SECRETARY-GENERAL’S MESSAGE TO SECOND MINISTERIAL ANTI-DRUG CONFERENCE ON THE INFLUENCE OF DRUGS ON GLOBAL SECURITY AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT 
[DELIVERED BY MR. YURY FEDOTOV, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE UN OFFICE ON DRUGS AND CRIME (UNODC)]

Moscow, Russian Federation, 23 April 2015
I am pleased to send greetings to all participants at the Second Ministerial Anti-Drug Conference, and I thank the Russian Federation, particularly the Russian Federal Drug Control Service, for hosting.

The influence of drugs on global security and sustainable development is high on the international agenda this year as the world strives to forge a new set of sustainable development goals amid complex and interlinked threats to stability. The stakes are high, with illicit drug trafficking generating some $320 billion annually – funds that fuel violence and terrorism while undermining development.

Countries of the world have accepted shared responsibility to address this problem in a manner that balances law enforcement with an evidence-based approach. Through integrated activities, we aim to ensure that drug users have access to life-saving medicines and proper treatment; that farmers who grow illicit crops are offered an alternative livelihood; and that criminals are prevented from exploiting the weak. In all efforts we strive to promote human rights, the rule of law and fair criminal justice systems. The UN also supports an innovative humanitarian response to the world drug problem that seeks to give a voice to the vulnerable, sharing good practices in accordance with the International Drug Control Conventions, which have near-universal ratification.

Drug trafficking exploits fragile nations and regions. I am particularly concerned about methamphetamine production, cocaine consumption and trafficking, and heroin use in West Africa. In both West Africa and the Sahel, criminal groups involved in drug trafficking and piracy in the Gulf of Guinea have joined with terrorists attracted by vast criminal profits. Boko Haram in Nigeria has also been directly involved.

The problem goes beyond regions, representing a global challenge. The nexus between terrorism and transnational organized crime, including drug trafficking, directly threatens peace and security. We need inter-regional cooperation linking United Nations efforts to those of governments, the scientific community, civil society and the public. They will have to join forces in addressing key areas, including capacity-building in the field of criminal justice and law enforcement; reforming prison systems; cutting financial flows of terrorists and criminals; and ending improper use of the Internet.

I wish you success as part of our global push to ensure a life of dignity for all.

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL’S REMARKS AT PANEL DISCUSSION: HIGHLIGHTING A COUNTER-NARRATIVE: PROMOTING TOLERANCE FOR DIVERSITY, FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND HUMAN RIGHTS

New York, 22 April 2015
Thank you, Ms. Laura Trevelyan [BBC Anchor and Moderator], it is a great pleasure to welcome you back to the United Nations. Thank you for moderating this very important panel discussion.

And I would like to thank the High Representative [of the Alliance of Civilizations], H.E. Nassir [Abdulaziz] Al-Nasser, for your commitment and leadership.

Your Eminences, Your Holinesses, eminent religious leaders, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

As we near the end of two days of discussions on how to promote tolerance and reconciliation, I would like to thank the many participants who have made these gatherings very rich and productive.

I hope our message of solidarity and resolve will be heard far and wide.

The commitment to mutual understanding is part of the DNA of the United Nations and is at the very heart of the Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In all our work, the United Nations strives to pave a path towards peace and greater cross-cultural understanding.

We are living through a period of global transition. Technology is connecting us ever more closely, and cross-cultural exchanges are deepening every day.

But this does not mean there is more understanding.

Societies are more diverse but [intolerance] is on the rise in too many places.

We see rising and violent extremism, radicalism, and widening conflicts that are characterized by a fundamental disregard for human rights.

We see growing hostility and discrimination towards people crossing borders in search of asylum or opportunities denied to them at home.

Hate crimes and other forms of intolerance mar too many communities, often stoked by irresponsible leaders seeking political gain.

I have strongly urged world leaders to protect people from persecution and to encourage tolerance for all, regardless of nationality, religion, language, race, sexual orientation or any other distinction that obscures our common humanity.

There are no individual solutions to these multifaceted and inter-related challenges.

We can only advance as a community of nations and cultures, drawing on human solidarity and recognizing that we share a common destiny.

This is why tolerance is so important.

