Ban Ki-moon in “The ASEAN” on multilateralism

Ban Ki-moon Centre Co-chair Ban Ki-moon reflects in “The ASEAN”‘s December/ January Edition on his 10-year tenure as chief diplomat of the United Nations, the role of multilateralism to solve global challenges, and why youth-driven responses give him hope for the future of our planet and its people. 

   

Read the full English version below.

Access the full magazine HERE.

 

Ban Ki-moon in conversation with die Furche: “We need more Global Citizens”

The Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens Co-chair Ban Ki-moon was interviewed by Die Furche for its January Edition about the impact the United Nations had during his upbringing in Korea, his time as United Nations Secretary-General, his expectations for President-Elect Joe Biden, and how the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, Paris Climate Agreement and Global Citizenship are the road maps to achieve a better future for all.

Read the full English version below.

Access the full German Version here:

2021.1a Ban Ki-moon ITV 

2021.1b Ban Ki-moon ITV


“We need more Global Citizens”

Die Furche, 7 January 2021

1. Former UN Secretary General, may I start with a personal question: You come from a country that has been divided by war to this day – how did that shape you for your later role as the world’s top peacemaker and peacekeeper? 

When I was born before the end of the Second World War, everybody was poor. Soon after, South Korea was attacked by North Korea. At that time, the United Nations had sent troops and humanitarian aid. As a child growing up during the Korean War my family received food ratios and I studied with either kerosene lamps or with candlelight from schoolbooks that were provided by UNESCO. These are my first memories of the UN. Later it was the United Nations’ efforts that substantially helped rebuild and recover South Korea from the Korean War. Observing the incredible impact of the UN in supporting a divided country and assisting on the road to peace and prosperity has influenced me in my various roles. On many occasions, I have emphasized the importance of multilateralism in peacekeeping and I still believe in the role of the United Nations and the other global players in steering the peace between North and South Korea.

In the first months of this year, while the number of individuals infected by the virus and death tolls rose sharply, many trivialized Covid-19 by comparing it to the annual wave of influenza. On the other hand, others over-dramatized the situation and overstated the actual number of victims. Slowly, a more realistic picture has emerged.

2. 75 years after the end of the Second World War, 75 years after the founding of the United Nations, with the aim of “saving future generations from the scourge of war”, it looks in many places as if politicians and peoples have become “tired of peace”. Do you share this impression and how can the willingness to work for peace be rekindled?

Yes – in 2020 the UN was celebrating its 75th anniversary. It has been a great privilege for me to serve as Secretary-General of the United Nations for two terms. My motto was that I will make this “most impossible job”, as the first UNSG Trygvie Lie said, into a “possible mission.” I have been trying this during my ten years tenure, devoting all my time, passion and energy.

But frankly speaking we need to have much more sense of unity and collaboration amongst states of the world, much more global solidarity and compassion. The unanimous adoption of the 2030 Agenda by the 193 UN member states and the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015 were steps in the right direction. This still gives me hope. The Sustainable Development Goals provide a clear path towards creating equal, prosperous, and peaceful societies around the globe. By pledging to implement the global goals by 2030, governments, businesses, civil society, and academia are showing their will to join forces in the fight against poverty, hunger, inequality, corruption, human rights abuses and climate change to achieve a peaceful world.  

This is therefore not the time to be “tired of peace”, on the contrary, it is the time to recommit to the UN Charter and Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement for our future generations.

3. In a CNBC interview, you were unusually harshly on trial with today’s generation of politicians. You said: “I do not have much expectation on current global leaders – they are all aiming for short time political gains – this is shameful.” Why is that so? How can we as society counteract this? Or is the saying true: people get the politicians they deserve? 

Solidarity, empathy, and cooperation are the foundations on which societies can thrive. Especially in times of crisis, global leaders must portray these values and work together in the common interest of all humanity. However, today we see global leaders who have lost their focus and who do not base their policies on inclusive human rights. We see leaders who are favouring personal interest and profit over the well-being and safety of their own people.

To counteract destructive, exploitative, and unsustainable policies we need to empower a generation of politicians who are passionate and compassionate global citizens and who are living up to leaving no one behind. We can only create these leaders by fostering Global Citizenship Education and by promoting knowledge about the Sustainable Development Goals. The global citizenship mindset encompasses global citizen values, knowledge about the sustainable development goals and their implementation and 21st century skills.

4. In 1962 you took a trip to Washington, D.C. for an English competition. A meeting with US President John F. Kennedy during this trip led you, according to your biography, to become a diplomat. Almost 60 years later: Do you think the incoming US President Biden could also motivate young people to stand up for diplomacy and cooperation worldwide?

