clear and vocal about all these issues.  In relation to the violence in which lots of Palestinians have perished, we were very clear in our condemnation.  And if you read the last report that was presented by me to the Security Council, it is there again and loud and clear.  And of course, we are concerned, because we believe that there is no Plan B to the two‑State solution, and we are very concerned with what the next Israeli Government might do in that regard.  And I think it's very important that the whole of the international community be very clear explaining to the Government in Israel that there is no alternative to the two‑state solution and that no unilateral actions should be taken, putting into question the two‑state solution.

Spokesman:  Carrie Nooten and then Kyodo.

QuestionBonjour Monsieur le Secrétaire général.  Merci pour cette conférence de presse.  J’ai des questions qui portent sur le continent africain.  Alors, déjà concernant le Mali, concernant les 46 soldats ivoiriens qui sont encore détenus par Bamako.  Vous m’entendez bien?

Secretary-GeneralOui, oui.

QuestionEn septembre dernier, sur nos antennes, vous aviez assuré vouloir discuter avec la délégation malienne et résoudre ce problème.  Est‑ce que le statut de ces soldats par rapport à l’ONU a été clarifié? Et où en est‑on de ces discussions? Ça c’est ma première question.  Ma deuxième question, c’est, cette année on a vu deux porte‑paroles de l’ONU déclarés persona non grata du Mali et de République démocratique du Congo.  Qu’est‑ce que cela signifie pour l’avenir des missions de l’ONU dans ces pays?

[In English: Thank you, Secretary‑General, SG.  I have a question about the African continent with regard to Mali and the 46 Côte d'Ivoire soldiers still being detained by Bamako.  Can you hear me?  Last September, you had said that you wanted to discuss with the Malian delegation to resolve this issue.  So, the status of these soldiers, with regard to the UN, has that been clarified?  And where are we right now in the discussions? The first question.  My second question is, this year, we saw two UN spokespeople declared persona non grata in Mali and the DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo).  So, what does this mean for the future of UN missions in that country, in those countries?]

Secretary-GeneralPremièrement, c’est clair, et nous l’avons exprimé maintes fois, qu’il faut régler rapidement le problème des Ivoiriens qui sont détenus au Mali.  Le fait qu’on pourrait avoir à un certain moment quelques irrégularités bureaucratiques ne crée aucune raison pour qu’ils soient en détention.  Il faut qu’ils reviennent chez eux le plus rapidement possible.  Et nous assistons à une situation où nous avons des opérations de maintien de la paix où véritablement il n’y a pas de paix à maintenir.  Ça crée inévitablement une situation très difficile pour les casques bleus.  C’est très facile de manipuler les populations en disant, voilà, les casques bleus ne sont pas capables de détruire les organisations terroristes ou d’expulser les mouvements comme le M23, au Congo.  C’est pour ça que nous continuons à dire que la seule solution, la seule solution pour résoudre cette contradiction entre opérations de maintien de la paix et inexistence de paix à maintenir, c’est l’approbation par le Conseil de sécurité de mandats robustes et de contributions obligatoires, ou au moins de mécanismes de financement garanti pour des forces robustes africaines d’imposition de la paix et de lutte anti‑terroriste.  Il ne faut pas créer des illusions.  La situation actuelle n’est pas tenable à terme.  Il faut que la communauté internationale, et surtout que les grands bâilleurs de fonds comprennent que la sécurité de l’Afrique et la sécurité de nous tous, dépend de la création de mécanismes d’imposition de la paix, avec des forces africaines robustes et avec un financement garanti, basé sur une décision du Conseil de sécurité, sous chapitre VII.

[In English:  First of all, it's very clear that we have said many times that we need to quickly resolve the problem of the Côte d'Ivoire soldiers detained in Mali.  There may be certain bureaucratic irregularities, but that is not a sufficient reason for them to be detained.  They must be returned home as soon as possible.  We are seeing a situation where we have peacekeeping operations where there's not a peace to be kept, in fact.  And this inevitably creates a very difficult situation for the blue helmets.  It's very easy to manipulate public opinion by saying that the blue helmets are incapable of dealing with terrorist organizations or expelling movements like M23 (23 March Movement) in the DRC, and that is why we continue to say that the only possible solution, in order to resolve this contradiction between the peacekeeping operations and the lack of peace, is approval by the Security Council of robust mandates, as well as a mandatory contribution or at least guaranteed financial mechanisms for strong African forces to  establish peace and to fight terrorism.  We must not create illusions.  The current situation cannot be maintained in the long term.  The international community, especially major donors, must understand that security in Africa and for all of us depends on the creation of peace‑establishing mechanisms with strong African forces and with guaranteed financing based on a Security Council decision under Article VII.]

QuestionDonc, vous voulez une vraie réforme des missions de l’ONU?

[In English:  So, you would like to see a real reform of the UN mission.  You'd like to see a real reform of UN peacekeeping missions?]


QuestionVous voulez une vraie réforme des missions de l’ONU?

[In English: Would you like to see a real reform of the UN Mission.  You'd like to see a real reform of UN peacekeeping missions?]

SpokesmanVous voulez une vraie réforme des missions de maintien de la paix des Nations Unies?

