On September 29th 2020, Chairman Ban Ki-moon was featured on CGTN’s article, regarding his speech at the Lanting Forum on International order and Global Governance in the Post-COVID-19 Era.
Source: CGTN Screen capture
Chairman Ban Ki-moon started his speech regarding the United Nation’s 75th Anniversary. “It will certainly be a momentous occasion on October 24th as the world celebrates not only another UN Day, but the landmark 75th anniversary of the Organization. As the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, I know that the UN is an imperfect institution. But I also know that it still offers humanity its best hope for cooperating to solve the international problems we face through global solutions.” He stated.
Chairman Ban Ki-moon continued his speech in concern of the challenges the United Nations is currently facing. “At the moment the UN is experiencing a funding crisis as a result of unpaid dues and programming cuts to some of its key agencies by some of its biggest traditional benefactors. But beyond the ongoing fiscal uncertainty, multilateralism itself is also being undercut and weakened by some countries.” He stated worryingly.
In addition to his concern, Chairman Ban Ki-moon expressed his thoughts on solutions to the challenges. “International efforts to create a more sustainable and peaceful world depend on accountable and transparent organizations, leaders, and governments that engage constituents in decisions affecting them. And ongoing reform is a key in this regard.” He stated.
Chairman Ban Ki-moon concluded his speech with his deep wishes for effective multilateralism. “Multilateralism is now more important than ever to persevere over global challenges; and I am confident that the UN will continue to lead the way for all people and our planet moving forward.” He concluded.
If you would like to view the full article, please visit CGTN’s official website.
Below is the full interview script of Chairman Ban Ki-moon’s responses to the interview questions.
Q1. Another UN day is fast approaching, marking the organization’s 75th Anniversary. As the former Secretary-General of the UN, do you feel the UN is fulfilling its mission in the world? Does it have the right priorities? How would you evaluate the UN’s contributions to the world?
It will certainly be a momentous occasion on October 24th as the world celebrates not only another UN Day, but the landmark 75th anniversary of the Organization.
As the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, I know that the UN is an imperfect institution. But I also know that it still offers humanity its best hope for cooperating to solve the international problems we face through global solutions.
In 1945, following the most destructive war we have ever faced, the United Nations was established, against all odds, to collectively address international challenges through diplomacy and global cooperation.
In the 75 years since, the UN has pursued its three interconnected pillars of peace and security, development, and human rights.
The UN has actively promoted the universal values enshrined in its Charter and has waged a campaign of peace throughout the world.
The UN’s primary and defining purpose, as it was born out of the devastation following WWII, is the maintenance of peace and security.
The UN strives to achieve this by working tirelessly to prevent conflict, helping parties in conflict to negotiate and sustain peace, and building the underlying conditions to ensure that peace takes root and spreads.
The UN has deployed peacekeepers to the front lines of conflicts to ensure peace and stability.
The UN has been instrumental in disarmament and non-proliferation efforts.
The UN has saved tens of millions of children’s lives through the essential work of UNICEF.
The UN has advanced sustainable development and helped combat extreme poverty.
The UN has helped eradicate smallpox and other infectious diseases.
And the UN has the led the fight against climate change, perhaps the biggest common challenge we will face in our lifetimes.
But despite these many achievements, the world has remained unpredictable and the UN has struggled to respond effectively at times. And this unpredictability has undoubtedly increased in recent years.
I do believe the UN continues to have the right priorities, but today’s unprecedented challenges and worrying lack of global cooperation are hindering its effectiveness at a time when multilateral solutions are greatly needed.
Q2. Based on your experience in office as the Secretary-General of the UN, how do you understand the challenges the UN has faced or is facing now?
The UN is certainly facing some major challenges at the present juncture.
At the moment the UN is experiencing a funding crisis as a result of unpaid dues and programming cuts to some of its key agencies by some of its biggest traditional benefactors.
But beyond the ongoing fiscal uncertainty, multilateralism itself is also being undercut and weakened by some countries.
This is resulting in a pronounced lack of global cooperation at a time when we truly need global solutions to solve the great global challenges that we face.
Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic—as well as our worsening climate crisis—has underlined the urgent need for global leadership and a strong multilateral response.
However, we seem to be lacking this at such a critical time in our collective history.
In the last few years we have seen a resurgence of populist nationalism at the expense of multilateral cooperation.