I will always cherish the memory of this trip to the US as a young man, meeting JFK. It was a turning point in my life. I do believe the new President-elect of the US, Joe Biden will also be an inspiration to a lot of young people around the world. Not only will he motivate youth to stand up for inclusive policies and international cooperation but once President-elect Joe Biden renews America’s commitment to Paris Climate Agreement, he also has a unique role to turn climate ambition into global climate action for the new generation. Also, by joining forces with Kamala Harris as the first female Vice President-elect, he has set an example for inclusive policies and that anything is possible. Despite facing so many challenges at the start of their term, I believe they can inspire next generations, influence their ambition and commitment to make this a better future for all.

5. And beyond that – what do you expect from President Biden and his administration for international cooperation in general and for the United Nations in particular?

The promise of President-elect Joe Biden to re-join the Paris Climate Agreement, as he takes office on 20 January 2021, will hopefully not only restore faith in the United States as an international team player, but will also strengthen cooperation with the United Nations. Not abandoning a commitment made 5 years ago and valuing fundamental rights and freedoms in their international leadership role, will result in the revival of the importance of the US in multilateralism, striving towards global solutions for global challenges.

6. In 2021 we hope to get the health effects of the Covid-19 pandemic under control with vaccinations – what lessons should the global community learn from Corona, in particular for global solidarity and cooperation?

The Covid-19 pandemic hit the global community unexpectedly hard. The pandemic exacerbated existing challenges such as climate change, humanitarian crises, widening disparity and strengthening authoritarian regimes. The tasks we are now facing are enormous, but not impossible to achieve if we work together and act in solidarity. The key notions that matter during and after the pandemic are cooperation, solidarity, responsibility, discipline, and compassion for the most vulnerable. The global situation also requires a strong commitment by all stakeholders to the Agenda 2030 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Covid-19 sheds light on the many profound inequalities that persist on our planet. Therefore, the verbal and theoretical commitments to solidarity must also be reflected in concrete actions supporting vulnerable groups such as refugees, migrants and racial minorities.

It is up to us to chart the right course for a better future for all. The pandemic showed us that we all have a responsibility as global citizens to stay vigilant. If the global community can show courage and empathic leadership today, we will all benefit from it by being equipped with tools to tackle equally grave challenges tomorrow.

7. I started with a personal question. May I end the conversation with another one: How was the feeling when you were no longer UN Secretary-General on the first day and the pressure was gone: Pride? Disappointment? Relief? 

Whatever successes or achievements there may be associated to my tenure, they are the outcome of joint efforts – not by me alone. The Secretary-General, however capable or willing, cannot achieve anything alone. No single country or person can do it alone without support. In that regard, I am deeply grateful to UN´s dedicated staff an all the partners around the globe, who have been working day and night – in many cases, in very dangerous circumstances. Without their hard work, we would not have achieved the Paris Agreement on climate change, we would not have had the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Both compounds serve as blueprints for humankind efforts towards the path to peace, prosperity and to building sustainable societies, a greener economy, and empowering the most vulnerable, leaving no one behind.

During my ten years serving as Secretary-General of the United Nations, I was always guided by four principals: setting priorities, never giving up, focusing on the people, and standing up for those who are left behind. No longer the Secretary-General, I am still guided by these principals. I continue my work by advocating the mindset of global citizenship and the importance of multilateralism.


Die Presse: “It’s in Our Hands”


The Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens Co-chairs Ban Ki-moon and Heinz Fischer have co-authored an article for the Austrian newspaper Die Presse on COVID19 and the challenging tasks that lie ahead. You can access the German version of the article here and read the English version below.


It is in Our Hands

Die Presse, 3 June 2020 by Ban Ki-moon and Heinz Fischer

6 months ago – in December 2019 – the term Covid-19 was, at best, only familiar to a small group of scientists.

Today, the term has captured the attention of the world, bringing with it fear and tension as well as influence on politics, the economy, culture, sport, and most importantly, the lives of individuals. At the same time, it has also raised many questions.

In the first months of this year, while the number of individuals infected by the virus and death tolls rose sharply, many trivialized Covid-19 by comparing it to the annual wave of influenza. On the other hand, others over-dramatized the situation and overstated the actual number of victims. Slowly, a more realistic picture has emerged.

The tasks we are now facing are huge, but not impossible to achieve if we work together and act in solidarity.

The key terms that matter are COOPERATION, SOLIDARITY, RESPONSIBILITY, DISCIPLINE, and COMPASSION FOR THE MOST VULNERABLE.

Let us start with a concrete example: Austria and Korea are two countries with excellent relations which uphold the basic principles of the United Nations. These two countries have had decades of close political, economic, and cultural cooperation and now have been similarly affected by Covid-19. With well-developed healthcare systems, both countries have acted quickly, their populations have behaved responsibly and with great discipline. Fortunately, this can also be said of several other countries which are willing to cooperate, exchange experiences, and provide mutual support.

It should not be overlooked that many countries have also reacted differently, namely by not taking the pandemic seriously enough or withdrawing into a narrow nationalistic mindset and deviating from the principle of solidarity and cooperation.

