03 October 2016

Address to the students and faculty of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (HEID)

Ban Ki-moon


Je suis très heureux d’être parmi vous ce soir.

Merci de votre accueil très chaleureux.

Je tiens tout d’abord à remercier les organisateurs de cette manifestation: le Club diplomatique, le Forum suisse et l’Institut de hautes études. C’est la quarante-deuxième fois que je me rends en Suisse en dix ans, soit une fois toutes les quatorze semaines en moyenne. Cela fait de Genève ma destination la plus fréquente, de loin, et ce pour de bonnes raisons.

C’est en effet d’ici que l’ONU orchestre les actions humanitaires menées dans le monde entier, qui ont atteint un niveau record depuis la création de l’Organisation des Nations Unies. C’est ici que nous exhortons les gouvernements à respecter les droits de l’homme et que nous nous faisons les porte-paroles des victimes lorsqu’elles ont besoin de justice. Et c’est ici que l’ONU mobilise les énergies à l’échelle mondiale pour promouvoir la santé publique, l’amélioration des conditions de travail et le commerce équitable, ainsi que pour atteindre nombre d’autres objectifs cruciaux.

Je saisis donc cette occasion pour vous remercier de vos contributions et pour vous parler de ce que j’ai tenté d’accomplir en ma qualité de Secrétaire général de l’ONU, ainsi que pour vous suggérer quelques moyens d’appuyer au mieux mon successeur.

This is my first European trip immediately after my report to the General Assembly last week. In the course of just a few days, I took part in 74 events and held 126 bilaterals with Presidents and Prime Ministers – in just a week – 200 engagements in just a week. 

I call it the diplomatic equivalent of speed dating.  There was not even a one-minute or two-minute pause - meetings all the time.

Things are very rushed, but the period does provide an opportunity to take the pulse of the world. You have to check your pulse.

This is a period of uncommon volatility and unconscionable suffering.

One hundred thirty five million people need life-saving assistance daily by the United Nations.

Sixty-five million people are either refugees or migrants. This is the highest number of refugees since the end of the Second World War. Only during the Second World War, we have had that many people refugees.

These numbers are unsustainable.  Their implications put our future at risk.

Yet this is also a period of opportunity to secure a better future for all.

The landmark Paris Agreement on climate change is expected to enter into force in the days ahead.

Consider how far we have come.  Climate deniers, sceptics, have been utterly discredited now. Their ever diminishing ranks are blind to science and on the wrong side of history.

We have already passed one key threshold: 62 countries have joined the Paris Agreement legally, well over the 55 stipulated by the agreement as one of the two triggers for entry into force. 

In the days ahead, we are expected to cross the second threshold: 55 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. We have reached 47.5 per cent. We are lacking 7.5 per cent now. Yesterday, India has joined. Now we have reduced by 4.1 per cent. As of now, we have 3.4 per cent to go so that [the treaty] can enter into force.

Few thought such speedy entry into force would be possible. But it reflects the growing global determination to tackle this climate change phenomenon.
The world also has an inspiring new manifesto: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with 17 goals, what we call the SDGs. This is a successor of the MDGs, but much broader, much more comprehensive - much more ambitious and far-reaching ambitions than the MDGs.  It’s the SDGs, please remember.

The Agenda is our plan for ending poverty and ensuring lives of peace and dignity on a healthy planet. I can tell you in a very easy way. You can memorize ‘5 P’s’. These SDGs are for the people, for the planet, peace and prosperity, and partnerships.  These five P’s will help all the people and our planet, our only planet, on a sustainable path.  Please remember this.

About poverty eradication: we really tried during the last 15 years, through the MDGs. We have reduced by half the population who were living on just one dollar, less than one dollar, but because of the continuing financial crisis, another 100 million have been put into the ranks of poverty. Our aim is to get all these people out of extreme poverty.  I think we can do it.

By 2050, we’ll make sure that this Planet Earth will be 50-50 in gender equality.  By 2050, there will be no person who will be dying needlessly from preventable diseases: malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS.

Countries, communities and citizens across the world are mobilizing behind these 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Geneva has a key role to play in this work, and I will count on your strong commitment and engagement on this matter.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

There is also some encouraging news to report in our work to advance peace and security.

