Welcome to the United Nations

Address to the Jakarta International Defense Dialogue: "The United Nations and global security: collaboration and partnership

21 Mar 2012
Ban Ki-Moon



Good morning. Selamat pagi.

Let me begin by thanking the organizers for bringing us together.

Rarely do I have the opportunity to meet with such a distinguished group of people and prominent group of international security experts. You are important partners of the United Nations, and I welcome this chance to deepen our ties.

I think we can all agree: the past year has been remarkable to all of us in the international community.

Remarkable for its geographical drama – the Arab Spring… the revolution in Libya… the peaceful transformations in some Arab countries… terrible violence in others, above all in Syria.

But remarkable as well for the scope and sheer dimension of the demands placed on the international community and the United Nations… demands that span many realms – military, political, human rights, economic, social and environmental… demands that will shape the global political landscape for years to come.

That is what I’d like to talk to you about today – the unprecedented peace and security challenges of the 21st century, and how we can work together to meet those challenges.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

For more than a year now, an arc of crisis has defined our days.

It began in late 2010, when the incumbent president of Côte d’Ivoire was defeated in the open and fair elections, but then refused to step down against the will of the people of Côte d’Ivoire.

He defied repeated calls from the international community, including his people. He exploited ethnic tensions, imported mercenaries and attacked United Nations peacekeeping patrols and used heavy weaponry against his own citizens.

We had to make a stand to protect the civilians, as mandated by the Security Council. And we did.

But we might not have prevailed without the contribution of one country: Ukraine, which lent us three combat military helicopters at the critical moment.

With those helicopters, and the support of French Government, the French forces deployed in Côte d’Ivoire as part of operation Licorne, we were able to neutralize the heavy weaponry systems which were attacking the United Nations peacekeepers and also killing many civilians.

Soon after, the newly elected president, [Alassane] Ouattara, took office and I was there at the inaugural ceremony. Cote d’Ivoire today has an opportunity to regain the path of peace and democracy.

I drew an important lesson from this engagement of the United Nations and the international community: the importance of the united international community and the imperative to equip the United Nations properly to do the job asked of it.

UN peacekeeping operations currently face a global shortage of 44 helicopters. I may be too specific. We may need more than 44, of course, but a minimum of 44. I have asked the President [Susilo Bambang] Yudhoyono for some helicopters to provide to the United Nations peacekeeping operations.

Thank you for your support I regard this clapping as a positive signal of the Indonesian Government. These are critical for the protection of civilians, especially in vast areas where roads are few and vulnerabilities are great. When crisis erupts, when people face spasms of killing and destruction, we must be ready to help those people who are helpless, who are defenseless, as the United Nations and the international community as a whole.

But the lessons of Côte d’Ivoire go well beyond the value of military assets.

Côte d’Ivoire illustrated that clear violations of human rights and international humanitarian law could not be condoned by the international community.

In Libya, too, the world recognized its responsibility to protect the people facing brutality at the hands of their own state, at the hands of their own leader.

The United Nations worked with the regional organizations, like the African Union and the League of Arab States to mobilize political, military and humanitarian efforts to uphold core principles.

A repressive, unaccountable regime then met its end, forced to give way before the will of the people.

Certainly, in both Côte d’Ivoire and Libya, civilian lives were lost. That is why the use of force is never our first priority. It’s not our first choice, but the responsibility to protect always requires us to exercise judicious responsibility while protecting.

That said, however: many more lives were saved. Many tens of [thousands of] lives were saved. And let us remember: historically, our chief failing as an international community has been the reluctance to act in the face of serious threats.

We now face an even bigger test in Syria.

Our fundamental dilemma is one that we have faced before: what does the international community do when a Government is targeting its own people?

How do we respond when people ask for basic human dignity, human rights and freedoms – and are answered with violent and indiscriminate repression by the Government?

Faced with the deadlock in the Security Council, the General Assembly stepped in.

Working with the Arab League, we designated my predecessor Kofi Annan as our Joint Special Envoy.

