Seventy years later, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is returning to San Francisco where the Charter was first signed to celebrate the UN's founding and call on the international community to renew their commitment towards the shaping of a better planetary future for all.
In an op-ed published today in The Huffington Post, Mr. Ban reiterated his hope that the human family would “come together with greater determination to work for a safer and more sustainable future for 'we, the peoples,' in whose name the Charter was drafted.” This appeal, he said, comes amid a growing list of global challenges plaguing Member States the world over.
“The 70th anniversary falls in a year of potentially momentous decisions on our common future. Countries are shaping what we hope will be an inspiring new sustainable development agenda and moving towards a meaningful agreement on climate change,” wrote Mr. Ban. “Our goal is transformation: we are the first generation that can erase poverty from the earth – and the last that can act to avoid the worst impacts of a warming world.”
The Secretary-General has frequently recalled his first encounter with the UN, dating back to his childhood during the Korean War when, as a displaced person fleeing his burning village, he and his family relied on the Organization to rescue them from the ravages of war. His family, he has said, was saved from hunger by UN food relief operations and, when doubts surfaced over whether the world was concerned about their suffering, “the troops of many nations sacrificed their lives to restore security and peace.”
Beyond the indelible trauma that conflict has on a child, Mr. Ban's first experience with the Organization also left him with the core conviction of the immense difference the UN can make in the lives of people around the world.
Today, with a fresh set of challenges marking a pivotal moment for the planet – from the fight against climate change to the aspirations of a sustainable future – the Secretary-General confirmed that the UN is standing once again as a nexus of collaboration for all Member States.
“As the distinctions between the national and the international continue to fall away, challenges faced by one become challenges faced by all, sometimes gradually but often suddenly,” the Secretary-General concluded. “With our fates ever more entwined, our future must be one of ever deeper cooperation – nations united by a spirit of global citizenship that lives up to the promise of the Organization's name.”