Ban Ki-moon’s Keynote Address
Opening of the Inaugural Model United Nations Conference
GEMS World Academy – Dubai
January 9, 2020
I am delighted to be here at the inaugural GEMS World Academy, Dubai Model United Nations conference. It is energizing to see so many individuals and schools represented.
To be an Ambassador of GWA MUN is a great honour and privilege for me. One of the main reasons I accepted this position from Mr. Sunny Varkey, Founder and Chairman of GEMS Education, was because I knew it would give me incredible insight into the way youth are thinking.
You are the world’s future leaders, and by being here it shows that you are committed to the world we live in and your passion to make a difference. I commend you all for that.
The theme of the conference, “Challenges of intervention in a complex world”, is so important. It gives you all the opportunity to explore global issues and look for solutions that perhaps world governments, NGOs, and many others haven’t thought of.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of meeting the GEMS World Academy Secretariat who organised this conference. I was impressed with the leadership of the entire Secretariat team led by their Director-General Lihong Wang, and Deputy General Aditya Joshi. Without them this conference would not have been possible. Their passion, enthusiasm, and their drive to make a change gives me great comfort.
Like all of you, they are so committed to the MUN concept. This fills me with so much pride.
You may ask “why?”
You are our future and I am confident that you will have prudent solutions to real 21st century problems.
But, this conference is about more than that… and I hope that when the conference is over you will realise that you have personally grown and have met inspiring people and that you will have learned a lot.
The conference will train some of your skills that will help you shape your future in many ways; from developing key leadership abilities to researching, writing and public speaking.
Some of you will learn
Moreover, finding realistic solutions to real world problems that are acceptable to a majority of representatives requires incredible skills of negotiation, conflict resolution and cooperation. This is easier said than done!
I hope that the biggest take away for your all will be OWNERSHIP. Ownership of the world we all live in. OWNERSHIP for the Sustainable Development Goals. OWNERSHIP of the Agenda 2030. OWNERSHIP of the principle of leaving no one behind.
When I ended my tenure as Secretary-General of the United Nations, I knew that there was much more work to be done… So, I founded the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens along with Heinz Fischer, the former President of Austria. The Centre is based in Vienna and focusses on empowering women and the youth in the framework of the SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement.
You might ask why we chose to focus on Gender Equality and Quality Education because half of the world is women and half the world is under 25 years of age.
And, despite best efforts, in many developing countries, primary, secondary and tertiary education for girls STILL remains a challenge. We cannot ignore this.
Currently 264 Million children are not at school, a majority of them are girls.
In matters of access to education, professional opportunities, pay and representation there is no gender equality…yet!
Women are still under-represented in top positions…
1 in 3 women in the world have experienced physical or sexual violence…
And trafficking women and girls is still happening around the world.
Child marriage is still practiced and women and young people are the hardest hit in any conflict, war or crisis.
This has to stop!
The world is currently home to the largest generation of youth ever – with 1.8 billion young people worldwide. Nearly 90 per cent of which live in developing countries.
More than 70 million youth are currently unemployed and around 40 percent of the world’s active youth are either jobless or living in poverty – despite working.
As we know, unemployment breeds many problems from inequality, crime to terrorism.
And this has to be addressed.
Yes, progress is being made. But it is not enough. The Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens puts emphasis on decreasing youth mortality, supporting education, women and youth entrepreneurship – and raises awareness for global citizenship issues.
We want to make sure that all young people know about the SDGs and become agents of positive change. This is important given today’s challenges globally.
I am often asked: ‘but what can I do as an individual?’ believing that your contribution won’t make a difference. That is wrong! And if you think that it is someone else’s responsibility, then the world will continue to suffer.
It doesn’t matter how small your contribution to society is, as long as you are contributing in whatever way you can – within your capability.
We all know that the 17 Sustainable Development Goals are each mammoth tasks… but they are achievable if each and every one of us plays our part.
