world news. our top story. yemen remains in the grip of the worst humanitarian crisis on the planet. 2 million children are severely malnourished as the country suffers from the fastest growing cholera epidemic on record. 600,000 people have been infected and 2500 have died. the us president donald trump has been speaking about the united nations, saying it needs to reform. his comments come as he is set to address world leaders at the general assembly for the first time today. prosecutors in switzerland are investigating why tens of thousands of euros have been flushed down toilets in geneva. 500 euros notes have been cut up with scissors and stuff down the toilet in that their ubs toilets. and nearby restau ra nts. more to come. stay with us. it has just it hasjust gone it has just gone on 1230. more from me later but first, here is
hardtalk. welcome to hardtalk. i am zeinab badawi. this is the un general assembly in new york. world leaders gather here to debate the pressing issues of today. my guess is antonio guterres, the secretary general, presiding over his first un general assembly since he took over the post injanuary. he says his big theme is how to prevent crises from escalating. but with tensions, conflict, and suffering ongoing all over the world, does the un have the moral authority and the clout to do what is necessary? antonio guterres, welcome to hardtalk.
it's a pleasure to be here. when it comes to suffering conflicts and crises, you say prevention is better than a cure. we all know that. but is the un the right body to take the lead on that? we need to be. i mean, we spend 70% of our budget on peacekeeping. and as you know, in most situations there is no peace to keep, as you know. peacekeepers are almost becoming parties to the conflict to protect civilians in desperate situations. we need to be able to invest much more in prevention. i think we can see prevention on two aspects. one is general prevention, sustainable development is prevention of conflict, respect for human rights is prevention conflict, good governance, fighting corruption is prevention of conflict. investment in social harmony in multi—ethnic, multicultural, societies is prevention of conflict. but then we have the need to do specific prevention of conflict in specific situations where there is a risk of conflict,
and that is where we need to boost our capacity. if you allow me, ijust created a high—level advisory board on mediation with nine men and nine women, ex—heads of state and government, people with a lot of experience, to be able help us address situations in which if we act in time to prevent conflict. it also needs you, the secretary general of the un, to speak out and challenge governments. this is what a former un official said of you. his style is to make general statements on the issue but not to directly challenge government on their actions. it raises concerns on what he would be like as secretary general of the un. this was said of you after ten years as un head of the high commission for refugees until 2015. many things can be avoided with diplomacy.
just to give you a few examples. many people in the last few months have been released because i called heads of state and got them released without going to the press. if i speak out, it would look good to the public, but they would remain in jail. we need to be able to understand when to do things with diplomacy and went to speak out. you do things behind the scenes? we have a human rights high commissioner at which i support to deal with human rights violations. my role is first to be clear in relation to principles and protection of human rights in all circumstances. and then to speak up myself when you have dramatic situations that need to be addressed like myanmar. that is an area where i became extremely active because at the moment no more diplomacy was working and we needed to be clear in relation to denouncing the situation which is a dramatic violation of human rights. a dramatic violation of human rights, is that how you describe the military treatment
of the rohingya muslim minority in myanmar and the treatment they have had at the hands of the buddhist militants, the attacks, hundreds dead, around half a million have fled, how do you describe that? it is much worse than a violation of human rights. how do you describe it? first, it is unacceptable. second, when i was asked by one of your colleagues if this was ethnic cleansing, i said if an ethnic group flee the country because of this persecution, can we have a better word? i say we can only avoid this with two conditions... can i ask you... to clarify, is it ethnic cleansing? could you say the words? let me just say, the two things necessary for these not to become ethnic cleansing is to stop
immediately the military operations leading to it and second to recognise the right of return of people, for people to be able to come back and rebuild their lives in myanmar instead of being definitely exposed. so the exodus is reversible in your view? it must be, because if not, it is ethnic cleansing, clearly. is it? you spoke to the civilian leader of myanmar, aung san suu kyi, about ten days ago or so, what did you say to her? did you say to her "this is unacceptable? " i think what we have been able to do with aung san suu kyi was, at a certain moment, to come to an understanding of this problem, the problem of the rohingyas in myanmar, called muslims by the government that doesn't accept the designation, it should be solved. we came to an agreement on what needs to be done. unfortunately, now, with the situation being much more difficult, what needs to be done is to recognise these people have rights, to allow, even if the nationality of myanmar is not perfect, to allow them to receive the nationality according to their law, to receive it, and to allow all others to receive
a legal status aiming at freedom of movement, possibility of access to labour markets, and, at the same time, to education and to health, to allow them to have a normal life. and what did she say to you? the problem is that the impact that was necessary on the ground to make this happen never occurred. unfortunately, this was compounded by the terrible reaction after the attack by these military groups on several installations. there was violent repression, notjust by the army, as you mentioned, but by these radical groups. but... that has now created a situation that goes beyond the recognition of those human rights to, as i said, stop military operations, open the ground for humanitarian assistance, and allow the people
to recognise the right to go back. but when you have your own human rights raconteur in myanmar saying of aung san suu kyi, we need to delete the memories of this imprisoned democratic icon of human rights. we have seen her criticised by desmond tutu, malalla yousafzai, condemning herfor silence, are you not condemning her as well for myanmar? we are saying clearly that this vicious circle needs to be reversed, military operations must stop, human rights must be recognised and human aid be distributed, people be allowed to come back. this is what i have been telling her. i have to say it is clear for me that we have two dimensions. 0ne dimension is that this is not a perfect democracy. this is a situation where the military still has the upper hand...