In Myanmar, the transition has entered a promising phase. Under the leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi, who is the leader of the first-ever civilian government, they’re making a great contribution and progress, even though there are still some remaining issues of human rights of the Rohingyas in Rakhine state. I was there last [month].

In Sri Lanka, after 30 years of civil war, now they are making a great reconciliatory process and peacebuilding. I was there too, last month. I fully, strongly encouraged the leaders of these two countries to move on, and I have assured [them] of the strong United Nations’ engagement and support. I told them that where there is a will, there are ways to resolve all those long-standing problems.

We need to find that will to address several emergencies that are darkening the days of millions, from Syria, to Yemen, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Afghanistan and the Lake Chad Basin.  Many fires are burning at this time. At least 17 fires, big or small, are burning at this moment.  If we count frozen conflicts, neglected diseases, and forgotten crises, I think there are 35, almost 40.  But we have to put out all those burning fires. 

Unfortunately, the Syrian crisis has been continuing six years.  4.5 million people have become refugees, they are living in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. Several million people out of 22. That means 4.5 million people need urgent, life-saving humanitarian assistance at this time. Sixty, seventy per cent of the infrastructure have been destroyed. No schools, no hospitals. This is a huge problem, particularly the situation in Aleppo, which is continuing. That’s heart-breaking, and you cannot just see it without crying. You must see it every day. This is totally unacceptable.  Just a few days ago at the Security Council, I had made the strongest statement urging the Security Council members to unite and to address [the situation] with political will. 

The Government of Syria, they are now using barrel bombs. They have already used chemical weapons.  And some countries are using bunker-busting bombs.  These bunker-busting bombs are – they can be from a very small number of big powers There is virtually no place to hide when these bombs penetrate two, three meters under the ground.  This is a very serious situation.

What started as a conflict solely about Syria has become an arena for regional rivalry and big power competition. These proxy battles have drawn in foreign fighters like moths to a flame, while consuming Syrians in the fire. The divisions in Syria, among Syrian people, divisions in the Arab region, divisions in the Security Council, have made a perfect storm, where ISIS, extremists, terrorists, are deeply rooted.  That is something we have to address and defeat through global solidarity. That’s what the United Nations is very much committed to.

I urge the Security Council to do much more to end this fighting. Talks towards a political transition are long overdue.

The Syrian conflict has helped to feed sectarianism and radicalization. Violent extremists continue to commit appalling acts, and to prey on vulnerable people. Our challenge remains to respond in measured ways that do not play into their narratives.

The Syrian conflict has also added millions of refugees and displaced people – as I said 4.5 million people. I have visited those four refugee camps. I visited twice, and I met all of them.  The thing that was heart-breaking was to meet so many young students - young people, teens, who should be studying hard at the schools at this time. 

Two weeks ago at the United Nations, we convened a Summit meeting on refugees and migrants. Because this has not been resolved by regional powers, particularly in Europe, I decided to bring it to a global level, at the United Nations.  

There was another summit meeting which was convened together with President Obama and myself and some other, six more countries, co-sponsors. And we agreed and adopted the New York Declaration on migrants and refugees, on the basis of which we will have a global compact to resolve this issue on the principle of global responsibility-sharing.  Not a single country, however powerful, however resourceful it may be, like the United States or European countries, they cannot do it alone.  At the United Nations, the most universal international organization, we cannot handle it without solidarity, without compassion of all the people in the world.  

We need more countries to resettle more people in their countries. I know there can be tensions and difficulties, and discrimination, xenophobia, particularly based on ethnicity, and women and girls. Those minority groups of people have become targets and preys of extremists and violence, and discriminations.  

We have to stand against the xenophobia faced by so many refugees and migrants. I am deeply troubled by political rhetoric, by the political leaders. They use very abusive, unacceptable language, particularly in Europe, where democratic rules… But governments and most of the societies, they should have done much more. We must reject the dangerous political math that says you can add votes by dividing people. That’s wrong. The United Nations has just launched a campaign against this poison. It is designed to foster communities of inclusion and mutual respect -- and we call it, simply, “Together”. Together for human dignity and inclusiveness.

Pendant les dix ans où j’ai exercé les fonctions de Secrétaire général des Nations Unies, je me suis efforcé de faire en sorte que l’ONU soit à même de mener à bien les tâches et de relever les défis de notre époque.

