Ban, in Princeton, urges a 'new multilateralism'

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at Princeton University

17 April 2009 – Due to the intensity and scope of current threats, the world is in dire need of a new multilateralism focused on meeting common human needs, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, as he spoke at Princeton University.

“Today, we face a landscape shattered by global economic crisis and collapse, regional conflict, and escalating humanitarian needs,” Mr. Ban told a colloquium at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

The explosion of hunger and unemployment along with security and environmental threats affects everyone, everywhere, and cannot be addressed by any one country in isolation, Mr. Ban said, maintaining: “They can only be countered through a global effort to provide a set of global public goods to all.”

Those goods, he said, include a major push against poverty by delivering on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the set of internationally-agreed target to slash major global ills by 2015.

Other priorities include peace and stability in troubled and war-ravaged regions, action on climate change, advances in global health, the defeat of terrorism, economic stability and disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, the Secretary-General said.

“None of these issues is new,” he stressed. “But their scope, scale and intensity take us into uncharted territories.”

Strengthening the UN must be part of the solution, Mr. Ban said, noting that in recent years, Member States have given the Organization greater mandates but have not provided it with the commensurate authority and resources.

“Bitter budget battles in recent years have taken us further from what we need: an effective and empowered instrument of service capable of meeting the dominant global challenges of the twenty-first century,” he said.

To keep the UN vital, the new multilateralism must listen to all voices, and embrace new political realities, he said. “But it cannot privilege power at the expense of the weak. Nor can it allow hollow representation to lead to paralysis.”

In an interdependent world, he stressed, the common interest is the national interest. “Either we will succeed together or fail alone. Therein lies the rationale – the imperative – for a new multilateralism.”

Mr. Ban pledged to ensure that the United Nations can serve not only as an effective instrument of service for humankind, “but as an agent of the transformation that the world needs to weather these troubled times.”

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