Ban Ki-moon – Speech to UN Security Council

Speech to UN Security Council
Ban Ki-moon
Wednesday, 12 June 2019
New York, US

Mr. President,
Mr. Secretary-General,
Distinguished Members of the Security Council,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me begin by echoing the words of my esteemed colleague, the Chair of The Elders, Mary Robinson, and thank you for the opportunity to address this august gathering.

As a former Secretary-General of the United Nations I have the utmost respect for the institution of the Security Council and the principles and values it is designed to uphold.

When the Council can cooperate and speak with a strong common voice, its decisions can have a decisive impact.

This strong, common voice is needed more than ever at this current time, when the deceptive allure of populism and isolationism is growing across all continents, from North and South America to Africa, Asia and Europe.

Faced with complex, multi-faceted and gravely serious challenges from nuclear proliferation to climate change and a radical transformation of our economic and social paradigms, it is perhaps understandable that many people from everyday walks of life feel overwhelmed and seek solace in simplified narratives of a bygone “golden age” when they had a sense of being in control of their individual and national destinies.

What is profoundly irresponsible, however, is for politicians – especially but not exclusively in democratic societies – to collude in or deliberately stoke these illusions for their own aims of securing and sustaining power, in full knowledge that no one country, however powerful, will be able to meet these global challenges on its own.

Mr. President,

This is why I believe it is absolutely essential for global peace and security that the member states of the United Nations, and especially those who have the honour of serving as members of the Security Council, understand and meet their responsibilities under the UN Charter and act in the service of all humanity rather than the narrow fields of national, ideological or sectarian interests.

The Council needs to be bold and assert its collective voice to meet common challenges, heeding the words of my illustrious predecessor as Secretary-General, Dag Hammarskjöld:

“It is when we all play safe that we create a world of utmost insecurity. It is when we all play safe that fatality will lead us to our doom. It is in the ‘dark shade of courage’ alone that the spell can be broken.”

The Council has always been intended as a forum for collective engagement in the broader interests of peace and security, as well as an opportunity for member states to reflect their capital’s perspective on the issue under discussion.

In the humble view of The Elders, based on our substantial collective experience of working for and within the international system, the decision-making processes of the Council could be improved to encourage Council members agree on a joint common position to address conflicts in their early stages.

The Council should explore ways to be more efficient and effective, and to assert its collective voice through timely and strong statements. It needs to speak for and to the whole of the United Nations, rather than being constrained by the respective agendas and priorities in national capitals of its member states.

Mr. President,

Building on the remarks of President Robinson, I would like to highlight three more areas where I feel the Council can show effective leadership to support the work of the Secretary-General and improve general conditions for peace and conflict resolution:

1. The importance of prevention

The Secretary-General’s emphasis on the priority to be given to prevention is very welcome, and member states must ensure that UN prevention and peacebuilding work is properly supported and funded.

Council members should do more to support the Secretary-General in using his “good offices” to help prevent and reduce the threat of conflict. Council members should also recognise that the Council’s work on peace and security is undermined when its members undermine the UN’s own peace envoys and peace processes. The human cost of these machinations is all too painful to see, with Libya and Yemen standing out as just two grim examples.

2. Regional institutions

Strong multilateral regional institutions are essential for the maintenance of peace and security, both as forums for dialogue and as mechanisms for economic and political cooperation between states.

Positive examples include the European Union and OSCE.

By contrast, the absence of dialogue between states or of inclusive forums for dialogue in the Middle East is one of the reasons for the persistence and recurrence of conflict there.

I would like to take this opportunity to commend our host, the State of Kuwait, for its persistent commitment to and support for the values that have historically underpinned the Gulf Cooperation Council.

I would urge all other members of the GCC to act in the same spirit to restore this body to its vital role as a guarantor of regional stability, governed by mutual respect for national sovereignty and a shared understanding of common challenges.

The role of regional organisations in preventing and resolving conflict should be strengthened, not only in the Middle East but across the wider world. Greater coordination between the UN Security Council and regional organisations would also be beneficial.

3. Nuclear threat

The risks of nuclear conflict are higher than they have been in several decades.

As Mary Robinson so rightly said, nuclear weapons and climate change pose two of the most severe existential threats to life on Earth as we know it.

When it comes to nuclear non-proliferation, the international community is confronted with two serious challenges, namely the Iranian nuclear development programmes and securing the complete denuclearisation of North Korea.

