Co-chair Ban Ki-moon speaks at Munich Security Conference 2020

“There is a lot of arguments, a lot of problems and a lot of division in this world. Only with multilateralism, there are solutions.” – Ban Ki-moon at MSC2020

On February 13, Co-chair Ban Ki-moon attended the 56th Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany. Ban participated in a panel discussion “Apocalypse Now? – Climate and Security” with stellar speakers and stressed the importance of mutual cooperation among countries and institutes for climate action.

Emphasizing the role of youth in the global movement toward climate action, Co-chair Ban said,

“The young people protesting around the world speak more sense than many world leaders…Without the activism and passion of youth, we will not overcome two of the gravest existential threats we have: climate change and nuclear war.”

Lamenting on the United States’ decision to withdraw from Paris Agreement, he also said,

“Paris Agreement is not perfect but is the best that could be reached in 2015; its implementation remains the best way of tackling the multifaceted threats posed by the climate change.”

He further continued and showed his concern toward inadequate action taken to cope with existential climate threats and said,

“I am angry we have to repeat the science yet again. Let’s not waste time with climate skeptics. The science is clear that climate change is happening, hast. IPCC brings together 2,500 of the world’s best scientists and their 5 reports make the facts clear: If we don’t address climate change, then I think we have no hope.”

Jennifer Morgan, the Executive Director of Greenpeace International, said,

“We have seen what they youth has done, but we have to take this forward. We have to shift the power dynamics.”

 

Helga Maria Schmid, Secretary-General of the European External Action Service (EEAS), said,

“It was under Ban Ki-moon’s leadership that the UN Security Council first addressed the links between climate and security.”

“We do have a Schuman Plan: it’s the European Green Deal. It is the transformative vision of the new EU Commission that is not only about reducing emission or leading energy transition. It’s about biodiversity and an alternative growth mode.”

 

Tom Middendrop, Chair of the International Military Council on Climate and Security, said,

“I would sacrifice my life for a world where we didn’t need a military…but climate is accelerating scarcity and frictions…that’s why we need the military to help build the resilience we are looking for.”

 

John Kerry, former United States Secretary of State, said,

“We need to declare a war on the war of science.”

“We are heading toward an absolute catastrophe…we need to behave like we are at war.”

During this conference, over 500 high-ranking international decision-makers gathered for Munich Security Conference 2020. Personalities from politics, business, science, and civil society will discuss current crises and future security challenges in Munich.

On February 14, 18:30 CET, Co-chair Ban Ki-moon will deliver a special lecture at TUM Speakers Series on the margins of the Munich Security Conference.

© Munich Security Conference / Kuhlmann

Co-chair Ban Ki-moon’s speech during opening session of PMAC 2020

Speech by Co-chair Ban Ki-moon

Prince Mahidol Award Conference (PMAC) 2020

Bangkok, Thailand

January 31, 2020

 

Your Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, Your Royal Highness Princess Dina Mired, Prince Mahidol Award Laureates, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

I am honoured to speak to you today at the opening ceremony of the Prince Mahidol Awards Conference, which has become one of the most important events on the global health calendar. This conference has had a profound impact in shaping the global health agenda – most notably through initiating and spearheading the campaign for Universal Health Coverage. Leading health activists and policy makers have been championing UHC at PMAC for almost a decade now and your collective efforts helped ensure that UHC was incorporated into the Sustainable Development Goals. I congratulate you all for this tremendous achievement.

This year, PMAC is taking place at a time of acute public concern about the global health risks posed by the corona virus in China, which has already spread to other countries and continents. As with SARS and avian flu, this epidemic highlights the critical importance of achieving UHC through resilient health systems that can protect all citizens, regardless of income or background.

The WHO has just declared corona virus to be a global health emergency. The way to overcome the corona virus is through countries working together in a spirit of solidarity and coordination. This is the same spirit that informs the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, of which UHC forms an integral element.

Ladies and gentlemen, today I am speaking to you as the Deputy Chair of The Elders. The Elders believe that the best way to achieve the health SDG is though UHC, where everybody receives the quality health services they need, without suffering financial hardship. By 2030, there should be no one dying needlessly from preventable diseases; no one should be left behind. That is the philosophical motto of the SDGs.

