As Globe Faces Multiple Crises, “U Thant’s Vision of ‘One World’ Should Inform All Our Thinking”, Says Secretary-General at Headquarters Event

3 June 2009

As Globe Faces Multiple Crises, “U Thant’s Vision of ‘One World’ Should Inform All Our Thinking”, Says Secretary-General at Headquarters Event

3 June 2009
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York



Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at a lunch in honour of the centenary of the birth of U Thant, in New York, 3 June:

Let me begin by thanking the U Thant Institute and my colleagues in the United Nations Office for Partnerships and the Department of Public Information for organizing this lunch.

It is a great honour for me to be able to join you in paying tribute to the memory of my distinguished predecessor, U Thant.

The office of Secretary-General comes with great responsibilities -- and challenges to match.  Whenever I need inspiration, I can find it in U Thant.

When I visited Myanmar last year in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis, I also took the opportunity to pay my respect to his memory by visiting the U Thant mausoleum in Yangon.

It is a sad irony that U Thant’s vision of democracy has not been realized in his own country.  That is why I would like to visit Myanmar again this year.

This quiet diplomat worked hard for the principles of the United Nations.

He helped to defuse cold war tensions.  He oversaw the Organization’s growth -- both in membership and scope.  And he helped lay the foundations for what we now call sustainable development.

U Thant’s roots as a teacher also provided the seeds for the United Nations University and the Institute that bears his name, which is built on the concept of “One World”.

It was during U Thant’s time in office that astronauts took the first photographs of Earth from Space.

These iconic images of our fragile and beautiful home clearly show how we share “One World”.  It is a lesson we cannot afford to ignore.

The crises of the past year -- the food crisis, the energy crisis, the financial crisis and the economic crisis -- emphasized the interconnections of our “One World”.

We see them also with climate change.

Many of the countries that joined the United Nations while U Thant was Secretary-General will be among the worst affected by climate change.

They are also among the hardest hit by the other crises I mentioned.

This is why I call for global solidarity whenever I speak.

I did so in April when I went to London to speak to the G-20 summit.

And I will continue to do so between now and December, when Governments meet to seal a deal on climate change.

U Thant’s vision of “One World” should inform all our thinking.

We must raise our young people to be citizens of “One World”.

We must honour of the memory of my predecessor U Thant and the legacy we will leave to future generations.

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