Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Remarks to the Finnish Parliament

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Helsinki (Finland), 26 May 2009

Madam President of the Republic of Finland,
Mr. Sauli Niinistö, Speaker of Parliament
Honorable representatives,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is truly an honor to come before you today.

For over a century your great country, and this parliament, has been a pioneer in democracy. Having both extended universal suffrage and the right to stand for election to all your citizens in 1906, before any other country, you continue to set an example for us all today -- with women accounting for almost half your parliament and over half your cabinet. You show us that gender parity is not only possible; it is preferable! The results prove it. For this leadership we owe you a debt of gratitude.

Here, where once East faced West in confrontation, Finland now shows us all how to live in peace and prosperity, without succumbing to complacency. You continue to show the way in cutting edge social, political, and economic innovation.

Here in this house of democracy, you take decisions that affect not only the lives of every Finnish citizen, but also of people all over the world.

That is why I deeply appreciate this opportunity to speak with you this morning. That is also why the United Nations has made such extensive efforts in recent years to open its doors and intensify its engagement with parliamentarians and other partners.

Governments are coming to understand that they cannot address today's threats, or seize today's opportunities, on their own. They need the engagement of all those with the capacity to contribute – to show solidarity. That means the private sector and civil society groups. It means philanthropic foundations and academic institutions. All should do their part.

Parliamentarians like you are an essential part of this picture. You have important, wide-ranging powers and responsibilities as representatives of your people.

As lawmakers, you can translate international standards and agreements into domestic regulations and legislation.

As a forum for debate, you can set an example of dialogue and the peaceful resolution of differences.

You are also a vital link between the global and the local.

Most of today's major challenges have an international dimension. You can bring to your constituents a sense of how global trends and circumstances affect their daily lives.

This works in the opposite direction, too: you can bring local concerns into the international arena, for attention and action.

The parliamentary voice must be heard. We at the United Nations want to work with you, and I welcome the good and growing cooperation with the Inter-Parliamentary Union that has developed in recent years.

Honorable Representatives,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We need your help to address the defining issue of our time -- climate change.

Just two days ago, hundreds of global business leaders gathered in Copenhagen to send a clear, strong message to Governments about the absolute necessity to seal the deal on a new climate change agreement later this year. I thank Madame President for joining me in wearing this Seal the Deal campaign badge. I hope you will also participate

Science warns that time is running out. Many of the worst-case scenarios forecast by the world's top scientists just two years ago are already being realized -- or in some cases, surpassed. The consequences for people, economies and our entire planet are grave.

I have seen the impact first-hand, myself. Ice sheets breaking up in Antarctica. Glaciers melting in the Andes. Before the year is out I will go to the Arctic, in September – back here in your neighborhood.

Only by acting now can we avert potential catastrophe.

A comprehensive, fair and effective climate agreement in Denmark would enable us to look toward a brighter future. Not just because it can help us to avert the worst effects of climate change, but because we can unleash investment and innovation that can underpin a new green economy.

The clock is ticking. There are fewer than 200 days before we will meet in Copenhagen to finalize an agreement. To Seal the Deal.

To harness the necessary political will, I have invited all the world's leaders to a summit at UN Headquarters in New York this September. There, I hope we will overcome outstanding obstacles and forge the consensus to reach the finish line together.

I am grateful for Finland's strong support on climate change, and urge you to redouble your efforts to ensure the success of the negotiations.

Mr Speaker,

Distinguished Representatives,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We also want to work with you in response to the global economic crisis. I know that the Finnish economy has not been immune to its effects. We have all seen the frightening speed with which the crisis has unfolded. It has shaken the foundations of the global economy?its rules, its credibility, its values. And it has been a sobering lesson in global interdependence.

I fear that if we do not act boldly to confront this crisis, it could lead to social unrest and political instability in many parts of the world, as we have already witnessed. In fact, we have already seen governments fall as a result.

This is why I pressed insistently at last month's G-20 meeting for action that would safeguard people from hardship. I was heartened that global leaders responded to my call for a trillion dollar package. But now we must deliver the assistance to where it is most needed.

At the UN we will soon launch a Global Vulnerability Alert, collecting real-time information on the social effects of the economic crisis world-wide. We will provide such information to all member states. This will be a vital tool to know what is happening and to hold ourselves accountable to those who most need our help. We cannot afford a reversal of hard-won gains towards the Millennium Development Goals.

At a time when all are focused on the economic crisis, we must recall that we still face a very real food crisis as well. This is why I brought the UN system together to design a comprehensive blueprint to ensure food security for all. And I am proud to announce that we have designed and will soon launch a new financial coordination mechanism that will allow all multilateral and bilateral actors to come together to support national food security plans.

As we face these global challenges, we must not lose sight of our essential mission to safe-guard peace and security all around the world. In recent days DPRK conducted a nuclear test for the second time and also launched short-range missiles. The Security Council of the United Nations has condemned yesterday these actions. We must all stand resolute In the face of these serious violations which that threaten to undermine peace and security in our world.

