18 March 2010

World Needs Russian Federation’s Sustained, Creative Engagement across United Nations Agenda, Secretary-General Says in Address to Moscow Institute

18 March 2010
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

World Needs Russian Federation’s Sustained, Creative Engagement across United

Nations Agenda, Secretary-General Says in Address to Moscow Institute

Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s address at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations today, 18 March:

What a pleasure it is to be here with you today, here at this most prestigious institute for international affairs.  Your prestige extends far and wide to every corner of the globe.

Your roster of alumni includes so many world figures, down the decades ‑‑ presidents, ministers, diplomats, writers.  Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, I understand, studied here.  So did your esteemed Ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin.  Irina Bokova is the first woman to serve as Director-General of UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization].

You honour me greatly by bestowing upon me this honorary doctorate.  And by doing so, of course, you honour the United Nations ‑‑ the United Nations and its indispensable role in today’s world.  A world that is changing dramatically.  A world where, demonstrably, no nation can go it alone.  A world that, more and more, recognizes that nations must work together to overcome common problems and challenges.

This United Nations was born of a common aspiration to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, to affirm fundamental human rights, to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.  This is the pledge of the United Nations Charter.  These are the goals that endure today.

As a founding member of the United Nations, in the aftermath of war, you today are the keepers of that flame.  As a world Power and permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, we need you to fulfil that promise.  We need your engagement, across the United Nations agenda.  We need Russia’s leadership in our modern world.

You know the challenges as well as I.  Terrorism and nuclear proliferation, climate change and growing poverty, weakened global trade and economic systems in urgent need of overhaul.  No single nation can deal with such problems alone.  As I have said, they require that all nations work together ‑‑ nations united in common cause.

Earlier this year, I spelled out my agenda for 2010 to the United Nations General Assembly ‑‑ seven areas where I see strategic opportunities for genuine progress, not in some distant future, but here and now, this year:  mounting a final push for the Millennium Development Goals, with a special emphasis on empowering women and girls; moving ahead on climate change; moving towards a nuclear-weapon-free world; dealing with deadly conflicts; upholding human rights and the rule of law; and strengthening the UN itself.

All of these are critical objectives.  Advancing on any of them requires Russia’s leadership.  Today, let me speak to three of these issues:  the Millennium Development Goals and climate change; nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation; global peace and security.

First, the Millennium Goals ‑‑ our blueprint for reducing global poverty.  Over the past few decades, global economic growth has changed our world.  It has changed geopolitical balances of power, raised hundreds of millions of people and whole regions out of poverty.  Yet too many people have been left behind.  And now, as growth falters in many countries, those numbers are destined to grow, unless we act together.

That is why the United Nations war against poverty is so important.  That is why, in September, I will convene an MDG Summit in New York.

We have only five years to achieve the Millennium Goals, and Russia’s role is vital.  The economic crisis cannot be an excuse for sliding back.  We welcome Russia’s growing engagement in aid and development, both through the G-8 and G-20, as well as through the United Nations.  I particularly appreciate Russia’s recent contribution to the Central Emergency Response Fund and its commitment to step up official development assistance (ODA).

I thank you for your support for a comprehensive and inclusive climate change agreement, since climate change threatens progress on all the Millennium Goals.  In 2004, Russia’s ratification of the Kyoto Protocol brought that instrument into force.  Russia recognized climate change for what it is ‑‑ an existential global threat.  As we advance toward the coming climate change negotiations in Cancun, we once again count on Russia’s leadership ‑‑ leadership on one of the great and pressing causes of our time.

Second, the nuclear threat.  Like all of you today, I am concerned that thousands of nuclear weapons remain on firing alert.  More States are seeking to acquire such weapons, and now terrorist groups as well.  That is why, in late 2008, I issued a five-point plan for reinvigorating the disarmament and non-proliferation movement.  Pursuant to this call, I was encouraged to see the first Security Council Summit convened last September, and another summit will follow this coming April in Washington, D.C.

Here, too, the world looks to Russia for leadership.  I welcome Russia’s support for the goal of achieving a world free of nuclear weapons, affirmed by President [Dmitry] Medvedev and Foreign Minister Lavrov.  Russia and the United States are close to an historic agreement to reduce their nuclear arsenals by signing a follow-up agreement to the START [Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms].  It is important that these negotiations reach a successful conclusion, hopefully before the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in May.

