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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Secretary-General's Question and Answer Session at MGIMO University

Moscow, 18 March 2010

Q: Honorable Secretary-General, from 12-16 April, MGIMO will host an annual Moscow International Model United Nations that will see more than 600 participants from all over the world, and all around Russia. What wish would you like to convey to them?

SG: One of the most practical ways to broaden you scope to become a grown up citizen is to actively participate in this Model United Nations. To tell you from my own experience, I was a courageous student, and I participated for the first time in the Model United Nations. And when I joined the Foreign Ministry, I acted as the President of the Security Council. For that I got the Foreign Minister's citation and that is why I am now working as the Secretary-General.

We are very active as if we were representing a certain country. You have to read all these records of the United Nations and its Security Council to understand what would be the tradition of the country that you represent. As I said, every country has different national agendas. Try to act as if this is real. If you think this is Model United Nations, you may sometimes participate without much sincerity or seriousness. So, you really prepare and act as if you really represent that particular country. And study in-depth the real problems, the real concerns of those countries. That is the way you can really win. Sometimes you may engage in fighting with your colleague representatives. I dream that you can really broaden and deepen your understanding. And that will be the leading in, the leading in. When you really join the United Nations or any other international organization, then you will be far better off than other people. So enjoy your Model UN.

I have been sending out video messages or written messages to those Model UN conferences, and I have participated myself as Secretary-General at least three or four times and addressed those Model United Nations. I understand that the next meeting is going to be held in Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, and the next one will be in Korea, maybe next year. So, there are many such good opportunities. And I hope you will learn a lot. Thank you very much.

Q: Distinguished Mr. Ban Ki-moon, on behalf of all our students, it is a great honor to thank you for coming to my University and delivering such an interesting and precise lecture. My question is going to touch upon such a matter of efficiency of the United Nations. Lately, the United Nations has been widely believed to be less efficient than it used to be in the past. And actions it has undertaken in the regional conflicts, such as in Afghanistan, in South Eastern Europe, in the horn of Africa, have not brought stable and durable peace to the regions. Could you possibly comment on that, and say if any urgent reforms are to be implemented in the United Nations and in which fields? Thank you so much.

SG: I think not only in the United Nations, but in every government, every organization, there is always some room for improvement. The United Nations has also some space, some room for improvement or reform. That I admit, and humbly accept criticisms, or comments, or suggestions. The UN was founded 64 years ago, and over six decades, while addressing main global challenges or regional conflicts, we have seen successes and frustrations or failures. But we are learning our lessons, we are learning not to repeat those failures. And we always want to make success. I admit that there is something more to do. As Secretary-General, I have made reform of the United Nations one of my top priorities. As I have just said, my seventh priority agenda is reform of the United Nations. I am committed to make the United Nations more accountable, very transparent and efficient.

I have taken already many actions, many reform measures. For example, I take accountability as one of the highest priorities, I have asked my senior advisors at the rank of Assistant-Secretary-General to be, first of all, accountable to me. They should identify their priorities. And at the end of the year, those priorities will be examined and reviewed by the Performance Review Committee. And if they are not ? those benchmarks that they set ?they do not get the extension of their contracts – that was for the first time in the history of the United Nations. And I have asked all senior advisors to declare their financial assets. [We have also been] criticized for corruption, all this malfunctioning, in our programmes. Now all the [inaudible] leaders, all senior advisors, all those people who are dealing with procurement, they have to declare all of their assets. There is transparent checking: when they put on a website, [this data is] thoroughly examined by third independent accountants, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, which is a well-known international auditing company. They are auditing everything. And there are many other issues. I have lately created a very clear - the Tribunal system. When the staff do not have a proper way of addressing their grievances, then I have made a legally binding tribunal, as you see in a local country or national government, like a district court, appeals court and supreme court. We have this system which I have established. In terms of transparency, accountability, I think we have made great progress. In terms of efficiency, effectiveness, I am still working more. First of all, I have streamlined all these bureaucratic appointments into three systems. You may not easily understand how complex are the bureaucratic systems which we have. I am now in the process of streamlining all these so than all the staff can work in much more strengthened? security, but each job should be the subject of accountability and review.

Those are some things that I have been doing. As a part of reform to make this Organization gender-equality based, I have increased by 40 percent the number of senior women staff, or advisors, in the United Nations. And this is what I am going to continue.

Q: Do you think that the radical divisions between developing and developed countries is inevitable? If not, what kind of factors are supposed to be the most effective in dealing with this very important issue? Thank you very much.

SG: Your Korean is much, much better than my Russian. Thank you, thank you very much. There is no reason why there should be such a divide between developed and developing countries, between haves and have-nots. Our role is to promote harmonious development, to provide resources and opportunities to all people of the world – that is what I said [inaudible] Millennium Development Goals by 2015 – of course we won't be able to achieve all the goals by 2015; at least we should be able to reduce, cut by half the number of poor. That's number one. At least we should provide women and girls a descent primary education. Not a college education, a primary education. We have made good progress in reducing the child mortality rate. One woman dies every minute. Now we have spoken for 45 minutes, and 45 women must have died. This is just an unacceptable, intolerable situation. Then, after 2015, we will have to have another blueprint on how to make this world more harmonious and prosperous. That is a very big challenge, I have been urging the developed countries, industrialized countries like Russia. Russia has become a donor country, [inaudible] that they should come out with generous contribution. [inaudible] that they would greatly reduce the death toll from malaria, reduce, not eliminate.We have eradicated polio, except in a few countries in the world. The world is not even, it is as divided as you said. But, our vision is to have all 6.5 billion of people in the world living in harmonious prosperity.

Q: [inaudible] unrecognized entities?

SG: Unfortunately, there was a conflict in this region. As Secretary-General I have been trying to establish peace and stability. We were trying to provide humanitarian assistance to the displaced people. There used to be a UN peacekeeping mission, but there was a Security Council decision, and the UN had to withdraw this mission. There used to be conflict mechanism: the UN, the EU, the Russian Federation and some other key partners have been meeting in Geneva and we have established a sort of instance incident prevention and response mechanism. To prevent such incidents from happening, and if it happens, how best we can deal with it. We have made some progress, and recently I have appointed my special UN Representative who will work with the parties concerned. I hope that this will maintain peace and stability in the region and we will keep working to that end.


Off-the-Cuff on 18 March 2010