In addition, the USA and China, superpower G-2 countries, are currently fatally divided.

This does not change the fact that, overcoming this pandemic through medical research, improved healthcare systems and international cooperation, remains a major issue and a global task.

The challenges we face now require a strong commitment to the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals, whereby goals number 1 (No Poverty), number 3 (Good Health and Well-Being), number 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), number 13 (Climate Action) and number 17 (Partnership for the Goals) must be tackled and pursued much more vigorously. It is encouraging to note that many countries are taking action for these goals and that G-20 leaders have committed to taking all necessary steps to stop the virus from spreading and to provide the global economy, particularly the global South, with appropriate resources.

The EU is currently working on an extensive reconstruction package with a volume of about 750 billion Euros. An interesting and important discussion is taking place regarding what portion of the package should be spent on grants and what portion should be issued as loans for repayment.

The world is closely watching the process and discussions within the EU which we hope will demonstrate solidarity and compassion based on our common values in a difficult situation.

After the Second World War, Europe benefited greatly from the economic assistance and solidarity shown by the United States in the form of the Marshall Plan.

This plan benefited everyone involved.

Why don’t the G-20 and OECD countries show the same support to the global South now?  Why should stronger countries in Europe not show their solidarity with countries that have been badly affected by the pandemic? This principle must be applied worldwide. The poorest countries in the world are particularly vulnerable to the effects of the Coronavirus. These countries have already suffered from humanitarian crises, conflicts, food insecurity, inadequate healthcare systems, and more. Therefore, the verbal and theoretical commitments to solidarity must also be reflected in concrete actions.

At this time, it is also important to consider how to handle border controls to allow medical devices and urgently required materials to be transported to places where they are most needed.

Covid-19 sheds light on the many profound inequalities that still persist on our planet. The inequalities between and within certain countries have also been exacerbated by the pandemic. Restrictions imposed over the past weeks and months on producers and consumers and their freedom of movement, travel and assembly, have been necessary and expected. However, governments and legislators must take into account that these important and well-intentioned measures should not further marginalize vulnerable groups and individuals, and that due consideration of various points of view should be given in order to find the best possible way forward during each phase.

Even before Covid-19 captivated our attention, we were preoccupied with the existential threats of nuclear weapons and climate change. Covid-19 and its economic and social implications bear consequences that make everyday life harder than ever before.

Together we must have the necessary courage, wisdom, and solidarity to meet these global challenges. We live in a world that is changing rapidly and it is up to us to chart the right course for a better future for all.


Heinz Fischer is the 11th President of Austria and Co-chair of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens based in Vienna, Austria.

Ban Ki-moon is the 8th Secretary-General of the UN and Co-chair of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens based in Vienna, Austria.

Ban Ki-moon: South Koreans “play a key role” in the corona crisis

Checkout our Co-chair Ban Ki-moon’s interview with the APA.

“Since I was the Secretary-General of the United Nations, I have always emphasized that problems of global scale require solutions of global scale. The fear of infection has sparked a rise in racism and xenophobia. Such deplorable action would not help in deterring the spread of the virus in anyway. We must never forget that we are all in this together. The global outbreak, and any other global challenge in that matter, can only be overcome by concerted effort and unity.”  Go to article.

Ban Ki-moon Meets the Secretary General of the ASEAN-Korea Centre

The Co-chairman of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens, former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon met the Secretary General of the ASEAN-Korea Centre Lee Hyuk on April 30th. Mr. Ban Ki-moon congratulated the 4th Secretary General of the ASEAN-Korea Centre on his inauguration that took place on April 16th. Previously, Mr. Lee has served as the Ambassador at the Korean Embassies in the Philippines and Vietnam. ASEAN-Korea Centre was established with aims to enlarge trades, promote investments, enhance cooperation on culture and tourism, and to activate human exchanges between Korea and the ASEAN countries. ASEAN consists of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and Vietnam. Mr. Ban also encouraged the ASEAN-Korea Centre to make continuous efforts to build a stronger, sustainable partnership between the ASEAN countries and Korea. The ASEAN-Korea Centre is currently accepting applicants for the 2018 ASEAN-Korea Youth Network Workshop that will be held in two places, Seoul and Manila, on July 2nd-12th. The deadline for the application submission is May 24th. Source: https://www.aseankorea.org/eng/Activities/activities_view.asp?pageNum=20&page=1&boa_num=12792&boa_gubun=2&pageReturn=Activities&boa_cnt=49&S_YEAR=&S_MONTH=&S_GUBUN=0&rownum=1 Source: http://www.aseankorea.org/eng/Activities/Activities_view.asp?page=1&boa_num=12789&boa_gubun=6&pageReturn=Activities&boa_cnt=0&S_YEAR=&S_MONTH=&S_GUBUN=0&rownum=1 Photo: ASEAN-Korea Centre