Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Remarks at War Memorial and Performing Arts Centre

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, San Francisco (USA), 26 July 2007

Mayor Newsom,

Thank you for your kind words, and for bestowing on me the key to this great city. I know that it reflects the strong feelings the people of San Francisco have for the United Nations.

As I'm standing here in my capacity as the eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations, I feel honoured and very humbled when I think of all our founding fathers wise enough and courageous enough to save this world from the scourge of war who have negotiated, drafted and finally signed the Charter of the United Nations, which has shaped the future of the whole international community. That is why I think you and I and every one of us are able to enjoy prosperity, democracy, freedom and all what we are enjoying today.

I'm very honoured to be in San Francisco and especially in this Opera House where our founding fathers thought of future generations. I am committed to carry that torch as Secretary-General for peace, protection of human rights and development.

San Francisco is not only the gateway to Asia-Pacific but also has served as a gateway to me. When I was a young student at the age of 18, I visited this beautiful city. It was the first-ever foreign country I had ever visited.

I think everybody will agree that San Francisco was the place where the future of the international community was shaped. At the same time, San Francisco is a place where my career was shaped. My dream was to become a diplomat and now I think I have realized my dream – I am a diplomat of the world.

Perhaps the United Nations Conference on International Organization could have been convened elsewhere with the same historic document which we have – the Charter of the United Nations. Perhaps the sight of the Golden Gate Bridge, or the embrace of the cool Pacific breeze, weren't needed to inspire and invigorate Conference participants. And perhaps this melting pot of committed internationalists wasn't necessary to produce the most global of entities.

Yet a part of me will always remain convinced that these were all necessary ingredients; that the United Nations would not have turned out quite as we know it had its founders sought inspiration elsewhere.

I say this because I remain unashamedly partial to this city's timeless beauty and flair. So even if we may say that there is some negative perceptions and under-appreciation of United Nations activities, I am quite confident that as Secretary-General I will be able to restore confidence and trust of the public in United Nations activities.

A primary purpose of my visit to San Francisco is to hold discussions with Mayor Gavin Newsom and Governor Arnold Schwarzeneggar, who have demonstrated initiative on global warming issues.

San Francisco is the birthplace of the United Nations, which was created to save this world from the scourge of war. I'm here to discuss the future of our planet Earth, and this can become the birthplace of a new movement to save it for future generations.

I thank you all very much for your support.