These North Korean actions run counter to the ongoing international efforts to curb proliferation of nuclear weapons and materials, and also have a negative impact on the ongoing nuclear disarmament. Not only does it create tension in the region it will also pose serious implications to peace and security on regional and global level

In that regard I welcome all statements made by world leaders and I sincerely hope that the Security Council will be able to take necessary measures corresponding to the gravity of the situation.

We must also address violent conflict and save lives ravaged by war. Just a few days ago I met with Sri Lankan citizens who were displaced from their homes by violence in their homeland. They are living in appalling conditions and need our help. The Sri Lankan government has agreed to provide full access and the UN will continue to provide humanitarian assistance. It was a most sobering experience for me. I have travelled to many parts of the world I have witnessed many similar, unfortunate situations. But this was by far the most sobering, most saddening, experience for me.

The United Nations is now mobilizing all humanitarian agencies to provide the necessary humanitarian assistance. And we will help them resettle to their own homes.

But we must also continue to call for reconciliation and a process that will respond to the root causes of the conflict. I have urged president Rajapaksa and other government leaders, including opposition leaders, to reach out to the minority groups including Tamils and Muslims for national reconciliation. If this situation is not addressed properly, the war may be over but it may have a potential for further violence and social disruption.

This was the message which I have conveyed to Sri Lankan authorities.

In Pakistan we are also facing a humanitarian crisis of immense proportions with over

2 million people displaced by fighting in the Swat Valley. Yesterday I visited a United Nations warehouse in Copenhagen where boxes were piled high and UN staff were working around the clock to ensure that humanitarian supplies reach the displaced in Pakistan in a timely manner. It was again a moving experience as a Secretary-General of the United Nations, and I commended their hard work. It reminded me that at the UN we not only have a global supply chain, but also a global human chain that links the family of humankind together in times of need.

And let us not forget Sudan. The UN is struggling in the face of overwhelming challenges to provide humanitarian assistance, to deploy a 26,000 strong peacekeeping force mandated by the Security Council, and to facilitate a political settlement to put an end to conflict in Darfur. There is no more challenging situation before us, nor a more noble mission. We can and must succeed in Sudan.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

A consistent thread runs through this agenda. At a minimum, we must increase global cooperation to address multiple challenges. But we must go further than that. We must re-invent how we as nations work together to deliver collective solutions to our collective problems.

As the world's people have become more interdependent, so have the issues.

Solutions to climate change, for example, must take into account food and energy needs for a burgeoning world population.

Solutions to the economic crisis can be found in part in green energy, green jobs and green growth.

If we are smart about it, if we can drive at these connections, solutions to each can be solutions for all.

At the same time, a period of crisis such as this should also compel us to a more fundamental re-examination of our assumptions, priorities, and institutions.

G-20 leaders made a start in agreeing to review the Bretton Woods financial architecture. But we can't stop there.

The time is ripe for a new multilateralism.

A multilateralism focused on delivering global goods: health, education, freedom from hunger, and security from terror or the threat of a nuclear Armageddon.

A multilateralism that harnesses both power and principle.

And a multilateralism whose instruments?the United Nations above all?have the authority and the resources to do what is asked of them.

Crisis may well help this new multilateralism to emerge. Already, in the world's response to the H1N1 flu, we can see the potential for this. Emergence of a new multilateralism.

That is because we learned the lessons from the outbreak of avian flu four years ago. We put in place a system of coordinated global response. We forged global partnerships.

This approach will be instrumental to meet other fundamental global health needs. In particular we must focus on maternal and newborn health. It is unacceptable that every year over half a million women give their lives to give life. We cannot afford this senseless loss – socially, economically and morally. We know what to do and we must mobilize the world as one in order to do it. Save mothers! In so doing we will save families, save economies, and safeguard peace and stability.

This is why I am hosting a global health event at UN Headquarters next month. I want the world to focus on our collective health challenges and mobilize the necessary political will to address them. I need your support.

A new multilateralism will only truly take hold when we act consistently, on the understanding that in our interconnected world, the well-being of one nation depends, to an increasing degree, on the well-being of all other people and all other nations.

Madam President of the Republic of Finland,

Mr. Sauli Niinistö, Speaker of Parliament

Honorable representatives,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Finland plays a dynamic role across this agenda and at the United Nations. It is the fifteenth largest contributor of voluntary funds. I'm very grateful for that. Your troops, military observers and police take part in UN peacekeeping operations in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. Your nationals serve with distinction at all levels of the Un family system.

I am grateful for the commitment and energy Finland brings to the United Nations and the many contributions you make to our work. You remain a strong partner in this, the era of partnership. I look forward to working with you on the agenda I have set out today, for the well-being of your people and the prosperity of the entire world.

Let us work together for peace and security, development, and protection of human rights of all people, of all nations of this international community, which the UN charter prescribes

Thank you for your support.