New York

17 March 2014

Secretary-General's remarks at Asia Week New York Reception at the Metropolitan Museum of Art [as prepared for delivery]

Thank you very much for your warm welcome.

I have had the pleasure of knowing Ms. Rafferty for many years, since she was a working in the Met’s Development Office and I was a junior officer in the Korean Foreign Ministry in Seoul. I am delighted to see her again tonight.

I am truly honoured to join you for this celebration of Asia Week New York.

I do not pretend to have much knowledge about art. But I do have strong feelings about art – especially Asian art.

That is because art reminds us of our common humanity. This sense of shared destiny is essential to addressing global problems.

The beautiful art in this collection challenges us to find the best in ourselves. It celebrates life. And it reminds us to harness the power of art in the service of peace.

Five days ago, I joined in issuing a strong call to action to stop the destruction of Syria’s cultural heritage, build peace and protect our common heritage.

This Museum has been part of our campaign to keep Syria’s treasures in the hands of the Syrian people.

Last September, the Met hosted a meeting of UN and museum officials to launch an Emergency Red List of Syrian Cultural Objects at Risk.

I thank President Rafferty for personally joining that important event.

Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

The United Nations and the Met have many friends in common, but none more valuable than Ambassador William Luers. He served as both President of this Museum and President of the United Nations Association of the United States.

I am fortunate to count Bill Luers among my close friends and advisors.

A few years ago, we both attended a meeting with some 2,000 Model UN students in the General Assembly.

I remember him saying, “This Hall is the home, the refuge, the temple of collective security.”

Ambassador Luers was talking about the United Nations General Assembly Hall – and of course I fully agree. But I think he would understand when I say this Great Hall Balcony of the Met is also a home, a refuge and a temple for humanity.

The United Nations gathers representatives from around the world to overcome our most difficult problems. The Met gathers great works of art from around the world to prove our remarkable potential.

Together, we can build a better future.

Thank you.