Secretary-General Calls for New Spirit of Cooperation that Delivers ‘Real Results for Real People’, in Remarks at Global Leadership Awards Gala

24 November 2009

Secretary-General Calls for New Spirit of Cooperation that Delivers ‘Real Results for Real People’, in Remarks at Global Leadership Awards Gala

24 November 2009
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Secretary-General Calls for New Spirit of Cooperation that Delivers ‘Real Results

for Real People’, in Remarks at Global Leadership Awards Gala

(Delayed in transmission.)

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the fifty-first annual UNA-USA/BCUN Global Leadership Awards gala, in New York, 23 November

What a pleasure to be here this evening.  I see so many familiar faces, so many dynamic New Yorkers, so many good friends of the United Nations.

I thank you for your leadership, your support and your generous contributions to the United Nations.  Because you are here, because of your strong support and friendship, the United Nations can do what we are expected to do.

Tom Miller -- thank you for bringing us together.  You have taken the helm of the UNA in fine fashion.  Your reputation for getting things done is well deserved.

As the Secretary-General of the United Nations, I commend the commitment of the United Nations Association under your leadership, in helping to strengthen the relations between the United Nations and the United States.

I believe, and I have been saying all the time, that without the strong support and partnership of the United States and the United Nations, the UN cannot function properly.  In that regard, I really admire and express my sincere appreciation for bringing the United States back to the United Nations.

I have been travelling to many cities around the United States together with the former UNA-USA President, Ambassador William Luers, and now, Ambassador Miller, most recently to Seattle last month.  The latest of my visits to major American cities is a continuing effort to make a better, stronger partnership and support with the United States.

It was a wonderful trip, not least because I was able to cite a fine philosopher and one of Seattle’s favourite sons.  He said:  “Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.”

I believe I stand before you tonight as the only UN Secretary-General to quote Jimi Hendrix.

Let me also recognize Janet Ross -- a dear friend and a long-time, great supporter of the United Nations Association.

Alongside these familiar faces, let me introduce my new Spokesperson, whom I appointed very recently -- just a few days ago.

Martin Nesirky is a seasoned journalist who has covered many of the big stories of the past two decades.  He comes to us, most recently, from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and I am sure he will be a dynamic addition to our United Nations.

Now let me salute tonight’s honourees.

John Whitehead, what a remarkable life you have led.  We see many “men of action” in public life.  You set a standard.  From Omaha Beach to the diplomacy that ended the Cold War -- something you thought you would never see.  In the wake of September 11, New York turned to you to spearhead downtown’s recovery.

You retired from Goldman Sachs more than two decades ago, saying it was time to “phase down”.  If anything, you picked up the pace.  I speak for everyone in saying we are glad you did.

The UNA and the United Nations are the happy beneficiaries of your energy and your inspiring commitment to public life.  You richly deserve the UNA’s Global Change Award.

Sheryl WuDunn, the Leo Nevas Award recognizes outstanding achievements in pursuit of human rights.  You embody that spirit.

Let me quote something you said two months ago at a UN panel on women’s rights.

“In the nineteenth century, the paramount moral challenge was slavery.  In the twentieth century, it was totalitarianism.  In this century,” you said, the cause of our time is the rights of women and children -- “the brutality inflicted on so many people in so many countries because of their gender”.

Your words should be a call to action.

Tomorrow, I will launch a network of prominent men -- Government leaders, religious figures, cultural figures, CEOs, young people and more -- who pledge to work to end violence against women.  This is very much in the spirit of my own campaign, “UNiTE to end violence against women”.

This is very much in the spirit of our global campaign to end violence against women which I have initiated last year.

Sheryl WuDunn, this of course is the idea of your wonderful book, Half the Sky.  I hope everyone here today will read it and take up your challenge.

In fact, my wife bought many copies [of this book] and has been distributing to our friends, including some spouses of UN Ambassadors.  I know why your book has been selected the bestseller book of The New York Times.

Together, we can stop violence against women.  We can end the silence surrounding it.  We can unite and we can empower women of the world, once and for all.

I am also pleased to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the UNA’s Global Classrooms initiative.

We know that children do not learn enough about the United Nations.  Young people who want to know more typically have to join an after-school club.  That is about to change.

Chicago will be the first American city to incorporate Global Classrooms into its school curriculum.  I hope others will do the same.

Global Classrooms is not merely about acquiring knowledge.  It is about creating the global citizens of tomorrow.

That is why I speak so often about the need for a renewed multilateralism -- the need for a renewed spirit of global cooperation that delivers real results for real people.

So many issues demand our attention.  There is so much that we can and must do in the year ahead.

First, climate change.  Reading the latest news reports, you might think that the upcoming climate change summit meeting in Copenhagen is destined to be a “disappointment”.  That is flat wrong.  To the contrary, every day lately has been bringing new signs of progress.

In recent weeks, countries from both the developed and developing worlds, like Indonesia, Russia, Brazil, Japan, Norway, the European Union and my own country of Korea, have all stepped forward with new specific proposals for cutting carbon emissions.

Just last week, the United States and China agreed to work together.  I am very encouraged by the summit meeting between President [Barack] Obama and President Hu Jintao last week.

Just this morning, I learned that more than 65 world leaders will participate in the Copenhagen climate change summit meeting.  That means that the leaders are united.  They are united for one purpose.  Everyone is united for one purpose: to address climate change.  Now it is time, for them to unite in action.

This is going to be a game-changer.  Momentum is building.  We can, and I believe we will, reach a deal in Copenhagen that sets the stage for a binding, legally binding treaty as soon as possible in 2010.  I ask for your help in getting that message across.

Beyond Copenhagen, we are entering a critical year.  You know why as well as I.

Important elections in Iraq, Myanmar and Sudan.  The difficult and dangerous situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Nuclear negotiations with Iran.  Piracy in Somalia.  Stalemate in the Middle East.  Conflict in the eastern Congo.  All these will require determined diplomacy, public and behind the scenes.

And on top of all this, we face, or will face, a range of humanitarian and human rights challenges, all compounded by global economic trouble.

Let me conclude by saying that we are making progress on all these challenges.

I do not underestimate the difficulties.  We advance with our eyes open, fully aware of the distance ahead.  It takes time.  Nothing worthwhile comes easily or overnight.

Dag Hammarskjöld said: “Easy successes are possible for a juggler.  Lasting results are achieved only by a patient builder.”

We here tonight are in the building business.  Today, people increasingly recognize the need for determined collective action.  Today, the United Nations has never been in such demand, in so many places.

Yes, we’re going to have our ups and downs.  Yes, there may be setbacks.  That may go with the job.

In doing this hard but indispensable work, we are lucky to have such strong and dedicated friends, like the UN Association as our friend and ally.

We are lucky to have the likes of Sheryl WuDunn and John Whitehead.

And we are lucky to be living in a new era, where doors in Washington and around the world are open wide, and where big change on the big issues is not only possible but inevitable.

Let us, together, make the most of this moment.  For now is our time.

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