Three times over the last decade, all countries have committed themselves to achieving UHC at the United Nations –most recently at the High-Level Meeting on UHC in September 2019. At this, dozens of heads of state said that they would ensure that their countries reach UHC by 2030 and made bold announcements about the health reforms they will implement to achieve this goal.

But if we are being honest, we have to acknowledge that since the signing of the SDGs, progress towards UHC has been inadequate and uneven. The latest WHO and World Bank UHC Monitoring Report shows that although health service coverage has been improving, levels of out-of-pocket health spending have been rising, meaning that more people are being impoverished because of health costs. This shows that governments are not meeting their obligations to finance UHC properly – too much of the burden is falling on households. This not only undermines achieving UHC, it is also a threat to global health security, because out-of-pocket-spending on medicines is one of the main drivers of anti-microbial resistance. High private health spending also inhibits progress towards other SDGs including eliminating poverty, reducing inequality and achieving gender equality. Women and their children often suffer most when health services are underfunded, as they have higher healthcare needs but often lower access to financial resources to pay for services themselves. This is why, when implementing UHC reforms, countries must prioritize delivering the health services women and children need most and provide them free at the point of delivery.

With the clock ticking to the SDG deadline in 2030, it is therefore appropriate that the theme of this year’s PMAC is “Accelerating Progress Towards UHC”. To achieve this target, many countries will require massive investments in their health systems and radical changes in policies to improve access to care for the poor and vulnerable.

The good news is that, by learning from UHC success stories from around the world, including Thailand, we know what works and what doesn’t. Take for example the tricky issue of how to finance UHC.

As my fellow Elder, Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway and former Director-General of the WHO, highlighted at the United Nations High-Level Meeting in September: there was a time when some development agencies and Western countries used to discourage higher government spending on health and instead promoted private voluntary financing like user fees and private insurance.

But thankfully across the world political leaders, and the heads of international financial institutions and lenders, have now listened to the needs of their people. They have rejected these failed policies and instead switched to a health financing system dominated by public financing – either through general taxation or compulsory social health insurance. This is the only way to ensure that healthy, wealthy members of society subsidize services for the sick and the poor, so that nobody gets left behind. As Dr. Brundtland said in New York:

“If there is one lesson the world has learned, it is that you can only reach UHC through public financing.”

Therefore one of the simplest ways we can hold political leaders to account in reaching UHC is tracking how much public financing they allocate and disburse to their health systems.

Transitioning from a health system dominated by private out-of-pocket financing to one mostly financed by public financing has become one of the defining steps in achieving UHC. It’s a transition my own country, the Republic of Korea, made in 1977 and was also seen as the key step to bringing UHC to the United Kingdom in 1948 and Japan in 1961.

And of course one of the most celebrated and impressive transitions to publicly financed UHC happened right here in Thailand in 2002, with the launch of the Universal Coverage scheme. It’s worth remembering that this was implemented in the immediate aftermath of the Asian Financial Crisis, when the World Bank advice was that Thailand couldn’t afford to increase public health spending to cover everyone. But as my good friend and former World Bank President, Jim Kim, said at the World Health Assembly in 2013, the Thai Government wisely ignored this advice and in one year injected around half a percent of GDP in tax financing into its health system. In the process, the country swiftly moved from around 70% coverage to almost full population coverage – a shining example of how to accelerate progress towards UHC. In fact, during my time as Secretary-General, I have introduced this story every time we talk about public health and UHC.

What Thailand, the Republic of Korea, Japan, the UK and many other countries have also shown is that UHC reforms are so effective and so popular, they can become part of a nation’s identity and prove resilient in the face of changes of government.

So what are the implications for the theme of this year’s PMAC: accelerating progress towards UHC?

On a global level, we need to prioritize helping countries that are still to make the transition to a universal publicly financed health system. Here our focus should be on countries with low levels of public health spending, often less than 1% of GDP, where up to three quarters of health spending is in the form of user fees. These countries need to double or triple their public spending on health over the next decade and prioritize funding a universal package of services, focusing on primary care services provided free at the point of delivery.

These low-spending countries tend to be in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia but there are already shining examples of countries in these regions using public financing to extend health coverage –  for example Sri Lanka in South Asia and Rwanda in Africa. Also, it is perfectly feasible to increase public spending on health this quickly, if there is political will, as shown by Thailand and China. This reinforces the point made by the WHO Director-General Dr Tedros that UHC is a political choice.

Your Royal Highnesses, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, let me conclude.