This is making it harder for the UN to simultaneously carry out its mandate and respond to COVID-19. It has also elevated great power tensions at a time when international cooperation to solve the challenges we face is desperately needed.
Unfortunately, we are seeing such dynamics hinder the UN Security Council’s ability to impose peace in armed conflicts in Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere.
At the same time, the divided UN Security Council has been way too slow in addressing COVID-19 and its major implications for global security.
Instead of cooperation, solidarity, and leadership, we have seen politicization, blame, disinformation, some failing to listen to scientists and experts, and a resounding lack of trust in the face of the gravest threat we have faced since the Second World War..
But the UN still remains humanity’s best hope for responding to pandemics, building peace, resolving conflicts, achieving sustainable development, and catalyzing climate action.
At the moment it seems that the world is shifting quickly beneath our feet. However, the UN Charter remains a stable foundation for shared progress; for ensuring collective security; and for advancing greater prosperity.
To holistically respond to COVID-19 and other major global challenges such as our deepening climate crisis, we must expand multilateral cooperation, innovation, and partnership.
We must remember that in our interconnected world, global problems can only be solved through global solutions. Nationalism and isolationism are not viable alternatives to multilateral cooperation and partnership.
Major crises such as pandemics and climate change clearly demonstrate this.
Q3. During your term as the Secretary-General of the UN, you once said UN reform is of top priority. Why do you feel reforms are hard to push through at the UN? Can you explain its complexity to our viewers?
Reform is an important and ongoing process to ensure that the UN remains responsive to the geopolitical and humanitarian crises of both today and tomorrow.
I am proud to have focused a significant amount of my time and energy on UN reform efforts to make the Organization more transparent, effective, and efficient.
As UN Secretary-General, I worked tirelessly to reform the Organization to maintain its influence and scale-up its ability to respond to a changing, volatile world.
I prioritized management reform to cut through the bureaucratic red tape and increase the mobility of UN staff.
I worked to reform UN peace operations, particularly in their planning and conduct.
I streamlined the UN’s work on women’s issues and launched UN Women to be a true champion for gender equality and women’s empowerment.
And, above all, I strived to make the UN a more efficient, accountable, and transparent global institution. But these reforms must continue.
I am happy to see my successor, Secretary-General António Guterres, continue with many of the UN reform efforts that I initiated and refocus and further reform UN operations in line with sustaining peace and conflict prevention.
This is a difficult and complex process, but the UN must never remain static.
It must always evolve and engage with its partners if we are to effectively address the crises of both today and tomorrow in our globalized world.
This is important to remember, as the UN can no longer “stand alone.”
And countries themselves can’t either.
Indeed, robust global partnerships where the UN and its Member States work alongside the private sector, regional organizations, academic and scientific institutions, civil society, and other key stakeholders are critical.
This is particularly true in order to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
International efforts to create a more sustainable and peaceful world depend on accountable and transparent organizations, leaders, and governments that engage constituents in decisions affecting them. And ongoing reform is a key in this regard.
This includes reforming the Security Council—which is too often deadlocked and slow to respond on major conflicts such as Syria—and doing more to ensure the UN is characterized not as an elitist institution, but as the world’s most preeminent and inclusive institution in which all of us have a common stake in its success.
It is critical that this message is reinforced as we celebrate the UN’s 75th anniversary.
Q4. Despite its contributions, events like the Rwanda Genocide and the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 had many question the UN’s powers and effectiveness. What would you say to people who have doubts and ask “why does the world need the UN”?
Rwanda and Iraq were difficult challenges for the UN and led to new questions about its powers and effectiveness.
But the UN needs to be understood as the sum of its parts—namely the 193 Member States that largely drive its decision making and response to such major conflicts.
Unilateralism and veto power in the Security Council can unfortunately hamstring the Organization when decisive action is needed, particularly in pressing matters of peace and security.
As such, addressing them through a transparent and fair reform process to better improve the UN’s responsiveness continues to be important.
But, despite such well-publicized shortcomings in the sphere of peace and security, the UN does so much for the world each and every day that needs to be recognized as we commemorate its 75th anniversary.
So why does the world need the UN? Consider the following.
In 2020, the UN provides lifesaving food and assistance to over 86 million people in 83 countries.
The UN offers critical protection and support to 82.5 million people fleeing war, famine, and persecution.