Regarding the Iranian nuclear issue, I am deeply concerned by the US decision to withdraw from the JCPOA because it not only weakens the regional stability of the Middle East, but also sends the wrong signal to ongoing negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear issues.

Unfortunately, the negotiations between the US and North Korea have come to a deadlock since the failure of the Hanoi summit last February.

I support the US government’s efforts to realise the complete denuclearisation of North Korea. In this context, we should maintain and faithfully comply with the sanction measures imposed by the Council on North Korea. I sincerely hope that all the Member States of the UN faithfully implement the sanction measures.

On the other hand, according to the FAO and WFP, actual food shortages in North Korea might reach around 1.5 million tons.

Considering the fact that North Korea has suffered chronic food shortages during the last two decades, the situation seems to be worsening without support from the international community.

In view of this, the government of the Republic of Korea has announced that it would contribute 8 million US dollars to the United Nations agencies to help North Korea address the current humanitarian situations.

I sincerely hope that the currently deadlocked negotiations will resume among the parties concerned as soon as possible.

But beyond these two regional issues, there is also the very real risk that the whole architecture of arms control and nuclear non-proliferation that was built up during the decades of superpower confrontation may collapse, through a combination of neglect, hubris and ill-founded threat analysis.

This issue goes to the very heart of the Security Council. Its permanent members are all nuclear-armed states, and they thus possess a uniquely heavy responsibility to develop effective processes of non-proliferation and disarmament.

Yet the failure of the P5 to make progress on their disarmament commitments under Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty risks undermining the NPT, which has been a highly effective multilateral mechanism for preventing proliferation.

It is in the interests of the P5 to get serious about disarmament if they wish to maintain the near-universal international commitment to preventing nuclear proliferation, particularly in the lead up to next year’s NPT Review Conference.

The consequences of failure do not bear contemplation.

Mr. President,

I hope that in our contributions, The Elders have highlighted opportunities for progress as well as challenges to be overcome. We look forward now to a stimulating interactive discussion with the Council members, and thank you again for the privilege to take part in this debate.

Thank you.

Ban Ki-moon stresses on multilateralism at the UN Security Council

On June 12th, upon the invitation of the United Nations Security Council, BKMC Co-chair Ban Ki-moon attended the Council’s meeting with Mary Robinson, Chair of The Elders and former President of Ireland, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of the Republic of Liberia.

Robinson pointed that nuclear weapons and the climate change are the two greatest existential threats to our planet now. “It is in the interests of the P5 to get serious about disarmament if they wish to maintain the near-universal international commitment to preventing nuclear proliferation, particularly in the lead up to next year’s NPT Review Conference,” added Ban.

When the Security Council can cooperate and speak with a strong common voice, “its decisions can have a decisive impact,” Ban Ki-moon told the Chamber as a former Secretary-General of the UN.

“This strong, common voice is needed more than ever at this current time, when the deceptive allure of populism and isolationism is growing across all continents, from North and South America to Africa, Asia and Europe” he stated.

Ban highlighted areas where the Security Council can show effective leadership to support the work of the Secretary-General and improve general conditions for peace and conflict resolution.

Conflict prevention and mediation are two of “the most important tools at our disposal to reduce human suffering” current SG of the UN Antonio Guterres said.

He noted some “encouraging signs,” such as successful constitutional transfers of power in Mali and Madagascar; the rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea; the revitalized agreement in South Sudan; and, after decades of dispute, “the designation of the Republic of North Macedonia to be internationally recognized”.

Read more: https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/06/1040321

“Partnering with Young People for Prevention: Sustaining Peace and Addressing Violence, Crime and Corruption”

On June 12th, 2019, the 49th IPI Vienna Seminar took place at the Federal Ministry of Austria for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs (BMEIA) in Vienna, focusing on the role of young people as agents of peace and social change at the global, regional, national and local level.

Welcome remarks were delivered by Karin Proidl, Director of International Organizations at the BMEIA and Adam Lupel, Vice President of the International Peace Institute (IPI), who stressed the importance of cooperating with youth for addressing violence, crime and corruption and promoting peace.

“We need to give young people face from different levels and make their voices heard,” said BKMC CEO Monika Froehler at the first session on “The United Nations in Vienna: 40 years of Promoting Peace and Security.”

According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), our world is home to 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10 and 24, and the youth population is growing fastest in the poorest nations. Out of these, Froehler mentioned, “408 million young people live in conflict zones.” In addition, within this generation are 600 million adolescent girls with specific needs, challenges and aspirations for the future. Froehler rightly pointed out that gender inequality adds to the barrier for youth in participating in peace-building process, which is why empowering both women and young people is equally important.