Secretary-GeneralNon.  Ça veut dire que les missions de maintien de la paix ne sont pas adéquates à une solution où la paix n’existe pas et où il y a des forces terroristes comme celles que nous avons au Mali, où il y a des mouvements armés, comme le cas du M23, qui ont une capacité militaire qui est supérieure aux forces de maintien de la paix.

[In English:  No.  This means that peacekeeping missions are not yet sufficient to deal with situations when there is no peace and where there are terrorist forces, such as in Mali, where there are armed movements, as in the case of M23, that have greater military capacity than that of peacekeeping forces.]

Spokesman:  Thank you.

Question:  Thank you, Secretary‑General.  Toshi Inaba from Kyodo News, Japanese News Agency.  I wish I had a Japanese interpreter.  Anyway, let me ask you about the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] missile and nuclear programme.

Secretary-General:  What nuclear programme?

Question:  DPRK.

Spokesman:  DPRK.

Question:  Missile nuclear programme.  The Security Council is considering the Presidential statement.  Do you think that will be enough to deter them from launching another barrage of missile…  ballistic missiles?  And which would you agreed, like maximal pressure on them or posit of the dialogue, even if that involves easing of… easing sanctions?  Thank you.

Secretary-General:  We are clearly determined to pursue the total denuclearization…  the verifiable denuclearization and the reversible denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, an, namely, obviously, it means of the DPRK.  And this is something that the international community must pursue constantly, utilizing all the legal instruments at the disposal of the international community, knowing that it will not be easy to reach this objective but that it is fundamental for peace and security in East Asia and in the world.

Question:  Is there any way…  is there any way that… sorry.  Is there any way the UN could intervene in the situation?

Secretary-General:  I mean, that is a question we must ask to the Security Council.  The Secretariat can only do what we do.  Any decision of the kind of the ones that you've mentioned depends on Security Council.

Spokesman:  Frank Ucciardo, TRT.

Correspondent:  Mr.  Secretary‑General, thank you for having this press conference…

Spokesman:  A little louder, Frank, if you don't mind.  Thank you.

Correspondent:  Can you hear me now?

Secretary-General:  Yes.

Correspondent:  It doesn't want to stay on.

Spokesman:  Don't touch the microphone.

Question:  There we go.  Can you hear me now?

Spokesman:  Yep.

Secretary-General:  Yes.

Question:  Oh, great.  Happy holiday to you and your family, a safe and really happy one.  Thank you for having this press conference.  Frank Ucciardo, TRT World.  You were talking about Iran earlier and demonstrations.  I wonder if you've given any thought to Iran and the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] and what might be the future there.  A lot of leading experts see there being a clear and present danger with what Iran is doing with its nuclear programme.

Secretary-General:  I have always believed that the JCPOA was a remarkable diplomatic achievement.  I was very frustrated when the JCPOA was put into question, and we will do everything we can, in the context of our limited sphere of competence, to make sure that the JCPOA is not lost, recognizing that we are, at the present moment, in a serious risk of losing the JCPOA, which in my opinion, would be a very negative factor for peace and stability in the region and further afield.

Spokesman:  Lenka?

Question:  Thank you very much for this press conference.  Lenka White from Sputnik.  Follow‑up on Twitter, please.  You have over 2 million followers.  What would have to happen…?

Secretary-General:  Sorry, 2 million?

Question:  Two million followers on Twitter.  What would have to happen that you would consider closing your account?  And would you be interested in meeting with Elon Musk, as he has been meeting with many world leaders recently?  Thank you.

Secretary-General:  Well, I will do whatever my conscience tells me to do in the moment in which it makes sense.  So, for the moment, I think that the most reasonable thing is to maintain the account as it is, as the account has, also, an important role to play.  But of course, we will be attentive to the situation.  And I have to say that the question is not to be meeting people.  The question is to have clear rules, clear rules that we need to establish in order for responsibilities of social media platforms to be clarified.  We live in a kind of a legal void in which these platforms can do whatever they want, can convey whatever they want, and there are no legal consequences.  In your…  you represent a…

Spokesman:  Sputnik.

Secretary-General:  Sputnik.  In your news agency, you are responsible for what you publish, and the same happens to any of the TV stations that are represented here or any of the newspapers that are represented here.  Social media platforms are not legally responsible for what they publish, and in many circumstances — it's not only the question of publishing something that is put there by someone else — is that the algorithms are such that those algorithms amplify what is being put there.  And there, I think, we need to create some forms of regulation that clarify responsibilities in that regard.

Spokesman:  Great.  We're going to go online to Iftikhar Ali, Associated Press of Pakistan.  Iftikhar?

Question:  Thank you, Steph.  Can you hear me?

Spokesman:  Yes, sir.

Question:  Mr.  Secretary‑General, thank you very much for this press conference.  The Taliban have, obviously, failed to prevent TTP and other terrorist groups from attacking Pakistan from Afghan side despite their international pressure.  In fact, the terrorist attacks against Pakistan have escalated as evidenced by Saturday's deadly attack at a police station in Lakki Marwat in Pakistan.  Your reaction, please?  And secondly, a short one on floods.  You will be hosting an international conference on 9 January to mobilize for Pakistan's reconstruction programme.  How will you help to mobilize such support, and what are your expectations?

