Welcome to the United Nations. It's your world.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon


Secretary-General's remarks at San Patrignano Drug Rehabilitation Centre

Italy, 2 April 2013

I cannot express how I am feeling. The stories which I heard from Mike and Damir are very impressive.
I am very much touched. I know your life is maybe very difficult at this time. But I am here as Secretary-General of the United Nations to give at least a sense of hope for your brighter and better future.

I thank Madam Moratti. She is our Goodwill Ambassador. She was the Minister of Education. It is good to have such a visionary leader who will work for your better life.

You are coming from very diverse backgrounds. Young and old, middle-aged. But you have one problem but you have I think hope for a better life.

In our lifetime,  nobody is perfect. Nobody is perfect. One day, one time, for certain reasons one may make some misjudgments. One may make mistakes. But I think by having you here, [you are] trying to cultivate your potential. Everybody has good potential. So that is why you are here. I am very much grateful for many volunteers who are working for you and you are, I think, volunteering your lives. I know that everything is provided and produced.

This is sort of self-help, self cooperation. You learn yourselves how to adapt yourselves to the next phase of your life. I really hope that you will fully utilize your time here. This is a very limited time, but a very good opportunity to improve your life and your potential.

The United Nations is working with and for young people. This world is becoming much, much younger. Half of the population of the world is now under the age of 25.

I think most of you are young people. We will work for you. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Prevention is the focus for your better future.

Unless we reduce the use of drugs, we may not be able to completely eliminate this very unhappy phenomenon all around the world.

You are the ones who are committed to work with the United Nations. First improve your life, improve your better future and work with the United Nations to address global challenges.

These drugs are a global challenge. But I am telling leaders that for those like yourselves who have been using drugs for some time for whatever reasons should be given the full protection of human rights and human dignity.

I assure you that we will work for your better future where you can be an honourable member of your community, where you can contribute your skills and potential for better social and economic development of our world.

When you go back to your own country, to your home you will be very honourable fathers, mothers, sons and daughters and honourable members of your community and champions of this world for human rights, human dignity, and peace and prosperity.

This may be very difficult for you, for your family. I ask the family members and I ask leaders of this community to have compassion, compassion for all of you, and for your friends, for your neighbours. If you don't have compassion you cannot change. At the same time please have passion. You can make it happen. You can do it yourselves.

The United Nations will help you. The governments, your governments, the Italian government will help you, and there are many very generous people, like Mr. Muccioli who founded this community.

My time is very much limited so I am not able to continue my dialogue with you. I really wanted to have breakfast together with you and have more dialogue. But I believe that the stories of Mike and Damir may be common to all of you.
You can do it. You can overcome these difficulties. This is just a brief period of your long life.

Just two years, three years, or some months depending on how you do. Again, have strong courage. You can do it. You can overcome this. And have compassion and passion for a better life and we will work with you.

Grazie mille. Thank you.

Off-the-Cuff on 2 April 2013