Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to non-governmental organizations, in New York, 26 October:
It is a great pleasure to meet you today. Thank you very much for taking time and I appreciate your strong commitment and leadership and willingness to work together with the United Nations in addressing many important challenges which we are facing these days.
I will keep my remarks brief since I am here to listen to you. I am more interested in listening to your views.
Perhaps the most important thing I wanted to tell you is: thank you. Thank you very much for all you have been doing for humanity.
Thank you for everything you do to support the United Nations.
We simply could not do without your passion, your ideas — and your criticism, too.
In recent weeks, I have started a discussion about priorities and opportunities during my forthcoming five year term as Secretary-General.
Your voices and views are crucial.
The world needs to forge a common agenda for sustainable peace, prosperity, freedom and justice.
I see three areas where your efforts will be especially important.
First, sustainable development.
The first Earth Summit in 1992 was a landmark. It produced Agenda 21 and binding conventions on climate change and biodiversity. Global awareness soared.
So did NGO (non-governmental organization) engagement. Next year’s Rio+20 Conference is a chance to build on that spirit.
I welcome the declaration you adopted at last month’s DPI/NGO conference in Bonn. Your views are being shared with all Member States. I will continue to count on you to drive this agenda forward.
The second area where NGOs can make a big difference is disarmament.
We have seen encouraging progress in recent years, advanced in large measure by civil society and organizations such as yourselves.
I welcomed your decision to make disarmament the focus of the DPI/NGO conference in Mexico City two years ago — one of the largest assemblies of disarmament NGOs ever to be held.
We need you to keep pushing — for greater transparency, for deeper reductions in arsenals, and for more ratifications of disarmament treaties, above all the CTBT (Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty).
Too many people dismiss disarmament as a pie-in-the-sky ideal. Let us work together to bring disarmament down to earth.
The third major opportunity: helping countries in transition. This year has been a most remarkable year for all of us. Not only those countries in the Middle East and North Africa — Tunisia, Egypt and Libya face major challenges — organizing elections, drafting new constitutions, promoting democratic practices, building independent judiciaries and free media.
There can be no success without a healthy civil society.
Click here for to view the full UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to non-governmental organizations.