Astana, Kazakhstan

10 June 2015

Secretary-General's remarks to press with Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan

It is a great honor and privilege for me to carry out two important events today - first of all, I was very much privileged to open this new, very excellent United Nations House. This should be our common working place, and I would like to sincerely thank the Government and people of Kazakhstan for their strong support for the United Nations.

And I also thank the personal presence of Foreign Minister [Erlan] Idrissov, despite his very busy schedule.

I am sure that with this excellent facility, the United Nations teams, agencies, funds and programmes will be able to work with one team, delivering as one to meet the expectations of the people, not only Kazakhstan, but the people of the world whom we serve.

I am in Central Asia to underscore the support of the United Nations for regional cooperation, mutual prosperity and well-being and reconciliation.

Kazakhstan is known for its championing role as a leading country in this region and also a global leader. The country has been promoting, as one of the leaders, nuclear non-proliferation, as well as peacebuilding in a variety of conflicts, including in Ukraine, Syria and Afghanistan and many other places.

Kazakhstan is also a strong supporter of the United Nations, including the work of the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy [for] Central Asia. We have a new executive director, Mr. Petko Draganov. I hope you will give him good cooperation and guidance.

I participated in today’s Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions.  That was an extension of your country’s efforts to promote peace and harmony on the world stage. I would like to highly commend and appreciate the leadership and vision of President [Nursultan] Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan has helped advance a global conversation between religious and political leaders about promoting tolerance and the universal right to freedom of religion and beliefs. 

I strongly believe that religious leaders have a critical role to play.  This was also the subject of a United Nations General Assembly high-level meeting which I convened in late April for the same purpose.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is clear:  “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.” In Kazakhstan, as anywhere else, all religious and minority groups should be guaranteed this right on an equal footing. 

Governments around the world should recognize the decisive role of this and other fundamental freedoms in fostering pluralism, understanding and democracy.

Kazakhstan should also continue to make progress on human rights, including the development of a comprehensive National Human Rights Action Plan. Close cooperation with civil society will be important in this effort.

Additionally, ensuring an accountable and transparent public administration and rule of law – with the engagement of civil society – will ensure that the resources of Kazakhstan benefit all society.

And again, I am very much pleased to reinforce the United Nations' commitment and readiness to work together with the Kazakhstan Government and people on world peace and democracy and human rights.

And now, just let me say a few words. It is an great privilege and honor for me, to be bestowed upon me, this honorary doctorate degree from Alfarabi Kazakh National University. This Alfarabi Kazakh National University is a member of the United Nations Academic Impact, an initiative I have launched in 2011. I am very much grateful to be part of this National University's alumni. I know that this is one of the longest-serving as well as one of the largest universities, with 20,000 students, and I am very much greatly honored.

I know that by giving me this honor, you are honoring all the men and women of the United Nations who are working tirelessly, day and night, for world peace and democracy and human rights, even under very difficult and dangerous circumstances. I am giving this honor to all of my staff and that is why I am receiving this honor from your university.

You are one of the oldest universities in Central Asia and I will do my best to preserve that kind of honor and legacy of your university. I know that you are celebrating 80 years [since you were founded]; for the United Nations, this is the 70th [anniversary] - you are ten years older than the United Nations! We are similar in age and share a similar mission to build bridges of understanding and cooperation and global citizenry.

Many centuries ago, your namesake Alfarabi wrote that it is impossible to achieve one's goals in isolation. It can only be done by joining with others and now I am joining with your university, I am joining with the people of Kazakhstan, and that is the spirit in which I accept this honor.

And let us work together to help people everywhere around the world so that they can achieve their dreams. Dreams - everybody should be able to live in peace, harmony and friendship and well-being and dignity.

I thank you very much.

Rahmet. (Thank you.)