The focus of our UHC program at The Elders is to encourage political leaders to make this choice, by helping them appreciate the health, economic, societal and political benefits of achieving UHC. Some of my fellow Elders have spearheaded successful UHC reforms themselves, like former President Ricardo Lagos of Chile and former President Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico – so we are speaking from experience.

In doing this we are very keen to work with you, the UHC community, to identify opportunities to promote UHC reforms at the highest level of government. We have already engaged with political leaders in Indonesia, India, South Africa, Tanzania and the United States to promote UHC and are always on the lookout for windows of opportunity to champion UHC to the next generation of global leaders. So if you feel political commitment to UHC is lacking in your country and we can be of assistance, do please let us know, as we want to play our part in accelerating UHC as a means to deliver the SDGs.

UHC makes medical, economic, political and social sense. But as the founder of The Elders, Nelson Mandela, so powerfully stated:

“Health cannot be a question of income; it is a fundamental human right.”

At the start of a new decade which also marks the 30th anniversary of Mandela’s freedom from prison, let us commit to work together to realize his vision and make UHC a reality for all. Let us join our hands together to help make the world healthier and stronger

Thank you.

Source: The Elders

 

Co-chair Ban Ki-moon attends Brookings’ Alan and Jane Batkin International Leaders Forum

“We must educate the next generation in global citizenship. We must increase their understanding of climate change because they are our future leaders.”

On January 24, Co-chair Ban Ki-moon attended and spoke at the Alan and Jane Batkin International Leaders Forum hosted by Foreign Policy at Brookings Institute.

During this occasion, Co-chair Ban addressed the climate threats and its implications, climate justice, and climate leadership. In his international leadership roles, Co-chair Ban has been a prominent advocate of bringing climate change to the top of the global agenda, promoting sustainable development and highlighting how environmental degradation has disproportionately affected people in developing countries, especially women.

Stressing the importance of multilateralism, Co-chair Ban said,

“A ‘me vs. you’ mentality has no place in climate action. It is about ‘all of us vs. climate change’.”

He also said,

“If we do not solve the problem of climate change we will all be losers. I urge President Trump to return to the Paris Agreement.”

“We need disruption. We need to get urgent on climate. We need a new sense of global citizenship”

He also called world leaders and young generation to harness the mindset of global citizenship to cope of global challenges.

Mary Robinson, Chair of The Elders and former President of Ireland, said,

“The climate crisis must be the top priority for all leaders in 2020. It is not hyperbole to say that the fate of humanity as a whole rests on decisions taken this year.”

The event was opened with Brookings Vice President and Director of Foreign Policy Bruce Jones’ introductory remarks. Following remarks by Co-chair Ban and Chair of The Elders Mary Robinson, Brookings Senior Fellow and the SK-Korea Foundation Chair in Korea Studies Jung H. Pak joined them on stage for a conversation on climate change, human rights, adaptation measures, and global leadership in the face of a climate emergency.

Climate threats and climate justice: Action and adaptation for sustainable development – Part 1

Climate threats and climate justice: Action and adaptation for sustainable development – Part 2

© Ralph Alswang / Alswang Photography

Co-chair Ban Ki-moon’s Speech at the 2020 Doomsday Clock Announcement Event

Speech by Co-chair Ban Ki-moon

The 2020 Doomsday Clock Announcement

Washington, US

January 23, 2020

 

Thank you Mary, and thank you to Governor Brown, Rachel Bronson and all the team at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and all the distinguished guests gathered here today.

As Mary Robinson has said, it is an honor to be here today to unveil the Doomsday Clock. But is with a solemn sense of duty, with a moral responsibility, and with a frightening sense of what is happening.

These are perilous times. The alarming rise in tensions in the Middle East threatens war, and a return to nuclear weapons development in Iran. The world waits to see how North Korea will respond to stalled negotiations over its nuclear ambitions. I am struck by the news released from North Korea that it would not be committed to previously made commitments, to nuclear disarmament, and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. This is surprising and very, very shocking. Also, the situation in Kashmir between nuclear-armed Pakistan and India remains unpredictable and highly dangerous.

Such tensions demand responsible global leadership, but instead over the last year we have seen precisely the opposite. We have seen the termination of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, division and uncertainty regarding the upcoming Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and, most worryingly, the absence of any meaningful negotiations between the US and Russia to extend New START.

