28 August 2009

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Remarks on the Thirtieth Anniversary of the Vienna International Centre

Vienna, 28 August 2009

Your Excellency President Fischer,
Your Honourable Madam President of the Parliament, Ms. Prammer,
Your Excellency Foreign Minister Spindelegger,
Your Honourable Mayor and Governor of Vienna Mr. Häupl,
Distinguished guests,
Dear colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I thank you for Austria's significant contribution to the United Nations, and for being such a generous host country!

Ich danke Ihnen für Österreichs wichtigen Beitrag zur Arbeit der Vereinten Nationen und dafür, dass Sie ein so großzügiges Gastland sind!

Thank you everybody for coming here today.

The organizers have done a wonderful job. I especially liked the song by "My Excellence" promoting the United Nations and my own campaign "Seal the Deal" on climate change. I thank you and congratulations for an excellent performance and for using this campaign "Seal the Deal".

This celebration would not have been possible without the generous and committed contribution of the Austrian Government. I thank His Excellency President Fischer, the Foreign Minister and many distinguished leaders of the Austrian Government yet again for this very generous contribution and your commitment and your leadership. You have shown an enduring and admirable support for the United Nations and our work.

Thirty years ago, the Government of Austria and the City of Vienna donated this important complex to the United Nations, asking us for only one symbolic shilling at that time.

Now I am told that Austria does not even send an invoice because, I believe, it would cost more in postage! Thank you very much again.

The creation of this complex was an enormous investment in the United Nations ... an investment in multilateralism... and an investment for the common future of our humanity.

Austria and Vienna have gone further still by regularly improving these facilities.

Just last year, I had the privilege of inaugurating the state-of-the-art M Building in which we are gathered this morning. This structure is a model of environmental sustainability. It is helping us to usher in a greener, cleaner United Nations. It is enabling us to lead by example.

The M building also shows how the Vienna International Centre is keeping pace with the times.

But then again, this building was always ahead of its time.

It was designed so that offices for just about everyone have the same amount of privacy.

It was flooded with natural light.

And its elliptical shape broke new architectural ground.

These walls have witnessed much history over the years.

Massive transformations in the geopolitical map.

Great advances in the work of the United Nations.

And a continuous evolution of the United Nations activities in Vienna to meet new challenges as they emerge.

When this Centre opened its doors in 1979, it was a bridge between East and West during the Cold War.

Now, it is a twenty-first century hub for addressing human security issues at the heart of a united Europe.

Negotiators have hammered out some of the world's most important agreements here.

The Vienna Declaration on Human Rights, for example, paved the way for the creation of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer safeguards human health and the environment.

The Vienna Declaration on Space and Human Development puts space applications in the service of human welfare.

Delegates from around the world continue to gather here for major meetings on drugs, human trafficking and building trust in government.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, is a world leader on energy security and efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, CTBTO, is spearheading efforts to stop nuclear weapons testing. Personally I feel very proud to have served as the Chairman of the CTBTO when I was working in Vienna.

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization, UNIDO, helps countries to compete in global markets.

And the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, is battling some of the world's greatest perils, from terrorism to corruption and human trafficking.

From outer space to the human heart, this Vienna International Centre has done far more than witness history; it has brought great progress to our world.

And it continues to be an integral part of the international response to the grave and gathering crises we face today.

Hunger. Flu. Financial turmoil. Extreme poverty and climate change.

UNIDO is helping industries adopt clean technologies.

The IAEA is helping countries use nuclear technology to boost food production and fight disease.

The UN Commission on International Trade Law, UNCITRAL, is helping to build an open trading system.

The Office for Outer Space Affairs is using satellite information to promote food security.

Every office here, every single member of the UN family in Vienna, is making a major difference in people's lives.

Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

The United Nations came to Austria during the post-War years. In those years, Austria received assistance from the United Nations.

Since then, Austria has regained peace and prosperity. Today it contributes not only these wonderful premises to our Organization but it also provides resources, manpower and, most importantly, ideas.

I could cite many impressive statistics about the thousands of peacekeepers and millions of Euros that Austria provides. Those are all crucially important. But above all, I want to pay tribute to the Austrian spirit of service.

Recently I read a story about a young Austrian woman working as a United Nations volunteer in war-torn Somalia.

One day, attackers fired directly on her car. But she drew strength by thinking about Somalis in need.

As she said, I quote, "I was lucky enough to receive a good education and the support that came with it. Now it's my time, it's our time, to help other people who were not as lucky." Unquote.

This young Austrian volunteer is giving back to the world. Her country, Austria, is supporting the United Nations, and is doing the same.

Dear Friends,

I would also like to say a few words on a personal note.

As you may know ten years ago, I came to this great country as a Korean diplomat, to be more exact to be the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea. I was entranced by the vibrancy of this city. I was impressed by the important work carried out at this Vienna International Centre. And I was fortunate to make many friends and I left many friends and half of my heart in Vienna.

Now, that I am here as Secretary-General of the United Nations, I feel even more attached because the United Nations in Vienna is part of my family.

From here, I will be traveling to the Arctic to spotlight the challenge of climate change. We have about three months until the United Nations Climate Change Conference in December in Copenhagen. Three months to reach an agreement that will determine the future of our planet. We must seal the deal.

The world is looking to the United Nations for solutions to climate change and to other global problems. People in dire need, people suffering from insecurity, repression and disaster, look to us for help. We are a beacon of hope for many millions, even billions, of people. We must live up to meet the expectations of those people.

None of the problems we face at this time can be solved by any single nation, any single people or organization. Never has the imperative of acting together been so self-evident.

That is why I have been speaking, lately, about the need for a renewed multilateralism. A multilateralism that delivers real results for real people. A renewed multilateralism focused on the global common good.

From my first day in office, I have worked to build a stronger United Nations for a better world. As we carry out our work - for justice, human rights, prosperity and peace I will count on the United Nations family in Vienna and the continued support of the Austrian Government and people.

Together, we can make the next thirty years even more productive, more historic and more consequential. That is what the world needs now. That is what we must do, together.

Thank you very much for your support and commitment.

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