On November 22nd, Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon gave an end of the year policy address to the Seton Hall Community as part of the John C. Whitehead School of International Relations and Diplomacy’s World Leaders Forum.
During his talk, Mr. Ban focused on the U.N. agenda and the “big three” challenges that the international community faces: climate change, the global fight against poverty, and addressing the plight of human beings in crisis. He said that we need to create “a greener world for all…a more prosperous world for all… and a safer world for all.”
In regards to helping human beings in crisis, Mr. Ban assured students that the U.N. is, continues to be, and needs to be the “world’s first responder” using the U.N. response to Pakistan, Haiti, and Burma as an example. “We did the same in Darfur. For years, conflict raged, unchecked. I made it a top priority immediately upon taking office. With tough diplomacy, we got the first UN peacekeepers in. Today, the mission continues to protect civilians and deliver humanitarian aid.”
When asked by SHU STAND’s Patrick Daley, “Given the state of impending conflict in Southern Sudan, what will you and the U.N. do over the coming weeks to ensure that the January 9th referendum for independence does not deteriorate into full-scale civil war?,” Mr. Ban responded by first acknowledging the power of the student movement that has shed light on the crisis in Darfur and in Sudan at large. He then agreed that Sudan faces a challenge in January regarding the referendum and again stated that “should there be violence, we are ready to act.”
As STAND activists, it is important for us to listen, understand, and continue to embody Mr. Ban’s message. Not only should we take his words seriously but we need to continue to pressure and engage Mr. Ban, the U.N., and the U.S. government, to guarantee that the international community does not allow for a civil war to break out in Sudan. It is our duty as the citizens of the world. As Mr. Ban said, “thinking globally, acting collectively as global citizens, involves you. It involves your engagement, your commitment, and your conviction that you, yourself, can make a difference.”
-Grassroots Outreach Coordinator Katie Walsh