8 April 2010

The Secretary-General

Remarks to Foreign Policy and United Nations Association of Austria

Vienna, 8 April 2010

VIENNA, 8 April (UN Information Service) - Thank you very much for your very kind introduction, Dr. Schuessel. And I am very grateful to you for your kind support during my years as Ambassador in Vienna.

Dr. Prammer, President of the National Council

Mr. Foreign Minister Spindelegger

Distinguished Members of the Foreign Policy and United Nations Association of Austria


Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

It is a profound privilege to be standing in this august Parliament Chamber, and before such an informed and distinguished group of Austrian leaders and members of the diplomatic corps.

Your invitation is not only a personal honour, it is a tribute to the United Nations.  I am grateful for such strong support.

I see so many familiar faces from my Ambassadorial days and I am very grateful for your friendship and support that has helped enable me to stand here as the Secretary General of the United Nations today.

I would like to particularly recognize the presence of Mme. Waldheim whose father was one of my distinguished predecessors. I was deeply moved by his last words. As a man who served Austria and the international community for peace and development and human rights, I thought this is something I should keep in my mind. I am very glad that she is here and I wish you all the best - alles Gute.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have just finished a long and fascinating trip through Central Asia.

Travelling is an essential part of my job.  But, it can be gruelling.  So it is always good to come home.

In Vienna I feel at home.

I lived here when I was a diplomat for the Republic of Korea.  My wife and I have many fond memories of our time here.

We came to know Vienna as a city of culture.  But perhaps more important, I came to know it as a city at the heart of some of the great issues of our age.

Some of the world's most important agreements have been negotiated here.

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

The Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer … the most successful example of multilateral cooperation on a global environmental challenge.

Vienna hosts the International Atomic Energy Agency … the acknowledged world leader on nuclear issues.

The UN Office for Outer Space Affairs is here and the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty Organization where I served as Chairman.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime is working to combat terrorism, corruption and human trafficking.

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization is helping countries to reduce poverty … compete in world markets … and create green jobs.

All are essential for fulfilling the promise of the United Nations Charter.

After the Second World War, Austria received United Nations assistance.  Now this country … this city … is one of the pillars of this great organisation.

As a Korean, this has particular resonance.  I grew up in the aftermath of war.  I knew hunger and hardship.

I knew what the blue flag of the United Nations represented then - and represents now - for vulnerable people seeking a better future.

It motivated me to serve my country and to serve the United Nations.  It is what has brought me here today.

Ladies and gentlemen

The United Nations was born of a common dream … to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war … to affirm fundamental human rights … to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.

This is the pledge of the United Nations Charter.  This is the dream that endures.

But today's world is very different from when the Charter was drafted.

Our era is defined by two truths: the world is rapidly changing … and it is ever more interconnected.

The multiple crises of the past two years made this apparent to all.

Food, fuel, financial.  These challenges are daunting.

At the same time, there is a greater understanding that no nation, no region, no group can tackle them alone.  You are one of 27 European countries in one of the richest and most powerful regions - but even you cannot do it alone.

This truly is the United Nations' Moment.

I would like to talk today about how we can use this moment.  Seven areas where I see strategic opportunities for genuine progress.

First: the Millennium Development Goals -- our blueprint for reducing global poverty.

These eight goals are aimed at tackling extreme poverty…delivering quality education to all, particularly girls…fighting HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis….reducing maternal and childhood mortality.

The economic crisis is hitting every region hard.  Everyone is suffering from a lack of resources.  But if we muster the political will, it can be done.

That is why I will convene an MDG Summit, in September, in New York.

It is a political and moral imperative for developed countries to help realize these goals.  At least a billion people go to bed hungry every night.  There are so many people who don't have the opportunity to make a living.  Therefore, this is a moral obligation for all of us to help.

And it is possible.

The goal for the Summit is a specific, practical, results-oriented agenda for action, with concrete steps and timelines.

We do not need new promises.  Countries need only to honour existing pledges.

Yes, times are tough.  Jobs have been lost around the world.  The Euro zone is not exempt.

But developing countries have been hit even harder.  And they will take longer to recover.

