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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Press Portal | News | Addresses | "Check against delivery - embargoed until delivery" (English)

"Check against delivery - embargoed until delivery" (English)

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations - address at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, 4 February 2011

Es gilt das gesprochene Wort.

Professor Jan-Hendrik Olbertz, President of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin,
Professor Thomas Bruha, Chairman of the United Nations Association of Germany,
Professor Peter Eigen, Board Member of the Humboldt-Viadrina School of Governance,
Excellencies,
Distinguished guests,
Students and faculty,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Guten Morgen.

Ich danke Ihnen für diesen herzlichen Empfang. Es freut mich, heute in Berlin wieder zu sein.

It is a pleasure to be here at this renowned university.

And please, forgive me for being one year late in celebrating your 200th anniversary.

Not many schools around the world can boast of such a rich heritage. Very few enjoy such global stature and can look toward such a prestigious future.

Walking in the footsteps of Einstein, Schopenhauer, so many others - I can feel that history is very much alive here.

Humboldt has given us the very best that universities have to offer - remarkable advances in the sciences and humanities ... Nobel-prize-winning scholarship ...

But Humboldt has also seen its share of tragedy.  Book-burning during the Nazi era ... an assault on academic values that you have memorialized on campus. And then a split in the university itself, mirroring that of the city of Berlin.

You have lived through great change and upheaval.

Today is another era of transformation ... of dramatic change in the global landscape … with new economic powers emerging ... a new generation of threats … and old ones taking new forms …

I am here to talk to you about those challenges, and to enlist your support in meeting them.

Humboldt is well-placed to contribute.

So is the United Nations Association of Germany.  You are a good friend.  And like your fellow associations around the world, you are strongly committed to explaining what the UN does and why it matters … especially now.

Before I begin my formal remarks, I would like to say a few words about the latest events in Egypt, which I know we are all watching very closely and with heavy hearts.

Regrettably, the situation has taken a deeply troubling turn.  The violence and intimidation should stop.  In particular, the restrictions on the international media and human rights groups are utterly unacceptable.  Freedom of expression and assembly are basic human rights and essential democratic values.

I renew my call for calm and restraint, and I urge the Egyptian authorities to listen to the genuine voices of the people.

There is a need to define a process of national dialogue to work out an orderly and peaceful transition... a process that will allow the Egyptian people to express their wishes through free, fair and credible elections at the earliest possible moment… and that will pave the way for responsive, effective and accountable governance.

That process should start immediately.

Fundamental change and reform can wait no longer. There is no time to lose.

Jobs, freedoms and opportunities are crucial for Egypt's future.

Their continued lack is a recipe for further instability.

We must also bear in mind the implications of the current events for the Middle East peace process.

The United Nations has been warning about the democratic deficit and other challenges in the region through successive Arab Human Development Reports dating back to 2002.

The United Nations stands ready to help the Egyptian people find the way forward.

I have seen in my own life what the United Nations can do.

One of my earliest memories is of my own village burning - looking back at it from the hills to which my family and I had escaped.

The United Nations helped my country to rebuild from a devastating war.

The United Nations fed me and my family, my entire nation. The UN brought hope, symbolized for me to this day by the UN flag.

That is what I seek to do for others, today.

To stand for the UN and its work. To offer hope to the hopeless. To give voice to the voiceless. To defend the defenseless.

Everywhere in the world, people are looking to the United Nations. They ask us to do more than ever before.

And the scale of need is profound.

Conflicts ... repression ... intolerance ...

Natural disasters that hit with greater fury, and ever more frequently ...

Climate change ...  hunger and malnutrition ...  the financial crisis ... the spread of deadly disease and weapons of mass destruction.

These challenges spill across borders. They have global reach. No single country or group, however powerful, can deal with them alone.

We must work in common cause for common solutions.

We must do this not just as a matter of pragmatic burden-sharing, though that is certainly reason enough.

No, we must do it because we are fated to live more of our lives in common … and because we must do more to prepare for that shared future.

Global communications have made us more aware of each other - what it is to be rich, what it is to be poor.

Webs of travel and trade have made us more dependent on each other, as well.

The idea that a small percentage of the human family can continue to enjoy freedoms and opportunities, while billions of others remain stuck in dire need, is no longer an option.

Just as opportunity must spread more broadly, so must social justice. Human rights, and human opportunity, are everybody's business.

We are a human family of 7 billion, each with a right to a certain measure of security, dignity and hope.

That is our common standard … our common challenge.

We need to do more - far more - to lay the foundations for our common future.

