Facing Multiple Crises, World Coming to Understand Need to Work with Shared Purpose, ‘Sense of Trust in Each Other’, Says Secretary-General to Austria Forum

31 August 2009
SG/SM/12430

Facing Multiple Crises, World Coming to Understand Need to Work with Shared Purpose, ‘Sense of Trust in Each Other’, Says Secretary-General to Austria Forum

31 August 2009
Secretary-General
SG/SM/12430
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Facing Multiple Crises, World Coming to Understand Need to Work with Shared Purpose,

‘Sense of Trust in Each Other’, Says Secretary-General to Austria Forum

Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s speech to the European Forum Alpbach Political Symposium, “Trust and Renewed Multilateralism”, delivered in Alpbach, Austria, 30 August:

I am pleased to be with you today in this wonderful and magnificent setting.

Each year, this Forum provides a welcome opportunity for constructive discussion of the major topics of the day.

Today's world is barely recognizable from the world of 1945 when this Alpbach Forum was established.

The cold war is over.  Europe has come together as a community.  In the same period, the world's population has tripled.  Environmental resources have come under unprecedented pressure.

And we have proved that climate change is a pressing challenge, but it is not the only one.  Recently, since last year, we have been facing multiple crises:  food crisis, fuel crisis, flu pandemic, financial crisis.

Each has highlighted our interdependence.  Each of these crises could have taken all of our time and energy and all the resources of the world.

A renewed multilateralism thus that delivers real results for real people is crucially necessary.

A multilateralism where countries and regions engage each other in a spirit of trust, cooperation and mutual reliance.

This is why we are here today -- to talk about a core value:  trust.

Trust between the individual and the State.  Trust among nations.  Trust in the United Nations –- the world's pre-eminent institution of multilateralism.

The past sixty years have seen successes and failures.  Now I do not intend to deliver a history lesson.  My purpose here today is to look forward.

How can we fulfil the trust implied in the words of the United Nations Charter?  The trust placed in us by the peoples of this world?

As Secretary-General, it is my role to speak on behalf of “we the peoples”.  Especially those whose trust has been betrayed.

In the past two-and-a-half years, I have visited many countries where people have been let down by the institutions that are supposed to protect them.

In Gaza, in January, I spoke out for a people caught in a conflict over which they have no power.

In the Great Lakes region of Africa I met refugees displaced by the conflict.  I met many women who had been raped as a routine act of war.  I have spoken to President [Joseph] Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, that violence against women is an abomination.  That it stands against every single letter in the Charter of the United Nations.  That he has a duty to protect the citizens of his own country.

In Sri Lanka I made it clear to President [Mahinda] Rajapaksa that though the fighting might be over, there is much more to do.  That people must be allowed to return to their homes.  That he must reach out to minority groups.

In Myanmar, I met with Senior General Than Shwe, three times.  I told him, bluntly, that the world is watching him and his Government.  I told him that he must release all political prisoners, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.  I told him that without participation of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and many political leaders who are detained, the elections next year elections will never be regarded as credible and fair and inclusive.

I will continue to speak out wherever people's trust is being betrayed.

I will speak out for democracy and accountability.  I will stand against corruption and impunity.

People must be able to have trust in their government, in the State.  Too many countries of the world deny people their basic rights and freedoms.

People need to be able to trust that their governments will provide the necessary infrastructure for better standards of life in larger freedom:  Peace.  The rule of law.  Adequate health care.  Clean water.  Sanitation.  Functional roads.  Communication.  A healthy environment.

When people vote, they must be able to trust that their decisions will not be subverted.

States have to create an atmosphere of trust so that people can peacefully and meaningfully participate in the political process.

States have a moral duty to defend the powerless in the face of tyranny and genocide and to act on that obligation.

Too often, complacency and cynicism have prevented the United Nations from acting as early or as effectively as it should.

Yet this past decade has also seen acceptance of the responsibility to protect.

Four years ago, world leaders gathered in the United Nations.  They unanimously agreed, and adopted a declaration, that they were committing themselves to preventing genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.

This universal and irrevocable commitment was made at the highest level, without contradiction or challenge.  Our common task now is to deliver into action.

Darfur is a case study in both the success and shortfalls of multilateralism.

The good news is that, despite too many years of delay, multinational forces are on the ground.  More than 90 per cent of our 26,000 [peacekeepers] will be deployed by the end of this year.

However, the bad news is that we still lack critical assets -– like helicopters and heavy transport equipment.

At its core, again this is a question of trust.  Trust among the nations.  Trust between the United Nations and the people who need our help.

When trust is eroded or broken in Darfur, or in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or other places in other situations of dire need, it is placed at risk everywhere.  And the Organization's reputation suffers.

A renewed, effective and meaningful multilateralism means delivering on our commitments.

When Member States give the United Nations a mandate, they must give us the resources to see that job done.

The demands on the United Nations are increasing.

Every day, the United Nations feeds a minimum of 80 million people.

Today, we have 18 peacekeeping missions around the globe.  We have 115,000 military, police and civilian peacekeepers.

United Nations staff are working hard every day around the world to live up to the trust that has been placed in them.

That is why, from my first day in office, I have worked hard to build a stronger United Nations for a better world.

We aim to create a more modern, more trustworthy United Nations -- a United Nations that is faster, more flexible and more effective in delivering on the growing demands placed on it.

That means smarter management of resources.  Greater transparency and accountability.  Common-sense reform.

I will continue to make this Organization more credible and more effective.