Growth has slowed … millions have lost jobs … remittances have fallen … revenues have shrunk.

On top of this are the challenges of disasters.  They hit the most vulnerable the hardest.  They set back progress towards the MDGs.

Haiti is the most recent and the most brutal example.  We may not be able to prevent earthquakes, but disaster preparedness can save hundreds of thousands of lives.  Bangladesh-which suffers from chronic cyclones-is a leading example of how taking common sense steps can save countless lives.

We are also making inroads in fighting killer diseases.  If we continue on the current track, we can eliminate deaths caused by malaria by 2015.  We have seen much progress in dealing with polio as well.  And we must do even more on HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.

In short, we have the wealth to achieve the MDGs.  We just need more political will.

And we have seen that when you empower women, and have an integrated strategy for health care, education, agriculture and small business, you can change the world.

This is my second priority for 2010.

Across the board, around the world, there is insufficient progress on gender equality.

This is not simply a gross injustice.  It is a lost opportunity.  A massive waste.

It has been said that women hold up half the sky.  We must ensure they have equal rights, equal opportunities, decent jobs and decent education.

The world's women are the key to sustainable development, peace and security.  They are the thread that binds the MDGs.

The area where there has been least progress is in maternal mortality.

One woman dies needlessly every minute … 30 will die while I am speaking.  This is unacceptable.

Next week I will launch a global effort on women's and children's health in New York.  I have invited heads of state and business leaders.

I want them to understand the problem.

I want them to hear and share success stories.

I want them to commit to empowering women, so we can reduce poverty and meet the MDGs.

I am convinced that if we do not so this, all the dangers of our world will continue to grow.

Ladies and gentlemen,

There is another threat to the MDGs.  Climate change.

No matter how loud the sceptics shout, they cannot drown out the evidence.

Climate change is a growing menace.

This is my third priority for 2010.

Last December more than 100 heads of state and government went to Copenhagen because they know that climate change is a threat to their economies … their security.

The conference did not go as far as some had hoped.  We still have a way to go to reach a comprehensive, ambitious climate change agreement.

Nonetheless, Copenhagen marked a significant step forward.  It established a goal of limiting global temperature rise to within 2°C by 2050.  Developed and developing countries made commitments on mitigation actions.

Since the conference closed, the convention secretariat has received emissions pledges from 75 parties who together account for more than 80 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Today, 117 countries have already signed on to the Copenhagen Accord.

Countries also agreed on short-term and medium-term funding for developing countries for adaptation and mitigation.

To keep the momentum, I have established a High-level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing.

Historically speaking, rapid industraialization in developed countries has caused the rise in greenhouse gas emissions.  But the impact has been shared by all - rich and poor.  Therefore, it is a moral imperative that developed countries provide financial and technological support to help developing countries for mitigation and adaptation.

Led by Prime Minister Brown of the United Kingdom and Prime Minister Meles of Ethiopia, the Advisory Group will help countries to deliver on the Copenhagen commitments.

The goal is to provide $100 billion annually by 2020.  The funds will support adaptation to climate change and spur low-carbon growth.

This is one of the most important priorities we have.

Ladies and gentlemen,

There is another essential element for achieving the MDGs.


The world is over-armed.  Peace is under-funded.

Preventing and resolving deadly conflicts around the world is my fourth priority.

When I visited Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory last month I spoke out against Israel's settlement policy and the injustice of its continued blockade of Gaza.

I condemned rocket fire from Gaza and made a public appeal for non-violence and Palestinian unity.

I emphasized to leaders on both sides that there is no alternative to negotiations for a comprehensive and just resolution of the conflict.

I told them it is time for a change of direction - back to the Road Map - back to the road of peace.

Earlier this year I visited Cyprus, where the United Nations is supporting reunification talks.  I, too, come from a divided country.  I know the hurt and hardship.

Last year I visited Sri Lanka and we are now trying to promote reconciliation and accountability.  We are working for inclusive democratic elections in Myanmar, the release of all political prisoners including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

We will emphasize mediation and preventive diplomacy -- brokering political solutions to conflicts before they escalate.

