Urging Model UN Conference Attendees to ‘Keep Working with Us, Pushing Us’, Secretary-General Says Active Engagement of Youth Today Will Shape Future

11 August 2011

Urging Model UN Conference Attendees to ‘Keep Working with Us, Pushing Us’, Secretary-General Says Active Engagement of Youth Today Will Shape Future

11 August 2011
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Urging Model UN Conference Attendees to ‘Keep Working with Us, Pushing Us’,


Secretary-General Says Active Engagement of Youth Today Will Shape Future


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the Global Model United Nations Conference, in Incheon, Republic of Korea, today, 11 August:

It is a great pleasure and honour for me to address this Global Model United Nations.

The United Nations is an indispensable organization.

That is why it was founded.  That is why it has remained relevant for more than 60 years.  And that is why I am so encouraged by your clear desire to get involved in our work.

Every day, UN staff are in the field, feeding people, saving lives and keeping the peace.  Every day, diplomats are working to resolve crises and develop the international laws that govern our ever more complex world.

Your experience in this Conference will give you a full taste of the complexity of international relations, the intricacies of negotiations among diverse peoples and perspectives, the challenges of achieving consensus and the patience required to win progress.

This has been my life for the past five years.

Last month I was honoured to be elected to a second term as Secretary-General.  It is a great honour.

I can confirm my commitment to work together with you for world peace, development, security and human rights.

My pledge to Member States is to make the United Nations even more effective and relevant; to deliver results for those who need us most.

At the moment we face a growing humanitarian emergency in the Horn of Africa.  The famine in Somalia is spreading.  Tens of thousands of lives are at stake.

The United Nations is there — saving lives.  We have appealed for roughly $2 billion in urgent assistance.  So far, we have received only a little more than half that amount.  But we will keep up the pressure and do what we can — and we must — to assist those in need.

In the same way, we will continue to keep up the political pressure round the world wherever and whenever we see human rights being trampled, democracy being subverted and justice being denied.

This is the United Nations.  It is your United Nations.  So, I am delighted to see you here today.

If there is one theme that sums up my first term as Secretary-General, and which will run through my second term for the coming five years, that is “new multilateralism”.

I am sure you have all heard the saying, “united we stand, divided we fall”.  That adage captures this moment in international affairs.

No single country or group of countries, no matter how powerful they may be, can take on the major issues of the day alone.

In an era when challenges spill over borders and have global reach, our future depends on how well we work together.  We must work in unison to defeat extreme poverty and build a more just and prosperous world.

We must stand up for human beings in crisis:  people caught up in war or disasters, or those whose fundamental rights are being infringed.

We must unite to overcome climate change, and create a greener, more sustainable world for all.  And we must create a safer world, free of nuclear weapons.

You are an important part of the solution.  The world needs your active engagement.

Twenty years from now, my generation will largely have left the scene.  You, here today, will stand in our place, very soon.

How the world looks in 2031 will depend largely on the decisions we make now, in 2011.  Whatever decision you make now, whatever decision we make together, will determine the future in 20 years.

Yes, technology offers solutions.  But I prefer to put my faith in people, young people in particular.  That is why the United Nations needs your engagement on the challenges that will shape the world you leave to your children.

I urge you to use the knowledge and skills you gain from this Model UN exercise and other pursuits to advance the objectives of the United Nations.

After all, you will soon be the Government officials who will negotiate peace, the community leaders who will help feed and shelter the vulnerable, the entrepreneurs and innovators who will get carbon emissions under control, the lawyers and human rights defenders who will fight injustice, impunity and intolerance.

Many of you are already making a difference.  I am sure that one among you will become Secretary-General, or President of the General Assembly, or a president, prime minister, foreign minister or ambassador.  That will depend upon how you do today.  That is why I am telling you the future of our world depends on your active engagement today.

Recent events around the world have shown the power of young people to take the initiative and positively change the course of history.  Increasingly, young people are saying to their elders, to their Governments:  “This is not the world we want.”

We have all witnessed the tremendous changes and turmoil that have swept across the Middle East and North Africa.

We have all witnessed the peaceful protests in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain and elsewhere.  But all of us have also seen terrible violence there and in Libya and Syria.

Your generation is showing a growing resolve to change our world — and a capacity to make things happen, through peaceful means.

I welcome this.

The world must take account of your voices.  It must take account of the legitimate aspirations of young people everywhere for opportunity and dignity.

Please keep working with us, pushing us and inspiring us.

Help shape our world for the better.  Help us meet the collective tests of our times and help the United Nations deliver what the world needs at this crucial moment.

Never underestimate the power of the individual to make a difference; to change the world.

Please accept my best wishes for a rewarding Model UN.

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