United Nations Secretary General speaks at celebration of UN’s 70th anniversary

Two thousand people congregated at the Central Hall Westminster, in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, to listen to Mr Ban Ki-moon, the twice elected Secretary-General of the United Nations. The Student was privy to this event.

In a speech which onlookers called “powerful and emotional”, Ban Ki-Moon claimed that he was deeply committed to the promotion of sustainable development, the empowerment of women; the support of countries facing crisis and instability, disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation and the strengthening of the UN.

Amongst a predominantly young audience, Ban Ki-Moon claimed that these goals were more important now than ever, in what he called a time of great unrest and fear: “the world is being tested.

People worry about the next extreme storm, terrorist attacks, financial shock or outbreak of deadly diseases’. In light of this, he said: ‘the distinction between national and international benefits and interests are falling away”

The United Nations Secretary-General also said he was “proud” of the 2030 Development Agenda and the Paris Agreement. The Agenda took into consideration the contributions of eight million people, who indicated what kind of world they wanted. “It was the way we really wanted to make inclusive dialogue for sustainable development.

“The Paris Agreement is a good turning point to change our way of thinking, to change our whole behaviour, to change our cause towards living harmoniously with the nature,” he continued.

The United Nations has been met with criticism for unmet expectations, and some have questioned its effectiveness. Ki-Moon said in response to these issues: “We face great challenges, that’s true, but our capacity to solve them is even greater, we have unlimited capacity if we are united.

“Each time world leaders committed: never again, never again. But this continually has been muted. That’s why I’m asking the member states of the United Nations to invest more on prevention rather than countering.” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, stating that the resolution of these conflicts must come from “political dialogue,” rather than from military actions.

The Secretary General claimed his time at the UN has also been committed to the empowerment of women: “I have appointed how many, maybe 50, 60. […] Next time you come to my conference room you will see almost a half of women Senior Advisors sitting around me, around the table.”

Reflecting on his years as Secretary-General and his legacy, he spoke of his intention to ensure a better future for his grandchildren, and too spoke of his regrets, expressing his wish to understand what had been done wrong in the past in order to avoid making the same mistakes in the future.

Image credit: World Bank Photo Collection

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