Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Remarks to a Luncheon Hosted by the Friends of the World Federation of United Nations Associations

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, New York (USA), 07 May 2007

Thank you, Ambassador Luers.

Ambassador vanden Heuvel,
Mr. Ross, Honorary President, World Federation of United Nations Associations,
Mr. Blix, President of the World Federation,
Ms. Wells, Secretary-General of the World Federation,

I am delighted to be among such steadfast friends and allies of the United Nations. Gatherings such as yours provide a tremendous source of strength to me in my job as Secretary-General.

The World Federation of United Nations Associations and its more than 100 member groups are irreplaceable champions of our Organization. They inform, educate and enlighten their national constituencies about the promise and performance of the United Nations. They bring home to them that the UN’s agenda is everyone’s agenda, and that the issues of concern to the UN, concern us all as human beings.

Whenever United Nations Associations speak up and speak out for the United Nations, they honour not only the ideals of the United Nations, but also the commitment of their countries to those ideals.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me take this occasion to pay tribute to a man who personifies the spirit of that commitment. Arthur Ross is a true citizen of the world. From his distinguished service as a member of the United States delegation to the General Assembly to his courageous efforts to strengthen UNESCO, Arthur has throughout his life applied firm principles to global challenges. In his work for the United Nations Associations of the United States, and now his great generosity in renewing and revitalizing the World Federation of United Nations Associations, and the particular emphasis he has given to working with young people, he has made a unique contribution to making the United Nations better understood and better supported worldwide.

For this, Mr. Ross, the United Nations is in your debt.

We are equally indebted to Hans Blix. Mr. Blix, as Executive Chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, you handled the intense and immense demands of your tasks with dignity and poise.

Few would have been able to demonstrate the calm, grace and professionalism that you did in the face of virtually unprecedented and sustained pressure and attention a few years ago. Your steadfast integrity, objectivity and sound judgement were an asset to the Organization and the international community as a whole.

Today, we are all fortunate indeed that you are bringing these invaluable qualities to the World Federation of United Nations Associations. Under your leadership, the Federation will go from strength to strength.

And I am absolutely delighted that the Federation will be holding its next plenary assembly in Seoul two years from now. I assure you that you will get a warm welcome there.

Today is an occasion to pay tribute to the contributions that civil society brings to the work of the UN. Whether we are talking about the fight against poverty and HIV/AIDS, or the responsibility to protect, or the prevention of armed conflict, or any of the other challenges on our agenda -- the UN needs to work in close partnership with civil society – from the policy-making table to our collective presence on the ground.

That is why I warmly welcome the Buenos Aires Declaration adopted by the World Federation plenary assembly last year. With this document, you are helping to develop our collective vision in support of the three fundamental pillars of the UN’s work -- peace and security, development, human rights.

In all those areas, the demands on the UN continue to grow. In peacekeeping, we face escalating expectations. This means putting peacekeeping on a more solid footing, since we now have more peace operations, and more personnel in the field, than at any time in our history. I am pleased that the General Assembly is supporting my plans for strengthening our capacity, including the restructuring of the relevant departments and offices.

In development, I have just presented recommendations to the General Assembly for improving the coherence of our system, so that we can deliver as one in our efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

In human rights, all the world’s Governments have agreed in principle to the responsibility to protect people facing genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing. Our challenge now is to give real meaning to the concept, by taking steps to make it operational.

Since taking office, I have acted to address the grave geopolitical crises of the day -- in particular the tragedy in Darfur and the need for a durable peace in the Middle East.

I am convinced that the United Nations has a unique and important part to play in addressing climate change, and I am committed to galvanizing action and helping to mobilize a truly global response. Just last week I appointed three prominent special envoys to help in that effort.

At the same time, I am determined to reform the United Nations itself, by improving management, strengthening accountability and transparency, and making our staff more mobile and multifunctional.

Dear friends of the United Nations,

A full and taxing agenda lies ahead of us. Our success in advancing it will depend not only on Governments and international officials. It will rest on voters, consumers, civil society groups and concerned men and women of all ages, in rich and poor countries alike, thinking and acting as global citizens -- understanding the need for all peoples to seize common opportunities and defend against shared threats. That, after all, is the essence of effective multilateralism.

By your commitment, all of you are leading by example. For that, you have my sincere gratitude. I very much look forward to working with you in the years ahead.

Thank you very much.