8 September 2011
Secretary-General
SG/SM/13781

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

Times Demand Australia’s ‘Strong Moral Leadership’ in Facing Up to Global


Challenges, Secretary-General Says at Dinner with Governor-General

 


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at a dinner with the Governor-General of Australia in Canberra today, 8 September:


Thank you very much for that warm welcome.  I especially appreciate your understanding when I had to change my plans for this trip because of the international meeting on Libya, in Paris last week.


This is my last formal event on what has turned out to be a very long and winding road.  From New York to Paris to Sydney to Canberra; then on to the Solomon Islands and Kiribati; then to Auckland for the Pacific Islands Forum; then back to Sydney and another stay in beautiful Canberra.


It is appropriate that I started and end my journey in Australia.  Your country has made special arrangements throughout my trip.  But more than that, you have stood on the side of the United Nations since its earliest days.  Australia helped write important provisions right into our Charter — and Australia continues to carry them out to this day.


As we look ahead together, the times demand Australia’s engagement and its leadership.  Governor-General, I am encouraged by your strong support for the United Nations – today and throughout your career.  Whether you were working directly with the United Nations or not, you have shared our ideals:  gender equality; an end to discrimination; protection for children.  We especially appreciate your work on behalf of the world’s millions of refugees and displaced persons.


In facing these challenges, we need strong moral leadership.  You are a fine example of this.  As you recently said, all Australians can be concerned about people who have fled their homes because of war, conflict or disaster.  I am proud to have you as an official advocate for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.  You are making what you rightly call the “daily and devastating hardships endured by refugees” more visible so that more Australians help push for positive change.


You have such a graceful but still down-to-earth manner.  People wonder how you have done so much professionally — but I wonder how you have done so much professionally while raising five children.  I know His Excellency Michael Bryce is part of your secret.  But at the same time, you are a living example of the equality that you have fought so hard for women to enjoy.


At this time of great challenge, we can draw from great sources of strength.  We draw strength from knowing that more and more countries realize that they must govern in the interests of their people.  We draw strength from the enduring principles in the United Nations Charter.  Peace, equality, justice and human rights will always be the greatest goals of all peoples.  And we draw strength from countries such as Australia, and leaders like you who are committed to working for a better world for each and every member of the human family.


Thank you very much for that commitment.  And thank you for your warmth and hospitality.


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For information media • not an official record