Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday called on authorities in Turkmenistan to focus on the promotion of human rights, and expressed the readiness of the United Nations to engage with the Central Asian nation on this critical issue.
Mr. Ban discussed human rights and other global and regional issues with the President of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, in the capital, Ashgabat, the first stop on a five-nation tour that will also take the UN chief to Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan
I called on the Government to fulfil all obligations under international human rights law and the many treaties to which it is a signatory, " the Secretary-General said during a joint press conference with the President.
And I emphasized the UN`s readiness to engage with the Government on mutual human rights concerns, " he added.
Mr. Ban said he was encouraged " by the open discussion concerning the recommendations put forward in December 2008 during the UN Human Rights Council`s Universal Periodic Review " a process which involves a review of the records of all 192 UN Member States once every four years.
He urged the Government to fully implement those recommendations, including provisions relating to the penitentiary system and the Convention against Torture.
I was assured that the Turkmen Government was going to ratify or enact all the necessary measures as a part of implementing the recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review, such as the Convention against Torture, " Mr. Ban later told reporters after a visit to the National Institute of Democracy and Human Rights.
He added that he has encouraged the Government to issue a standing invitation to the UN Special Rapporteur on education to visit the country. I was again given a very positive response that they will consider this invitation to the Special Rapporteur, " he stated.
Among the other issues discussed by Mr. Ban and the President was the growing cooperation between the UN and Turkmenistan, as well as the country`s contributions with regard to Afghanistan, including its humanitarian assistance.
They also discussed the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy in Central Asia (UNRCCA), set up in Ashgabat in 2007, which they agreed is an important forum for dialogue and regional engagement on a range of shared problems such as water and energy issues, economic and social development, drug trafficking and terrorism.
The Centre, headed by Miroslav Jenca, works to help the five governments in the region to increase their capacities to peacefully prevent conflict, facilitate dialogue and respond to cross-border threats and challenges.
The challenges we face today are too complex and interlinked for any country or even any one organization to go at it alone, " Mr. Ban said at a news conference at the Centre. We must continue to develop the means for collaboration, coordination, and partnership. "
He added that the Centre not only represents an important partnership between the UN and the region, but also constitutes an impressive commitment by each country to the search, through dialogue, for common approaches to shared challenges. "
In addition to meeting with Mr. Jenca, the Secretary-General also held discussions today with the UN Country Team and staff members working in Turkmenistan.
The next stop on Mr. Ban`s first official visit to Central Asia since becoming Secretary-General will be Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, where he will address the country`s Parliament and meet President Kurmanbek Bakiev and Foreign Minister Kadyrbek Sarbaev.