18 September 2009

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

On International Day of Peace, Secretary-General Shares Hope That Next Generation

of Students Will Be Unable to Imagine Nuclear-Weapon Threat

Following is the text of remarks made by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the student observance of the International Day of Peace, today, in New York:

Hello, everyone!

Itís a great pleasure to welcome you to the United Nations today and thank you for taking part from all over the United States.

As you know, I just rang the Peace Bell. †I think you saw a broadcast of my remarks.† These can be summarized in three words: †We Must Disarm.

I shared some of the messages that we received on Twitter from people just like you Ė- maybe even some people right in this room.

I also tweeted some of my own reasons why We Must Disarm:

         because the world is overarmed and peace is underfunded;

         because disarmament contributes to development; and

         because nukes threaten humankind. †Letís get rid of them 4 good.

I sent these messages on Twitter because I want to involve the whole world in the campaign to eliminate weapons of mass destruction.† Not just political leaders but citizens everywhere -Ė including students like you.† You are the future leaders and owners of this planet Earth.

Seeing you makes me think of my own days as a student. †We didnít have modern technology, such as the Internet or compact phones that could take pictures and videos and download music.† Such things seemed like science fiction.† Today they are sometimes taken for granted.

In the same way, a nuclear-weapon-free world may seem like a far-off dream, but it is not.

Next week, President [Barack] Obama of the United States will chair a Security Council summit on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. †Next year, the parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) will hold an important Review Conference in the United Nations. †The prospects for reducing nuclear arsenals are better than they have been for years, though the road ahead will not be easy.

It may be difficult for you to imagine me growing up in a world with no Internet.† I hope that someday, your children will have trouble imagining what it was like to live in a world that could be annihilated at any moment by nuclear weapons.

On this International Day of Peace, letís pledge to keep pushing, together, for a nuclear-weapon-free world.† And I count on your commitment and your leadership as future leaders of this world.

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For information media • not an official record