I will continue to speak out for the powerless and most vulnerable people.

And I will continue to push for a renewed multilateralism grounded in the recognition that we sink or swim together.

A renewed multilateralism grounded in firm principle and robust and adequate resources.

We live in momentous times.  In the next year we have opportunities to tackle two of the major issues of the day:  climate change and disarmament.

These are two core important issues again to build up our trust.

We are also poised to make headway on the Millennium Development Goals.

And we stand ready to tackle emerging challenges, such as H1N1 flu.

When the H1N1 flu crisis first emerged, the United Nations was in the forefront -- and centre -- providing information and coordinating the response.

When the economic crisis hit, we told the G-20 leaders in London, in Washington, that those hurt first and most -– and worst -– in a recession are the most vulnerable people, are poor people.  I urged the leaders of the G-20 that while they take necessary measures to revitalize the economy, through national stimulus packages, that they should never forget the plight and challenges of the most vulnerable people.  That was my role. That was my duty as Secretary-General.  I will continue to speak out and I have urged them to mobilize $1 trillion.  They heard, and they mobilized $ 1.1 trillion.  Of course all this $ 1.1 trillion does not go all to developing countries, it will strengthen the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and strengthen the capacity of the World Bank.  And they have also earmarked a significant sum for developing countries.

We need to keep up the momentum at the coming G-20 summit in Pittsburgh.

We must increase momentum toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

In September 2010, we will summon world leaders for a special Millennium Development Goals summit to prepare a final push toward 2015.

We must help farmers increase productivity.  Make sure every girl and boy has access to decent primary education.  Invest in global health and, especially, maternal health.  It is just unacceptable that every single minute a woman dies of complications during pregnancy and childbirth.

The Conference on Disarmament -– the world's single multilateral forum for disarmament negotiations -– made a breakthrough this year.

For the first time in a decade, the Conference on Disarmament has agreed to a programme of work.

The Presidents of the United States and the Russian Federation have begun to cut their nuclear arsenals.

We have a golden opportunity to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.  We must seize this opportunity.

Let me conclude with the defining challenge of our generation, the defining challenge for multilateralism -- climate change.

Climate change is a health crisis, an energy crisis, a food crisis and a security crisis all rolled into one.

This December, in Copenhagen, Governments will meet to finalize a new climate change agreement.

We must seal the deal by December this year in Copenhagen.

A fair, effective, comprehensive, equitable and ambitious deal that will benefit all countries.

On September 22, we will convene a summit of world leaders at the United Nations to look at the challenges we face in the run-up to Copenhagen.

The science has made it plainly clear.

We know the cost of inaction now will be far, far greater than the cost of action now.

We also know many of the solutions already exist.

What we need is national and international leadership from Heads of State and Government.  I urge national leaders:  they should play their role, not only as national leaders.  They should be prepared to play a role as global leaders, because climate change is a global challenge and we need a global political will demonstrated by the end of this year.

And we need trust.  This is a matter of trust.

Trust between developed and developing countries.

All countries need to do more.

In July this year, the G-8 leaders have agreed to reduce carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.  They have also agreed to limit the global temperature rise to within 2° C.

That was commendable, and I welcomed it.  At the same time, I said it was not enough, if it is not accompanied by ambitious midterm targets, to cut greenhouse emissions by 2020, as science tells us.  I will repeat this call in September.

I will also emphasize that major developing countries have a critical role in the negotiations:  Brazil, China, India, Mexico, South Africa.

And I will emphasize that there must be a comprehensive framework for adaptation at Copenhagen.

A small group of countries are responsible for 80 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.

The world's poorest countries bear little responsibility for climate change. They are the most vulnerable and the least able to adapt.  They need the world's help.  They need help from the industrialized countries.

A renewed multilateralism will deliver the help they need.

A renewed multilateralism will seal the deal in Copenhagen.

As we look at Copenhagen, there will be four key challenges the leaders will have to agree on:

First, industrialized countries' leaders should be able to have ambitious midterm targets by 2020.

Second, major developing countries should be able to take nationally appropriate mitigation actions.

Third, more importantly, the industrialized countries should be able to provide necessary financial and technological support for developing countries.

And then, we should be able to agree on a comprehensive global governance structure to smoothly allow the channelling of this financial and technological support.

Ladies and gentlemen, I trust I have not kept you too long and have not asked you for too much.

It has been my great privilege to address you today.

Humankind has always been, and always will be, in need of trust.

Trust in each other.  And trust in our leaders and the institutions of State -– to do right by the publics they serve.

But trust is not easy.  It implies commitment.  It rests on relationships.

And trust can come only when the leaders lead by example.  People can have different expectations, and conflicting needs.  At times, fights break out.  Terrible things are said.  Diplomacy is needed to patch things up.

I am strongly committed to that essential work -- to the job of renewing relationships and revitalizing cooperation.  We must all be bridge-builders.  The United Nations itself, with years of practice in problem-solving and burden-sharing, and the trust accumulated over the years.

Today we also have something else:  a growing awareness of our interconnectedness and common fate.  Pressed by crisis on several fronts, the world is coming to understand the need to work together as never before in a spirit of shared purpose and with a sense of trust in each other.

Building trust and building a better world depend on each other and must go hand in hand.  I look forward to pursuing that work with you and all stakeholders. And I thank you again for this privilege to address the Alpbach Forum and to share these thoughts with you.

And I count on each and every one of you to work together with the United Nations and your national leaders for common prosperity and common values of all people of the world.

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