BKMC celebrates the International Youth Day and urges all the young people in the world to act as global citizens!

Happy International Youth Day!

August 12th marks the international youth day, which was designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 1999 and serves as an annual celebration of the role of young women and men as essential partners in change, and an opportunity to raise awareness of challenges and problems facing the world’s youth.

This year’s theme of the day is “Transforming Education.”

There are currently 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10 and 24 in the world. This is the largest youth population ever. However, more than half of all children and adolescents aged 6-14 lack basic reading and maths skills, despite the fact that the majority of them are attending school. This global learning crisis threatens to severely hamper progress towards the SDGs.

Co-chair Ban Ki-moon hopes that youth “can help widen respect for all people, expand care for our earth and its resources, and enhance the development of other young people through both education and guiding moral values.”

On this special day today, we should also ruminate upon what Co-chair Heinz Fischer urges young people to:
“Please challenge your leaders, your friends, your colleagues, and even yourselves. Inspire those around you to care about the world we share.”
Read more about the International Youth Day: https://www.un.org/en/events/youthday/
Photo: IGEE

Our Present – Our Future: Forum on Global Citizenship and Youth Inclusion

Young people under the age of 30 accounts for over half of the world’s population. Connected to each other like never before, young people have the capacity to learn from one another’s contributions to the resilience of their communities, proposing innovative solutions, driving social progress and inspiring political change. They are also agents of change, mobilizing to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to improve the lives of people and the health of the planet.

The Youth Forum on Global Citizenship and Youth Inclusion for the SDGs Peace and Security held at the CTBT Science & Technology Conference on June 24 emphasized yet again that multilateralism must include the younger generations to foster sustainable solutions to complex global challenges.

The Forum formed an integral part of the landmark conference. After welcome remarks by CTBTO’s Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo, Dr Heinz Fischer was asked to deliver a special address, encouraging the young audience to be changemakers:

Dear friends,

Dear next generation,

Unless we raise our eyes above the horizon and take action now, we are facing a climate catastrophe.

Unless we reduce inequalities between and within countries, and reduce nationalism and xenophobia, we will risk war.

So please challenge your leaders, your friends, your colleagues – and even yourselves.

Inspire those around you to care about the world we share.

We should not forget that you are not only the future, you are the present!

Monika Froehler, CEO of the Ban Ki-moon Centre, moderated an interactive panel discussion of young leaders who addressed the challenges they had faced to promote change and shared their insights about youth platforms that work to include young voices in the discussions.

The Forum encouraged active participation by the audience through an interactive online presentation. Through several surveys, the audience was able to share their opinion, make statements, ask questions, and tell a bit about themselves.

Find the results from the online presentation-survey here:

  

JCI Peace Talk with BKMC Co-chair Heinz Fischer

Q1. You’ve visited Korea in 2007 during your term of office.
How do you like it this time comparing to your last visit to Korea?

My first visit was in an official state visit, and now, in the last two years, I’ve been three times in the past two years in the capacity of co-chair of the Ban Ki-moon Center for Global Citizens. Of course, [the past ten years] was a big step forward. Korea has very fast development it’s a leading nation in many fields of technology and in fighting against the spread of nuclear weapons in full compliance with many European countries’ positions. I cannot make a prognosis on the negotiations between the North and South, but we shall keep our fingers crossed that reunification shall be possible as it was between East and West Germany.

 

Q2. You were elected as the President of Austria for the first time in January 2004. Soon after in May of the same year 10 countries joined the European and also in the same year the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe was voted down in a referendum in Netherland and France whereas obtaining signatures from other EU leaders. As a President elected amid the turmoil of integration and division, how did you see Europe’s problem-solving process?

It was a disappointment that France and the Netherlands had a negative result in the referendum. But it was a big step forward on the other side, where finally an additional 12 new countries joined the EU. After Austria, Sweden, and Finland—then 15. Then it jumped to 28 countries. This was a big success, no doubt. Looking back, frankly it was easier to reach consensus in a of 12 members than in a with 27 or 28 members. There is a mood in Europe now, a discussion, where we should reduce the number of oppositions. It makes siding much more difficult.

