“Be a global citizen – act with passion and compassion”

Ban Ki-Moon and Heinz Fischer launch a new Centre for Global Citizens to empower young people Vienna, 3 January 2018 Today Ban Ki-moon, (UN Secretary-General from 2007 – 2016) and Dr. Heinz Fischer, (Federal President of Austria from 2004 – 2016) officially inaugurated the Ban Ki-Moon Centre for Global Citizens in Vienna at a ceremony at the Federal Chancellery of Austria, at the invitation of the Chancellor of the Republic of Austria, Mr. Sebastian Kurz. After an encouraging message sent by current UN Secretary General António Guterres, former UNSG Ban Ki-moon said “We are 7,6 billion people globally. Half of the world is women – half of the world is under 25 years of age. There are billions of people underprivileged, marginalized, jobless and hopeless. To peacefully empower them, particularly women and the youth has to be our top priority to advance humanity”. Mr. Ban Ki-moon highlighted in the presence of members of the new Austrian government and more than 120 members of the diplomatic corps, high-level representatives of the Vienna based International Organizations, and representatives from NGOs, academia and young aspiring leaders that “We can only empower those in need, if each and every one of us acts with passion and compassion as a global citizen.” Building on the legacy of their previous roles, the Centre was founded by the former UN Secretary-General and the former President of Austria and will focus on providing women and young people with a greater say in their own destiny and a greater stake in their own dignity. The Centre will work within the framework of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (“SDGs”) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It will have affiliated offices in the Republic of Korea at Yonsei University and is planning to have an affiliated office in the Middle East. “The Ban Ki-moon Centre’s focus on the future of young people, especially women, is extremely important. We need to make sure that the young generation all over the world has a real perspective for a decent life. I am sure that the Ban Ki-moon Centre will be a strong partner for international efforts in this regard “, said Sebastian Kurz, Federal Chancellor of Austria. “Young people and especially young women are vital to resolve current global and local challenges”, said Dr. Heinz Fischer drawing attention to the global need for the eradication of poverty and illiteracy, the fight against gender inequality, radicalization and youth unemployment. “A global citizen is someone who self- identifies first and foremost not as a member of a State, a tribe or a nation, but instead as a member of the human race, looking beyond the narrow scope of national or personal interests. It is global citizens who support solutions to today´s global challenges”, said Monika Froehler, Interim Chief Executive Officer of the Ban Ki-moon Centre. By assisting in efforts to reduce the numbers of young people dying prematurely every year, by examining and presenting solutions to de-escalate conflicts and maintain peace, by supporting educational programs ranging from youth mentoring projects to sports, and by providing special support to young women and encouraging academic institutions to integrate global citizenship issues into their curricula, the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens wants to do its share in building a brighter future for all and contribute to the implementation of the SDGs. The Centre will not duplicate but complement ongoing efforts, based on a high-level strategy to be adopted in February at the next Board meeting in Korea at the margins of the Winter Olympic Games in February. The Centre is located in Vienna and will incrementally build capacity as funds become available. Currently the Ban Ki-moon Centre is supported by the governments of Austria and Kuwait and by a high-level Board of individuals and organizations such as the International Olympic Committee, UNESCO, the UN Foundation, the Alexander Bodini Foundation, the Junior Chamber International, FIA, the NGO Global Citizen, RELX Group, Rotary International and many more. Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon concluded his speech by saying “Today marks the beginning of a journey and I call on the members of the largest generation of youth in history to confront challenges and consider what we can do to resolve them. We all have to work together to set our world on course for a better future. To leave no one behind.” Photo: BKM / Dragan Tatic