Address of H.E. Ban Ki-moon, eighth United Nations Secretary-General; Co-chair, World Summit 2022, to the Summit For Peace on the Korean Peninsula during World Summit 2022 on 13 February 2022.

Toward sustainable peace

COP26, which convened last year in Glasgow, United Kingdom, provided some important and positive steps forward [toward sustainable peace]. It was a follow up on the Paris Climate Change Agreement that I had realized during my tenure as secretary-general of the United Nations. The Glasgow Climate Pact takes meaningful action to stop deforestation, reduce methane emissions and dependence on fossil fuels as well as design zero-emission vehicles. On the other hand, the Glasgow conference left much to be desired. My successor as UN secretary-general, António Guterres, said, and I quote, “They approved text out of compromise. They take important steps but unfortunately the collective political will was not enough to overcome some deep contradictions.”

Ladies and gentlemen, indeed, elevated political and social will is essential if we wish to limit the rise of global temperature below 1.5 degrees Celsius. The critical importance of world leaders’ political will and determination cannot be overemphasized.

These are perilous times

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, dear global citizens of the world, in many respects, we are living in perilous times amidst the global changes that human beings are now facing, including new and inherently created threats such as pandemics and the climate crisis. In addition, we are currently witnessing a serious deterioration in the global security environment as a result of rising tensions between the United States and China as well as the specter of potential conflict in and surrounding Ukraine, in Europe. Our focus today is on peace on the Korean Peninsula. This topic is so important, not only for all Koreans but also for our friends around the world and our allies.

The Korean Peninsula has been divided for more than 75 years, and despite our ardent aspirations and various efforts to change the conciliation process and cooperation between the two Koreas, the goal has evaded our best attempts. We have not been able to make a lasting breakthrough on the peninsula. The recent security situation on the peninsula keeps us seriously concerned about how to ensure that our future is free from WMD, weapons of mass destruction, threats and potential war. As you know, North Korea defied the international community and the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions by test firing different types of missiles seven times throughout January this year and continues to develop its nuclear weapons and missiles. North Korea’s missiles could deliver a nuclear payload to targets in any location in the Republic of Korea and the Asia Pacific at any time without notice.

Against this concerning backdrop, our sincere wish is to live in sustainable peace and security. The United Nations Security Council has played a pivotal role on this issue through the adoption of more than 10 sanction resolutions since 2006 against North Korea, which has concluded six nuclear tests and launched multiple missiles. I urge, again, UN member states to implement the relevant UN Security Council resolutions fully and faithfully, because censure and pressure are the tools that can lead North Korea to change their behavior and return to the dialogue table.

Three areas the UN focuses on

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, as a former secretary-general of the United Nations, I still cherish a deep respect and appreciation for the UN. It is surely one of humanity’s greatest achievements after we suffered two world wars during the twentieth century. The UN has accomplished a lot since its founding in 1945. Yet, too often, its achievements tend to be dismissed or ignored.

The Republic of Korea owes much to the United Nations because it was the UN that saved our lives, freedom and democracy during the Korean War. While serving as UN secretary-general for 10 years, I was proud to make some substantive contributions to achieve its three key objectives which are peace and security, human rights and sustainable development. Among these three guiding objectives of the UN, I think the most fundamental and urgent one is to make the planet more peaceful and secure.

We simply cannot expect human rights to be respected and sustained and for human development to be realized without peace and security. However, the reality tells us that the United Nations simply cannot do more than what its member states agree to carry out in the spirit of collaboration, mutual trust and consensus building in accordance with the UN’s charter.

In this context, UPF’s work along with that of Think Tank 2022 and the World Summit is meaningful because through this platform we can create the initial groundwork that allows for a collective, multilateral and multidimensional search for solutions. We can then build on this and strive toward a small but significant breakthrough. The path to peace shall proceed in a step-by-step manner underpinned by patience and mutual respect.

Reuniting the Korean people

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I take this opportunity to applaud the work of organizations such as UPF, working with global leaders and NGOs from all sectors, including government, faith-based organizations, humanitarian groups, investors, academics, women and youth leaders and other key stakeholders. In this era of the multiplication of challenges, the world needs a broad-based multi-stakeholder partnership approach that is committed to constructive dialogue and a strong will to take courageous steps towards sustainable peace. I sincerely hope and wish that one day in the near future we can directly engage with our brothers and sisters in North Korea.

I yearn for that day, so do so many Korean citizens, especially those in the South who have family members and their roots in the North. If we work together with wisdom, sincerity and resolve, I believe we can illuminate the path to peace on the Korean Peninsula and beyond.

With this in mind, I strongly encourage you all to promote peace, not only between the two Koreas but also among all the countries concerned within Asia and around the world.

In this regard, I hope that H.E. Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia and the current chair of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) will support such efforts. My deepest appreciation also goes to Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon who has spared no effort to establish durable peace and realize reunification of the Korean Peninsula.

Ladies and gentlemen, before concluding, I extend my sincere thanks to you all for your participation in the World Summit 2022. Let us redouble our collective efforts to construct a brighter world that rests on the foundation of sustainable peace. Let us work together to make this world more sustainable, more peaceful. That is our goal and political responsibility within this generation. Thank you very much!

H.E. Ban Ki-moon, eighth United Nations Secretary-General; Co-chair, World Summit 2022

H.E. Ban Ki-moon, eighth United Nations Secretary-General; Co-chair, World Summit 2022


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