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The Quest for Peace and Prosperity in the Asia-Pacific and Beyond

Ban Ki-moon (Marcello Casal Jr./

Ban Ki-moon (Marcello Casal Jr./

Korea at the UN

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Republic of Korea is a firm believer in multilateral cooperation as the way forward for greater peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula, in Northeast Asia, in the Asia-Pacific, and on the global stage. Thus, at the UN, we are endeavoring to contribute to the work of the global organization as well as to its on-going reforms.

Many countries of the Asia-Pacific, including the Republic of Korea, owe much to the UN for the peace and prosperity they now enjoy. Indeed, the rise of the Asia-Pacific, the economic and social development of the region, would have been unlikely without the support and engagement of the UN. All should feel an obligation to contribute to the efforts to reform the UN into a more efficient and effective global body.

My country, the Republic of Korea, has long been a prime beneficiary and proponent of multilateralism, particularly as embodied in the UN system. Indeed, Korea is a rare success story in the sixty years of UN efforts to promote peace and security, development and human rights around the world.

Having experienced war and managed stability for half a century, having gone from poverty to prosperity, from authoritarian rule to full-fledged democracy, Korea has undergone the full spectrum of challenges that are on the agenda of the UN. In the process, we have learned through experience what Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan has steadfastly articulated: that security provides the key to development, and without development peace is not sustainable; above all, that the full respect for human rights is a prerequisite for sustainable peace and prosperity.

It is in this context that I was nominated by my government as a candidate for the post of the next Secretary-General of the UN. Over the past months, I have promoted my candidacy with humility, presenting my thoughts and listening to the views of others on current challenges facing the UN and the international community.

Ladies and gentlemen,

While helping the national development of such countries as Korea, the UN itself has also greatly evolved and expanded since its founding more than six decades ago. But its core mission has not changed: to be the world's meeting place, where Member States can identify ways of working together when their interest converge, and of finding negotiated solutions and avoiding conflict when they diverge.

But the UN is at a critical juncture when it must become more effective and relevant in dealing with the new challenges of the post Cold-War era. The global organization is overstretched and fatigued, and often criticized for not delivering on promises made. Meanwhile, the globalizing world of global problems calls for collective responses that can only be forged at the UN. The Organization needs to sharpen its tools and streamline its work. In the process, the active support and participation of the United States is crucial. With its most important member taking the lead, the UN system can and must be revitalized so as to effectively meet the growing expectations of the global community in the 21st century.

Working closely with the United States, the next Secretary-General of the UN will have the chance to take the UN to a new era of effective multilateralism. This, I believe, lies in greater focus on implementation and fulfillment of pledges already made, such as the MDGs, so as to strengthen states and the inter-state system against the new challenges of the 21st century, such as non-state actors with destructive intent.

With humility and sense of duty, I hope to become the one to undertake such a mission. In this regard, I am deeply thankful for the encouraging result of the 2 nd straw poll in the Security Council on September 14. I take it as an indication of the confidence that the Security Council members place in me and my message as a candidate.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The fact that Asia aspires to take the helm of the United Nations for the next decade is one indication of the rise of the Asia-Pacific region in the global scheme of things. And by all accounts, the rise is likely to continue. The coming years promise to be a time of exciting challenges and accomplishments for the region. As it enters the 2nd half-century, the Asia Society, too, looks headed for an era of heightened activity. May the Society and its distinguished members live in interesting times.

Thank you for your kind attention. Now, I'd be happy to take questions and comments.