 

Q3. There is widespread concern in Europe about the advent of the extreme right wing that hinders the social integration and as far I know Austria is no exception. Since the current Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has come into office, the concern is growing for a right-wing surge. What is your view on the concern? How do you think it will pan out?

You are right—it is a concern. In my opinion, it has to do with the fact that right-wing nationalism was very much discredited after the end of WWII, because the roots of WWII were an aggressive right-wing nationalism. After ’45 this philosophy was totally out, and a pro-European, multilateral policy was dominant. Now, in the last ten years, the right-wing nationalistic feelings are growing, and not only in Europe. It is not good for international relations. We have to explain to people that nationalism is a philosophy of the past and what we need is cooperation and readiness to cope with other nations and countries and religions. At the end of May, Sebastian Kurz lost a vote of confidence, and now we have a caretaker government and will have new elections in September.

 

Q4. I think the European integration is an ongoing process winning over crises.
How do you expect the Brexit to be settled?

At the beginning, it seemed to be clear that people in Britain were in favor of Brexit. There were difficult negotiations between Britain and the EU, but finally an agreement was reached—the so-called “soft Brexit.” Then, an unexpected situation came: in the British Parliament there was no majority for the deal, but there was also no majority for other options—neither for a second referendum, nor for staying in the EU. After some time, the British prime minister has resigned and the British need to find a new prime minister. I think at the moment the game is very open.

 

Q5. The Helsinki process is a good example of multilateral cooperation in Cold War era. Korea is trying to follow suit by learning a lesson from it.

What do you think a prerequisite for making multilateral cooperation?

The Helsinki Process was a success story, but it took place more than 40 years ago. Times have changed. Empires do not exist anymore. The Soviet dismantled. I believe that foreign policy teaches us that you need a balance of powers that one nation, one country, one superpower dominating everything and the others having to obey—that is not a stable situation. You need to speak to international rules and international tribunals. I was quite sad and disappointed to hear when President Trump quit the agreement from Paris on climate protection and also canceled the agreement with the security powers on Iran’s nuclear proliferation. I think the rule of law in the full sense of the word must be obeyed.

 

Q6. The development of nuclear weaponry and ballistic missiles by North Korea is a hot potato for security in the Northeast Asian region. The North-US negotiation has reached an impasse at this moment. May I ask your advice on the matter?

I know several people like my friend Ban Ki-moon who are much better experts on this issue, but what I can say is until two years ago, the thinking was that the problem cannot be solved eventually and the North Korean system would collapse. But that is not a good solution—then there would be many refugees, there would be a new change in power relations. A peaceful, common solution would be best. That will happen when the leader of North Korea can go so far and wants to go so far that he gives up his nuclear ambitions and is trusting or reliant on agreements and compromises. The only thing I know well is that no one must every use nuclear weapons in war against another nation. This is the most serious war crime you can imagine.

 

Q7. Austria is, like Korea, not so big in terms of its size.
It is also located between much bigger countries like Germany and Italy just like Korea is surrounded by China, Russia and Japan. Both counties share the complexity of history as well.

What do you think Korea can learn from Austria in coping with the surroundings?

You are right in principle that Austria and Korea are relatively small countries and have big neighbors, but the size of the neighbors and the nature of the neighbors is of course different. Our relations with Italy and France are our problems. But the neighborhood of Austria, Germany, Hungary, and Switzerland is relatively easy situation Korea is different. In all cases, we should rely on international law we should respect decisions of the UN and we should respect policies that make the neighborhood as good as possible. That allows us to an atmosphere where solutions are possible. The Korea question is a very complicated situation. But the German example shows us that even very complicated situations can be solved in special circumstances.

 

Source: Jeju Peace Institute

Keynote Speech of Heinz Fischer at the CTBT Science & Technology Conference

Keynote speech
Opening Ceremony of the CTBT Science & Technology Conference
Heinz Fischer
24 June 2019, Vienna

Excellencies,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honour and a privilege to be with you here today for this important science and technology forum.

My friend and colleague Ban Ki-moon regrets very much that he cannot be here today. Sad personal circumstances prevented him to come to Vienna and to speak at today’s Opening Ceremony of the Science and Technology Conference of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation.

