27 March 2009


27 March 2009
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Secretary-General, in remarks for foreign ministry journal, outlines how Russian

federation can help boost efforts to tackle major global challenges

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks for International Affairs, the journal of the Russian Foreign Ministry, in Moscow today, 27 March:

Thank you for your warm welcome.  I am honoured to take part in this lecture series marking the fifty-fifth anniversary of the Foreign Ministry’s journal, International Affairs.  It feels very good, being here among friends of the United Nations in Moscow.

Given your country’s vast size, your tradition of prodigious literary and intellectual output, your remarkable history and the immense importance of Russia in the world ‑‑ given all this, your journal must be a weighty volume indeed.  As a great son of Russia, Leo Tolstoy, said:  “Man lives consciously for himself but is an unconscious instrument in the attainment of the historic, universal aims of humanity.”

At the United Nations, we seek to articulate these universal aims in a rapidly changing world.  The world is on the cusp of a great transition.  We might think of it as an age of renewed multilateralism and entente among nations.  I see a renewed spirit of cooperation.  A new belief in the importance of diplomacy.  A new sense that the great problems facing us ‑‑ and they are grave problems indeed ‑‑ cannot be solved by any nation alone, and that they can only be solved by nations working together.

This is, of course, the raison d’être of the United Nations.  That is also why I am here today.  Russia’s long partnership with the United Nations is on sound footing.

We are all in this together.  The world, including us at the United Nations, needs your leadership, Russia’s leadership.  At this time of global crisis, we need a new global solidarity.  To put it bluntly:  we either succeed together, or we fail alone.

The challenges we face would fill your journal, International Affairs, many times over.  You know them well.  The global financial crisis that seems to grow deeper by the day.  Climate change ‑‑ a threat to the very future of our planet.  The dangers of nuclear proliferation, as well as those of extremism and political instability.  These are big challenges, requiring big Powers to cooperate more than ever before.  This is why I have very much looked forward to speaking with you today.

This is why we will continue to look to Russia, a founding member of the United Nations, a permanent member of the Security Council, for your leadership and your engagement in advancing our common ideals … in pursuing our common interests … and in guarding against our common threats.

We are being tested.  Let me discuss four of the ways.  The first comes next week at the G-20 Summit in London.  A year ago, none of us could have imagined that we would be dealing with a global economic crisis.  Yet, here we are.

Everything that the United Nations holds dear is at stake:  development; prosperity; the well-being of the world’s people; the stability and security of entire societies.  No nation has been immune, rich or poor.  In Russia, you have seen oil prices rise and fall precipitously.  Banks are in jeopardy.  The value of the ruble has fallen by nearly half.  We see the same troubles among your neighbours elsewhere in Europe.  The social costs of all this will be enormous.

Looking around the world, we see a growing risk of political instability.  In the past year, we have seen food riots in some countries.  Governments have fallen.  If life grows much harder, especially in the poorest nations, social unrest will surely increase.  That is why, in London, I will speak out forcefully for action to prevent a potential catastrophe in human development.  To revive the global economy, I will call for a genuinely global stimulus plan ‑‑ a plan that meets the needs of all developing countries by committing a substantial amount in assistance and liquidity support over the next two years.  I will call for the reform of global rules and institutions.

The world has changed.  New Powers have emerged whose voices must be heard.  We must institute reforms to keep such an event from happening again.  I will speak out against the new protectionism.  At their last Summit, in Washington, the G-20 nations promised not to place new restrictions on trade.  Since then, 17 of the 20 have done precisely that.  At the very time the poorest nations need trade and economic growth the most, are rich nations to slam the door on them?

Above all, I will speak for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.  As I see it, this is a matter of social justice ‑‑ global social justice.  The gap between rich nations and poor has grown too wide.  Now is the moment to show solidarity.  We cannot abandon the poorest nations to a future of destitution in the name of a misguided self-interest.

Our second test is climate change.  Some political leaders ask how we can afford to tackle climate change in the midst of hard economic times.  We must ask:  how can we afford not to?  The science is clear.  Even the most sober scientists are alarmed at the rapid pace of global warming.  Its effects are outpacing their worst-case predictions.  You see this in Russia.  The melting of the permafrost will cause significant damage to roads, cities and energy facilities.  Scientists warn that Russia could see increased flooding, forest fires and diminished biodiversity.  This is a present and imminent danger.  Yet it is also an opportunity.

