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    12 April 2015

    Secretary-General's press conference at 13th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice [scroll down for Q&A]

    Doha, 12 April 2015

    Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen,

    As Salaam Alaikum. 

    I just had a productive meeting with the Prime Minister of Qatar, His Excellency Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani.

    I thanked the President of the Congress and Prime Minister for hosting the thirteenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and I congratulated him on the successful adoption by consensus of the Doha Declaration. I believe the Declaration to be implementable, concise and achievable. I expect this conference to be action-driven. It should provide a platform to increase the cooperation between Governments, intergovernmental organizations and civil society from the full spectrum on crime prevention and criminal justice issues. I really appreciate and highly commend the leadership of the President of the Congress and Prime Minister. Thank you. 

    The Prime Minister and I discussed a range of subjects of mutual concern, including transnational crime and terrorism.

    One of the biggest security threats, challenges we face is the rise of Da'esh or ISIL.

    The international community has to address the conditions that allow groups like Da'esh or ISIL to emerge and grow.

    On April 21 and 22 there will be a high-level UN General Assembly thematic debate on tolerance and reconciliation organized in close cooperation with the Alliance of Civilizations Initiative.

    Later in the year, I also plan to present a comprehensive UN Plan of Action on preventing violent extremism, including through good governance, the rule of law, engaging women and youth and all those alienated from our societies.

    In Iraq, I welcome the recent liberation of Tikrit. 

    But I am alarmed by allegations of serious human rights violations and destruction of property perpetrated by forces and militias fighting alongside the Iraqi forces.

    I am pleased that the Government of Iraq is taking these reports seriously and has urged the protection of civilians and their property. 

    I encourage the Government of Iraq to restore the rule of law in areas liberated from Da'esh or ISIL.

    Alleged violations or abuses of human rights must be investigated and perpetrators held to account.

    Over 2.5 million people have now been displaced in Iraq.

    Minority communities, women and children remain particularly affected. 

    The Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government, with the support of the international community, have been working to scale up their emergency relief efforts.

    However, vast challenges remain and additional resources are urgently needed. 

    In Yemen, I have strongly objected to the Houthis attempting to control the country by force.  This is unacceptable.

    But I am also deeply concerned about the military escalation.

    Civilian casualties are mounting and vital public infrastructure is being destroyed.

    The internal crisis in Yemen should not be allowed to grow into a protracted regional conflict. 

    We urgently need a de-escalation and a return to peaceful negotiations. 

    I firmly believe that the UN-brokered negotiations remain the best chance to prevent a long drawn out conflict, and I strongly support the efforts of my Special Envoy Jamal Benomar. 

    Life-saving humanitarian assistance in Yemen is continuing to the extent possible through national staff and a network of local partners. 

    In Gaza I remain deeply concerned by continuing tensions.

    I thank Qatar for its generous support towards rebuilding Gaza, and I urge all donors to fully meet the commitments they made in Cairo last October.

    I also urge the Palestinians to overcome their divisions.

    The blockade must be lifted with due consideration for Israel's legitimate security concerns. 

    I am also deeply worried by the lack of a political horizon, which, combined with the situation on the ground, calls into question the prospects for resumed negotiations.

    There is no other solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict than the establishment of a viable, contiguous and democratic Palestinian State living side-by-side in peace and security with Israel.

    Finally, on Iran, the recent political framework achieved by the P5+1 and Iran is a significant development. 

    It paves the way for a comprehensive joint plan of action by 30 June as agreed by the negotiating parties. 

    The agreement will be of historical international value, providing for substantial limits on Iran's nuclear programme and, at the same time, for the removal of sanctions.

    It will respect Iran's needs and rights while providing assurances to the international community that Iran's nuclear activities will remain exclusively peaceful.

    I strongly believe that a comprehensive, negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear issue will contribute to peace and stability in the region.

    Again I thank Your Excellency Mr. Prime Minister for your leadership and also the visionary leadership of His Highness the Emir of Qatar and many other government officials and people for their strong support and working together with the United Nations to make this world more peaceful, more prosperous and where human rights may be protected.

    I thank you.

    Shukran Jazeelan.

    Questions & Answers

    Q:  (Question on implementing the Doha Declaration.)

    Secretary-General: This declaration, the Doha Declaration, which was adopted by consensus, will be reported to the United Nations General Assembly and I expect that the General Assembly will also adopt by consensus among all the Member States of the United Nations. This will have an added political commitment of the whole international community. I am sure that Member States will be very much committed to implement this one. Implementing through closer coordination and cooperation among the international community will benefit us all in establishing sustainable development, peaceful societies where rule of law will prevail in our daily lives. Thank you.

    Q: (Question on Dadaab refugee camp and Yemen).

    Secretary-General: On the Dadaab camp in Kenya where mostly Somali refugees and some from South Sudan are accommodated; this is by far the largest refugee camp in the world at this time. As you know, at this time, we have 50 million refugees around the world. Dadaab camp itself accommodates more than 350,000 refugees. I visited myself twice, including the last one last year. It is very sad and tragic where so many people are suffering.