One of the biggest challenges is mobilising sufficient financing to effectively pursue the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development.
But, it is also about human-power.
This brings me back to ‘what is achievable’ for an individual? You should never think your contribution won’t be enough to be a catalyst for change. Everyone can make a difference. And I want to give you a real example from within GEMS Education.
I was delighted to learn that many GEMS teachers are United Nations Climate Change certified – with one school, The Kindergarten Starters, recently becoming the World’s first fully-accredited UN:CC school with all 300-plus of its teachers and support staff certified.
I am even more pleased to hear that other teachers across GEMS Education schools are following suit.
This was all made possible after ONE single teacher from GEMS First Point – The Villa – Candice Wright – discovered that accreditation was ONLY possible for teachers in the United Kingdom. However, she questioned the process and now as a result of her perseverance, the qualification is available to everyone around the world.
This has now resulted in hundreds of teachers becoming UN:CC certified in less than a year. And, it is evidence – within your own network of schools – that one person CAN make a difference.
I would like to leave you with this.
Be inspired to go out into the world and to work not only for the betterment of your own country, or the country you live in but for the betterment of humankind.
Be a global citizen! Act with passion and compassion!
Together, we can make the world safer and more sustainable for today, and for generations to come.
This is our moral responsibility as human beings.
Beating climate change and achieving the targets set in the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda are the two defining challenges of our time, according to co-chair Ban Ki-moon, who warned against rising unilateralism.
“In times of increasing discord, I believe that achieving the UN SDGs and meeting the Paris Climate Change Agreement are two efforts that should unite all nations, all industry and all civil society,” co-chair Ban said, addressing an audience of representatives of IMO Member States, NGOs and IMO staff at IMO Headquarters in London on October 28.
Co-chair Ban lauded IMO’s work on climate change, including the adoption of the initial IMO GHG strategy, as well as the Organization’s work, including capacity building, to promote a safer, more secure and more environment-friendly shipping industry.
“Taking stock of the current realities of global development and climate change, I believe IMO and shipping industry are well positioned to help navigate us toward safer harbors,” co-chair Ban said.
IMO’s focus on empowering women through its 2019 World Maritime theme and ongoing gender program was singled out for praise by co-chair Ban, who himself established UN Women to champion gender equality during his time as UN Secretary-General. Companies with women on their boards do better, he reminded the audience – while women and children are disproportionately affected by the impacts of poverty, climate change and conflict.
IMO’s commitment to supporting the ocean goal, SDG 14, including its work to address marine plastic litter, was also highlighted. Shipping itself is vital to world trade and development – and the achievement of many SDGs. With 11 years to go to fulfill the goals set out in all 17 SDGs,
“we need an all hands on deck approach where everyone joins together in multi stakeholder partnership,” co-chair Ban said. “Considering the great importance of the shipping industry for our economies and the environment, IMO truly represents the vanguard of global efforts to build a more prosperous and sustainable global future.”
On October 2, Co-chair Ban Ki-moon delivered a keynote speech at the 6th Yoon Hoo-jung Unification Forum held at Ewha Womans University ECC Lee Sam-bong Hall in Sinchon, Seoul.
“There is no ideology in diplomacy. There should be no politics involved in security.” – Ban Ki-moon
At the event titled “Unification of the Korean Peninsula in the World,” co-chair Ban explained the current international situation surrounding the Korean Peninsula, including the competition between the U.S. and China and North Korean nuclear. He also presented a direction for the right foreign and security policies.
On peace and unification on the Korean Peninsula, co-chair Ban said,
“The Republic of Korea is currently placed at its biggest diplomatic and security crisis since the Korean War.”
Co-chair Ban also added that
“Peace unification on the Korean Peninsula can be achieved on the basis of diplomatic relations with neighboring states.”