Foreign Minister Lavrov’s public comments this week are most encouraging.  The NPT Review Conference is a major opportunity.  We must sustain the current positive momentum for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  We must also get the multilateral disarmament machinery working efficiently again.  Russia’s support for negotiations at the Conference on Disarmament on a verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile materials is commendable.  I also value Russian efforts on an international Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space.

Let us also cooperate to confront the threat of nuclear terrorism.  I applaud Russia’s contributions to reducing this risk.  Russia’s efforts to combat the broader issues of terrorism, illicit drug trafficking and organized crime are also welcomed.  And of course, Russia is an important partner in implementing the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

Like many other nations, Russia has been a victim of on-going terrorism.  Two years ago, at a symposium on Supporting Victims of Terrorism at the United Nations, I met a mother and child who survived the infamous attack in Beslan.  Since then, I have mourned United Nations colleagues who have lost their lives in similar attacks ‑‑ in Algiers, in Pakistan, in Afghanistan.  These brave men and women lost their lives working to make the world a better place.

This brings me to my third point:  global peace and security.  Terrorism thrives where governance is weak, human rights are trampled and conflict prevails.  The United Nations depends on Russia in all our efforts to prevent and resolve deadly conflicts around the world.  As a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, the Russian Federation has unique responsibilities.

One of the main reasons I am here in Moscow is for the Quartet meeting.  This meeting comes at a critical moment.  Peace talks in the Middle East have not moved forward, and there have been worrying developments, including new settlement announcements that have undermined confidence.  We need to see an end to provocations from any quarter.  Meaningful dialogue must begin on all the core issues of this conflict, including Jerusalem.  The two-State solution is the only route to peace and security for both peoples.  Achieving it is urgent.

I am very worried about the situation in Gaza.  Hamas must show more responsibility towards the people.  They should choose the path of non-violence, unity and Palestinian and international legitimacy.  We must continue sending them that message.

But the Israeli policy of border closure destroys hope ‑‑ hope of a better life for all people, hope for recovery from the destruction and pain of war.  As policy it is counterproductive.  It undercuts moderates and empowers extremists.  It destroys legitimate commerce and encourages smuggling.  When I visit Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, immediately after the Quartet meeting, I will go to Gaza so I can assess the situation for myself, first-hand.

Other peace and security issues demand our joint and determined attention.  I discussed some of these today with President Medvedev and Foreign Minister Lavrov.  Russia is an indispensable member of the Six-Party Talks on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.  Its close relationship with both Koreas and other regional neighbours has unrivalled potential for promoting joint economic projects and cooperation in the region.  We count on Russia’s creative diplomacy on this matter.

Russia’s diplomacy is also crucial for our efforts to peacefully resolve the Iranian nuclear issue.  International efforts to supply nuclear fuel to the Teheran Research Reactor offer a significant opportunity to build trust between Iran and the international community.  In this regard, I highly commend Russia’s active engagement in this endeavour.

In closing, let me say clearly:  the world needs Russia’s sustained and creative engagement across the United Nations agenda.  Together, we can, and must, build a stronger UN for a better world.  On this, I know we have Russia’s support.

At the opening of the sixty-fourth session of the General Assembly, President Medvedev spoke of the unique international legitimacy of the United Nations.  I quote:  “We all must preserve and strengthen this shared wealth of the peoples of the world.”

Russia is a principal shareholder in this shared wealth.  Today, I appeal to you ‑‑ the leaders of tomorrow ‑‑ to preserve and enhance this precious legacy.  I hope you will become involved in our “Academic Impact” initiative which is working with institutions like yours to advance the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter.

We need people like you, and particularly the young people among you, full of energy, idealism and ideas about how to build a better world ‑‑ people with vision.  I appeal to you to think of what the United Nations means, and how you can help us today to meet the challenges of tomorrow.  Now more than ever, our common security, our prosperity and our growth means working in common cause.

All nations have interests.  But today we live in a world where those interests are best advanced when cooperation prevails over conflict ‑‑ a world where multilateralism trumps unilateralism and diplomatic engagement is the most powerful force for change.

As Russia well knows, that world is the United Nations.

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