    On relocating this Dadaab camp, I read the reports but I have not officially received any official indications or communications from the concerned government. But of course we do not want to have this Dadaab camp there permanently. Our target and aim, priority, should be that we dissolve all the refugee camps around the world so that 50 million people will all go back to their own homes. But the reality is not that, and I am particularly concerned and sad when I saw so many young people who believe that is all of the world. The world is far and wide. There are so many things which are happening which they believe have to do. But if young people without being able to go out of this [camp] and who are living there knowing that may be the boundary of their world; that is unacceptable. We have already the third generation living in Dadaab camp. We have to really first of all relocate them as soon as possible to their home countries and improve their living standards. We need strong support from the international community.

    Now, on the second question about Yemen, I have explained, I think, in depth. What I missed to say that there is a serious humanitarian crisis happening now. Because of security concerns, it is very important to have access to people in need. That it is why we are working very closely with the Red Cross and we doing our best to provide needed assistance, life-saving assistance to many people. That's why I am urging again that this violence should stop as soon as possible and there should be dialogue and negotiations should be resumed. I appreciate the Qatari Government's diplomatic facilitating role in this regard even though I am not in a position to disclose anything. But I really appreciate GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] countries and their commitment for peace and stability in this region. Thank you.

    Q: (Question on the Congress and on death penalty verdicts in Egypt)

    Secretary-General: We are living in a globalized society and with all this globalization and transformation in a rapidly changing world we also see the spread of violence and crimes. That is why we are meeting in Doha. Closer coordination, cooperation among countries to stamp and root out organized crimes, transnational crimes; that will help our societies to be able to live in a sustainable world in terms of peace and security, in terms of human rights; in terms of sustainable development. In that regard I cannot emphasize more the significance and importance of this meeting where Member States are united and showing solidarity and committed political will that they will work together. I have seen some exhibitions today and I have visited the GCC criminal justice information centre. These are all well-equipped systems and coordination. I hope this will really help and be emulated by many countries in the world.

    On this situation in Egypt, I sincerely hope that Egypt reflects the views and aspirations of the Egyptian people. It's not only Egyptian people. When the Arab spring started there have been ups and downs and I think we are moving toward the right direction while we see still the tragic situation in Syria continuing; Libya also is not yet overcoming this current situation. We have problems now. I sincerely hope that Egyptian government and people will also address the people's views and aspirations and make a move toward mature democracy respecting human rights and dignity. Thank you.

    Q: (Question on ending Yemen airstrikes)

    Secretary-General:   As far as the United Nations is concerned we have been working very closely with leaders of GCC countries. United Nations has been facilitating this process through my Special Envoy Jamal Benomar. We were very close to establish a national unity government. Now the situation has deteriorated because of the Houthis and some divisive manipulation by the former president. Unfortunately this sudden military takeover by Houthis has led inevitably to GCC countries taking military actions. While I have taken note that such military action, which was initiated at the request of the sovereign and legitimate President of Yemen, Hadi, at the same time Secretary-General, having seen continuing tragic consequences where more than 600 people were killed and more than 2,000 people wounded, [I believe]  it is important and necessary that the dialogue should prevail. And I would sincerely hope that the cessation of military means is as soon as possible, and let the peace process be resumed. The United Nations stands ready to provide such a facilitating role through my Special Envoy. Thank you very much.   

    Q: (Questions on extremism and calls for reform of the United Nations.)

    Secretary-General: You are asking quite broad questions. First of all, the immediate threat - extremism and terrorism - that is a global threat, a threat to global peace and security and humanity. It is absolutely necessary that we defeat this extremism and terrorism. Nobody can do it alone, no country, however powerful or resourceful one may be, cannot do it alone. No organization including the United Nations can do it alone. That is why we need to unite and pool all wisdom and resources. That is what we have seen through most recently in February the White House summit meeting on countering violent extremism, and I participated. There, I have emphasized the importance of addressing this extremism and terrorism at the root. Why this extremism is happening, often the failed leadership, inequality, injustice, and corruption, and marginalization of a certain group of people. These should be addressed, in parallel with taking action to defeat terrorism. We cannot just sit idle and watch people being slaughtered by these extremists and terrorists. So I support all this taking action, at the same time we take parallel action to address these root causes. That is why the United Nations is going to have a high-level General Assembly thematic debate from April 21 to 22 with the President of General Assembly, the Alliance of Civilizations Secretary-General we are now organized this one, inviting political leaders and religious leaders to address this issue. In September, as I said in my remarks, I am going to present a comprehensive plan of action to the General Assembly [on] how to handle this terrorism and extremism and how to elevate, enhance the level of tolerance, mutual respect for traditions, and culture, and civilizations and faith of others.

    Now about this United Nations reform, I know that to address all these challenging global issues the United Nations should be equipped and changed and adapted to changing situations in a more effective and efficient, transparent and accountable way; that is what we are doing. But there are some institutional reforms like the Security Council or some other issues that Member States are still working very hard [on], negotiating through informal General Assembly negotiations. I hope Member States will be able to find a mutually agreeable solution and formula on this matter. 

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