Ban and Obama Talk Syria and Climate in Goodbyes to UN

NEW YORK, NY, United States

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke to the United Nations General Assembly on September 21st, and took the opportunity of his farewell address to urge world leaders to end the war in Syria and bring 2015’s Paris climate accord into force this year.

The outgoing Secretary-General, who will step down at the end of 2016 after 10 years in the position, also called for an end to the “madness” of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Ban’s address came in the immediate aftermath of the widely-condemned bombing of a UN aid convoy to the beleagured Syrian city of Aleppo, which continues to suffer extreme hardship related to the continuing violence. US government sources have blamed Russia for complicity in the attack.

Barack Obama, in his final address to the General Assembly as US president, insisted that diplomacy was the only way to end the Syria conflict.

“There’s no ultimate military victory to be won, we’re going to have to pursue the hard work of the diplomacy that aims to stop the violence and deliver aid to those in need,” said Obama.

Obama is reported to regard action to combat the effects of climate change on the planet to be the most consequential legacy of his two-term presidency, saying earlier this month that “if…trendlines continue…it is certainly going to be enormously disruptive. Imagine, for example, monsoon patterns shifting in South Asia…if you have even a portion of a billion people displaced…you have the source of refugee crises and potential conflicts that we haven’t seen in our lifetimes. You’re looking at a much more dangerous world and severe strains on nation states, on communities, on economies.”

The COP21 Paris climate accord has been described as one of the major achievements of Ban’s tenure at the UN.

"We have no time to lose," Ban told the gathering this week. "I urge you to bring the Paris Agreement into force this year."

In a reference to a less-happy episode, Ban said that the UN will put forward a package of assistance for cholera victims and help Haiti build sound water, sanitation and healthy systems. Infected UN disaster personnel, and subsequent obfuscation, has been blamed for a cholera epidemic in Haiti in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake.

The UN has said that 30 states will submit their ratifications of COP21 at the General Assembly this week including Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Bangladesh, Singapore, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates.

COP22 will convene in Marrakesh, Morocco, in November 2016. Moroccan officials have confirmed that one day of the event will be dedicated to water. The “water day” is intended to bring attention to the role of water in climate adaptation and mitigation.

A number of official and unofficial events are being planned for Marrakesh to draw support from the public and negotiators for recognizing and assuring that water will be treated in a more systematic way for both policy and the implementation of climate mitigation and adaptation.

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