At the final press conference concluding the first term of the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon announced his main priorities for his second five-year term. He has identified five big themes as his main priorities, which already largely constituted the heart of his action during his first term (2007-2011). The five “generational” themes are: promoting sustainable development; preventing natural and man-made crises and disasters; making the world safer and more secure; helping countries and peoples in transition; and encouraging gender empowerment.
Sustainable development will remain a key concern for the United Nations. Increasingly, it is needed to find sustainable solutions to guarantee development and economic growth around the world. The High-level Global Sustainability Panel (GSP), launched by the Secretary-General in August 2010 with the mandate to examine the means of the international community to promote sustainable development, will make its report available in the course of January 2012.
Within the framework of more solidarity, the UN Secretary-General envisages a more practical and modernized approach for the Organization in order to better cope with the rapid evolution of societies. The UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), to be held in June 2012, will need to put sustainable development and cooperation at the core of international policy-making. The Secretary-General noted that a global challenge can only be addressed through a global solution. Although the international community had started to move on decisions made during past sustainable development conferences, he cautioned that many efforts still need to be made, especially before the Conference will take place in June.
Besides from focussing on sustainable development, Ban Ki-moon underlined his dedication to continue strengthening women, children and young people. Following the Arab Spring, it has become clear that more voice needs to be given to those that fight for democracy. Moreover, the role that women play within the process of peace and development needs to be further recognized and promoted, among others through UN Women.
Within the framework of changing geopolitical relations, the Secretary-General reiterated that the UN will provide those countries in transition with the technical and logistical means to guarantee fair election processes. He welcomed the results obtained by the UN envoy in Yemen who mediated the creation of a government of national unity within the county, as well as the encouraging results of his “good offices” in Myanmar. The support given to countries in transition has become a new challenge for the international community in assuring a world that is more secure.
To conclude, the Secretary-General highlighted the importance of using diplomatic prevention, as well as mediation to prevent and solve conflicts. He said it was fundamental to strengthen the rule of law and the International Criminal Court (ICC) as part of the UN’s efforts to improve security and to ensure that people can have the democratic changes they aspire.
At the time of announcing his priorities, the Secretary-General further underlined the linkages between the different priorities, as well as global challenges such as climate change, water scarcity, food and energy security, and women’s empowerment, stressing that it was important to unite and connect them to make future solutions more effective. Moreover, the organization will need to respond to the expectations of citizens around the world, and in order to do this, new partnerships will need to be developed to ensure that people’s voices are heard and political transitions guaranteed.
“We have seen so many people – marginalized people, oppressed people – who have been yearning for democracy, their dignity and human rights. We have [a] heavy responsibility to help them in [their] transition to democracy,” he said.
This article is also available in French.