We will further strengthen our peacekeeping operations.  And I would like to once again thank the Austrian government and Austrian women and men who have participated in peacekeeping missions around the world.  I was very proud to meet some of them who were serving in the Golan Heights.

And we will continue working for a nuclear-free world.

This my fifth priority.

Thousands of nuclear weapons remain on firing alert.

More states are seeking to acquire such weapons, including terrorist groups.

In October 2008, I announced my five-point action plan on disarmamanet and non-proliferation.  I am greatly encouraged by global support for that plan - and it is growing each day.

Today, in Prague, Russia and the United States signed the new START treaty.

This is a major milestone.  It is a good omen for the Non Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in May.

A few days ago, I visited the former nuclear test site at Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan.

It was a sobering experience.  I was standing at ground zero where more than 450 Soviet nuclear tests had been conducted.  So many people, particularly children, are still suffering from the effects.  It caused a terrible impact on the environment.

My visit has inspired me to work even harder and use every opportunity I have to realize our ultimate ambition - a world free of nuclear weapons.

We must sustain the momentum for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We must also build momentum for universal human rights.

This is my sixth priority.

Only by upholding human rights and the rule of law can we hope to achieve a peaceful environment for development.

As Secretary-General, I stand for the United Nations Charter.  It is my responsibility to be a voice for the voiceless, a defender of the defenceless.

On my recent trip through Central Asia I reminded all my hosts of their obligations to respect human rights and uphold the values of the Charter.

In May, Uganda will host the Review Conference for the International Criminal Court.

The past decade has seen progress against impunity and toward the responsibility to protect.  But we still have a long way to go.

The scars of Cambodia, Rwanda, Srebrenica and Darfur are still fresh.

Every day, men, women and children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are subjected to acts of violence and brutality that challenge basic humanitarian norms.

The United Nations is still failing to act as early or as effectively as it should.

The ICC Review Conference is an opportunity to advance the cause of accountability.  We must show our resolve to fight impunity.

I call on all nations to become parties to the International Criminal Court convention.  It is the centrepiece of our system of international criminal justice.

As Secretary-General, I will continue to speak out strongly against war crimes, racism, discrimination and repression.

I will be an advocate for the Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

I will be a champion of the United Nations.

I firmly believe our United Nations is the only organization capable of meeting today's global challenges … the only world body capable of channelling our common efforts.

From the rubble of Haiti to the polling booths of Afghanistan … from refugee camps to vaccination campaigns ... from peace talks to climate talks, the United Nations is indispensable.

But, if we are to rise to global challenges, we need to build a stronger UN for a better world.

This is my seventh priority for 2010.

I am committed to making the United Nations more effective, more efficient, more accountable.  It is imperative for the UN to work in a more coherent way - to deliver as one.

I owe this to the dedicated men and women who are working hard around the world  - and often in dangerous conditions - to bring the promise of the United Nations Charter.

Since I became Secretary-General, I have mourned United Nations colleagues who lost their lives in terrorist attacks, in Algiers, in Pakistan, in Afghanistan … brave peacekeepers killed in the line of duty in Darfur, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo … and more than 100 colleagues who died in Haiti.

All these brave men and women lost their lives working to make the world a better place.

I am so proud of them … so proud of their colleagues.  I am proud of the work they do … the organization they work for.

I am also grateful to taxpayers around the world who provide the resources to do our work.  I will work to make sure that every Euro, every dollar is spent to the purpose of the Charter.

All deserve a strong, well-funded modern United Nations.

As an organization, we have to commit to continuously improve how we do business.

We must build a multi-skilled, versatile and flexible workforce for the twenty-first century.

From my first day as Secretary-General, I have worked to build a stronger UN for a better world.

But, it is not my job alone.

Everyone has a role to play.  Governments, business leaders, non-governmental organizations … and people like yourselves.

This is your world.  This is your United Nations.

I have spoken a lot today about commitments.  The promise of the Charter.  The pledges of governments to the Millennium Goals.  The solemn commitment to never allow genocide to ever happen again.

You are the eyes, ears and conscience of our world.

Speak out.

That is your responsibility.

Let that be your commitment.

Thank you..

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