It would send a deeply negative message to the world if New START is allowed to expire in February 2021. This would not only eliminate remaining constraints on deployed nuclear arsenals, but also remove the monitoring and inspection capabilities which have provided both sides with increased transparency regarding nuclear capability.

On the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, The Elders believe the world must seize the opportunities presented by the review conference that begins in April. This treaty is the backbone of the multilateral consensus on nuclear arms control, and yet disagreements and frustrations between its signatories mean there is a significant risk that the conference could conclude without an agreed outcome – a scenario that would undermine the treaty and could even trigger withdrawal by member states.

Alongside the potential expiry of New START, this is a disastrous scenario for the world. It exemplifies the failures of global leadership, and the weakness of the multilateral system in the face of isolationist politics that sees diplomacy as a zero-sum game rather than a means of finding common solutions to common challenges.

At a time when world leaders should be focused on the clear and present dangers of nuclear escalation and the climate emergency, we are instead witnessing denial, disregard and dangerous brinkmanship.

The existential risks of climate change and nuclear war are increasing just as the decision-making frameworks to address them are unravelling. From the Paris Agreement to the JCPOA; despondency over the Non Proliferation Treaty to impotency at the UN Security Council – our mechanisms for collaboration are being undermined when we need them most.

To echo Mary Robinson – we must see urgent action on the climate crisis in 2020. All countries must come to COP in Glasgow in November with clear plans for delivering carbon net-zero commitments by 2050. We must see an immediate end to the investment in, and exploration of, fossil fuels. We must heed the demands of the young people on our streets and listen to the science.

We cannot negotiate with nature. We must listen to the warning of nature.

The US must somehow begin to demonstrate leadership at the federal level too. Without it, we cannot hope to meet the targets that will keep global warming to manageable levels. Without US leadership there will be no winners from this climate crisis, only losers.

In the end, we will only overcome these existential threats by working together, and to do so the world needs to re-energize multilateralism. I do believe there is an opportunity for this in the coming year.

2020 marks 75 years since the end of Second World War and the birth of the nuclear age – and, indeed, the founding of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. It also marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations.

This is an opportunity for the world to renew its commitment to multilateralism. It is a time for world leaders to bring a new mindset to the key moments ahead of us in 2020 – to create the foundations for a just transition to a carbon net zero economy and redouble the efforts towards a world free of nuclear weapons.

We can overcome the existential threats we face, but we must act, together, now. No country, no individual, no matter how powerful or how many resources, can do this on their own. We need to hold hands and work together.

Thank you.

Mary Robinson and Ban Ki-moon make announcements at the 2020 Doomsday Clock event

“There is an opportunity in 2020 for the world to renew its commitment to multilateralism – to create the foundations for a just transition to a carbon net zero economy, and redouble our efforts towards a world free of nuclear weapons,” said Co-chair Ban Ki-moon.

On January 23, together with Mary Robinson, Chair of The Elders and former President of Ireland, BKMC Co-chair Ban Ki-moon, who also serves as Deputy Chair of The Elders, joined experts from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists for the unveiling of the Doomsday Clock in Washington DC, an annual assessment of the existential risks faced by humanity.

The Clock’s hands were moved forward to 100 seconds to midnight – the closest to midnight they have been since they were first set in 1947. The decision takes into account the precarious state of nuclear arms controls, the growing threat of climate disaster, and how these can be compounded by disruptive new technologies.

“Our planet faces two concurrent existential threats: the climate crisis and nuclear weapons. We are faced by a gathering storm of extinction-level consequences, and time is running out,” Mary Robinson said.

Ban Ki-moon and Mary Robinson specifically called on President Trump to respond to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s offer to open negotiations on New START, which will expire in February 2021 unless the agreement between Washington and Moscow is extended.

Following the termination of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in July 2019, the end of New START would mean there was no remaining arms control treaty in force between the United States and Russia, raising the prospect of a new nuclear arms race.

The Elders reiterated their proposals for a “nuclear minimization” agenda as the best way of making progress towards complete disarmament by the five Permanent Members of the UN Security Council and all other nuclear powers.

Ban warned that the threat of catastrophe is being exacerbated by attacks on, and disregard for, the multilateral rules-based system:

“The existential risks of nuclear conflagration and climate change are increasing just as the decision-making frameworks to address them are unraveling. From the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and the Iran Nuclear Deal to deadlock on nuclear disarmament talks and division at the UN Security Council, our mechanisms for collaboration are being undermined when we need them most.”