so, you're blaming the military, not aung san suu kyi? it's a complex situation. could you clarify. who is responsible? it is a complex situation. it is clear to me there is pressure from the military side to do what is being done on the ground. of course, i would expect that the leader of the country would be able to contain it and be able to reverse the situation. she has a last chance, in my opinion, to do so, because she will be addressing the country. she has a chance... and i hope it corresponds exactly to the beginning of our high level session in the general assembly. she will have a chance to reverse the situation. if she does not reverse the situation now, then i think the tragedy will be absolutely horrible and unfortunately i... ..i don't see it can be reversed in the future. you do not see how it can be
reversed in the future? i think it can be reversed, she has an opportunity next tuesday... but can shee to the military to stop what is going on the ground? you are blaming the military, not her. i think everyone needs to help. i think all forms of pressure are necessary at the current moment to make sure the carnage stops. we are not discussing... should she not have come to the un? we are not discussing aspects related to whatever rhetoric or what we feel or not about aung san suu kyi... she is the civilian leader of the country! we need to stop this. it is obvious that we need the military to stop operations and the political power to have the capacity to do so. let's look at north korea, another big problem for the international community.
and there is no unity in the security council when it comes to north korea. you've got china and russia, russia is saying of the united states's position that aggressive rhetoric is the only thing coming from the us. china is saying similar things. there is no unity there yet again to try and stop north korea from carrying out yet another nuclear missile test. it has carried out more than 20 this year. we all know there are very deep divisions in the un security council. it has been shown in a few instances, syria attracting more attention. i have to say in the case of north korea, the security council independently, was able to adopt in the last few weeks two strong resolutions. probably they will not be enough. we have to move further probably.
but i think it is correct in sanctioning north korea not only to put pressure on north korea, that is absolutely essential, what they are doing is in violation of international law and totally unacceptable from the point of view of the international community, not only that, but to create opportunity for diplomatic engagement to be the worst thing that can happen in relation to the north korea situation is to move in a kind of escalation, and all of a sudden we are all sleep—walking in the war. so, sleep—walking into war, do you think that could happen? i think that can happen. i think we need to avoid it. i think we need to appeal to the unity of the security council and use that also to have diplomatic engagement in order to be able to put a stop to what is happening, to make north korea accept that the objective of denuclearisation of the korean peninsula is absolutely essential for peace and stability in the region. donald trump, when he says all options are on the table, when he says the sanctions we have seen imposed in the past few days on north korea are nothing compared
to what ultimately has to happen, will that rhetoric lead to the us sleep—walking into military action? i think we have heard many rhetoric aspects from different areas. you have already mentioned several. we have to move beyond that to the united action necessary to both make north korea understand this cannot go on, and second, create a viable diplomatic engagement. "rhetorical aspects." donald trump is just rhetoric? you just said you could sleep—walk into conflict. i have seen political leaders making threats. this happens everywhere, every time. are they empty threats, though, that he is making? they are not empty. but they need to be used to create an opportunity for diplomatic engagement. what, scare north korea to the negotiating table? is that a tactic? pressure is necessary over north korea for them to negotiate, but at the same time, we need to be committed for that negotiation to take place.
