Ha Noi, Viet Nam

23 May 2015

Secretary-General's remarks at the Diplomatic Academy of Viet Nam [as prepared for delivery]

Sin ciao. (Good morning.)

Toy that voo-ee dir-arch gap card ban.  (I am glad to be with you all).

Thank you for inviting me to the Diplomatic Academy of Viet Nam. It is a great honour to speak at such a prestigious institution.

This is my second day in your beautiful country.  I was overwhelmed by all the progress that I saw during my last visit to Viet Nam in 2010.  I am amazed to see how much farther your country has travelled since then.

I have had a memorable visit, including productive meetings with President Tr?ing T?n Sang and Prime Minister Nguy?n T?n Dung.  I am very pleased to have this opportunity to spend some time with all of you -- the future of Viet Nam.

I know this Academy is a home for in-depth training, strategic research and forecasts on a wide range of pressing regional and global issues.

You are studying trends, learning languages, and gaining a deeper understanding of the world.

This is a particularly vital time to have a conversation about our shared future.  This year, the United Nations is marking its 70th anniversary.

Milestones like this are an important moment to reflect on the past and honour history.  But I have always believed that anniversaries are a time for looking forward and taking action.

That is what this year is all about.  We are calling 2015 a year for global action.

Here is our ambition:

In September in New York, the international community can put in place a new development agenda for the next generation and a set of Sustainable Development Goals. Yesterday, President [Truong Tan] Sang committed to attending our Special Summit on Sustainable Development yesterday. I applaud his wise decision.

In December in Paris, countries can agree on a universal, meaningful climate change agreement.

And before both of these events, in July in Addis Ababa, the global community can agree on a framework of financing for sustainable development to ensure that we have the resources to make our promises a reality.

All of these goals are ambitious, transformative, and achievable.  Viet Nam is playing an important role in helping us put in place the building blocks for success.

The key to realize this broad agenda is to understand a fundamental truth:  The world is more connected than ever before – and so, too, are the issues.

You here in Viet Nam know about how closely connected we are.  This is a land of 90 million people – and 120 million mobile phones!

For decades, the United Nations has been making the case about the importance of connecting issues.  Our work is founded on three mutually reinforcing pillars:  Peace and security, development, and human rights.

I had very good talks with Viet Nam’s leaders yesterday on these important imperatives. We had a positive exchange on the need to advance human rights in Viet Nam.

There can be no peace without development – no development without peace – and sustainable peace and development are not possible without respect for fundamental human rights.

These three inter-connected pillars provide the basis for the UN’s response to today’s challenges.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Dear students,

We have much progress to build upon.  That is certainly evident as I feel the energy and vibrancy of Viet Nam.

Viet Nam has achieved most of the Millennium Development Goals, in particular on poverty reduction and primary education.

Around the world, over the last two decades, hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of extreme poverty and the income levels of countless millions more above that line have been lifted, too.

But we know there is more to the story.

Global growth has been uneven. Roughly three-quarters of the world’s poor live in rural areas, while growth in many countries has been concentrated in urban and coastal areas.

In Viet Nam, poverty remains overwhelmingly a rural issue, with more than 90 per cent of the country’s poor living in rural areas.

Income inequality around the world is growing.  In Asia, this trend is particularly striking.  Despite impressive economic growth, the majority of the region’s population lives in more unequal societies today than they had two decades ago.

Climate change is also a clear and present danger, as you know very well.  Viet Nam is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change.  I commend Viet Nam’s efforts to green your economy and adapt to climate change.

We must work together to ensure that climate action addresses the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable while contributing to development that is truly sustainable.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Dear students,

Development and peace are two sides of the same coin.  Preventing violent conflict is the raison d’être of the United Nations and lies at the heart of the Charter.

Today, Asia faces challenges that could put at risk our goals of prosperity, stability and dignity for all.

These include competing territorial or maritime claims, political and communal tensions, and non-traditional security threats such as transnational organised crime and terrorism.

Southeast Asia is also experiencing a concerning migration crisis, as people in search of asylum are being left stranded at sea.

At the UN we have learnt the importance of at acting early, before a conflict breaks out.

Conflict prevention can take many forms, such as quickly mobilising effective and unified diplomatic action to defuse tensions, to urge restraint, and to open up space for dialogue before perspectives become hardened and more hostile.

We try our best to respond to what the country in question needs and expects from the UN.

Our support ranges from training local mediators in Afghanistan … to assisting in the constitution-making process in Nepal … to aiding preparation efforts for a referendum in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea.

In Sri Lanka, we shared international experiences on reconciliation commissions, including on important issues of incorporating gender concerns.

In Southeast Asia the UN is working closely with governments and key stakeholders to address conflicts, democratic transition processes and post-conflict peacebuilding efforts.

Following the withdrawal of peacekeeping forces from Timor-Leste in 2012, the UN Country Team is working with the Government to build the foundations for lasting peace, stability and security by fostering a culture of democratic governance, reducing poverty, managing environmental resources and find solutions for preventing and recovering from crisis.

Through my good offices in Myanmar, the UN has remained closely engaged by providing support to its national reform process.

Our partnerships with regional organizations are critical in addressing these regional challenges. The crises are sometimes too complex for any one organization or Member State to address alone.

In a world where the nature of conflict has evolved, where terrorism and transnational crime often intersect with political grievances, partnerships are all the more important.

The UN’s close cooperation with ASEAN, our main partner in Southeast Asia, is vital in our prevention work.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Dear students,

I would like to make one final point.  Whether it is peace, development or human rights, the role of young people like you has never been more crucial to success.

It is often said that youth are the leaders of tomorrow.  I am convinced you are also leaders for today.

Half the world is under 25 years of age.  If we empower youth today, the world will be a better place tomorrow.

It is among the youth that we find creative voices, foresight and stellar commitment for change.

Listening to your diverse voices and placing your needs and rights at the heart of development is imperative.

As I said when I began, this is a year for global action.  The agenda that we are working towards will shape our future for many decades to come.  That is your future – so it must be your agenda.

As you continue your studies and prepare yourself to represent your country on the world stage, remember that you are more than just a citizen of Viet Nam.  Be a global citizen.

Let us work as one to build a better world for all.

I thank you for your attention and look forward to having a deeper discussion with you on these issues as well as other concerns or questions you may have for me.

Thank you very much.