The General Assembly, when the Security Council was not able to agree and was not united, met specifically to appoint a Special Envoy.

Our goal at this time, our priorities, are three: first, put an end, immediately, to the violence – all violence by the national security forces and by the opposition forces. And engage in inclusive political dialogue to shape the future of Syria as the Syrian people want to create. And thirdly we have to provide, immediately and urgently, humanitarian assistance by establishing unhindered humanitarian access. These are three priorities.

Mr. Annan is working tirelessly. He briefed the Security Council last Friday and his team and my own team are working in Damascus at this moment together with our humanitarian assessment teams. I myself have been in daily contact with Kofi Annan and [Nabil] El Araby, the Secretary General of the League of Arab States.

I cannot go on into detail about all these discussions, but what is clear is that the current situation in Syria has reached an unacceptable and intolerable situation where the international community must take urgent and immediate action, otherwise we will not be responsible [before] humanity. We will not be responsible [before] history. And I am urging again all the leaders of the world to be united, particularly the United Nations should be able to speak in one voice, act in one voice.

Meanwhile, again, while we are talking like this, we face a growing humanitarian emergency. The Security Council fortunately was united only on these humanitarian issues. They strongly supported my humanitarian coordinator, who is among us today this morning, to be able to visit Syria and discuss humanitarian issues. And our humanitarian team is now again discussing this matter with Syrian authorities. We have seen tens of thousands of refugees, internally displaced people. At least 8,000 people have been killed and many more have been wounded. We have to provide, immediately, assistance to those people.

We do not know how events will unfold. But we do know that we all have a responsibility to work for a resolution of this profound and extremely dangerous situation and crisis that has potentially massive repercussions for this region of the world.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The main theme of this conference is “military operations other than war.”

UN peacekeeping sets the international standard for such endeavours.

These missions provide tremendous value for money. Sixty years of United Nations peacekeeping operations’ cost is just nearly six weeks of global military spending. Just six weeks. So you can see the difference: how smart [an] investment, how wise [an] investment, the United Nations has been. To protect this world from crises.

I mentioned our need for more combat helicopters. We also face growing demands for police personnel, particularly female police officers and for civilian experts on the rule of law and security sector reform, judicial institutions, and prison reform. I urge you to explore what more you can contribute in whichever area your Government can contribute in this issues.

We are also sharpening our peacebuilding focus.

The period immediately following the conflict or upheaval is crucial. These are fluid moments, when the new order has yet to take hold, when people are looking for signs of a peace dividend, when a situation could lapse back into violence.

Peacebuilders need to engage over the long-term, too. Building solid foundations of peace and development can take years and even decades.

Supporting nations through such transitions is one of the five priorities of the action agenda I have set out for my second term as Secretary-General.

This is not an isolated issue, limited to a few countries. One and a half billion people live in countries affected by conflict, fragility or violence. The United Nations has peacekeeping or political missions deployed in many of them, and provides a broad range of development and humanitarian assistance in most of them.

Yet no such state has achieved a single Millennium Development Goal. Few are expected to meet the targets by the agreed deadline of 2015.

On the other hand, sustained peace can bring rapid gains.

That is why we also need an investment in preventing conflict before it breaks out in the first of place.

Prevention is our stock in trade – prevention, whether in the political crisis or man-made crisis or natural disasters. This is another imperative for the coming five years.

There can be no looking away in times of crisis, hoping things will get better.

Prevention means proactive early action to stop violence before it begins.

That is why we are building up our capacities for early warning, fact-finding and peaceful settlement of the disputes.

That is why we are strengthening our efforts at capacity-building on human rights, humanitarian law and democratic values and practices.

As we articulate a post-2015 development agenda, issues such as justice, legitimate politics, and other peacebuilding and statebuilding goals must figure more prominently in this discussion.

Our focus on prevention also applies to disasters... to human rights... to economic and financial shocks...

Resilience is key – from social safety nets to legal protection to national disaster risk reduction plans.