On the climate emergency, The Elders Chair Mary Robinson called for a change of mindset if the world is to tackle the threat effectively:

“The science of the climate crisis makes it imperative that we take urgent action in 2020.  We need a change of mindset in politics, finance, business and civil society, one that enables us to keep temperature rises at or below 1.5°C, whilst protecting the rights, dignity and livelihoods of those affected by the shift to a carbon neutral economy. Not to do so will be a death sentence for humanity.”

Co-chair Ban Ki-moon believes 2020 is a crucial year to defend and revitalize the multilateral system’s ability to address the threats of nuclear and climate catastrophe, as the world marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations.

Source: The Elders

© The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

“There is nothing we can do alone,” said Ban Ki-moon at the Youth & Leaders Summit 2020

“There is nothing we can do alone,”

said Ban Ki-moon delivered a keynote at the Youth & Leaders Summit 2020 under the theme of “Prospering in a Climate-Impacted Society” in Washington D.C. on January 20th.

 

“We have to realise that national boundaries do not mean much. We are all one together,” said Ban urging everyone: “Do not build walls but bridges” because “we are all global citizens.”

In this fifth edition of the Youth & Leaders Summit, Sciences Po Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA) invited distinguished guest speakers and students to exchange and reflect on how our societies and communities may continue to prosper while facing important transformations due to climate change.

The speakers included BKMC Co-chair and The Elders Deputy Chair Ban Ki-moon, BKMC Board Member and SDSN Director Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Élisabeth Borne, Gina McCarthy, Thomas Friedman, Laurence Tubiana, Lakhdar Brahimi, Achim Steiner, Enrico Letta, and more.

During the afternoon session, Professor Sachs also delivered a keynote, reminding the students of Sciences Po of their key role:

“All of your thinking, planning and advocacy, all pathways that you design should follow the criteria of reaching zero net emission by mid-century.”

He shared his hopes for the role of young people in the fight against climate change:

“The mysteries on what to do are not that big actually – the big challenge is how to get it done.”

The YLSummit is a unique concept where both youth and current leaders discuss our society’s issues together. It is a platform where youth can engage, raise their own voice, and challenge the leaders.

Watch the recorded live stream of the Summit: https://vimeo.com/384774558
Learn more about the Summit: http://bit.ly/38eFza3
Photos by Youth & Leaders Summit

One Young World hosts its annual summit in London for 2019

The One Young World (OYW) Summit 2019 was held in London, the United Kingdom on October 22-25th. The opening kicked off with a remarkable speech given by Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, and was highlighted by the joint admittance of the North and South Korean delegates, holding hands and waving flags together, which showed the true meaning of cooperation and harmony.

The Summit featured world leaders and change-makers such as UN Youth Envoy Jayathma Wickramanayake, The Elders Chair Mary Robinson, and North Korean Human Rights Activist Yeonmi Park as speakers, who will also feature on the upcoming online course that the Ban Ki-moon Centre is co-developing with UNESCO APCEIU.

Wickramanayake emphasized that we can make this world better and more sustainable in the leadership of young people and that we need to engage youth in achieving the SDGs by “not just participating but leading the global change and development.”

“Young people are making the change; We have the responsibiliity to make the humanity drive towards progress,” said Wickramanayake.

The Summit provided an interactive platform for young advocates and leaders from different sectors and all parts of the world. Among the other key speakers were Dr. Jane Goodall, Singer-songwriter and the UNEP Global Goodwill Ambassador Ellie Goulding, Singer-songwriter and Activist Bob Geldof, First Lady of Colombia María Juliana Ruiz, BKMC Partner DSM’s CEO Feike Sijbesma, and the youth advocates and ambassadors of the One Young World.

Dr. Goodall said to the gathered youth participants,

“You have a role to play. You might not know it yet, but you do.”

“Together we can, together we will!”

One Young World identifies, promotes and connects the world’s impactful young leaders to create a better world, with more responsible, more effective leadership. The annual summit convenes the brightest young talent from every country and sector, working to accelerate social impact. Delegates from 190+ countries are counseled by influential political, business and humanitarian leaders such as Justin Trudeau, Paul Polman and Meghan Markle, amongst many other global figures.

