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

“We have to learn from history,” says Co-chair Heinz Fischer at Jeju Forum 2019

The Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity 2019 took place from May 29th to 31st in Jeju, South Korea under the theme of “Asia Towards Resilient Peace: Cooperation and Integration.” The opening kicked off with Korean traditional dance performance and the remarks from Governor Won Hee-ryong of Jeju, Ambassador Kim Bong-hyun, Chair of the Forum, and other distinguished leaders.

The World Leaders Session was moderated by Chair Hong Seok-hyun of Joongang Holdings and featured three distinguished leaders: BKMC Co-chair Heinz Fischer, former President of Austria, Malcolm Turnbull, former Prime Minister of Australia, and Yukio Hatoyama, former Prime Minister of Japan.

Co-chair Fischer stressed three lessons learned for the peace building process from the European perspective:
1. Balanced cooperation between adversaries at eye-level
2. Economic collaboration with a shared plan and goal
3. Upholding of the generally accepted international treaty regime

“In my opinion,” he said, “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.”

He added, “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.”

Recently, East Asia has experienced drastic changes in various areas. Uncertainties regarding trade disputes between the US and China as well as the situation on the Korean Peninsula, in particular surrounding the denuclearization of North Korea, are expected to continue for some time and foster a reconfiguration of the regional order in the Asia-Pacific region.

By gathering world leaders and experts in the field, the Jeju Forum facilitated fruitful discussions on the topics and sought for cooperative and comprehensive solutions to these global issues. “Let us work together to make the world better for all!” – Co-chair Ban Ki-moon stressed on his keynote speech that was read by Chair Kim Bong-hyun of the Forum on behalf of Ban for his absence.

“Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality”

BKMC Co-chair Ban Ki-moon delivered a keynote as well as attending the side events of the 75th session of the UN ESCAP that took place in Bangkok, Thailand from May 27th to 31st. Focusing on the theme “Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality,” the session comprised a ministerial segment and a senior officials segment.

“I firmly believe our common endeavour to achieve the SDGS can pave the path to equality, overcome expanding division. In order to meet this noble aspiration for equality, cooperation, innovation and engagement by all stakeholders is vital,” said Co-chair Ban Ki-moon as former United Nations Secretary-General

At a side event hosted with Google and the Thai government, Ban Ki-moon shared innovative solutions that promote digital inclusion as the Asia Pacific region faces a deepening digital divide with more than half of the region without access to basic internet.

Ban underscored the urgency for “all hands on deck” to harness ownership and participation from all sectors of society to achieve the SDGs by 2030 and urged stakeholders from all sectors and countries to work together, ensuring inclusiveness and equality not only in the Asia Pacific region but across the world.

Source: https://unescap.org/commission/75/
Photo: UN ESCAP

Ban Ki-moon Institute for Global Education in Support of UNAI opens at Handong Global University

The opening ceremony of the ‘Ban Ki-moon Institute for Global Education’ (IGE) in Support of United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) Korea was held at Handong Global University (HGU) in Pohang, South Korea on May 27th.
 
The ceremony was attended by distinguished guests from around the world, including BKMC Co-chair Heinz Fischer, Juan Antonio Samaranch, Jr., Vice President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and Ramu Damodaran, Chief of UNAI.
BKMC Co-chair Ban Ki-moon delivered the welcoming speech as Honorary President of IGE.
In his speech, he stressed that “the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals is not possible without the cultivation of global citizens. That is what IGE is all about. IGE will contribute significantly to realization of the United Nations’ 3 pillars and its 17 SDGs by nurturing global citizens through comprehensive and holistic Global Citizenship Education.”

IGE was established at HGU, a higher education institution, in response to calls by the United Nations and the international community to implement GCED as a new educational paradigm, a paradigm for providing sustainable solutions for transforming the world in the era of the SDGs. Founded and administered through cooperation between HGU and UNAI Korea, IGE will offer such education at its Globally Responsible and Advanced Citizenship Education (GRACE) School. GRACE School will incorporate essential subject areas and the essence of GCED into 6 core courses and offer its students as part of a program leading to a Certificate in Holistic Global Citizenship.

In his congratulatory speech, Fischer said, “I want to stress the importance of Global Citizenship Education (GCED). I am impressed that IGE is incorporating GCED into its curriculum and promoting it as an invaluable tool for sustainable peace and prosperity in the 21st century.”
At the inauguration, IOC VP Samaranch received an honorary doctorate degree from HGU. He shared his vision of olympism as a “philosophy of life” achieved through the “combination of sport, culture, and education.”