Spokesman:  The TTP in Pakistan.

Secretary-General:  And the second?

Spokesman:  Your expectation…

Secretary-General:  Well, there are several clear things that we believe the Taliban must deliver from the point of view of the interests of the international community and from the point of view of the interests of Afghanistan itself.  One thing that they must deliver in relation to the inclusion in the power structures in Afghanistan.  We have different ethnic groups, and it's important that all ethnic groups are represented.  A second aspect in relation to human rights, in particular women and girls' rights, the right of women to work, the right of girls to attend school at all levels without discrimination.  And there is another clear ask from the international community, which is for Afghanistan to stop all forms of activity of terrorist organizations that from Afghanistan represent a threat to neighbouring countries, including Pakistan.  And so, we are actively engaged in our discussions with the Taliban de facto authorities in relation to this, and we consider that it is absolutely essential for the Taliban not to allow any form of terrorist activity that might have an impact in relation to Pakistan, as in relation to any other country of the region.  On the other hand, I am totally committed to do everything possible to mobilize the international community to support Pakistan.  I've been in Pakistan immediately after the floods [that] have occurred.  I was dramatically impressed by what I've seen, three times the area of my own country flooded, terrible loss of crops and of animals and of houses and of life, for the population of Sindh and Balochistan and absolutely devastating situation.  And I believe the international community has a strong responsibility to support Pakistan that has contributed in a very minimal way to climate change.  There is a huge responsibility of the international community to support Pakistan in relation to the conference that we'll have 9 January in Paris…

Spokesman:  In Geneva.

Secretary-General:  …in Geneva, sorry, to fully mobilize the resources that are needed.  I was also in recent contact with the IMF [International Monetary Fund] and the World Bank.  There, hopefully, will be also, from these two institutions, meaningful action.  And the Pakistani people deserves and needs a strong expression of international solidarity.

Spokesman:  We're going to squeeze in two short questions, Paolo and then Joe, but very short, please.

Question:  Paolo Mastrolilli with the Italian daily La Repubblica.  Thank you very much for the press conference, and happy holidays to you, as well.  There is a new government in Italy, and as you know, there have already been tension with France concerning the migrants coming from Africa.  What should the new Italian Government do and the European Union do about this issue?

Secretary-General:  Well, since I was High Commissioner for Refugees 16 years ago, I…

Spokesman:  No, no.

Secretary-General:  Seventeen years ago I started…

Spokesman:  Yeah, you started.

Secretary-General:  …since I started those functions, and even when I was Prime Minister in Portugal, I was very clear in relation to affirming the same policy.  I'm proud that we did it in Portugal to massive legalization of all migrants existing in my country, and we always thought that migration was part of the solution of the problems of my country at the time, and I believe it's part of the solution of European problems.  And I always believed that we need to have a European mechanism to address the challenge of migration to make sure that migration's potential for European development is…  I mean, is…  that we take profit of it, and at the same time, that the dramatic human rights situation that migrants suffer in the hands of smugglers and traffickers ends, and this is not possible without an effective European cooperation at that level.

Spokesman:  Joe, one quick question, and then we go.

Question:  Joseph Klein, Canada Free Press.  I'll try to make this as quick as possible.  On the issue of social media platforms, I want to go back to that.  You mentioned the need for regulation.  I'm wondering if you have any views on where that regulation should come from, the national level?  Should there be some international body analogous to the Internet Governance body?  And who gets to define what is misinformation since notions that were originally thought to be wrong and anti‑science, in some cases, turned out to be correct, for example the issue of transmissibility even if you have a vaccination.  There have been other things that have changed over time.  So, who gets to decide what is misinformation?  Thank you.

Secretary-General:  I think that there are several levels.  There are things that require international legislation.  I think the European Union has demonstrated that, in many aspects, that is possible.  And I believe that there were a number of important developments in this regard.  It would be good if they could become more global.  Other areas require dialogue between Governments, scientists, companies, civil society in order to establish forms of soft regulation based on different kinds of commitments.  This is the objective of the Global Compact we are proposing for the Summit of the Future.  In others, there are questions that are related to the sense of responsibility of the operators themselves that have a responsibility that needs to be put in question.  Now, there is only one way to fight misinformation is to issue the right information and to actively engage in that.  That's what we have done with the Verified initiative.  That's what many are doing, putting several symbols of the same nature whether there are science‑based demonstrations.  Now, one thing is science progresses.  So, one day, science will be able to improve its knowledge about reality, but that doesn't mean that the previous level of scientific knowledge is misinformation.  It's just progress.  Other thing is to deliberately put on social media things that people know are wrong, and that's what we have witnessed in many aspects during the COVID time.  I mean, there are many…  there might be many questions about vaccines, but one thing is absolutely clear.  Thanks to vaccines, the number of people that died diminished dramatically.  And this nobody questions in the world except those that want to deliberately lie in that respect.

Spokesman:  Thank you very much.  Thank you.

Correspondent:  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.