If we are going to spend trillions of dollars on a global stimulus, let us be smart about it and tackle climate change at the same time.  At the G-20 summit, I will call for a global Green New Deal.  By that I mean investing in energy efficiency and clean energy in ways that create jobs and put the world on a path toward sustainable growth.  Russia has a major role in building the economy of the future.  An economy that protects and preserves natural resources ‑‑ your forests and your mineral wealth.  An economy powered by intellectual ingenuity and economic efficiency.  A diversified market economy based on low-carbon energy resources.

Russia has some of the best scientific minds in the world.  Your intellectual capital will be a tremendous asset in creating the green technologies that will drive the twenty-first century.  It is absolutely crucial, therefore, for Russia to join world leaders in reaching a climate change deal in Copenhagen later this year.  With an agreement in Copenhagen, all nations, Russia included, will have a common framework to guide investment and innovation.  It will create the financial incentives to protect forests ‑‑ in Russia, as well as Indonesia or the Amazon River basin.  And we all know how profoundly the Russian forest ‑‑ the Russki les ‑‑ has shaped your cultural heritage.  In short, if we are to succeed in Copenhagen, we need Russia’s leadership.  The world depends on it.

Let me turn from one existential threat to another.  This third test, too, offers us a great opportunity, another great chance for humankind.  I refer to nuclear weapons and disarmament.  This is one of the great unfinished pieces of business of the cold war.  Many of you here today will remember Reykjavik and the famous 1986 Summit.  Russia and the United States came within a hair’s breadth of eliminating the bulk of their nuclear armaments.

Frankly, it seems obvious that nuclear weapons are irrelevant to contemporary security challenges, such as terrorism and intra-State warfare.  Yet more than 20,000 nuclear weapons remain in the world’s arsenals.  Nine additional nations now have nuclear capability, and more may be seeking it.  It is time, once again, for the major Powers to seriously take up the issue of disarmament.  Russia and the United States must lead the way.

Already, you have begun work on a treaty to succeed START I, which expires later this year.  You are entering negotiations with Washington on a successor to the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, which expires in 2012.  You have ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).  As a former Chair of the Preparatory Committee of the CTBT in that negotiation, I reiterate my call for early and universal ratification.  Now is the time to go further.  That is why, last year, I proposed a five-point plan for re-energizing the international disarmament agenda.  I urged nations to make the most of next year’s Review Conference on the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty.  I suggested that negotiations should begin in a year or two on a fissile material treaty.

I also said that it was time to undertake new efforts to limit conventional weapons and strengthen our protections against WMD proliferation.  This included a proposal to ban the deployment of weapons in outer space, as Russia has long sought.  We are seeing, today, a renaissance of support for nuclear disarmament, and your help is essential in advancing this cause.

Fourth, and finally, let me discuss the test of peace and political insecurity across a wide geopolitical spectrum.  Here, too, Russia is key.  We are working together in Afghanistan.  The international community very much appreciates the decision to allow the transportation of military supplies and equipment across the Russian Federation.

Today’s meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization represents the very sort of regional cooperation that is so needed in Afghanistan.  As members of the Quartet, we are working for a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.  I welcome Russia’s efforts to prepare an international conference on the Middle East peace process, and the United Nations stands ready to assist in every way.

Russia has used its influence to seek a peaceful solution on Iran’s nuclear programme.  It has contributed to our efforts to end the conflict in Darfur, for which I thank your Special Envoy Mikhail Margelov.  Finally, and especially close to my heart, you are a member of the six-party talks on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

As a diplomat, and later, as Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea, I myself have dedicated years to this effort.  Clearly the stability of the Korean Peninsula is of immense importance to the world.  As Secretary-General, I will lend you all possible support in your negotiations, and I thank you for your commitment.

Before closing, I would like to note one other realm where Russia could make a valuable contribution.  That is United Nations peacekeeping.  Today, 248 Russian police and military observers can be found in 10 multinational missions, from Africa to the Middle East to Asia.  We are grateful for this engagement, but we also hope Russia can do more.

Russia has critical assets that we need.  We are greatly encouraged that Russia has recently agreed to provide helicopters, engineers and a military hospital to support the new United Nations peacekeeping Mission in Chad.  This is a powerful signal of your multilateral commitment and resolve.  Yet, there are many other areas of peacekeeping where we could also use your help.

Let me conclude by stating the obvious:  a strong and more effective United Nations is very much in Russia’s national interest.  I look forward to our work together during these coming critical years.  As I say, the challenges are immense but so are the opportunities.  We can seize them only by working together, all nations ‑‑ and in particular major nations ‑‑ as partners.  This is the theme on which I began, and it is fitting that I close on it.

There is a Russian proverb:  “If everyone gives one thread, the poor man will have a shirt.  There you are, the United Nations ethos.

You, Russia, have already done much.  Please join us now to do more in this global hour of need.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.