That mission was foremost in my mind, three weeks ago, when I set out for the Member States - and for the world's people - my priorities for the year ahead.

Sustainable development is one of the main building blocks.

For most of the last century, the world burned its way to prosperity and mined its way to growth.  We believed in consumption without consequences.

Those days are gone.  In the twenty-first century, supplies are running short and the global thermostat is running high.

The old models and definitions do not work anymore; they are not just obsolete, they are dangerous … even suicidal.

We need to reinvent what we mean by "progress."  We need a revolution in lifestyles, a revolution in how we live, a revolution in our relations with our planet.

Our challenge is to create sustainable growth in an age of scarcity ... to lift people out of poverty while protecting the environment and ecosystems that support us.

That is why, over the past four years, I have worked to elevate climate change to the top ranks of the global agenda.

Climate change leads us down an unsustainable path.  It is the path of a past that no longer works.  We need to build paths to the future.

You in Germany understand this.

You have a strong "green" movement. You are pioneering renewable energy.

Bonn is the generous host for our climate change secretariat - a leader of a groundswell change in global perceptions.

I hope Germany and its EU partners will remain a driving force towards clean-energy growth, despite difficult economic times.

Re-thinking what we do - building for the future - also means connecting the dots among climate, water, food and energy.

My High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability will recommend ways to do just that as we prepare for the Rio 2012 conference - the next Earth Summit.

Making sustainable development happen also means focusing on those areas where smart investments can bring outsize gains.

One such multiplier effect stands out above all others: the health and well-being of the world's women and girls, the world's most under-utilized resource.

Our new Global Strategy on Women's and Children's Health aims to save two million lives a year.

Our strategy for realizing the Millennium Development Goals puts women (and girls) squarely at the center of our development efforts. Because that, as Americans say, is where to get the most bang for your buck.

Our newest agency, UN-Women, is up and running, strengthening our ability to advance women's empowerment.

At the UN itself, I have made women's empowerment a priority. That is why we have increased the ranks of women in senior posts by more than 40 per cent in the past few years.

Our top lawyer ... our top humanitarian ... our top development administrator … our top climate negotiator … our human rights commissioner … the head of management … our top doctor, and even our top police officer - all are women.

I hope Germany and its EU partners will remain a driving force towards clean-energy growth, despite difficult economic times.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our shared future must also include the basics of security, human rights, rule of law, democratic governance and peace.  Strengthening this foundation for the future is the UN's humanitarian imperative.

When disaster strikes, the United Nations is the world's first responder.  We are there for emergencies that claim the headlines - Haiti and Pakistan, to name but two.

We are also there for those in need in the many places where the spotlight of international attention never falls - the hundreds of thousands of hungry in Niger … the three million people we feed every day in Somalia.

We keep the peace, in growing numbers of places: more than 120,000 soldiers and police personnel in 15 peacekeeping operations around the world. We are a global presence - peacekeeping, peacebuilding, mediation, good offices and more -- from Iraq to Lebanon, from Somalia to Sierra Leone, from Central Asia to Timor-Leste.

In Cote d'Ivoire, we have stood firmly. A great deal is at stake: respect for the clearly expressed will of the Ivoirian people; the political and economic stability the country and sub-region; the very future of democracy.

In Afghanistan, German forces are training the Afghan national security forces.  I know that deployment is not without controversy. But I can tell you it is essential for building Afghan institutions and offering hope for the future.

We are a thin blue line, if I may put it that way, in places of critical transition - countries emerging from conflict, or making the difficult passage to democracy.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
In this era of change, the United Nations must change as well.

In an age of economic austerity, we must do more with what we have.  We must learn to be more efficient and effective … faster and more mobile ... transparent and accountable.

Never has the UN been more relevant or more important.

Few careers, today, are more challenging … demanding … exciting than a career in global public service.

I hope some of you … the students with us this morning … will consider joining the UN.

I hope none of you will be mere spectators on the great events transforming our world.

Your engagement is important. You can make a difference.

And so I urge you to join us.

Join your efforts with ours … as a force for collective action … at this great new "multilateral moment."

Help us re-think and re-define our role in a changing world.

Help us to transform our world … to help a new generation find its rightful place in the world, to build a brighter future for all.

Meine Damen und Herren,
Vielen Dank fuer Ihre Aufmerksamkeit. Es hat mich gefreut, diese angenheme Zeit heute mit Ihnen verbringen zu dürfen.

Dankeschön.

Vielen Dank!

And thank you.

 

Ban Ki-moon
Secretary-General of the United Nations

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