Poorest, Most Vulnerable Have Special Claim on Our Attention, Secretary-General Says in Lunch Toast for Assembled World Leaders

23 September 2009
SG/SM/12476

Poorest, Most Vulnerable Have Special Claim on Our Attention, Secretary-General Says in Lunch Toast for Assembled World Leaders

23 September 2009
Secretary-General
SG/SM/12476
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Poorest, Most Vulnerable Have Special Claim on Our Attention, Secretary-General

 

Says in Lunch Toast for Assembled World Leaders

 


Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s toast at the lunch for Heads of State and Government in New York, today, 23 September:


May I have just a few minutes?  I am going to propose a toast.


It is a great honour and pleasure to welcome all of you to this, our common house.  Let me extend a warm welcome to all of you who have taken part despite your busy schedules in this United Nations General Assembly.  Thank you again for coming to our common house at this crucial time.


Allow me also to pay my deepest tribute to our host country, the United States, and to President [Barack] Obama.  Mr. President, we have been listening for many months to the very encouraging things you have said about the United Nations, including the [speech] today.  It is a pleasure to have heard those sentiments again in person on your first visit.  The heightened commitment of our Host Country is not simply welcome, but essential to fulfilling our mission.


The United Nations family deeply thanks you.  We are indeed a family.  The human family.  And we do what families do.  We break bread together.  At times, we argue.  That’s when we need diplomacy to patch things up.  But most of all, we watch out for each other.  Right now, watching out for each other is more important than ever.


At a time of multiple global crises, the poorest and most vulnerable have a special claim on our attention.  Millions of people around the world are not seeing the green shoots of recovery we are starting to hear about in some places.  For them, the crisis is picking up speed.  For them, it is not just one crisis but several, hitting them all at once, multiplying the challenges and the damage.


We are not prepared for this toxic mix.  International and national safety nets are frayed.  Not only that, we know very little about what is happening in the lives of those most affected.  Macroeconomic data tell us only so much.  Policy cannot be guided by anecdote.


That is why we at the United Nations are committed to providing world leaders with solid, real-time information and analysis.  The first product of that effort, the Voices of the Vulnerable report, is in your hands.  Our Global Impact and Vulnerability Alert System, known as GIVAS, will be in place before long.  And none too soon.  People in need, people on the edge, cannot afford delays.  When global shockwaves hit, you need to make sound and speedy decisions.  We are there to help.


Forgive me, Excellencies, for taking such a serious turn in this toast.  But I wanted to take advantage of your presence here today to drive this point home.  Certainly, this is what drives me.  This is what I think about, day in and day out.  How to help people.  How to help you.  How to build a stronger United Nations for a better world.  Thank you again for your leadership and support.


And now I would like to propose a toast:  to a family of nations that cares for all its members and to continued good success to each and every Member State which you are ably representing today.


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