17 April 2009


17 April 2009
Deputy Secretary-General
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

real power comes from building support, consensus, Deputy Secretary-General

stresses in lecture on forging renewed partnership for development

Following is the text of UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s lecture, “Forging a Renewed Partnership for Development”, as delivered at McGill University, Montreal, on 16 April:

Je voudrais vous remercier pour l’accueil chaleureux.  C’est un grand plaisir pour moi de me joindre à vous aujourd’hui pour discuter avec vous l’agenda des Nations Unies pour le développement.

Et à partir d’ici, je vais parler en anglais.

It is a great pleasure to join you today to discuss our work on development at the United Nations.

I am grateful to the leadership of McGill University, the Institute for the Study of International Development and the Jeanne Sauvé Foundation for hosting this lecture.  Thank you for your kind hospitality.

Montréal is the hometown of Madame Louise Fréchette, who, as you know so well, is one of my predecessors as Deputy Secretary-General.  I owe her a great deal of gratitude for laying the ground for me and many other colleagues to follow.

I am heartened to see a wide cross-section of the Montréal community here today.  It is a great honour to be joined today for this conversation by the High Commissioner of Tanzania to Canada.

Montréal is a city dear to the heart of all of us at the United Nations.  In addition to New York, it is the only North American city that hosts the headquarters of a UN agency.  Montréal’s smooth combination of French and English embodies the linguistic mix we are trying to achieve at the UN Headquarters.  I look forward to returning to practise my French.

Montréal, Québec and Canada have always been open to the world.  This city, this province and this country are ‑‑ together ‑‑ a crossroads of cultures, people and ideas.

Canada’s Governors-General have personified this engagement with the world.  I had the good fortune earlier today to dine with the current Governor-General, Her Excellency Michaëlle Jean.  Her story is the story of Canada.  There are few nations in the world where a refugee could rise to become the public face of her country.

As one of your bookstores used to say, “The world needs more Canada.”

I am speaking here today thanks to the leadership and vision of another Governor-General, the late Madame Jeanne Sauvé.  As the first woman to be Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons, and the first woman to be Governor-General, Jeanne Sauvé led a life of firsts.  It is a fitting legacy that her foundation helps bring young leaders to Canada to create their own breakthroughs.

Like these Sauvé Scholars, each of us stands on the shoulders of giants.  A well-known African proverb holds that “I am because we are.”  Indeed, it takes a village for each of us to reach our full potential.

The world is confronted by a host of crises:  a global food crisis; profound climate change; and extreme poverty.  Add volatile energy prices and the challenges we face begin to look insurmountable.  But together we can succeed in addressing them.

In the past we have repeatedly risen to the challenges that face us.  We have shown again and again that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Humanity has created international organizations and agreements to tie groups of committed individuals together.  To increase their impact.  Today, these partnerships are under great stress.

The United Nations provides a universal framework to bring us together.  To do so, it needs support from partners such as Canada.  We look to friends such as Canada to help us develop and implement an agenda for sustainable development and to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

There has been debate about how individuals and countries can best wield power in the twenty-first century.  Soft power, hard power, and smart power have all been proposed as new paradigms.

But I would argue that real power comes from building support, forging consensus and constructing partnerships.  Real power comes from empowering people.  Empowering them to change.  Empowering them to reach out to others.  Empowering them to improve their lives.

I have seen the incredible capacity of people to make change happen in even the most difficult circumstances.  Often, change takes only a small amount of support from a trusted partner.  This is the kind of partnership that I want to talk about today.  It is the kind of partnership we have been working to create at the United Nations to advance the Millennium Development Goals.  Taken together, the Millennium Development Goals form the internationally agreed framework to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; and end death from preventable disease.

The task of achieving the Goals is too great for any one of us to achieve alone.  We must forge partnerships to empower each other.  We must succeed together.  Each of us has a personal responsibility to address the grinding poverty that exists alongside abundant plenty.  And you, the next generation of leaders, you have a particularly critical role to play.  Each one of us comes from a privileged generation ‑‑ each more privileged in many ways than the last.  The personal commitments you make today to the global causes you passionately embrace will help define today’s priorities and tomorrow’s breakthroughs.

There are so many ways you can contribute.  In fact, there is little excuse for inaction.  From efforts to set the world on a new path to food security, to fighting global warming, which so badly endangers our common future, you can make a difference.  Your commitment and insight will be welcome.

There is so much to be done.  The economic, food crisis and climate crises underscore that the world is in the midst of a “development emergency”.  The Millennium Development Goals have helped marshal our shared response.  But despite their global endorsement, progress in many countries is still off track.

Recent experience shows that we have reason for hope.  When well-designed projects are combined with adequate financing we can make substantial advances toward the Millennium Development Goals.  But it will take the combined and dedicated efforts of all of us to bring about real and sustainable progress.

In 2010, the world will have a fresh opportunity to assess our progress on the Millennium Development Goals and agree on decisive steps to meet the Goals by their 2015 target date.  An effective multilateral system that delivers results has never been more important.  The United Nations, as the only institution providing all countries with a platform to work together, has never been more relevant.

Solutions must be hammered out in a process involving all States.  You are certainly aware of the pledges made at this month’s London Summit to dedicate over $1 trillion to fight the financial crisis.  In June, the world will gather at the United Nations to reassess the situation and propose appropriate measures to find a lasting solution to the imbalances affecting the world.

As we leave here today, I hope that all of us will resolve to become engaged in finding solutions to the challenges we face.  And that we will work actively to build the partnerships ‑‑ between Canada, the United Nations and the world ‑‑ that will provide the answers we need.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.