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UNSG Q&A:West Papua right of self-determination

Auckland, New Zealand, 7 September 2011 - Remarks at Press Conference With Prime Minister John Key 7 September 2011

Prime Minister Key,

Ladies and Gentlemen of the media,

I am honoured to participate in this very historic, 40th anniversary of the PIF leaders'' meeting and I am also very pleased to have a very successful constructive visit, bilateral, to New Zealand.

And I thank you very much for your initiative of hosting this very important meeting.

I am here to continue sounding a global alarm about climate change. As you know, I have visited almost all the places around the world where I could see the impact of climate change, including the North and South Poles, and you name it. And my most recent visits to Solomon Islands and Kiribati have reinforced my belief and conviction that climate change is happening and we must take action now.

Having visited these two Pacific Island states I have a much keener sense of the challenges of Pacific Island states

And, of course, I saw the real world vulnerability of these lands.

For the countries of the region, climate change is not about what might happen tomorrow. This is about what is happening now, today.

The countries of the Pacific are at the front of the front-lines of climate change. And I share the region''s concerns and I support their calls for more concerted action.

We have had a very good discussion this afternoon about climate change, ocean economies, regional peace and security and other issues.

We also discussed the importance of expanding opportunities and democratic participation for women in the region.

There is much room for improvement and today I heard a genuine commitment from the leaders to improve upon this record and ensure that Pacific Island countries can benefit from the power and potential of all its citizens, particularly including women.

Our two organizations, the United Nations and PIF, have agreed to explore ways to further strengthen our cooperation in addressing key economic, environmental, security and human challenges.

Through adoption of the joint statement as the result of our interactive dialogue, in particular we have agreed to meet at regular intervals – starting next year at the opening of the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly. We will further strengthen our cooperating partnership.

This will ensure that the priorities of the region for its future welfare and development remain firmly registered with the organization at its highest levels.

Prime Minister, let me thank you for being such a strong partner of the United Nations. I am very grateful for such a strong support that New Zealand has been providing to the United Nations.

New Zealand is a reliable contributor to peacekeeping. You are a major development donor, particularly to your neighbours here in the Pacific. You are a model country, protecting and promoting human rights and gender empowerment.

I look forward to further strengthening this partnership in the years ahead.

My main priority as I look ahead to my second term is sustainable development, and my main approach will be to connect the dots between and among climate change, water scarcity, food crisis and energy shortages, gender empowerment and all [ kinds of] global diseases.

Just as people and countries are interconnected increasingly, so are the issues.

We can connect the dots, all these, to make a very comprehensive, integrated approach to these issues.

This will be a key focus as we prepare for the Rio+20 summit meeting next year.

And I count on [the] continuing support and leadership role being played by Prime Minister Key and your Government.

Thank you.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Q: Secretary-General, many of the non-self governing territories in the Pacific are joining the Forum as observers, including the US territories this week. What role can the United Nations specialised agencies in the Pacific play to contribute to their economic and social development and also political education and self-determination?

SG: The right of self-determination is recognized by the United Nations Charter, and I listened to the concerns of some leaders, particularly French Polynesia. It is up to the Member States voting in the General Assembly to decide on the re-listing or delisting of any territory as non-state governing territory. I would encourage them to continue to have a meaningful dialogue. The United Nations has been providing support, particularly in the developmental area, as well as protection of human rights. This is a concern and this is a fundamental principle of the United Nations Charter. So we will continue to provide such assistance. However, as far as this specific question is concerned then I hope that the territories concerned will continue to engage in dialogue with the concerned parties.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, how appropriate is it for the United Nations to use Fijian peacekeepers from a military dictatorship?

SG: I know that Fiji has been suspended from the PIF and there are some serious concerns about violations of human rights. While keeping Fijian soldiers in peacekeeping operations, particularly in Iraq, we have been making sure that each individual soldier''s record about human rights should be and has been vetted, very seriously and carefully considered. This is what the UN will continue to do.

Q: [inaudible, question on the possibility of a human rights mission to Fiji]

SG: I would expect that the Member States of the United Nations may raise this issue at the Human Rights Council, and if there is a decision, I can of course ask my High Commissioner for Human Rights to dispatch a fact-finding mission there. But as far as human rights are concerned, the UN is always very strongly committed to ensure that human rights of everybody are fully protected. This [question of a human rights mission] I leave to the Member States.

Q: [inaudible, question on West Papua]

SG: Again this issue should also be discussed at the Decolonisation Committee of the United Nations General Assembly. And when it comes, again, to whether you are an independent state or non self-governing territory, whatever, the human rights is an inalienable and fundamental principle of the United Nations. We will do all to ensure that the people in West Papua, their human rights should be respected.

Q: [inaudible, question on possibility of a human rights mission to West Papua]

SG: That we will have to see. Again, this is the same answer to you that it should be discussed at the Human Rights Council among the Member States. Normally the Secretary-General acts on the basis of the mandate given by inter-governmental bodies. - http://www.un.org/apps/sg/offthecuff.asp?nid=1929

ENDS

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