The UN keeps and builds peace in conflict and post-conflict countries with 95,000 peacekeepers in 13 operations around the globe.
The UN supplies and administers essential vaccines to 50% of the world’s children, which helps save more than 3 million lives a year.
The UN assists over 2 million women each month overcome dangerous complications from pregnancy and childbirth.
The UN actively combats the global water crisis that continues to affect over 2.2 billion people worldwide.
And the UN is leading the multilateral response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis.
For these reasons, and so many others, the world continues to need the UN; particularly as global instability, displacement, and ecological crises continue.
Q5. What were the moments that you feel particularly proud of the UN? What are the events you feel most satisfied with when it comes to UN’s capacity in global governance?
From my first day as Secretary-General, I know that I needed to put sustainable development, climate change, and gender equality at the very top of the UN agenda.
Two of my biggest achievements during my time as UN Secretary-General were bringing the entire world together in 2015 to agree on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Agreement.
Together, these two historic and interrelated achievements are now known as the UN Global Goals.
I believe both are historic in their own respect, but successfully achieving these back-to-back despite the many challenges I faced on the road to their completion, was truly special.
I am of the view that achieving the SDGs can help bring us together in this era of expanding division, and simultaneously pave the path to greater security, equality, and prosperity.
The SDGs’ vision for our shared future is to ensure that no one is left behind.
They provide humanity, and our planet, with a collaborative blueprint to ensure the future we want. But in order to achieve this; cooperation, innovation, and engagement by all stakeholders and in all regions is essential.
Five years since their adoption, the SDGs have made tangible progress on bettering maternal mortality rates, ending poverty and hunger, and improving the quality of water and sanitation in many communities.
But progress is uneven on others and COVID-19, conflict, inequality, and climate change around the world are hindering and even revering SDG implementation.
As such, we need to move forward with a renewed sense of urgency with only 10 years left to go.
To achieve the SDGs, we need everyone to join together in multi-stakeholder partnership to harness the ownership and active participation from all sectors of society.
National ownership is an important prerequisite to achieve the SDGs. So, all governments around the world must continue mainstreaming the SGDs into key planning and policies at all levels, including the local and municipal levels, to give us the best chance of success. This will help instill a strong sense of collaboration and solidarity; both within and beyond cities and national borders.
I believe the SDGs showcase the very best of global governance with the UN serving as its cornerstone.
The SDGs are ambitious, complex, and transformational. Yet, through the driving vision of the UN, every country on earth joined together to prioritize global cooperation, innovation, and partnership in service of the future of humanity and our planet. I remain particularly proud of this achievement, but we have to keep going!
Q6. What would the world be like without the UN? What would be the consequences?
The world without the UN would be a world governed by isolationism, self-interest, and conflict.
It would be a world in which countries lacked a forum to solve their problems, to pursue constructive discussions, and to forge meaningful relations.
It would be a world where millions of children couldn’t receive lifesaving vaccinations or drink clean water.
It would be a world where refugees and internally displaced people lacked protection and critical assistance in their greatest time of need.
It would be a world without a guiding vision to combat global heating and restrict temperatures well below 2 degrees Celsius.
It would be a world in which Hobbesian chaos reigned, where international order was absent, and where rules and norms were routinely trampled.
75 years ago, the UN Charter laid out a driving vison to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,” and “promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.”
Today there remain multiple challenges to fulfilling this vision, but the alternative remains simply unthinkable.
A world without the UN would upend decades of global progress in human and economic development and increased standards of living.
It would reverse global health benchmarks and make it easier for pandemics and disease to spread.
Indeed, the UN is active in 193 countries, and its multi-faceted COVID-19 response is being carried out by its organs and specialized agencies including the World Health Organization, UNICEF, World Food Programme, UN Refugee Agency, and others.
The 75th anniversary of the UN provides a timely occasion to take stock of the Organization’s successes and failures.
But I firmly believe that the world continues to need the UN.
Our most pressing challenges today are intrinsically global.
And such global challenges can only be solved through global solutions.
Cooperation, partnership, and global governance, including the strong leadership of the UN for the next 75 years and beyond is needed to underpin our fight for a more peaceful, sustainable, and prosperous world for the next generations.
Multilateralism is now more important than ever to persevere over global challenges; and I am confident that the UN will continue to lead the way for all people and our planet moving forward.