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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Secretary-General's remarks at press encounter at the Fifth Global Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations

Vienna, Austria, 27 February 2013

SG: Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to first of all thank the Government of Austria for organizing this very important Forum of UN Alliance of Civilizations.

The Alliance of Civilizations is an important United Nations initiative and I am very much encouraged by growing understanding and appreciation of the importance of the Alliance of Civilizations.

Again there is growing understanding that the politics of division, hatred and misperceptions, particularly the language of hatred tear the fabric of our society. 

At a time of test for the human family we are living in an era of dramatic transformation in economic, social, political and environmental areas. The last thing the world needs at this time is intolerance and hatred.

The Alliance is trying to build bridges, speak out against extremism, and promote harmony and human dignity. 

Responsible leadership is the key in addressing all the challenges which we are now having. This will be crucial. That is why the theme of this Global Forum of the Alliance of Civilizations meaning responsible leadership in diversity and dialogue is very fitting and appropriate.

I am glad there are so many distinguished leaders, civil society leaders, and religious leaders are taking part this time in Vienna.

I was truly inspired by many leaders, the remarkable work and the leadership they had been demonstrating in addressing all these challenges which we are now facing.

Yesterday, I participated in a very moving event in the Volkstheater where we were able to see many young people, their creative and very determined engagement to promote mutual understanding among diversity. This is what we really want. We have to help this young generation so that they can shape the future, a better future and more tolerant society, where everybody can live in peace and security, with a dignity and in harmony.

Ladies and gentlemen, at the margins of this meeting I am also meeting many leaders who are participating in this, including leadership of the Austrian Government. I met President Heinz Fischer and I am also looking forward to my meeting with the Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister and I am also meeting leaders sitting in this Forum.

Our agenda this time which has a direct relationship to our discussions today, particularly the situation in Syria, Mali, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Millennium Development Goals, and how to identify and agree on the sustainable development goals, the post-MDG development agenda in a broader sense. 

We are also focusing on deepening our partnership, not only among government leadership but business communities, religious leadership, civil society leadership through this strengthened network and partnership. I am sure that we will be able to promote more effectively, more harmoniously, in a more structured way the goal which we are now promoting to make a better world, more tolerant and more and deeply understanding and appreciating the diversity of this world, forever, and wherever we may be living with whatever background of religious thoughts or belief and everybody has a right to live with dignity and respect. This is the main purpose of our initiative of the Alliance of Civilizations. And let us work together. And each and every one of us has a role to play. And I really count on the leadership of the world’s government so that they place the highest political priority on this matter. 

I thank you very much.

Q: (in Turkish) The Secretary General was asked about reform of the Security Council and whether he agreed with the Turkish Prime Minister on this.

SG: The Security Council Reform has been an issue which Member States have been very seriously discussing during the last 2 decades, for at least 20 years.
If we consider the dramatic changes that have taken place since the founding of the United Nations in 1945, I believe that the Security Council needs change in a more representative, more democratic, more transparent way. Members of the Security Council, they have also have been trying to change and improve their way of working. In this regard they have made this certain progress in terms of transparency of their way of working but when it comes to fundamental structural reform of the Security Council, despite such a long and very serious debate among the Member States we have not seen much progress. There is a widely shared almost a consensus of views that the Security Council must be changed but how to change? How many members there should be? What to do about veto powers which Prime Minister mentioned? Who will be represented? How the Member States can be represented? All these critically important issues have not met with satisfactory consensus opinions among the Member States.
I sincerely hope that the Member States continue to discuss this matter. The ninth intergovernmental negotiation is soon going to take place, the President of the General Assembly together with his facilitator who is Ambassador of Afghanistan, is very actively engaged in this matter. As the Secretary General I will also try to facilitate a political conducive atmosphere so the Member States will accelerate their discussions on this matter.

Thank you very much.