“We cannot achieve sustainable peace if young generation is not included,” said Samuel Goda, Special Representative of the OSCE CiO Special Representatives on Youth and Security, at his keynote. As a youth representative, he stressed “young people need to have ownership” in tackling global issues.

A number of other youth representatives from different sectors spoke at the seminar, including Nour Barakeh who is Collaborator of SDG 5 Thrive! and Suad Mohamed who serves at the Austrian Red Cross and Diakonie Refugee Service.

Froehler introduced active youth activists such as the UN Youth Envoy as well as existing youth initiatives such as the United Network of Young Peacebuilders (UNOY) to support and partner with them. She also strongly recommended a book titled We are Here.

Learn more about the seminar: https://www.ipinst.org/…/IPI-Vienna-Seminar-2019_Agenda_Par…
Source: https://www.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/pub-pdf/EN-SWOP14-Report_FINAL-web.pdf

Ban Ki-moon concerns about “what is happening over multilateralism”

On June 11th, 2019, a morning briefing session was held by the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, US. President Richard Haass of the Council moderated the session and introduced the high-level speakers:

  • Ban Ki-moon, BKMC Co-chair and a member of The Elders
  • Mary Robinson, Chair of The Elders and former President of Ireland
  • Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of Liberia

On stage, the world leaders discussed on the topic of “Leveraging Multilateralism to Prevent Conflict.” Asked about the current tensions regarding North Korea’s nuclear program, Ban regretted failure of Hanoi Summit and called for more concerted trust-building between the US and North Korea, stressing the need for more focus on humanitarian crisis and food shortage.

“As a global citizen, I am deeply concerned and angry at what’s happening over multilateralism,” said Ban. He praised the US leadership on climate change under former President Barack Obama and expressed his concerns on withdrawal from the Paris Agreement under the current US government.

Robinson explained why climate change and nuclear threat are two priorities existential threats to humanity. On the current issues in Sudan, Sirleaf said that “the will of the people must be respected” but that this requires strong institutions that can withstand pressures to retain military rule and oppression.

Learn more about the Council on Foreign Relations: https://www.cfr.org/
Source: The Elders

The Ban Ki-moon Centre Hosts Second Mentoring Workshop for Austrian Muslim Women

This week, the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens hosted the second workshop for its mentoring project for Muslim women in Austria in partnership with the Muslim Youth Austria. The workshop focused on building confidence in the workplace and was conducted by a coach Layla Abu Zahra.

The young mentees participated in exercises examining their strengths and expressing their successes. Coach Abu Zahra shared her 10 steps for confidence and success:

  1. Get things done
  2. Monitor your progress, write things down
  3. Do the right thing
  4. Exercise (your body)
  5. Be fearless
  6. Stand up for yourself
  7. Choose your surroundings wisely
  8. Think long-term
  9. Don’t care what other people think
  10. Do what makes you happy

In September, the final workshop will take place. In the meantime, the mentees are meeting regularly with their mentors and preparing their “Global Citizen Projects” for the final closing event.

We look forward to watching these wonderful young ladies continue to grow through the mentorship process!

SG Ban is addressing the danger of air pollution during World Environment Day

On World Environment Day on June 5th, 2019, BKMC Co-Chair Ban Ki-moon travelled to China and Singapore to address the issues of air pollution and climate change.

Both keynotes, at the 2019 Annual General Meeting of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED) in Hangzhou and at the Ecosperity presented by Temasek in Singapore, highlight the need for global solutions and cooperation in the fight against global issues such as climate change.

According to the World Health Organization, 97% of cities in low- and middle-income countries with more than 100,000 inhabitants do not meet air quality guidelines, whereas in high-income countries the percentage drops to 49. This shows that air pollution is strongly interlinked with social inequalities.

Ban Ki-moon is fighting against climate change as chair of the Global Green Growth Institute, the Global Center on Adaptation, and the National Council on Climate and Air Quality of South Korea.

Read more: https://www.worldenvironmentday.global/

GEEF 2020 Preview “We will harvest what we plan!”

The ‘GEEF 2020 Preview’ event took place at the Yonsei University on May 31th, 2019 in Seoul, South Korea.
 