At the end of the Summit, Delegates become One Young World Ambassadors. According to the OYW, 20.9 million people have been positively impacted by Initiatives led by its Ambassadors since 2010. They return to their communities and organizations with the means and motivation to make a difference, accessing the global network of 10,000+ young leaders to accelerate existing initiatives or establish new ventures. Learn more about the Ambassador Community here.

On the margins of the Summit, the Ban Ki-moon Centre filmed an interview with Park who shared her emotional and inspirational story which will be included in the Centre’s online course on the topic of gender equality and women’s empowerment that will be launched early next year.

Watch the speech by UN Youth Envoy:

Source: One Young World

Ban Ki-moon’s Speech at the International BAR Association (IBA) Conference

COEX Convention & Exhibition Center 513,

Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Sunday 22-27 September 2019

BAN KI-MOON

Opening Ceremony

Welcoming Remarks

 

The Honorable Mayor of Seoul, Park Won Soon,

Chair of IBA Seoul Conference Host Committee, The Hon. Song Sang Hyun,

President of International Bar Association, Horacio Bernardes Neto,

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

It is my great pleasure to welcome you all to the Opening Ceremony of the 2019 International Bar Association Annual Conference.

 

This is the first time that this huge gathering of esteemed international lawyers has gathered in Seoul. I am simply honored to have been invited to address such an important and influential group hailing from so many continents. I take this opportunity to applaud each of you for making the journey here, whether short or long, and I know some have been of considerable length.

 

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Our world is presently in flux. It always is, but in recent times there has been a notable acceleration. Perhaps this is due to the fact that we live in an increasingly interconnected world, where what happens on one part of our planet is immediately known and occasionally felt in another part. Under this backdrop, unfortunately, and in a relatively short period, a shrinking of civil society has occurred and the rule of law of is being eroded.

 

Imagine what the world would look like without the rule of law: No independent media. No freedom to assemble and protest peacefully. No freedom to think individual ideas and articulate an opinion. No independent judiciary and no independent legal profession. Just imagine that for a moment.

 

This erosion is happening, gradually. You are the chief guardians of the rule of law, and, in this regard, must increase your unified efforts to stand firm in halting its erosion. As we all know, the rule of law promotes inclusive economic growth and builds accountable institutions that underpin global sustainable development. It protects individuals and businesses alike.

 

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

As the 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations, I am fully aware of the IBA’s rich history and its founding principles. Now, I would like to briefly remind you of the establishment of the UN in 1945, the IBA in 1947, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Each were the product of like-minded individuals determined, through passion, compassion, integrity, and a guiding sense of justice to carve out a better world for our future generations. What these key institutions have in common is that they were all developed by diverse representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds hailing from all regions of the world.

 

As the IBA matches the UN in both structure and ambition, I believe this makes it easier to talk to you because the issues that are important to the UN are also critical to the IBA. From such topics as climate change, poverty eradication, cultural diversity, and the promotion of human rights, mental health, and gender equality; it is clear that there is much work to be done, with new challenges always emerging. However, I firmly believe that each of you will contribute in some way towards what is required in these areas. Indeed, we should be reminded of an old proverb that says, ‘It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.’

 

In this respect, the work of the IBA relating to business and human rights, gender equality, and climate change, as well as promoting justice and upholding the principle of accountability are all illuminated candles, and they are lit in alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

 

In addition, I feel particularly connected to the IBA in other ways too, knowing that Mary Robinson, Chair of The Elders, of which I am a Deputy Chair, and the late Nelson Mandela, Founder of The Elders, both have longstanding links to the substantive work of the IBA. Mary Robinson is working on climate justice and Nelson Mandela was the Founding Honorary President of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute.

 

Before concluding my remarks, I would like to emphasize that an independent legal profession and judiciary are the cornerstone of functioning democracies, and that as much as possible needs to be done to safeguard them.

 

Thanks to your active participation, I am confident that this conference will be crowned with great success. Please allow me to finish by quoting the late Dr Martin Luther King who once said; ‘Injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere.’

 

Thank you very much for your attention.

Co-chair Ban Ki-moon attended UN Climate Action Summit 2019 – Adapting Now: Making People Safer

“The eyes of all future generations are upon you, and if you choose to fail us, I say, we will never forgive you.” – Greta Thunberg

On September 23rd, Co-chair Ban Ki-moon attended UN Climate Action Summit 2019 in New York.

