UN Secretary-General, at Asia Forum, Stresses Urgency of Resuming Six-Party Talks
Also stresses on Separating Humanitarian from Security, Political Issues on Korean Peninsula
Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the Asia Leadership Forum: New Power for Opening the Future of the Korean Peninsula, in Seoul:
I thank Chosun Ilbo for hosting this important forum, and inviting me to address it on behalf of the United Nations. And I thank Her Excellency President Park Geun-hye for her inspiring statement and leadership and vision to keep peace and security on the Korean peninsula and her willingness to work together with the United Nations in promoting peace, security, development and human rights. And I also thank His Excellency Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India for his strong partnership and leadership not only as an Asian regional leader but also global leadership.
It is a great honour and pleasure for me to visit my home country, the Republic of Korea, during this historic year. This is a very historic year in a sense that we are celebrating the seventieth anniversary of the founding of the United Nations and also liberation of my home country, the Republic of Korea.
Today, I will speak about the role of the Republic of Korea and the United Nations in peace and confidence-building on the Korean peninsula. I will also try to address other issues affecting Asia and the wider world. And I will call on the Republic of Korea Government to do even more to lead in rising to the major challenges of our time.
I am deeply engaged on the Korean peninsula because this is a dangerous international flashpoint for the world. Despite the South-North Joint Declaration adopted 15 years ago and the start of the Six-Party talks [more than] 10 years ago, the situation has not improved. If the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) current activities continue, we could see more arms competition and rising tension throughout this region.
There is a strong international consensus on the need for the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. This is being reaffirmed at the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) Review Conference, which is now being held at the United Nations in New York.
The Six-Party Talks remain a solid framework for addressing those issues through dialogue and negotiation.
I welcome all the efforts, including by the Government of the Republic of Korea to seek creative ways to resume dialogue. The United Nations stands ready to facilitate efforts to bring peace and stability to the region. I will do everything possible in my capacity as Secretary-General of the United Nations to support meaningful engagement, especially in New York where all six parties are represented.
I encourage the DPRK to take steps necessary to prevent escalation and to enable a return to multilateral negotiations and engagement, including by complying with all relevant Security Council resolutions.
The relationship between the two Koreas is critical for lasting peace. I hope that both sides can have as few preconditions as possible and engage in sincere dialogue that can bring the people closer. There is an urgent need to decouple humanitarian matters, such as family reunions and other dire humanitarian situations, from political and security matters.
In that regard, I highly commend President Park’s statement this morning that she will separate such humanitarian issues from any political and security issues. That is what the United Nations and I have been continuously and consistently pursuing.
I welcome the proposals at the start of this year for high-level inter-Korean dialogue. I also fully support President Park Geun-hye’s “Trust-Building Process on the Korean Peninsula”.
Let me say a few words about the role of the United Nations in peace and security and confidence-building measures.
Humanitarian assistance should never be linked to political or security considerations. The United Nations country team in the DPRK has identified urgent humanitarian requirements for the most vulnerable people in the DPRK, particularly children. The number of children suffering from stunting is alarmingly high. I again appreciate President Park’s generous and humanitarian policy to delink humanitarian from political issues.
Lives are at stake. Without aid, children will have lasting damage. United Nations operations remain drastically underfunded. I call on donors to respond generously.
For the first time in 15 years, the Foreign Minister of the DPRK, Mr. Ri Su Yong, attended the General Assembly in September last year and met with me, confirming the commitment of his country to sustaining and continuing dialogue. I hope that there will be another high-level attendance at the general debate this year.
I have consistently expressed my readiness to visit Pyongyang when and if my visit is helpful and in close coordination with the concerned parties, of course the Republic of Korea, and other neighbours and other influential countries.
My message to both Koreas is: the United Nations is your United Nations. We are here to offer a helping hand. With the consent of our partners, we can assist in confidence-building measures, mediation, and promoting and helping in establishing rule of law and promoting human rights.