BKMC Co-chair Ban Ki-moon, who also serves as Honorary Chair of the IGEE, and President Kim Yong-Hak of the Yonsei University invited Ambassadors from the Embassies and representatives of international organizations in Korea to brief them on the mission and the plans of the upcoming GEEF 2020.

GEEF is an annual international forum that the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens has co-organized with the Institute for Global Engagement & Empowerment (IGEE) and the Yonsei University. Having successfully organized the first two Forums with more than 2,000 participants respectively coming from all over the world, the co-organizers together with supporters are putting synergized efforts to hold another successful Forum in the year 2020.
Co-chair Ban also  that all global citizens should “work together to make this world better for all” by achieving the SDGs.
BKMC Co-chair Heinz Fischer added that by co-organizing the GEEF and creating synergies, “we will harvest what we plan.”
At the reception, the European Chamber of Commerce in Korea (ECCK) and Samsonite Korea received a letter of appreciation from Co-chair Ban Ki-moon and President Kim Yong-Hak for their great support for the success of the past GEEF 2019.
 
Learn more about the Global Engagement & Empowerment Forum on Sustainable Development (GEEF) and check out the newly released report of the GEEF 2019: http://geef-sd.org/
Interview videos of the GEEF participants are also available on the Centre’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC61cQFoAgNM8iLbbMpfY3NQ
 
Pictures by IGEE

“Towards Global Peace:

Strengthening Youth’s Involvement in the Global Nuclear Dialogue”

Keynote Speech by Dr. Heinz Fischer

Address

It is an honour to speak here today about the important topic of youth’s involvement in the global nuclear dialogue.

CTBTO, as you sure all know, works towards preventing the usage and further development of nuclear weapons through binding agreements and is thus working towards sustainable peace. I am proud that their headquarter is located in Vienna and happy that the Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo is here with us today. The Vienna office was founded in 1996 and counts more than 260 staff form over 70 countries.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you, Executive Secretary Zerbo, on your excellent work, professionalism and dedication for more than 5 years. Mister Zerbo is a key player in forwarding the CTBT efforts and was responsible for creating the CTBTO Youth Group.

Ever since the existence of humans on this planet, war was part of our history and shaped our history. There have never been long periods of time that war did not interrupt.

The second World War was one of the most devastating wars humanity has ever experienced – counting globally 80 near to million victims.

World War II, at its end in 1945, was the first and last war that saw the actual use of nuclear weapons – we all remember, or heard, or read, about Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I think I do not need to mention, that the use of nuclear weapons results in an enormous number of casualties and in an unimaginable catastrophe.

So, as of 1945, a new chapter of history was born, the period of nuclear proliferation and the danger of nuclear war.

On the one hand, and here I am referring to Henry Kissinger’s argument, nuclear weapons could contribute to stability on a regional and global level, because nobody wants to carry the responsibility of actually using them. I want to mention the example of the so-called Cold War, where the two big powers, the Soviet Union and the United States, were in a constant nuclear arms race. But they have not been used against each other. The costs and risks of nuclear weapons are so high that it establishes the fear of mutual destruction.

On the other hand, we have no guarantee that this calculation is functioning in every possible situation. Nuclear weapons are the most destructive weapons on our planet and are becoming more and more sophisticated and dangerous. The only logical action should be to decrease, in the best-case scenario fully abolish, the development of nuclear weapons.

9 countries are currently in possession of atomic weapons – The US, Russia, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Pakistan, India, Israel and North Korea. Each of these countries holds a very powerful tool and with this probably also the biggest responsibility in the world.

The security and nuclear dialogue amongst the international community has recently increased, with one of the reasons being the withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal by the United States under President Trump one year ago. This could have very dangerous consequences.

Another reason is the unsolved situation and ongoing tensions between North and South Korea and the unpredictable policy of President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

I personally think that everyone has the responsibility to contribute to a peaceful world without nuclear weapons. Women and youth play a particularly important role in the fight against war and against nuclear weapons.

I remember in 1953, when I was at the age of 15, we were discussing topics of peace and war and nuclear weapons at an international youth conference on peace and disarmament in Vienna. Some of my close friends, who were influenced by that period, later became high-level politicians in Europe.

When I look back at the youth movements of my time, I truly believe that young activists had a great influence on political actions against the Vietnam War, on the Peace Movement in the 70s, as well as on the negotiations about disarmament treaties in the Gorbatschow Era.

It would be wrong to think that these movements are not important anymore today. On the contrary! The fact is that the classical confrontation between the East and the West is behind us, but instead we experience many different violent regional conflicts, tensions and threats, so, I see youth involvement more important than ever!