Source Ewha Womans University
© Ewha Womans University
On September 19th, Co-Chair Ban Ki-moon gave a keynote speech at International Day of Peace Commemorative Roundtable. This event was held as a part of the annual Peace BAR Festival (PBF), a forum on the topic ‘The Future Unhinged: Climate Justice for All,’ and was hosted by Kyung Hee University from September 16th to 19th.
“In order for individuals and communities to escape the existential threats of climate change, we must act now.” – Ban Ki-moon
At the Roundtable, BKMC Board member Irina Bokova who is also former Director-General of UNESCO and an Honorary Rector of Humanities College at Kyung Hee University featured as a moderator. Club of Rome member Ian Dunlop, Professor Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University and Chancellor of Kyung Hee University System Inwon Choue attended as panelists to address global climate change crisis.
In his speech, BKMC Co-chair Ban said, “We are facing a fast-changing climate phenomenon.” “Record-breaking heat waves, wildfires, and typhoons are no longer perceived as abnormal, but as ‘new-normal’. He insisted that “Individual citizens should change their lifestyle habits to curb rising temperatures.” “If we allow the global temperature to rise more than 3 degrees Celsius, then it may be the end of humanity,” he warned.
He also outlined his efforts in environmental sectors as a UN Secretary-General. “I placed climate change as a top priority,” he said. “In 2007, the first high-level talk with world leaders was held.” Moreover, in December 2015, Co-chair Ban successfully initiated and established Paris Climate Agreement. He continued, “The Kyoto Protocol of 1992 was not an obligation to the largest emitters of greenhouse gases including China and India, but this has been improved in the Paris Agreement.”
“Only 11 years are left before climate change becomes a catastrophe,” said Ban. As he closed his speech, Ban emphasized, “We do not have Planet B. There is no alternative to the Earth. Therefore, there is no Plan B in the climate change problem.” “The only way is to foster cooperation based on multilateralism and coexist with nature.”
“It is very crucial for citizens to share information and knowledge about climate change.” – Inwon Choue
During the Roundtable, Chancellor Inwon Choue said, “Countries have promised to decrease 1.5 degrees by the end of the 21st century, but there is not much of a progress. If this continues, the world’s temperature will increase 1 degree higher by 2030.” In particular, he said, “At this time, when an environmental catastrophe is currently happening, political leaders do not seem to consider climate change seriously.”
“It is very dire to change how we think and take an initiative.” – Irina Bokova
Bokova added to Chancellor Choue, “Political leaders do not pay attention to urgent climate issues. They seem to have forgotten their responsibility to preserve the planet.”
“We are on a path of increasing the world temperature by 4 degrees Celsius, which brings an environment incompatible with an organized global community. In other words, that represents global collapse.” – Ian Dunlop
In discussing lack of political efforts, Ian Dunlop said, “As climate change issues require long-term efforts, political leaders neglect this matter but rather focus on growth.” He also mentioned that one of the main reasons people are not mobilized to act on the issue despite its expected gravity is that the effects of climate change are not immediately apparent. “Whatever we put into the atmosphere today, we don’t see the full effect for 10, 20 or 30 years to come,” he said. “By the time [the effects] becomes clear, it will be too late to act. That means we have to act now.”
“Solutions are available to us but what we lack is political will to make it happen.” – Ian Dunlop
The experts outlined some specific actions to roll back climate change included decreasing industrial disposal is mandatory. Ian Dunlop said, “The problem is, at the moment, we are not reducing emissions at all – we are actually producing more.” “We should stop all carbon consumption today… [and] need to phase out fossil fuel by no later than 2050. We should remove subsidies to fossil fuel industries, tighten controls on fugitive emissions from fossil fuel operations and redesign agricultural practices to emphasize soil carbon sequestration, ocean sequestration and reforestation.”
