It is a pleasure to greet this conference organized by the Boutros Ghali Foundation for Peace and Knowledge.
My distinguished predecessor left a significant imprint on the United Nations. Serving during a tumultuous period in international affairs, he brought formidable qualities to the job, including deep knowledge as a scholar of international law and great skill as a diplomat. His landmark report, An Agenda for Peace, gave the international community an insightful template for action on peacekeeping, peacebuilding and conflict prevention. His two further agendas -- on development and democracy – likewise advanced the global discussion. The outcomes of the major conferences over which he presided – encompassing the environment, social development, population, human right and other pressing issues -- provided the building blocks for the work we do today in pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals. And the United Nations itself was strengthened as a result of his wide-ranging efforts to adapt the Organization to a new, post-Cold War era. Most notable among these steps was the establishment of a dedicated Department of Peacekeeping Operations.
Our world continues to wrestle with challenges from poverty to armed conflict. We also face new and worsening threats, including climate change, inequality, the spread of hatred, declining trust in political establishments and the growing links between conflict, terrorism and organized crime. Advances in technology have brought remarkable gains, but may also pose dangers, including cybercrime and the development of autonomous lethal weaponry.
The Middle East continues to face profound divisions. In a region once home to one of history’s greatest flowerings of culture and coexistence, we see many fault-lines at work, old and new, crossing each other and generating enormous volatility.
Our shared global challenge is to work for a fair and inclusive globalization, tackle the climate crisis, and ensure strong multilateral institutions in the emerging multipolar world. We need an inclusive multilateralism, with strong partnerships, and a networked multilateralism, with close cooperation among international and regional organizations.
Next year marks the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, a critical moment to renew our common project. In doing so we can draw inspiration from the enduring words of the late Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali. Writing about the Organization’s 50th anniversary, he noted that the United Nations must “keep ahead of the acceleration of history that characterizes this age”. And he stressed, “We must be guided not by precedents alone, however wise these may be, but by the needs of the future and by the shape and content that we wish to give it”.
I was saddened by my predecessor’s passing three years ago, and remain grateful for his clear and strong commitment to the United Nations Charter. I look forward to continuing to work with you to build on his legacy as we strive to deliver for “we, the peoples”.