Modern technology is supporting these movements by delivering different ideas and messages at high speed across the globe and connecting youth with similar interests. Social networks make coalition building easier. But also, conferences like this one today bring youth together to share ideas about how we can make peace sustainable.

 

Today we are discussing youth involvement in the global nuclear dialogue. Looking at a broader picture, it is however not only about nuclear weapons. Recent trends show that the world spent 1.7 trillion dollars last year on militaries and weapons in general. It is only normal that youth steps in and claims how much of this money could have been used for education, economic development and even for the implementation of the Agenda 2030.

Citing from the 2017 Youth and Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament Negotiations in New York: “The maintenance and modernization of nuclear arsenals has a long-term impact on youth by diverting funding from activities that could make our future better to one that poses a real and concrete threat to humanity.”

As already mentioned above, nuclear threats are also highly linked to the 2015 UN Sustainable Development Goals, in which youth is greatly involved as well. First, and this is the most obvious connection, nuclear weapons disrupt peace and justice (SDG16).

Second, tensions occurring from the development of new nuclear weapons and its testing, could be turned into cooperation from joint verification of nuclear disarmament agreements. This could in turn lead to stronger partnerships in the implementation of the Agenda 2030 and give weight to SDG 17.

A third and crucial connection between nuclear disarmament and the SDGs is the impact of atomic weapons on our environment (SDG13, 14 and 15). The use of nuclear weapons would create such a catastrophic human and environmental consequences that achieving the SDGs would be out of reach.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Having said all this, I want to thank everyone for participating in nuclear dialogues and making it inclusive by incorporating more and more women and youth.

I can tell you from my side that one of Austria´s top foreign policy priority is the achievement of a nuclear weapon free world. The construction of the Equipment Maintenance and Storage Facility (ESMF) in Seibersdorf near Vienna has further strengthened the link between CTBTO and Austria.

I hope that other countries will also soon acknowledge that (and here I quote) “the world is over-armed and peace is under-funded”.

Thank you.

“Towards Global Peace: Strengthening Youth’s Involvement in the Global Nuclear Dialogue”

On Friday, May 31th, “Towards Global Peace: Strengthening Youth‘s Involvement in the Global Nuclear Dialogue” took place at the Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea.

The event featured distinguished speakers including Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo of the The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), and both Co-chairs and Board members of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens:

  • Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary-General of the United Nations
  • Heinz Fischer, former President of Austria
  • Ambassador Kim Won-soo, former UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs
  • Ambassador Shin Dong-ik, former Korean Ambassador to Austria

Ban expressed the importance of engaging youth as change makers in the field of disarmament and the nuclear dialogue as well as in addressing climate challenges.

He stressed that “global leadership is very important, rather than national leadership” in solving global issues and achieving peace.

Fischer rightly pointed out that “nuclear threats are highly linked to the 2015 UN Sustainable Development Goals” and that the involvement of the youth plays a key role in advancing the overall Global Goals.

Zerbo added that young people are the leaders of today, not tomorrow, encouraging young participants,

“we should achieve a nuclear-free world together with youth, together with you.”

Pictures by the IGEE

Asia towards resilient peace
(Jeju Peace Forum 30th May 2019)
Keynote by Dr. Heinz Fischer

It is a great honour and pleasure for me to be invited to the Jeju Peace Forum 2019 and – coming from Austria – to contribute to the topic of “Asia Towards resilient peace” from a European perspective.

  • What led to resilient peace in Europe in the last decades?
  • And what were some of the major lessons learnt?

Dear distinguished participants,

I want to focus on three main lessons here today:

First lesson – balanced cooperation between adversaries at eye-level,

Second lesson – economic collaboration with a shared plan and goal,

Third lesson – upholding of the generally accepted international treaty regime.

Let me elaborate   /   by quickly looking back   /   on historic developments that led to these lessons in Europe.

After the French Revolution the turbulence of the Napoleonic wars had troubled Europe. However, in 1815 the Congress of Vienna developed a new system of European balance of power between Great Britain, France, Germany, the Austro-Hungarian monarchy and Russia. This balance lasted for almost 100 years and it is Prof. Henry Kissinger who very often describes this balance of power in his books as an example of resilient and lasting peace. This lesson is still useful for today’s challenges.   /

Power needs balancing power at eye-level in the essence of Kissinger’s strategic thinking.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the destructive powers of selfish nationalism in central Europe became stronger and stronger. The consequence was the outbreak of World War 1: Central European powers against the coalition of Great Britain, France, Russia and –in the last phase of the war– the United States.