“Reducing fossil energy on individual level is clearly not enough. Currently 41 billion tons of greenhouse gases are emitted worldwide each year, and 20 billion of which must be eliminated.” – Peter Wadhams
In addition to political dedication, Peter Wadhams, a professor of ocean physics at the University of Cambridge, highlighted the role of science and technology in climate change solutions. According to him, planting trees are less efficient. Rather, air purifiers should be implemented to absorb the greenhouse gases and the absorbed greenhouse gases can be buried in the ground.
Co-chair Ban will attend the first UN Global Summit on Climate Change on Tuesday, September 23rd to bring together political will of different countries.
Source: Korea Joongang Daily
© Korea Joongang Daily & Kyung Hee University
by Ban Ki-moon
Global Programming Conference
August 19, 2019 (Mon); 11:30-11:45
Main Plenary Hall, Convensia Center, Songdo
Mr. Vice President Teuea Toatu, /
Mr. Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown, /
Mr. Deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Mohamed Guled, /
Executive Director of the Green Climate Fund Mr. Yannick Glémarec, /
ministers and vice ministers, / distinguished experts and guests, / ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for inviting me to address this distinguished group of leaders and experts / from so many governments and institutions, / and from so many countries and regions of the world.
Most of all, / thank you for allowing me to be a part of the all-important dialogue / concerning the future direction and replenishment of the Green Climate Fund.
I was the United Nations Secretary-General during the time of the creation of the Paris Climate Agreement and the Green Climate Fund, / and I still have a keen interest in the successes of both / because I still believe / without doubt / that our future livelihoods depend on it.
The report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is very clear. We have 10 years to cut carbon emission by half / in order to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius / and to prevent the catastrophic effects of climate change.
Today, / we can already see the sad consequences of 1 degree of global warming—not only on the news channels and front pages—but in our beaches, mountains, farmlands and cities / in the form of extreme weather patterns, / rising sea levels / and changing landscapes.
Even if we were to do everything right starting today, / these climate-related impacts, / which are already prevalent and on its way to becoming the new norm, / will still increase because it takes time to reverse the damages that we, / the inhabitants of planet Earth, / have already put in motion. Just as a huge pot of boiling water takes time to cool, / our planet will require time to cool.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
That is why we cannot procrastinate / or defer to the next generation any longer. We must act now, / and we must act together.
On this backdrop, / I would like to highlight three points today.
First, / the Green Climate Fund, / as the largest multilateral fund dedicated to climate change, / has a key role to play. But for it to do so, / it must be resourced ambitiously, / so it can deliver effectively and urgently.
It is not a mere coincidence / that the Global Green Growth Institute and the Green Climate Fund have been partnering together closely since 2017, / the year in which the two organizations signed a bilateral MOU of cooperation, / as well as the Readiness and Preparatory Support Agreement.
As a result, / more than 20 GGGI Member Countries have nominated GGGI to be their delivery partner for GCF’s Readiness Program, / resulting in $7.5 million secured / and with more than twice that amount on the way.
Second, / mitigation and adaptation need to move together, / and adaptation should also move into the mainstream of policy making and development planning.
The negative effects of climate change will not disappear overnight, / and investing in adaptation is the wise choice to make.
It should not be mistaken / as a sign of giving up hope on mitigation. It is a two-pronged maneuver: / one to simultaneously lessen and reverse the threats to communities, businesses and economies in the longer-term, / and another to protect from climate shocks in the near-term.
This is why the Global Commission on Adaptation—a commission I am currently chairing to accelerate adaptation action—is looking to work more closely with the Green Climate Fund / and to increase adaptation finance, / which has lagged behind mitigation finance.
Lastly, / I have emphasized again and again to leaders of developed countries / to not overlook the most vulnerable countries / and the marginalized groups of the world, / and I would like to do so again.
In a twist of cruel irony, / the poorest and most vulnerable countries—the ones that often have the least capacity to access climate funds / and often tend to be the most exposed or susceptible to climate change—the Small Island Developing States and the natural resource-dependent countries, / they face some of the greatest challenges from climate change, / whether it be loss of land from rising sea levels, / land degradation / or loss of biodiversity.
