|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Secretary-General, at Asia Conference, Says that More than Geography,
Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the fourth Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), in Shanghai, 21 May:
Good morning, ni hao! Dobro utro, salam alaikum.
I am honoured to address this summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia. Let me begin by recognizing the leadership of President Xi Jinping of China as the chair of CICA.
I appreciate the warm hospitality and friendship of the Chinese people and Government. I also commend President Nursultan Nazarbayev [of Kazakhstan] for his vision to have established this important organization, CICA.
We have come together to advance a fundamental truth in today’s world: mutual trust and confidence-building are cornerstones of peace and security. The great Chinese philosopher Confucius would recognize this since he believed that education breeds confidence, confidence breeds hope and hope breeds peace.
In many ways the global future is being built here in Asia. This continent is a home of economic dynamism, innovation and potential. Asia is on the rise. This is a source of optimism.
But the twenty-first century transformation is also being accompanied by challenges that place at risk our goals of prosperity, stability and dignity for all. These include growing inequalities, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and transnational threats, such as terrorism, human trafficking and the illicit trade in drugs.
To cope with these and other dangers, we can draw on the Charter of the United Nations — a time-tested foundation for solutions that emphasizes the pacific settlement of disputes and underlines the importance of engagement with regional organizations.
Despite our best efforts, the greater Asian theatre is the scene of some of the most worrying tensions in the world today.
Let me point to five immediate areas of concern.
First, the deeply troubling situation in Syria. Those countries with influence on the parties must demonstrate an honest commitment for de-escalation and a political solution. This is the only pathway to peace. How many more people must die before we accept this self-evident truth?
Second, I am worried by the proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in the region. The United Nations has worked to encourage nuclear-free zones and non-proliferation. We must continue to strive for diplomatic resolutions with nations that possess the capability or intent to pursue the development of these weapons.
The volatile situation on the Korean peninsula has highlighted the need for achieving verifiable denuclearization. That means dialogue and negotiations, including a resumption of the six-party talks. These efforts must be accompanied by an improvement in inter-Korean relations. We must also address the dire humanitarian and human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The third area of concern is the growth of territorial disputes and unhelpful rhetoric across the area represented by CICA member States.
The culture of dialogue is deeply embedded in Asia. All of you are here to build confidence and enhance interaction between your countries. The people of the region are counting on your foresight and wisdom to sit together and resolve all differences through dialogue and in conformity with international law.
Fourth, I have a particular concern over terrorism and criminal activities. The United Nations stands ready to help countries in the region facing particular threats. Vulnerable and poor countries are often the targets for those engaged in these activities. They can be addressed through much closer regional cooperation.
Such cooperation is critical during this crucial transition period in Afghanistan. A stable Afghanistan benefits not only its own people, but the wider neighbourhood.
Throughout the region, the United Nations pledges to continue working with you to promote dialogue and enhance confidence-building measures, including through the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia and the UN Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Fifth and finally, we must do more to address another immediate threat to regional and international peace and security: the clear and present danger of extreme weather and climate change. The impact is devastating the environment and human lives. Science is warning us that the risks will only intensify and grow more costly. Asia’s choices, in particular on energy use, will be crucial in enabling the world to achieve truly sustainable development.
On 23 September, I will host a Climate Summit in New York focused on ambition and action. I look forward to your active participation and engagement.
As we look ahead together, let us respond to the rising voices that rightfully expect their legitimate aspirations, democratic rights and fundamental freedoms to be respected.
Let us promote the dignity and rights of women and young people.
Let us heal the region’s rifts and historical wounds through cooperation, not conflict, and through common interests, not unilateral action. As Chinese wisdom reminds us, a small hole not mended in time will become a big hole and much more difficult to mend.
This forum represents a vast stretch of the world. But, together, you are defined by more than geography. You have enormous potential to unite people and ideas. As you build trust and confidence with each other, you will build bridges to a better world for all.
You can count on my support and the United Nations, and the continued partnership of the United Nations. Thank you. Xie xie.
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