Tolerance is not passive. It demands an active choice to reach out on the basis of mutual understanding and respect, especially where disagreement exists.

Tolerance can, and must, be learned.

During our morning session, some esteemed religious leaders have pointed out certain issues which I think are very important. I think we should go beyond tolerance, and we should accept more than tolerate. But, tolerance itself is not passive. Tolerance can and must be learned. But I am open, even though we have used the word tolerance in our topic, we will always be guided by your good ideas.

We need to promote freedom of expression.

We need to educate people about their rights.

And we need to teach girls and boys not just how to live together but how to act together as global citizens.

We need to nurture tolerance from playgrounds to parliaments.

We need to tackle growing inequality and reject social exclusion.

At this time of tension and trial, tolerance and respect for fundamental freedoms and human rights have never been so important.

Today’s panellists are themselves a wonderfully diverse group, and I very much look forward to their thoughts.

Thank you.

SECRETARY-GENERAL’S MESSAGE TO “A CENTURY OF WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION: ENOUGH!”- EVENT ORGANIZED BY THE MUNICIPALITIES OF YPRES AND LANGEMARCK-POELKAPELLE IN COOPERATION WITH THE INTERNATIONAL NETOWOF OF MAYORS FOR PEACE [DELIVERED BY MS. VIRGINIA GAMBA, DEPUTY TO THE HIGH REPRESENTATIVE FOR DISARMAMENT AFFAIRS]

Ypres, Belgium, 22 April 2015
I am pleased to greet all participants at this conference on the centennial of the first use of poison gas on a massive scale in world history. It is fitting that this event has been organized by the municipalities of Ypres and Langemarck-Poelkapelle, where chemical weapons were so catastrophically used in the war that many once hoped would be the war to “end all wars”.

This solemn anniversary is an occasion for the world to pay tribute to the victims of those horrific weapons. If those victims could speak, they would no doubt demand action to destroy all such weapons so they could never be used again.

We have a shared responsibility to pursue a universal ban on the possession and use of all weapons of mass destruction – nuclear, chemical, and biological. WMDs are inherently indiscriminate weapons and grossly inconsistent with international humanitarian law.

Today is about more than mourning the past – it is an opportunity to confront the present. Conditions today underscore the need to eliminate all weapons of mass destruction. Force is still used as a tool of policy. Terrorists continue launching increasingly violent attacks against innocent civilians. Thousands of nuclear weapons are deployed and ready for use at a moment’s notice. Allegations persist about the continued use of toxic chemicals in the conflict in Syria.

This threat is particularly grave in cities, where civilian populations are most densely concentrated and where over half of humanity now resides. I applaud the interest shown by city leaders in addressing this challenge, particularly the work of Mayors for Peace and the strong support they have gained in thousands of cities around the world.

Rather than despair, we must build upon humanity’s natural repugnance against the indiscriminate targeting of civilians. It is not enough to aim to keep weapons of mass destruction from “falling into the wrong hands”. There are no right hands for weapons that are just plain wrong.

We have now had a century of WMDs. Our response to this tragic milestone can only be to declare: Enough! After all these years, let us honour the memory of past victims by ensuring that there will be no future ones.

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL’S REMARKS TO MEDIA AFTER GENERAL ASSEMBLY THEMATIC DEBATE “PROMOTING TOLERANCE AND RECONCILIATION: FOSTERING PEACEFUL, INCLUSIVE SOCIETIES AND COUNTERING VIOLENT EXTREMISM

New York, 22 April 2015
SG: Mr. President [Sam Kutesa, President of the General Assembly], Mr. High Representative of the Alliance of Civilizations, Your Eminences, Your Holinesses, respective religious leaders,

And good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen of the media; thank you for this opportunity.

I am extremely grateful for all the esteemed religious leaders who have taken part in this very important meeting for humanity, and I thank His Excellency, President of the General Assembly of the United Nations, for organizing this high-level thematic debate on a very important subject which we have discussed, on promoting tolerance and reconciliation.

I also thank His Excellency the High Representative, Mr. [Nassir Abdulaziz] Al-Nasser, for his strong leadership and cooperation in making this meeting a great success.

Ladies and Gentlemen, people across the world have been horrified by the recent brutal acts carried out by terrorists and violent extremists.