Ban Ki-moon asked me to be here in his stead, and speak to you about the important role, the CTBTO continues to play for a peaceful and secure cohabitation of this planet.

He served as the CTBTO’s Chairman of its Preparatory Commission back in 1999. This shows, that this organisation has been dear to him since the initial years of its existence.

The basis of this keynote speech is the manuscript of Ban Ki-moon, transformed in my language with some personal observations from my side and shortened to a certain extent.

The CTBTO remains a shining example of how science and technology can help contribute to positive political and diplomatic outcomes.

The Treaty has had a significant positive impact since it was adopted in 1996. With the notable exception of North Korea, the CTBT has achieved de facto implementation despite not having entered into force, with no other nuclear state having carried out a nuclear test since 1998.

And despite the lack of entry into force, the CTBT and CTBTO have made important contributions in making it easier to detect nuclear tests, and in establishing a strong normative taboo against states carrying out nuclear tests.

This has made a notable contribution to protecting the world from the deeply harmful environmental and health impacts of nuclear testing, and is an important step on the path towards total disarmament.

All this has been possible because of the hard work and commitment of a group of scientists and technology experts who nearly thirty years ago undertook intensive, complex and sensitive groundwork to pave the way for a deal.

Their efforts made it easier for the diplomats to negotiate the final text, because there was already a scientific and technological consensus on the parameters.

Therefore, all of us express our admiration and gratitude for all that this organisation has done over the decades to support nuclear non-proliferation and the true cause of peace.

But I fear it is a bittersweet moment, because there is today an acute risk that rash and hubristic policy shifts could undo all the valuable work the CTBTO and others have achieved, bringing us closer to the brink of a devastating nuclear war than any time since the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.

We currently find ourselves at one of the most dangerous times for arms control efforts for many decades. The bilateral arms control architecture developed between the US and the Soviet Union towards the end of the Cold War is being rapidly unravelled, through a combination of neglect, hubris and erroneous threat analysis.

The risk of a catastrophic nuclear event, whether by accident or design, is increased by the paralysis in international bodies charged with upholding peace and security, most notably the United Nations Security Council.

Ban Ki-moon had the honour of addressing the Council earlier this month in New York as a member of The Elders, the group of independent leaders founded by Nelson Mandela who work for peace, justice and human rights.

Together with Mary Robinson, he spoke frankly to the Council and particularly its five permanent members – all nuclear-armed states – to remind them of their uniquely heavy responsibility to develop effective processes of non-proliferation and disarmament.

But there are only few signs of the P5 and other states with nuclear weapons capabilities showing willing to meet these, as national and international politics appears increasingly driven by polarisation, isolationism and an alarming disdain for the very principles of multilateralism.

The imminent expiration of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty in August is the most significant blow, with the potential to threaten the stability not only of Europe, but also much of Asia, if it leads to a renewed arms race involving the US, China, India and Pakistan.

The decision of US President Donal Trump to withdraw from the INF is symptomatic of a much broader negative context of unilateral moves and repudiation of previous agreements.

Consider the possible collapse of the JCPOA – an agreement negotiated so painstakingly here in Vienna, and which was universally deemed to be working well before the American decision, with all the implications we see now for rising tensions between Iran and the United States and wider Middle East security.

Consider as well the recent US withdrawal from the Arms Trade Treaty, and growing concern as to whether the New START treaty between the US and Russia will be extended beyond February 2021.

The world needs to wake up to the severity of the current threat, and the nuclear states must get serious about taking steps towards disarmament to avert an incalculable catastrophe.

Nuclear weapons constitute an existential threat to the future of humanity, just as much as climate change.

And just as science plays an indispensable role in the fight against climate change, so it must now be mobilised in the service of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

This includes exact and dispassionate analysis of new technological developments that risk complicating and destabilising traditional practices of arms control and disarmament, including artificial intelligence, cyber-technology and space-based delivery and tracking systems.

In the longer term, total disarmament is likely to require the multilateral agreement of a Nuclear Weapons Convention.

This may seem a remote prospect today.But, in order for such a convention to be a realistic possibility in the future, there is an important need for substantial work to be done now to find technological solutions that can enable total disarmament to take place with confidence that effective verification and enforcement mechanisms are in place.

All of us need to treat these issues with the utmost seriousness and urgency.

