Opening Remarks at Year-End Press Conference The Responsibility to Deliver
Secretary General Ban ki-Moon
17 December 2008
() This has been a difficult year for all of us. I have called it he year of multiple crises. The coming year promises to be no less difficult. Our commitments and good intentions will be tested as never before.
() In the realm of human rights, we speak of the responsibility to protect. In the larger sphere of common international endeavor, we should speak of the responsibility to deliver. Looking back at 2008, I would say frankly that our record has been mixed. ()
I am pleased at how we responded to natural disasters, like in Myanmar and Haiti and in many other places. Yet I am disappointed by the unwillingness of the government of Myanmar to deliver on its promises for democratic dialogue and the release of political prisoners. UN forces have held the line in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with bravery under the difficult circumstances. Yet we have not been able to protect innocent people from violence. Our record on human rights is on trial in many places, in many ways. In this 60th anniversary year, we must stand strong for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Our deployment in Darfur has been slower than I wished, despite our best efforts. The joint UN-African Union force will be 60 percent deployed by year's end, and 85 percent by March of next year. Yet we still lack mission-critical assets, including helicopters. Meanwhile, renewed fighting and political rivalry makes a political solution difficult and does nothing to advance the security of Darfur's people. More positively, we can take pride in the quiet diplomacy that has helped preserve the vital Comprehensive Peace Agreement between north and south Sudan. We oversaw successful democratic elections in Nepal and Sierra Leone. We can be cautiously optimistic about progress in Liberia, Bangladesh and Cote d'Ivoire.
Zimbabwe :The humanitarian situation grows more alarming every day. Zimbabwe stands on the brink of economic, social and political collapse. I said so to President [Robert] Mugabe in Doha several weeks ago. I told him things needed to change, urgently, and that I and the UN stand ready to help. The president agreed to receive my envoy, Haile Menkerios. Now we are told that the timing is not right. If this is not the time, when is?
For the past eight months, the Southern African Development Community has insisted on leading international diplomatic efforts ? with little result. When the international community or a regional organization takes on a mission, it also takes on the responsibility to deliver. As I told the Security Council on Monday, we need a fair and sustainable political solution in Zimbabwe, as provided under previous agreements. And we need it fast.
Somalia: Fourth, Somalia. The danger of anarchy in Somalia is clear and present. So is the need to act. I have spoken with the leaders of 50 countries and three international organizations about organizing a Multinational Force. Not one nation has volunteered to lead. Yesterday, therefore, I proposed to the Security Council a series of steps that 1) advance the Djibouti peace process, 2) deal with piracy and issues of humanitarian access and 3) reinforce the current African Union mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and set the stage for a possible UN peacekeeping operation. ()
The following remarks are taken from Secretary General Ban ki-Moons last official press conference of the year following the delivery of his speech:
() Question: () And also, regarding the Declaration of Human Rights, you mentioned the responsibility to protect. Some Member States, in their speeches last week, they talked about this responsibility should be taken only by the national Governments. Do you agree with that view, or do you think it should be taken up by the international community, represented by the Security Council, for instance?
Secretary-General: () On the responsibility to protect, as you know, I made it quite clear that it is one of my commitments to operationalize this very important concept, which has been agreed and endorsed by the leaders of the world through their summit meeting. My Special Adviser on this issue has been working very hard to make some improvements in the concept, how to operationalize the responsibility to protect. In fact, I am going to make an interim report to the General Assembly tomorrow morning, during an informal General Assembly meeting. And we will continue to discuss and consult with the Member States. I know that there are certain Member States who are still expressing some different opinions and reservations on this issue.()