Pupil attends Ban Ki-Moon address
8 Feb 2016
Lower Sixth student, Garrett Shannon, visited London last week to attend UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon’s address at a meeting of the United Nations Association UK. Garrett has written an account of his experience at the event. We hope you enjoy reading.
“Following the fundraiser on Thursday 4 February, which raised over $10 billion for the Syrian crisis, Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary General spoke at a special meeting of the (United Nations Association UK (UNA-UK) on Friday. At the stunning Methodist Central Hall in Westminster Square, the home of the first convocation of the General Assembly 70 years ago, the building was filled to the rafters with an expectant crowd of over 450.
Former UK Ambassador to the UN, Jeremy Greenstock, and the Minister of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Baroness Anelay, introduced Mr Ban with congratulations of the work that Mr Ban has achieved through his tenure of office, which draws to a close at the end of this year, and praised the UN for its efforts at peacekeeping worldwide.
Ban Ki-Moon’s talk was impassioned, exhorting not just the work of the UN and his own achievements, but touched on his very personal debt towards the institution. As a child, aged six, the Korean War forced him to flee his home, and without the support of the UN, through food, education, and in a peacekeeping role, he would not have survived, let alone become the head of the UN. It gave him a lasting impression of how the world needed to engage with the problems that beset it, rather than turn inwards on itself.
His speech focused on the ambitious goals the UN has set itself, through the Iran Peace Deal, the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030, and Paris Climate Change Conference. All three, landmark deals that could radically improve the world should they be successful, must be pursued with the political will to implement it, otherwise these fancy words will amount to nothing, and betray the hopes of the next generation. This generation was a source of great hope for the Secretary General, and alongside women, were the focus of his drive for the empowerment of the downtrodden. Throughout the talk, he focused not just on what the UN does well – the charitable work and peacekeeping initiatives foremost amongst them, but the need to pre-empt crises so as to avoid the suffering of war, famine, and plague. Whilst he recognized the difficulties of anticipating disasters, and the need to resolve the festering problems of the world that remain, such as Syria, Yemen, the ZIka Virus, or the Palestine-Israel conflict, he saw a more pro-active role for the UN in the coming years, if the world sticks to the principles set out in the UN charter.
With witty anecdotes, authoritative opinions, touching tales, Mr Ban’s speech was an impassioned piece of oratory that gave unique insights into the world of the UN. Finishing the conference, he called on the young of the world to raise our voice, challenge the establishment to promote the UN’s principles, and to remember that becoming a citizen of the world, through helping others, is just as important as the subjects we learn at school.”