GCF should be applauded for its pioneering efforts to set ambitious benchmarks for climate finance / and to improve direct access to funds, / including through the Simplified Approvals Process / and a fast-tracking accreditation process for entities already accredited with the Adaptation Fund.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I hope you will remember these three points I have just made.
In order to have GCF continue to play a key role, / in order to foster a successful two-pronged strategy with mitigation and adaptation, / and in order to justly help the poorest and most vulnerable countries, / the ongoing and new collaboration between institutions will be of utmost importance, / and the scaling up of resources and support will be absolutely critical.
More institutions such as the Global Green Growth Institute and the Global Commission on Adaptation / will need to collaborate with GCF, / and governments need to follow in the footsteps of Germany and Norway / and provide scaled-up resources.
Because climate change is not a problem bound to only one country, region or sector, / and green growth and adaptation solutions cannot be implemented by one country, region or sector.
We need to transcend and cross political aisles, national boundaries and sectors / to work together to discover innovative solutions / and pull together to combine all the resources and support.
Either we will all benefit together, / or we will all suffer together. And, in order for all of us to benefit together, / we need to do start now.
If we do this, / I believe this could be perhaps the greatest contribution of our generation / to our future generations.
Thank you for your attention.
At the One Asia Convention 2019 took place in Seoul, South Korea on August 5-6th, 2019, BKMC Co-chair Ban Ki-moon delivered a keynote on the topic of education and peace.
Ban expressed his concern that “it is inevitable that the conflicts between nations exist when I look at a number of countries in the world” and stressed that “such issues to be solved in a constructive way.”
He stressed the crucial role and necessity of education that fosters future experts who would contribute to solving conflicts on top of the issues we are facing and make drastic changes in order to promote sustainability, capacity, and peace.
Following the keynote speech, a round table was hosted under the theme of “Education and Peace” on the first day. On the second day, the convention also had breakout sessions divided into the following four fields;
・Reports of the course on Asian Community
・Politics, Economics, Environment and Social Matters
・History, Education, Thought, Philosophy and Religion
・Culture, Media, Arts and Others
In total, 650 scholars and students from 325 universities in 32 countries and regions attended the convention.
Learn more about the One Asia Convention Seoul 2019: http://www.oneasia.or.jp/en/activity/activities.html
Photos: Konkuk University
Opening Ceremony of the CTBT Science & Technology Conference
24 June 2019, Vienna
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.
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.
“Towards Global Peace:
Strengthening Youth’s Involvement in the Global Nuclear Dialogue”
Keynote Speech by Dr. Heinz Fischer
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”.
A 2-day symposium “Global Sustainable Development Goals in a Mediatized World” took place at the Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften in Vienna, Austria on April 4-5th, 2019.
At the opening, BKMC Co-chair Heinz Fischer delivered a keynote, mentioning the great success of the world having reached the consensus on the Human Rights Declaration, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and then the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the United Nations.
Expressing his appreciation of “what is done and how many institutions and universities are dealing with teaching about the SDGs,” Fischer urged that we should cooperate to advance the SDGs and “leave no one behind.”
Mediatization shapes public discourses and thus influences the way in which the Agenda 2030 is reflected, criticized, and implemented. Communication plays an important and sometimes decisive role in the awareness and individual acceptance and the political and economic legitimization of the SDGs due to digitalization, convergence, and globalization in a rapidly changing societal environment.
The symposium brought together experts, scientists, and researchers in the field to highlight these aspects, discuss the consequences across disciplines, and elaborate the implications of research related to the implementation of the Agenda 2030. Their research findings were also presented during the symposium, and it showed what Austrian scientists can make to the SDGs, deepen the interdisciplinary dialogue among scientists and beyond, and better acquaint researchers with the SDGs.
Learn more: https://www.facebook.com/events/384052535730580/