the democratic senator who sits on the foreign relations committee has said donald trump lacks a strategy on north korea along with the international community. he says of the sanctions imposed, they are nice, but are not having the desired impact. 0nly days after they are imposed, we see north korea firing this powerful nuclear test across japan. that proves there is no coherent strategy. that proves we need to be aggressive on this. the dialogue may be different. but it also proves the unity of the security council is necessary also to create conditions for diplomatic engagement. without diplomatic... how do they do that? without that engagement
we cannot do it. every un general wants to bring north korea to the table to talk. the question is how. my role is to convince all parties that is necessary. i have even said more, i am ready to do my part if all parties agree that that is useful. do you have a plan in your pocket to get this coherent strategy? surely you should. the — i cannot have a plan that requires the political will of the main actors in each situation. i think what i can say is what i believe is necessary and more — i'm ready to play my part is the parties will consider that that is useful. so you're just offering your services, but you haven't got... more than that. i've been contact with all the parties, i've been expressing my deep belief that the nuclearisation of the north —— denuclearisation of the north
of the korean peninsula is necessary, but for that to be possible, we need the security council to act together, and we need that to be used for a diplomatic engagement. it is a difficult time for you to become secretary general. it could be easier. you have all these conflicts that we have been talking about. but also the trump administration does not appear to be a big supporter of the united nations. the us secretary of state, rex tillerson has said, at the general assembly, this week, that the united states is going to have "a toe print, not a footprint," that the us delegation‘s going to be drastically reduced. that could suggest the us is disengaging from the un. well, first of all, we need to engage constructively with the us administration by doing it, and i think we have got a long way. if you look at what has happened in the congress, in relation to the budget of the state department, you see a lot of progress has been reached. president trump... you are referring there to the fact that... president trump... can i just say you're referring there to the fact that donald trump said he wanted to cut the un budget, including the state department's un budget — general aid budget.
and we are seeing important progress in the budget process in relation to the... the process of trying to... but more than that. president trump has decided to come and to do, in the general assembly, as a side event — a side event to support the reforms that i am proposing the united nations — reforms in relation to the management, in relation to the peace and security aspects, in relation to gender parity, in relation to the united nations development system. which means that i see a growing interest of the united states and of this administration with a very... but he still wants the cuts, though, doesn't he? he still wants to make cuts. i mean, the us ambassador to the united nations, nikki haley, tweeted a couple of months ago "just five months into our time, we've cut more than half a billion dollars to the un peacekeeping budget, and we're only getting started". just a moment. the un peacekeeping is being seriously looked at by us. we had the possibility to close two peacekeeping operations —
in liberia and cote d'ivoire. this is the right thing to do. peacekeepers should not be forever in a country. their aim is to end the mission when the problem is solved. we are looking into darfur, and we think that in darfur, the situation has improved, and itjustifies a reduction of our contigent there. at the same time, it is my intention to reduce all unnecessary expenditures. just to give you an example... so you agree with the us. you agree with the us. just a moment. i gave instructions to the team that is working on that to reduce by 15% our assets expenditure, by using our assets, by different missions. so there are lots of different things we can do. now... can ijust ask you, then... what is important for me is to make sure that when the reforming the un, when making the un more effective and more cost—effective, this also has an impact in the united states public, in the united states congress, in the united states administration, making them recognise the importance of supporting the un and, if i may say, the importance
of the us engagement in today's world. because it is my deep belief that the disengagement of the us in international relations is not only bad for the world but the united states. do you see that happening? i hope that that will happen. imean... no, i mean do you see disengagement happening? independently now of whether what we — whether we agree or not with this or that movement — i see, for instance, more engagement with afghanistan than we could have seen a few months ago. and it's my belief that it will be very important for the americans to recognise that if they do not engage in situations around the world, the void that it is created will be occupied by others. which others? and the us will pay the price. which others? well, it depends on the situation. in some aspects it could be china, it could be russia, or saudi arabia, or it can be turkey, or it can be... is that necessarily a bad thing? ..whoever, depending on the region where it things happen. is that necessarily a bad thing?
some people might welcome that — a world that is not so unipolar. no, it's not unipolar, it's multipolar. we are, now, already in a multipolar world. and the question is now whether or not the united states want to play their role in a multipolar world. because of course, if they retreat, others will occupy that space. and that, in my opinion, will not be favourable for the united states. have you so that you president trump, "we don't want to see the united states retreat..."? i have said that clearly — publicly. what did he say to you? i have said that publicly and to all... what did he say to you, though? sorry, i have said that publicly, and i have said to all — to several members of the us administration. i have not yet had the opportunity to say it like that to president trump. i believe i will have it soon. apart from a bloated bureaucracy that people talk about in the united nations, another aspect of united nations which has attracted a lot of criticism is the fact
that it is very difficult to penetrate its culture — it's got this culture of secrecy. i'll tell you what lord mark malloch—brown, former deputy kofi annan, when he was secretary general to the united nations, he said "the truth is, while there are people at the united nations who just want to get by, there are many others who have a personal, stated commitment to make a real difference. "the two live in permanent tension with one another." you have to make sure that it's the activists that have the upper hand. but you have a big task ahead of you in that, haven't you? it's true, but that's what we are trying to do. we need to wean off of bureaucracy, and we need to make sure that the un becomes more accountable and more transparent. and that is at the centre of the reforms that i'm proposing. full transparency of what we do, and full accountability — results—based accountability. really? full accountability? because i want to give you an example. a swedish diplomat, anders kompass, who was part of united nations human rights commission. in 2015, he was suspended from it, because he leaked a confidential document which alleged that they were un peacekeepers in the central african republic, who were carrying out sexual abuse against children.