Les demandes auxquelles doit répondre l’ONU n’ont cessé de croître et la situation sur le plan de la sécurité est plus complexe qu’auparavant.

Les besoins humanitaires ont été multipliés par douze, du fait principalement des conflits armés, mais nous n’avons pu y répondre qu’à moitié.

De nombreux gouvernements exercent une répression sur les médias et la société civile et trop de dirigeants manipulent les constitutions pour conserver le pouvoir.
Nous continuons par ailleurs d’être témoins de dangereuses divisions, en particulier au sein du Conseil de sécurité, qui s’est montré honteusement désuni sur des questions de vie ou de mort.

Dans le même temps, la communauté internationale s’est unie comme jamais auparavant pour lutter contre les changements climatiques et réaliser les objectifs de développement durable les ODD.

For my part as the Secretary-General, I have sought to place greater emphasis on human rights and the empowerment of women. Empowerment of women has been one of the top priorities, together with climate change and sustainable development, during my mandate as Secretary-General.

I have strived to get Member States to focus on conflict prevention -- including through a plan of action to address the underlying drivers of violent extremism.

We are also tapping the energies of young people.

I am pleased to see so many students today, here this evening.

Politicians and professors often call you the leaders of tomorrow. But I say you are already the leaders we need today.

Many of you have taken part as leaders of this society. Look at the case of a very young, poor man in Tunisia.  You may remember his name, Mohamed Bouazizi. He was just a street vendor. His anger triggered the Arab Spring.  It has given a strong message to the leaders in the region. I have been speaking to the leaders. Listen carefully, and sincerely, to the voices of young people, what their aspirations and their challenges are. If you do not listen to their voices, you will never be an inclusive leader.

Two weeks ago, we named the first class of 17 young leaders for the Sustainable Development Goals. We have tasked each one of them with one SDG.  These men and women are doing outstanding work in their communities, and will now help us to mobilize their peers across the world. 

The United Nations is strongly committed to working not just for youth, but with youth.  This is what I can repeat now.  When I was elected for the second time, in 2012, five years ago, I made it one of my top five priorities, working for women and with women, working for youth and with youth.  A lot of leaders have been talking about women and women’s issues, but not much about youth. For the first time in history, I have appointed a Special Envoy for Youth, who was at the time 28 years old.  And recently I have appointed the former Austrian Prime Minister as the Special Envoy for Youth Employment. There are 17 million young people out of a job.  Just imagine, when those 17 million people without anything to do, just wander around, they easily become preys of extremists and terrorists, if not drug dealers and criminals. They [can] easily fall to the temptation of these crimes. So we have to do much more for youth employment.

Now I am telling you, the young people – you have a prerogative. You can be as passionate as you can. It’s your prerogative. You can be ambitious. At the same time, I am telling you: have compassion too.  If you have only passion, you may not know where you are going. When it is supported with compassion that means you have become a global citizen.

This world is very small. Just forget about Switzerland or European countries.  National boundaries do not mean much these days. We are living on a small, small planet. Whatever I am now saying, has already been communicated within a blink of, within a fraction of a second.  We are living in [times of] global communication, social media. Therefore there are no national boundaries. Be a global citizen. Let us try to see what you can do for others.

We have a lot of my friends [here], called Red Cross alumni. I am very glad that some of my friends, about 45 friends are among this audience. In 1962, we all went to the United States and had the opportunity of meeting John F. Kennedy. At that time, these were all young teens from some forty countries.  120 of us, and there are 45 here, including family members.  At the time, President Kennedy told us - it was the height of the Cold War, when leaders, countries did not get along well – “What you can do, since you are young - he already said, you can check the archive - national boundaries do not mean much. It’s a question of whether you are ready to extend your helping hand to other people.”

This is what we have to do. That is what I’m saying about compassion. You have to have compassion, you have to have a global vision, global citizenship. This is what I’m asking young people. You’re part of this process with the current leaders. I’m leaving in three months’ time. I will join civil society. But it’s now your turn. Be ready to take charge of this world.

This is an exceptionally difficult period for the world, and a monumentally challenging one for the international community. Yet I believe we can be optimistic about our better future.  While we may be troubled, living in this world of perils and challenges and fires, we have good ambitions, [inaudible], sustainable development, climate change, global citizenship. I think with this we can make this world better.

Let’s work together.  Can you promise?