Accelerating climate change, rising hunger, increasing water scarcity – these, too, cause instability, from resource-driven violence to mass displacement of people.

Sustainable development is just as much a question of security as crime or armed conflict. That is why it, too, is one of my five imperatives for the immediate future.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Collective security also means fighting terrorism, organized crime and deadly weapons. The links among them are an especially toxic brew.

We continue our efforts to implement the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. I commend the Southeast Asian region for promoting cooperation through the ASEAN framework.

Southeast Asia is also coping with the widening activities of criminal groups. The region now accounts for half of the world’s methamphetamine seizures. The cultivation of opium poppy also increased during the most recent season.

Nuclear issues are also on the region’s radar as never before.

In the aftermath of the nuclear accident at Fukushima, there have been welcome new commitments to strengthen nuclear controls. They set the stage for what I hope will be further progress at the Nuclear Security Summit early next week in Seoul.

But let us also remember that we continue to face the threats posed by nuclear weapons.

Tens of thousands of weapons remain in global arsenals, many on high alert.

Billions of dollars are being squandered in modernizing them, despite pressing social needs.

Nuclear weapons do nothing to protect us from 21st-century threats. Their very existence itself is destabilizing. The more they are touted as indispensable, the greater is the incentive for their proliferation.

The health and environmental risks are also profound.

The threat of nuclear terrorism is real. We must do more to control fissile nuclear materials and to crack down on proliferation financing.

More and more leaders recognize that nuclear deterrence is dangerous and out of date. Export controls have not prevented countries from acquiring nuclear weapons. Sanctions have a role to play, but they offer no lasting solution.

The best way to eliminate the nuclear threat is by eliminating the weapons themselves.

Across the world, there is a growing impatience with the very slow [pace] of nuclear disarmament. In this regard I’d like to highly command the visionary leadership and very determined will of President Yudhoyono who has recently ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty [CTBT] which has been deposited last year. We have only eight countries remaining whose ratifications are essential for this CTBT to become effective. And I’d like to tell you again that the international conference to prevent nuclear weapons or others weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East is now also going to happen later this year. My Special Envoy is working very hard to establish this conference, as mandated by the NPT review conference.

And I’d like to take again this opportunity to urge the members of the Conference on Disarmament to redouble their efforts to activate their activities. It’s unacceptable that during the last 12 years, this Conference on Disarmament has not done anything, it has not been able to even agree on a programme of work. They have to immediately begin their activities and start the negotiation on FMCT, Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty. I’ll be making concrete proposals in Seoul during the Nuclear Security Summit aimed at guiding us towards nuclear safety and nuclear security. I will count on your support.

Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Ensuring global security compels us to act on many fronts simultaneously.

States work together already, in so many ways – practical sovereignty for the common global good.

The United Nations is forging ever stronger ties with regional organizations, in particular the African Union and European Union, in tackling peace and security issues.

The United Nations and ASEAN have adopted a “Joint Declaration on Comprehensive Partnership” – an achievement in which Indonesia’s leadership was crucial. And I’d like to thank again President Yudhoyono when he was acting as chairman of ASEAN last year. We were able to agree on this very historic joint declaration for comprehensive partnership.

In June, I will convene a retreat with the heads all the regional organizations to take this work deeper still.

Our challenge is to work more concretely as an international community.

I am determined to make the United Nations an ever more effective instrument. Never in the past, in the history of the United Nations, has the importance of multilateralism and the importance of United Nations been so great and so much needed. And I’m very honoured to work as the Secretary-General.

Mr. President, distinguished participants, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I sincerely hope that you will have very meaningful, very constructive discussions for the peace and security and humanity of this world.

I look forward to working with you across a global geography – a geography not only of insecurity and need, but also opportunity to build a safer and more secure world. It is our and your responsibility to shape the world as we want, where everybody from big or small countries, rich or poor, can live in peace and harmony and security, and I count on your leadership.

And thank you very much for your attention. Thank you.