This is why The Elders have launched a new initiative on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, which was presented by Mary Robinson and Lakhdar Brahimi to the Munich Security Conference this February.

They are calling on the nuclear powers to pursue a “minimisation agenda” that could help to reduce the nuclear threat and make concrete progress towards disarmament.

Nuclear states should and must make progress in four areas:

  • doctrine – all states making a “no first use” declaration;
  • de-alerting – taking almost all nuclear weapons off high alert status;
  • deployment – dramatically reducing the numbers of weapons actively deployed;
  • and decreased numbers – for Russia and the US to adopt deep cuts in warhead numbers to around 500 each, with no increase in warheads by other states.

Above all, the nuclear states must work to reduce tensions and take practical, concrete steps to demonstrate to the world that they do not intend to keep these weapons indefinitely.

In this regard, it would be a tremendously positive step for the nuclear states to make concrete progress towards finally bringing the CTBT into force. Ban Ki-moon is calling upon the eight remaining “Annex 2 states” who have not yet ratified the CTBT – six of whom possess nuclear weapons – to do so at the earliest opportunity. There is no good reason to fail to sign or ratify this treaty, and any country that opposes this is failing to meet its responsibilities as a member of the international community.

 

Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Steps towards disarmament need to be implemented with the understanding that the binary divide of the Cold War, with Washington on the one side and Moscow on the other, is no longer dominant.

Instead we live in a world of interlinked nuclear chains, where decisions by one state can have a ripple effect beyond any one immediate strategic environment. The threatened collapse of the INF is a case in point; its demise will not just raise security threats on the European continent but also spark instability and potential strategic escalation in other regions, especially Asia.

The only way to tackle these threats is to internationalise and multilateralise the issue, including via the United Nations and bodies such as the CTBTO. Only by facing this threat together, as a global community, can we hope to find a durable solution.

No country individually, nor the international system collectively, has the capacity to cope with the humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons.

When the first atomic bomb exploded over Hiroshima on 6 August 1945, it made no distinction between combatants and civilians, old and young, or victims and the first responders trying to help them.

For the very survival of humanity, nuclear weapons must never be used again, under any circumstances. The only guarantee of the non-use of nuclear weapons is their complete abolition.

We will only reach this goal if the broad mass of humanity understands the urgent nature of the threat, and the political and moral imperative for drastic action to cut the number of warheads and fundamentally reassess strategic defence postures and doctrines.

This means we need to think as global citizens. On the initiative of Ban Ki-moon, we established the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens here in Vienna in 2018.

The Ban Ki-moon Centre works to empower women and young people to act as global citizens and to contribute to the accomplishment of the Sustainable Development Goals.

In this context, it is utmost necessary to mobilise young people to better understand and tackle the nuclear threat.

Later today, at 2 pm, the Ban Ki-moon Centre will co-host the Youth Forum on Global Citizenship and Youth Inclusion. In a lively session we will focus on the ways youth can contribute to the achievement of the SDGs as well as to peace and security. The Forum will take place in this same hall, and I am looking forward to seeing many of you there, because I am convinced that the idealism of young people will be a powerful motivating force in the fight against nuclear weapons.

I know that all of you here understand the seriousness of the issue, and I look forward to intensive, focused and principled discussions ahead.

But I also hope that we can all find time to step back for a moment from detailed technical and scientific analyses and reflect on the political choices that have led us to today’s situation, and what questions we should ask of our leaders to put humanity on a different path.

To my mind, no-one summed this up better than Nelson Mandela, perhaps the greatest moral statesman of the twentieth century.

In 1998, as President of the new, multi-racial, democratic South Africa, he addressed the UN General Assembly on the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and posed a challenge to the leaders of the nuclear powers:

“We must ask the question, which might sound naïve to those who have elaborated sophisticated arguments to justify their refusal to eliminate these terrible and terrifying weapons of mass destruction – why do they need them anyway?

In reality, no rational answer can be advanced to explain what, in the end, is the consequence of Cold War inertia and an attachment to the use of the threat of brute force.”

His words still ring true today. The time to act is now: otherwise we risk slipping from inertia into irreversible rigor mortis.

Thank you.

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.

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.”