27 May 2015

Remarks to the European Parliament

Ban Ki-moon

I am honoured to address the representatives of the people of Europe.

I congratulate President Schulz for receiving the prestigious Charlemagne Prize this month for his work to promote democracy and to bring the European Parliament closer to the people it serves.

This parliament represents a wide diversity of cultures and traditions bound by a common belief that that we are stronger and better when we work together.

You play an important role across every aspect of the United Nations agenda.

The European Union is a pillar of international cooperation for peace, development and human rights.

The United Nations simply could not do what it does without the support and engagement of the European Union.

I am deeply grateful for your commitment.

Today, I would like to highlight three dominant and interlinked challenges that must command greater collective attention: first, preventing violent extremism; second, addressing the migration challenge; and third, building a sustainable world for all.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

First, the growth of violent extremism is a grave threat to international peace and security.

The unspeakable wave of brutality against civilians being perpetrated by extremist groups is a direct challenge to the universal values of peace, justice, tolerance and human dignity.

The wanton destruction of cultural heritage is another affront to our common humanity.

I remain fully committed to working with European institutions to address this challenge.

I will present a comprehensive United Nations Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism to the General Assembly later this year.

Our long-term response needs to focus on fostering inclusive governance, accountability, respect for universal values, and dialogue among communities.

Upholding human rights and the rule of law are essential. We must always be mindful of our special responsibility to avoid responses to terrorism and violent extremism that make the problems worse.

We need to empower young men and women, and harness the influence of leaders from the cultural, religious and educational spheres.

And we need to reflect on what motivates young men, and sometimes women, to become so alienated and radicalized that they are prepared to inflict harm on others and even end their own lives in the process.

We see violent extremism most vividly in the atrocities committed by Da’esh, Boko Haram, Al Shabaab and other sectarian and terrorist groups.

But it is also evident in racist acts and hate speech – including by some political figures and parties. Minorities and migrants are among the most frequent targets.

Let us work together to address all of these ills at their roots.

Honourable Members of Parliament,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The challenge of migration is of great concern to us all.

From the Mediterranean to Southeast Asia, too many women, men and children are losing their lives in perilous journeys of escape.

This year, some 1,800 migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean -- a 20-fold increase over the same period last year.

Half those crossing the Mediterranean are fleeing war or persecution or human rights abuses. They qualify for international protection as refugees.

Europe has an important role to play and a collective responsibility to act.

Saving lives should be the top priority.

And while we need to see more effective law enforcement actions against traffickers and smugglers, we also need safer alternatives to dangerous voyages, as well as legal channels such as resettlement, family reunification and work and study visas.

Two days ago in Ireland, I met with people from Syria, Afghanistan, Myanmar and the Democratic Republic of the Congo who had been successfully re-settled.

Their new lives are not without difficulty, but they have found safety – and their new home is glad to have extended a helping hand.

I know there are many more such examples across Europe – and we need even more at this time.

I welcome the proposals by the European Commission for a new migration policy.

Today’s announcement by the European Commission of a proposal for the relocation of 40,000 of asylum-seekers is a step in the right direction. I encourage EU Member States to show compassion as they consider this important proposal to share their responsibilities. Successful burden-sharing can enable the European Union to address the dramatically increasing flows of people while setting an example for other regions of the world facing similar challenges.

The United Nations, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration will continue to work with European leaders to address the crisis in a way that upholds human rights and international law.

Our approach must be comprehensive, looking at countries of destination, transit and, above all, origin.

We must work to end the conflicts and development failures that have displaced more people today than at any point since the Second World War.

We must work together in Europe and elsewhere to address the worrisome increase in stigma and discrimination against migrants.

Europe is experiencing low population growth and demographic transition to an aging population. The equation is clear: to meet its workforce deficit and maintain its economic dynamism, Europe needs migrants.

The post-war history of Europe offers one of history’s great examples of cooperation for peace and prosperity.

Europe’s success has become a powerful draw for migration. Europe’s values and guiding principles must guide the response. I encourage you to live up to the standards you have set for yourself and for the world.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me now turn to the third and overarching global challenge on which we count on European vision and leadership: achieving landmark advances in this critical year for sustainable development.

This must be a year of global action. In 2015, we have three opportunities to put the world on a sustainable, prosperous and equitable path.

First, in July, we must renew the global partnership for development at the International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa.

Developed countries have a responsibility to lead on providing the funds for eradicating extreme poverty and addressing climate change.

Official Development Assistance, ODA, will remain a necessary part of the financing agenda, particularly for the Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States, who urgently need continued and increased support.

I commend those countries that have met the target of committing 0.7 per cent of their gross national product to official development assistance, including 0.2 per cent for the world’s least developed countries. I urge other OECD countries to follow that example.

I welcome yesterday’s decision by EU Member States to re-commit to that target. I urge them to spare no effort to reach it as soon as possible.

At the same time, we know that ODA by itself is not sufficient. We must mobilize financing from a variety of sources, both public and private.

The fundamental responsibility for financing sustainable development lies with governments.

Thus we need to support the improvement of effective and fair national tax systems.

We also need to commit to more concerted international tax cooperation, as well as to combat tax evasion and illicit financial flows.

A successful outcome in Addis Ababa is crucial for building trust, generating momentum and translating our future plans into reality.

This year’s second development milestone comes in September in New York, when countries will adopt a bold post-2015 development agenda and embrace a new set of sustainable development goals.

This is a universal, people-centred and planet-friendly agenda. All countries must transform their economies to end unsustainable consumption and production patterns. Europe can lead the way in transitioning to a low-carbon economy.

Third, in December in Paris, governments must make good on their commitment to adopt a universal, meaningful climate change agreement at the Paris Climate Conference.

Strong European leadership is essential to deliver a new climate agreement that will enable Europe to manage climate risks, enhance its prosperity and strengthen its security, including energy security.

Through its national commitments and climate and energy policy, the EU is blazing the trail to a safer, more prosperous low-carbon future for its people and our world.

I thank the EU for being among the first to issue its climate target in March of this year, and for the generous contributions of many EU Member States to the Green Climate Fund.

Finance is critical to securing an ambitious agreement in Paris. There must be a politically credible trajectory for mobilizing the agreed $100 billion per year. And the Green Climate Fund must be up and running before Paris so that it can support Small Island Developing States, Least Developed Countries and Africa. I request the EU’s support in ensuring this.

I am also asking for the EU’s support on designing and delivering a special package for the most vulnerable countries, including the SIDS and LDCs, that addresses their concerns across climate and development. This package would focus primarily on finance, resilience, adaptation and energy.

Finally, I urge the EU to continue to champion higher ambition in the context of a Paris agreement, both through strengthening its climate target for 2020, as well as considering more ambitious targets in the post-2020 period.

Mr. President,
Distinguished Members of Parliament,

This year marks the seventieth anniversary of the United Nations.

Our organization was born from the ashes of the Second World War which laid much of Europe to waste.

Your peace and prosperity offer a concrete symbol of what can be achieved, even after the greatest devastation.

We live in a complex and troubled world.

But I believe we also live in a world of possibility, and that you are among the guardians of that promise.

You are a locomotive with a most powerful engine.

I urge you to pull the world from ahead and push it from behind.

Together, we can prevail in providing a more just world for this and future generations.

I thank you for your commitment to democracy and for the spirit of service you bring to the important job of representing the European people.

I thank you as well for supporting the ideals and objectives of the United Nations – and for this opportunity to address you.