Accountability and engagement for meaningful reforms go hand in hand. Accountability is vital for justice, reconciliation and long-term security on the Korean peninsula.
Maintaining peace and security in North-East Asia requires a commitment from all the region’s countries. I wholeheartedly support President Park’s North-East Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative. As she says, trust starts with dialogue and cooperation. I have called on all countries in the region to engage in dialogue and expand their cooperation.
I welcomed the seventh trilateral Foreign Ministers’ meeting among China, Japan and the Republic of Korea on 21 March in Seoul. The resumption of this format has generated momentum to reinforce collaboration among the three countries. I hope that the Trilateral Summit will be held at an early date as agreed by the three Ministers.
During my recent visit to Japan, I urged Japanese leaders to be future-oriented, remembering the past. This will generate a spirit of peace and reconciliation for generations to come and help realize Asia’s great promise.
This is a time of great global upheaval. The United Nations is coping with an unprecedented number of crises. Unfortunately, this is unprecedented in the history of the international community. We have just celebrated and commemorated the end of the Second World War, mostly in European countries, and I understand China is also going to commemorate such an event. During the last 70 years, we never experienced such a time like we are now; so many big fires are taking place here and there.
Terrorist groups are fighting to control entire territories in the Middle East and West Africa. We have all been sickened by their atrocities. There is an increase in the number and intensity of large-scale crises — as in South Sudan, Libya, Syria and now in Yemen. Violence and political disruption are linked to poor governance and economic inequality.
We have also witnessed a dramatic rise in unconstitutional changes of Government that cause political instability and unrest. Syria is the most obvious example of the burning need for collective, international action to preserve regional security and stability. I call on the international community to unite and lend its full support to the United Nations to forge an inclusive, Syrian-led political transition.
The Middle East Peace Process and the two-State solution are severely tested, again. The United Nations is pushing for a return to negotiations. My vision, and the international community’s vision, is that there is no alternative to peace, [to] the two-State solution where Israelis and Palestinians can live side by side in peace and security.
Globally, United Nations peace operations are at a crossroads. The number of United Nations [peace missions] on the ground is higher than ever. Their mandates have expanded and become more complex. We are being asked to do more with less.
This is why I decided to initiate a review of peace operations of the United Nations to take stock of the current challenges and the new realities. I look forward to its recommendations. I also intend to present a United Nations Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism to the General Assembly later this year.
This year, 2015, presents a historic opportunity to adopt a new sustainable development agenda and to reach a universal, meaningful and ambitious climate change agreement in December in Paris.
The Republic of Korea has shown valuable leadership throughout the negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda. I count on Korea’s continued engagement until the adoption of a truly transformative agenda in September and beyond.
I thank the Republic of Korea for hosting and supporting a number of important offices for sustainability: The United Nations Office for Sustainable Development is in Incheon, the Green Climate Fund (GCF), as well as the Global Green Growth Institute.
Korea is seen internationally as a model on climate change and green growth. As one of the first contributors to the Green Climate Fund at the 2014 Climate Summit meeting which I convened last September, it spurred others to do the same. And I appreciate Korea’s contribution and commitment.
I hope that the GCF begins disbursing resources as soon as possible as a means to build trust and confidence before [the] Paris meeting.
I welcome President Park’s readiness to submit their climate target, INDC — intended nationally determined contributions — to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change before the end of June. It should be ambitious and credible.
It is only natural that I have a special place in my heart for the country of my birth. At the same time, any person serving as Secretary-General of the United Nations would have great expectations for a country with so much power and influence like the Republic of Korea.
I am grateful for the Republic of Korea’s strong leadership on global issues. And I count on this country, my home country, to be an even more prominent international player in the future, not only for the peace and stability on the Korean peninsula or in this part of the world, but whole throughout the world.
Let us work together to make this world better for all, where everybody, regardless of where you are coming from, can live with dignity.
I thank you for your leadership and strong commitment.