The central European powers lost the war.

Russia was transformed into the Soviet Union, going its own way under the regime of Stalin. And the Peace Treaties from 1919 were dictated rather than negotiated. Regimes acted on the premise of “winners- and losers”- those that could dictate and those that had to obey. This was contributing to inflaming and initiating strong nationalistic feelings, in particular through the Nazi movement in Germany and similar movements in other European countries.

Only 20 years after the end of World War 1, the Second World War started.

But, after World War 2, several lessons from history were learned by the participating nations. Roosevelt, Churchill, de Gaulle and other leaders did not make the mistakes of 1918 and 1919 again.

Democracy, human rights and a new understanding of lasting peace became leading principles after World War 2.

The dominating new idea was that economic cooperation between former enemies, in particular between Germany and France, should be so strong, that political cooperation becomes a necessary consequence and war becomes impossible.

This was the basis for the European integration.

A second element of post war peace policy was the Marshall Plan, which built Europe up after the Second World War and evidently also helped the United States to achieve its geostrategic and economic positioning- it was a win-win situation for former adversaries. Economic cooperation makes political cooperation easier.

And the third lesson was to secure all of this by a generally accepted international treaty regime.

International treaties and institutions secured trust and displayed good will for political and economic cooperation.

The most important institution was, and still is, the United Nations, which was created in 1945, followed by the Council of Europe, created in 1949.

The treaty of Rome in 1957 was giving the European integration an institutional framework.

A big problem after 1945 was the contradiction and even antagonism between the so-called East and West, namely between the Soviet Union and its allies and the United States and its allies. One could also say, between NATO and the Warsaw Pact.

The establishment of the OSCE in 1973, which today counts 57 Member States from Europe, Asia and North America, was designed for a global security dialogue, but in fact didn’t prove to be strong enough.

It was a dangerous period, but both sides tried to limit the risk of war.

Willy Brandt, the German prime minister in the 1970’s, decorated with the Nobel Peace Prize, whom I personally appreciated very much, once said: “Peace is not everything, but everything is nothing without peace”.

In my opinion, he is right. The collapse of the communist system in Europe and the disintegration of the Soviet Union 30 years ago, again changed the situation. European integration was successfully developing. Many countries under communist dictatorships changed to more democratic systems and East and West Germany were united again peacefully.

Unfortunately, the peak of these positive developments was reached at the turn to the 21st century – at least from a European point of view.

A worldwide financial crisis was producing economic and political tensions and problems.

The political climate and stability started to change and to deteriorate. The extension of NATO to the Russian border was, in my opinion, not a very wise decision.

Egoistic and nationalistic tendencies were growing.

In the United States President Trump is to this day the inglorious proponent of the “my country first” policy, antagonistic to the lessons we had already learned in the past. The future lies in collaboration – not in confrontation.

In addition, the elections of the European Parliament last Sunday (26 May) have produced significant changes, and shifting seats and more influence from the center to the nationalistic right.

Are these European lessons also relevant for Asia?
I think, all of the lessons are global ones. Therefore, my conclusions are:

First – never give up on striving for balanced cooperation of adversaries at eye-level,

Only if one seeks cooperation instead of confrontation major challenges can be overcome. Europe unified when die adversaries Germany and France intertwined their war-related sectors of the economy.

Second – aim for collaboration with a shared plan and goal,

The United Nations has given the global community a solid plan for the future of our planet. It is the Sustainable Development Goals which can be also seen as a global plan for governing; at least as the closest shared compromise that we currently have as international community.

Third – everyone need to do the utmost to uphold the generally accepted international treaty regime.

Only in an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect for agreements, the global community will succeed to find the necessary balanced solutions to varying interest.

In my opinion, the decision of President Trump to withdraw from the INF, from the Paris Climate Agreement and from the Joint Comprehension Plan of Action with Iran in my mind is the opposite of wise decisions because it is destroying trust in international agreements. This makes the very difficult negotiations with North Korea on nuclear disarmament even more difficult.

In my opinion, we have learned a lot from the dramatic history of the 20th century, but it seems that on the other hand, we just begin to forget some of the important lessons of our history.

Now it is our responsibility to make sure those lessons remain guiding principles for a peaceful future. At the same time, new ideas must be implemented in our actions in order to master the problems of the next generation.

 

Photo: Jeju Forum