UN Climate Action Summit 2019 was convened as global emissions are reaching record levels and show no sign of peaking. The last four years were the four hottest on record, and winter temperatures in the Arctic have risen by 3°C since 1990. Sea levels are rising, coral reefs are dying, and we are starting to see the life-threatening impact of climate change on health, through air pollution, heatwaves and risks to food security.

The impacts of climate change are being felt everywhere and are having very real consequences on people’s lives. Climate change is disrupting national economies, costing us dearly today and even more tomorrow. But there is a growing recognition that affordable, scalable solutions are available now that will enable us all to leapfrog to cleaner, more resilient economies.

The latest analysis shows that if we act now, we can reduce carbon emissions within 12 years and hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C and even, as asked by the latest science, to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

Thankfully, we have the Paris Agreement – a visionary, viable, forward-looking policy framework that sets out exactly what needs to be done to stop climate disruption and reverse its impact. But the agreement itself is meaningless without ambitious action.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on all leaders to come to New York on 23 September with concrete, realistic plans to enhance their nationally determined contributions by 2020, in line with reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent over the next decade, and to net zero emissions by 2050.

Source / © UN Climate Action Summit 2019

The Elders warn of escalating nuclear tensions following termination of INF Treaty

Alarmed over the imminent termination of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, The Elders call on US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin to act in the interests of all humanity rather than following short-sighted agendas.

The Elders warned on July 29th that the imminent termination of the INF Treaty between the United States and Russia risks sparking an ever greater escalation of nuclear tensions and a breakdown of global security structures.

They noted that each side has blamed the other in a deepening cycle of recrimination. Even if the responsibilities for this breakdown of the INF Treaty are not shared, both sides share responsibility for the future to uphold arms control treaties and pursue disarmament.

The Elders thus called on US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin to act in the interests of all humanity rather than following short-sighted agendas, noting that the consequences of the termination of the INF will be acutely felt in Europe and Asia and will exacerbate global tensions ahead of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in 2020.

Gro Harlem Brundtland, Elder and former Prime Minister of Norway, said:

“The INF Treaty helped to end the Cold War and restore peace and security in Europe. I fear this legacy risks being squandered by one side or the other through a mix of bellicosity and hubris. The leaders of Russia and the United States must refocus their strategies in favour of nuclear disarmament, not escalation. Both leaders have at times spoken in this sense. They must turn their positive words into realistic action.”

The Elders noted with alarm that the probable termination of the INF is only one element of destabilising uncertainty around the future of arms control, given the lack of clarity around the extension of the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), reports that the US could “unsign” the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, and the overall lack of dialogue on any form of arms control between the US and Russia.

Increased geopolitical tensions from the Korean Peninsula to the Indo-Pakistan frontier and the Gulf make it all the more imperative to have a serious, substantial discussion between the nuclear powers to defuse tensions and restore trusted channels of dialogue.

Ban Ki-moon, Deputy Chair of The Elders and former UN Secretary-General, said:

“There is a very real risk that the whole security architecture around nuclear non-proliferation that was built up during the decades of superpower confrontation may collapse, through neglect, miscalculation and ill-founded threat analysis. It is crucial that the US and Russia agree to extend New START as soon as possible, and for the P5 states to get serious about making progress on disarmament ahead of the NPT Review Conference in 2020.”

In the event that the United States proceeds with its intention to withdraw from the INF Treaty by 2 August, 2019, The Elders called on all leaders to exercise maximum restraint and refrain from actions that would further raise security tensions in the European arena. They urged Russia and the US in particular not to unilaterally develop or deploy new INF-range weapons systems, and to consider creative solutions that could help preserve the benefits provided by the INF Treaty as far as possible.
Existing arms control frameworks need not only to be preserved but expanded to counter new technological developments such as hypersonic weapons and space-based delivery systems. This should be done on a multilateral basis with all parties acting in good faith.

Ernesto Zedillo, Elder and former President of Mexico, said:

“The world cannot afford a return to the threat of nuclear annihilation we endured in the Cold War. Multilateral engagement is crucial to securing global peace and disarmament. Today’s leaders need to reassert the key message of Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev a generation ago: a nuclear war can never be won, and must never be fought.”

Source: https://theelders.org/news/elders-warn-escalating-nuclear-tensions-following-termination-inf-treaty
Photo: President of The Russian Federation