|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Moderate Voices Must Speak up for Others’ Beliefs, Says Secretary-General
At Opening Meeting of General Assembly’s Sixty-seventh Session
Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the opening of the sixty-seventh session of the General Assembly in New York today, 18 September:
The opening of each year’s session of the General Assembly coincides with the beginning of autumn in the northern hemisphere. But to me there is also a feeling of spring. There are new hopes on the scene, new issues to be addressed, new ways of conducting our business. Our challenge is to make that initial sense of hope more than a fleeting moment — to turn today’s goodwill into a lasting record of progress for the world’s people.
I wish to renew my congratulations to you, Mr. President, on taking up your duties as President of this august body. There has been a good transition between the Assembly’s new President and his predecessor. I thank His Excellency Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser for his leadership over the past eventful year.
There has also been good coordination between the new President’s office and mine. This bodes well for the work ahead. Mr. President, you can count on me, my full support.
As usual, the Assembly faces a long and urgent agenda. Next week will also feature many important high-level meetings and initiatives: on energy, women’s health, nutrition and education, peace and security challenges, such as the very complex — and very urgent – situation in the Sahel region. The deteriorating situation in Syria will also be foremost in our minds.
Member States are currently negotiating the outcome of the High-level Meeting on the Rule of Law. I urge you to forge a document that sends a strong signal of commitment to the rule of law at the national and international levels alike.
We are also embarking together on crucially important efforts to establish the Sustainable Development Goals and articulate a post-2015 development agenda. We are continuing our push to achieve the Millennium Development Goals as the deadline approaches.
Mr. President, you have proposed that next week’s general debate focus on the peaceful settlement of international disputes. I welcome this theme. One of my main priorities as Secretary-General has been to promote prevention and peaceful means of resolving differences. There is great, unexplored potential in this area.
We are living through a period of unease. We are also seeing incidents of intolerance and hatred that are then exploited by others. Voices of moderation and calm need to make themselves heard at this time. We all need to speak up in favour of mutual respect and understanding of the values and beliefs of others.
The United Nations itself must rise to the moment. This Organization is being asked to do more than ever before. People want results in real time, not years. That is why we will also be working together during this session to deepen our efforts to strengthen and modernize the United Nations itself.
Finally, let us take note of today’s sad anniversary of the death of my illustrious predecessor, Dag Hammarskjöld. His example and his wisdom continue to inspire. This is crucial for delivering on our mandates.
Mr. President, in your acceptance speech, you said it was your hope that the session ahead would help reach the day when humankind will have “abolished its fear”. Let us all work together to make that hope come true.
I wish you all well for a productive sixty-seventh session of the General Assembly.
* *** *