Introducing Italy’s President to General Assembly, Secretary-General Thanks Him for His Leadership, Encourages His Greater Engagement in International Arena

28 March 2011

Introducing Italy’s President to General Assembly, Secretary-General Thanks Him for His Leadership, Encourages His Greater Engagement in International Arena

28 March 2011
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Introducing Italy’s President to General Assembly, Secretary-General Thanks Him

for His Leadership, Encourages His Greater Engagement in International Arena

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks introducing the President of Italy at the General Assembly today, 28 March: 

It is my great honour to join the President of the General Assembly Joseph Deiss in welcoming you here today.  And it is a personal pleasure, for me, to introduce you.  President [Giorgio] Napolitano, not many people can say this.  But you, you are a legend in your own time.

Looking over some notes by staff put together this morning, I noticed a quote from a newspaper citing you as “the grand old man of the Italian Republic”.  That is high praise indeed, having little to do with chronological age.  Another called you “the embodiment of Italian post-war history”.  And it is true.

For many decades, you have been a leading moral voice of your country, and far beyond.  You have been a champion of public principle, good governance, openness and transparency and honesty as democracy’s highest good.  You have written more books than many people have read!  And through your tireless, consistent and eloquent advocacy, you have helped make Italy all that it is today.

You have come to address our Assembly at an important time in the history of the United Nations — a time that, in its way, is no less critical, no less transformative, than that epochal year you have written about so often — 1989.  Now, as then, we are witness to revolution.

Revolutionary change is sweeping the Arab world, with repercussions that will be felt everywhere and by all.  We face no less epochal change in other spheres — from climate change to fighting global poverty to advancing human rights.  Italy is in the vanguard of all these struggles, just as you yourself have so often been in the vanguard of so many of humankind’s great and noble causes. 

As the sixth largest contributor to the United Nations budget, Italy is supporting the United Nations three pillars:  peace and security; development; and human rights.  Italy has been a great contributor to United Nations peacekeeping.  Most recently, Italy has supported the international campaign in Libya pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1973.

On the economic front, as a member of the Group of Eight (G-8) and the Group of Twenty (G-20), Italy has advanced the global agenda to meet the Millennium Development Goals.  This was evident in 2009 when Italy hosted the G-8 in L’Aquila following the earthquake there, and Italy’s strong commitment has been consistent throughout.

Italy’s contribution goes beyond resources and manpower.  Italy provides a crucial service to United Nations operations through both logistical training and support.  The United Nations Logistics Base in Brindisi is gaining in importance as the United Nations system relies more and more on global and regional hubs to operate more quickly and effectively.  As our new Global Field Support Strategy progresses, the Brindisi base will become even more important.

The United Nations Staff College in Turino plays a critical role in helping the United Nations to build a professional and modern workforce to serve the international community.  Rome is host to many important United Nations agencies fighting hunger and addressing other global challenges, from criminal justice to rural development.  The international community chose Italy’s capital as the birthplace of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which has emerged as central to our global fight against impunity.

In addition to Italy’s many contributions to the United Nations, President Napolitano, you personally have supported many of our causes.  Your Excellency’s dedication to parliamentary democracy is especially noteworthy.  You have shown great passion for international and European policy issues as President of the Republic and as a member of the Italian Chamber of Deputies.  And you have extended the reach of your influence well beyond Italy’s borders through your service as a representative of the North Atlantic Assembly and European Parliament.  I applaud you, Mr. President, and the great country you have served over the remarkable span of your distinguished career.

Let me conclude by calling all of our attention to the golden sphere in the plaza outside the Visitor’s Entrance to this Assembly.  “Sphere within a Sphere,” they call it.  Italy donated this fine work of art, symbolizing the emergence of a more harmonious new world from the chaos of the old world.  What could be more appropriate — after all, is this not our United Nations mission?

Thank you, President Napolitano, for your leadership.  I encourage your even greater engagement in the international arena as we look to our common challenges ahead. And now, like the rest of us, I look forward to hearing your address, here at this important hour.  Thank you very much.

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