While they claim religion as their guide, their ideologies are contrary to the teachings of any of the major faiths.

It seems that with every passing day, a new depth of heartlessness is reached.

They are waging war on the values of the United Nations and all its Member States.

That is why I wanted people from many faiths to come together to the United Nations to express our shared abhorrence at such violence, and most importantly to signal our common resolve to work with each other to promote tolerance and reconciliation.

Faith leaders can play a very important role, and central role, in healing sectarian divides and countering the forces of radicalization.

For my part, I have committed to forming an advisory panel of faith leaders and others to guide us on these complex dynamics.

I am also developing a comprehensive Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, which will be presented to the 70th Session of the General Assembly later this year.

The world must unite against extremism. We must also get at the roots of what fuels it.

When governments respect human rights and provide opportunities for people to voice their grievances — when societies come together to enhance equality and mutual dignity — when individuals recognize that we are all stronger when we work together — the attraction to violent extremism will wither and peace and prosperity will grow.

I thank you again, the many leaders who have come to the United Nations to plant the seeds of that future.

Thank you very much.

Q: Thank you. Mr. Secretary-General, in the field of promoting peace, Saudi Arabia has announced a halt to the fighting in the air strikes in Yemen. I wonder if you could comment on their action, even though we hear that there is some fighting going on, and could you tell us when you plan to announce a replacement for Mr. [Jamal] Benomar as Special Envoy to try and get peace negotiations back on track?

SG: I have taken note of the announcement yesterday by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners on 21 April to conclude these airstrikes. As you may remember, last Thursday during my press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., I called for an immediate ceasefire at that time.

I welcome the announcement by the coalition that they support a quick resumption of the political process in Yemen in accordance with Security Council Resolution 2016. I also welcome its stated commitment to protect civilians and enable the provision of humanitarian assistance to all Yemeni people. In that regard, I have already expressed my deepest thanks to His Majesty King Salman for his very generous $274 million, which was requested by the United Nations.

I hope this phase will lead to an end to all fighting in Yemen. In fact, this morning when I read that report that fighting was resumed, I was very concerned about that. I sincerely hope that there will be an end of fighting as soon as possible.

As for as your second question, I have been in consultation with Security Council members and GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries about my proposed appointment replacing Mr. Jamal Benomar, and I am waiting for the positive responses from the parties concerned. Then I am ready to provide such diplomatic facilities by which we can resolve this issue through dialogue. Thank you.

Q: My question is regarding intolerance, and the question of xenophobia. We saw your statement condemning the xenophobic attacks in South Africa. What was your personal reaction, Sir, and what would you like to see from the people and the Government of South Africa moving forward, so that these xenophobic attacks do not repeat themselves?

SG: We really heard this morning many esteemed faith leaders of the world, representing all different religions. One key word which they all spoke was about reconciliation and tolerance. Of course, I have also taken note that we should go beyond tolerance. I agree that going beyond tolerance to mutual acceptance and acceptance, I think this is a good point which the United Nations will really take note on this matter.

As far as xenophobia is concerned, hate crimes against foreigners and communities that are poor, marginalized and vulnerable are morally wrong and unacceptable. I am extremely concerned about reports of xenophobia in South Africa. There is a direct line between prejudice and extremism, and violent acts like this only destroy the fabric of society and the solidarity and unity of the society. Therefore we are against any prejudice based on ethnicity or religion. These stoke hatred and division of the society. I know that the South African Government is responding to the situation, but more needs to be done to provide adequate protection to everyone who is affected by this situation, especially migrants and asylum seekers and also refugees. Justice is critical. We need to show very warm hands and hearts to the many people who need our support. Thank you.

Q: Secretary-General, you made a passionate appeal to these religious leaders to speak up against intolerance and extremism. Have they promised to do so, and will you send these people to the areas where extremism and intolerance exists?

SG: I am very much encouraged. I am grateful to our very respected world’s faith leaders. That is why we have invited them. We are very much grateful, and they have spoken out against any religious misinterpretations.

The greatest crime against religion, I was told by Rabbi Schneir, if I remember correctly, is the crime of using wrongly these religions. In the name of religion, one should not commit any such crimes. This is the greatest crime against religion. I am sure that our respected religious leaders will teach their followers the correct meaning of reconciliation and what is the correct meaning of religion.