he was later exonerated, but he said that the un "rarely holds employees to account for unethical actions, particularly those in positions of power. "the un's accountability system is broken — it simply does not work." if you will look attentively, you will see i have introduced reform increasing substantially the protection of whistle—blowers — those that denounce the wrongdoings within the un, inside the organisation — to be effectively protected, not to be victims of retaliation. that was done immediately as i arrived injanuary. then i put a working group on that to have state—of—the—art whistle—blower protection in the un. and i am very happy that we have it. but what about allegations like sexual abuse by peacekeepers — alleged — peacekeepers in a couple of — a few countries around the world. you know, there's concern that there's a lack of democratic accountability, that they just get off scot—free. that is exactly what we are trying to do. we have introduced a new sex exploitation and abuse strategy, i have appointed a victims' advocate, globally. we have four victims' advocates already in the four countries that are more dramatic in relation
to these situations in the recent past. we are convening a council of leadership with heads of state of governments, and we will have about 30 heads of state and government that have accepted to be champions in their countries to ensure that in their countries the prosecution and condemnation — if they are guilty, of course — the prosecution of people accused of serious wrongdoing or sexual abuse is taken care. we are, at the same time, negotiating compacts with countries, to make sure that countries assume their responsibilities, and we are improving our own investigation mechanisms. peacekeepers do a fantastic job in the world. sure. lots of people are rescued. lots of lives are saved. lots of civilians in dramatic situations are protected by peacekeepers. and so we need to preserve the reputation of peacekeeping, and the only way that we can preserve the reputation of peacekeeping is to make sure that those who abuse, those that have their wrongdoings, those that violate the basic human rights of people, especially in relation to sexual exploitation abuse, are properly protected, properly prosecuted, and condemned. you said, when you were appointed,
that "i feel the acute responsibility to make human dignity the core of my work, and, i trust, the core of our common work." all secretary generals have to try to achieve a tricky balance — try to effect change, try to bring that about either through quiet diplomacy, or naming and shaming. i'm trying to get a feel for what kind of secretary general you're going to be. are you going to be someone who is very outspoken and say "i condemn these actions because they are causing suffering," because you say you want to restore humanity dignity? i want to stop suffering. in many circumstances, the best way to stop suffering is through diplomacy. in other circumstances, the best way to stop suffering is to make coalitions that are necessary to address the problem and solve it. in some situations, when all this failed, the way to at least try to solve the problem is to denounce it. i will do these three things altogether and i will be
using the different instruments of united nations to do it. secretary general antonio gutteres, thank you very a much indeed for coming on hardtalk. it was a pleasure. hello there. with a ridge of high pressure building in for tuesday, it looks like today could be the better day of the week for most of us. a chilly start where skies cleared overnight. the temperature in the low single figures in some rural spots. this is the ridge of high pressure. this system will make inroads for wednesday. meanwhile, this is the weather front which brought the rain last night. there could be a few showers across the south—east as that weather
front continues to clear. essentially, a dry fine start, a chilly start and there will be some mist and fog around. some dense in places, central southern areas across the midlands into cheshire. eventually that will lift during the morning and potentially into some low cloud before breaking up. you can see plenty of sunshine on the map there for northern england into scotland. for northern ireland, however, clouds will thicken up, particularly across the west but there could be early brightness across belfast. the cloud is thickening here because of the weather front making inroads off the atlantic. elsewhere you will see a little cloud bubbling up through the day. it could be an isolated shower but most places will be dry. light wind as well, despite the chilly start it should get pleasantly warm into the afternoon. high teens across southern and eastern areas. still some strength in the sunshine. towards wednesday, the weather front makes inroads off the atlantic. we lose our ridge of high pressure. but it will be bringing air from the south, south—west.
that is always a mild directions, so temperatures will be on the rise. in fact, the eastern half of the country does not look too bad. through the day we will hold onto sunny spells and will feel quite warm. further west it goes downhill, windy with outbreaks of rain, quite heavy in parts of western scotland and northern ireland. 18 or 19 degrees again across the east and the south—east. on thursday it looks even wetter. this weather front has some heavy rain on it, particularly for the south—west of england scotland. could be concerned about rainfall amounts building up there by the time thursday is out. the south—east expecting similar sunshine and it will stay warm. let's zoom out and head across the atlantic in towards the caribbean because, of course, the next major hurricane in making inroads in towards the leeward
islands. hurricane maria is a category four force storm, ploughing through some of the islands as it works its way west north—west. could be some heavy flooding and coastal surge. this is newsday on the bbc. i'm rico hizon in singapore. our top stories. 2 million malnourished children in a rapidly growing cholera epidemic. a special report from inside yemen where the world's worst humanitarian disaster continues. i want to educate her and sent her to school, but she won't survive. president trump says organisations failing to fulfil their potential need urgent reform. we must ensure