When your belief is important, then you should know that others’ belief is equally as important. After all, we are coming from different continents, different ethnic groups and you believe in different religions, but I believe that in the end, we are believing in some higher good for humanity.

Q: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Tomorrow, in Europe, there is a very, very important meeting on the situation in the Mediterranean with the human trafficking. Today the Prime Minister of Italy wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times, and he suggested that one of the solutions should be to actually bomb, attack the vessels of those human traffickers. You talked with the Prime Minister yesterday. What is your idea of a solution for this human rights huge problem?

SG: As you know, yesterday I have spoken with Prime Minister [Matteo] Renzi of Italy, and while I expressed my sincere sympathy and solidarity, at the same time I have expressed my strong concern. The death and suffering we see on the Mediterranean can only shock our collective conscience. The Mediterranean has become a sea of misery for thousands and thousands of migrants, who are a very weak and vulnerable group of people. The number of people who are dying is really shocking.

The humanitarian tragedy highlights yet again the need to address the plight of these migrants. I am glad that the leaders of the European Union are going to have an extraordinary summit meeting tomorrow, after their Foreign Ministers have met.

I am going to discuss this matter on Monday when I go to Rome. We have agreed that we have a meeting with Prime Minister Renzi, and on the occasion of my meeting, audience, with His Holiness the Pope [Francis] on Tuesday, I will discuss also with His Holiness the Pope how he and other European leaders and the United Nations can work together to address this very serious humanitarian and human rights issue. Thank you.

STATEMENT ATTRIBUTABLE TO THE SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL ON XENOPHOBIC VIOLENCE IN SOUTH AFRICA

New York, 22 April 2015
The Secretary- General condemns the wave of xenophobic violence in South Africa that has resulted in the deaths of at least seven people in the past few weeks. He expresses his condolences to the families of the victims.

The Secretary-General notes the actions and statements of the President of South Africa and the Government to address the violence. He welcomes the public expressions of the many South Africans who have been calling for peaceful coexistence and harmony with foreign nationals. He urges that all efforts are made to avert future attacks, including any incitement leading thereto, and encourages peaceful solutions.

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL’S MESSAGE ON WORLD MALARIA DAY 25 April 2015

22 April 2015
Last year, the World Health Organization reported that the rate at which people are dying from malaria has fallen by almost half since the beginning of this century.

One reason for this substantial improvement is the increased availability of insecticide-treated bed nets. In 2013 – the most recent year for which we have statistics – almost half of all people at risk of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa had access to an insecticide-treated net, up from just 3 per cent in 2004.

It is also because of massively improved access to accurate malaria diagnostics and effective treatment. In 2013, the number of rapid diagnostic tests procured globally increased to 319 million, up from 46 million in 2008. The same year, 392 million courses of artemisinin-based combination therapies – a key intervention to treat malaria – were procured, up from 11 million in 2005.

As a result, fewer people are becoming infected with malaria, and more people are getting the medicines they need. This tremendous achievement is clear proof that we can win the global fight against malaria. We have the tools and the know-how. But, we still need to invest in getting these tools to a lot more people if we are to further reduce the number of people becoming ill with malaria, and further cut the number of people who die each year.

We urgently need to get insecticide-treated nets to all people at risk in sub-Saharan Africa – not just half of them. We must address the recent decline in indoor residual spraying, another key intervention for reducing new infections. And we have to do more to for the millions of people who cannot get tested and treated for malaria. We must also move more decisively to tackle insecticide and drug resistance.

This means investing more in tried and tested approaches to malaria prevention and treatment, strengthening health systems in the world’s poorest countries, and intensifying efforts to develop new tools and approaches.

On World Malaria Day 2015, I call on the international community to “invest in the future: defeat malaria”. We have a real opportunity to defeat this terrible disease. Let’s not waste it.

STATEMENT ATTRIBUTABLE TO THE SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL ON THE KILLING OF ETHIOPIANS IN LIBYA

New York, 20 April 2015
The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest terms the barbaric killing of a number of Ethiopian nationals by individuals affiliated with Daesh in Libya. He utterly deplores the targeting of people on the basis of their religious affiliation. The Secretary-General expresses his condolences to the families of those who lost their lives as a result of this act and to the Government of Ethiopia.

The Secretary-General reaffirms that the ongoing UN-facilitated dialogue is the best chance for Libyans to overcome the crisis in their country. He encourages the parties to make the necessary compromises to reach an agreement. Only by working together will Libyans be able to start building a state and institutions that can confront terrorism.

STATEMENT ATTRIBUTABLE TO THE SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL ON RECENT KILLINGS IN KIEV

17 April 2015
The Secretary-General is seriously concerned by reports of recent killings of prominent figures in Ukraine, including the reported gunning down of Oleg Kalashnikov and Oles Buzyna.

The Secretary-General takes note of President Poroshenko’s call for a swift investigation into both killings, and urges that all other such crimes be urgently investigated. This will be critical in order to ensure the rule of law and the need to bring the perpetrators to justice.

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL’S MESSAGE ON INTERNATIONAL MOTHER EARTH DAY

22 April 2015
The word ‘mother’ holds great power. It evokes memories of the women who gave us life, nurtured us as infants and helped mould us into who we are today. The Earth is the ultimate mother – an astounding planet that has, since time immemorial, supported life in myriad forms. As humans, we outgrow the need for constant maternal care. But we can never outgrow our reliance on Mother Earth. As long as we live, we need air, water, fertile soil and the countless other gifts this planet bestows.

This dependence makes it all the more astonishing that we have allowed rapid and often unwise human development to disrupt so many of the delicate systems that have functioned harmoniously for millennia. We are increasingly aware of the damage our species has wrought – the pollution, the dwindling resources, the species of flora and fauna forever gone, the rush towards tipping points that may alter the way our planet functions. Even with this knowledge, we have yet to change our ways.

But we can change, and 2015 brings a critical opportunity to do just that. This year, the world aims to finalize the post-2015 sustainable development agenda and reach a new and meaningful universal climate change agreement. These processes have the potential to redefine our future for the better, by eradicating extreme poverty in all its forms and resetting our relationship with this planet and every living being it sustains.

But the big decisions that lie ahead are not just for world leaders and policy-makers. Today, on Mother Earth Day, I ask each one of us to be mindful of the impacts our choices have on this planet, and what those impacts will mean for future generations. Not everyone is able to make sustainable choices, but for those who can, simple decisions such as switching to energy-efficient lighting or buying only what you will consume – when accumulated across billions of people – can transform our world. The power to change begins with you.

As a global community, we have the opportunity to make 2015 a turning point in human history. This can be the year our children and grandchildren will remember as when we chose to build a sustainable and resilient future – both for Mother Earth and all those that development has until now left behind. Let us seize this historic opportunity together.

SECURITY COUNCIL PRESS STATEMENT ON YARMOUK REFUGEE CAMP

20 April 2015
The Members of the Security Council expressed their deep concern regarding the grave humanitarian situation in Yarmouk Refugee Camp in Syria.

The Members of the Security Council called for unhindered humanitarian access to the Yarmouk Camp and for the protection of civilians inside the Camp. They welcomed UNRWA’s and Deputy Special Envoy recent efforts in Syria and stressed the need to support the emergency relief effort for civilians in Yarmouk including through funding the 30 Million USD emergency appeal and to provide the diplomatic and political support for UNRWA.

The Members of the Security Council underscored support for UN efforts to assist trapped Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk through a three-point plan that includes 1) Providing assistance for civilians who are unwilling or unable to leave Yarmouk 2) Assisting those who want to “temporarily relocate” from the camp to do so in accordance with IHL and with appropriate safeguards that they will be allowed to do so safely and freely 3) Assisting Yarmouk residents who have already fled.

The Members of the Security Council called on all parties to support the UN framework and to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law, international human rights and refugees laws, and demanded that all parties cease all attacks against civilians, including shelling and aerial bombardment.

The Members of the Security Council condemned all acts of terrorism perpetrated and demanded that ISIL and Al-Nusra Front, UNSC-designated terrorist organizations, withdraw from Yarmouk Camp immediately.

The Members of the Security Council called on all parties to immediately implement the relevant Security Council resolutions including Security Council resolutions 2139, 2165 and 2191 and in line with the international humanitarian law.

The Members of the Security Council stressed that the Council has to remain seized on this matter.