|For information only - not an official document.|
|Press Release No: UNIS/DSG/35|
|Release Date: 20 April 2000|
| Deputy Secretary-General, in Address to 2000 Model United Nations,
Describes Need to Ensure Globalization Meets People’s Needs
NEW YORK, 19 April (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the address of Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette to the 2000 National Model United Nations, delivered in New York on 18 April:
I am pleased to be with you today. Seeing so many young people gathered in the General Assembly Chamber reminds us that the United Nations was indeed created for the sake of succeeding generations. By coming together and assuming the positions of different Member States, by walking in their shoes, so to speak, you will gain new insights and come to understand a diversity of points of view. You will be admirably equipped to take over the baton in the twenty-first century.
This year, your National Model United Nations takes place at a particularly opportune time. The arrival of the millennium may be an accident of the calendar, but the peoples and governments of the world have chosen to make it more than that. For the world’s peoples, the Millennium offers an occasion to reflect on their common destiny. They look to their leaders to identify and act on the challenges ahead.
That is what we hope will happen when Member States gather in this very Chamber in September. The Secretary-General has just presented to them a report that we hope will shape the agenda for their Millennium Summit. This manifesto for the millennium tackles head-on the challenges of poverty, peace and security, and the environment. The starting point for addressing them can be summed up in one word that has become the defining context of our times: globalization. The melting away of national boundaries as the world becomes one economy, one common space, one village.
Let us imagine, for a moment, that the world really is a "global village". Say this village has 1,000 individuals, with all the characteristics of today’s human race distributed in the same proportions. What would it look like?
Well, some 150 people would live in an affluent area, and almost 800 in poorer districts. The rest live in a neighbourhood that is in transition. The average income per person is $6,000 a year, and there are more middle income families than in the past. But just 200 people dispose of 86 per cent of all the wealth. And nearly half of the villagers are struggling to survive on less than $2 a day.
Adult literacy in our village is on the increase, but some 220 people are still illiterate — and two thirds of them women. Almost 400 inhabitants are under 20 years of age, of whom three quarters live in the poorer districts, and many are looking desperately for jobs that do not exist. Fewer than 60 people own a computer and only 24 have access to the Internet. More than half have never made or received a telephone call.
There is no predictable way to keep the peace in this village. Some districts are relatively safe while others are wracked by organized violence. Loud environmental alarm bells are ringing too: the average temperature is perceptibly warmer, carbon emissions are four times higher than they were 50 years ago, and soil degradation threatens the livelihood of more than 150 villagers.
The obvious question is how long a village in this state can survive, unless steps are taken to ensure that all its people can live free from hunger and safe from violence. Or that their children will have real chances in life. Or that they will be able to drink clean water and breathe clean air. Those are also the questions we have to face in our real world of 6 billion people.
To realize the full potential of globalization, we must learn to govern better, and to govern better together. We must govern with a view to meeting the needs of peoples.
The first of these needs is surely to give people everywhere a decent life. If the poor are denied opportunities to make a living, we are all impoverished. Our goal is to reduce extreme poverty by half by 2015. The policies needed for it to happen are pretty clear. They must be policies that will lead to sustained growth, because all the evidence shows a strong correlation between economic growth and the incomes of the poor.
We must also generate opportunities for the young. More than 110 million school-age children worldwide are not in school -- and two thirds of them are girls. Educating girls is a development strategy with immediate benefits in health, nutrition and income management. That is why, at the World Education Forum in a week's time, the Secretary-General will launch a United Nations initiative for the education of girls. Our goal is to ensure that by 2015, all children everywhere -- boys and girls alike -- will be able to complete primary schooling. We must develop strategies to ensure that once young people have left school, they have the chance of decent work.
Our achievements on the social and economic front will also help determine our success in peace and security. In the past decade alone, 5 million people have died in wars -- most of them internal, most of them in poor countries -- and many times as many have been driven from their homes. Such numbers demand that we do better, and we can. Every step taken towards reducing poverty and achieving broad-based economic growth is also a step towards conflict prevention. But we must also resolve to strengthen respect for the rule of law, in international as in national affairs -- in particular the agreed provisions of treaties on human rights, humanitarian law and arms control. We must strengthen the capacity of the United Nations to conduct peace operations; strive to make United Nations-imposed economic sanctions less harsh on innocent people and more effectively targeted against those they are intended to penalize or deter; and take energetic action to curb illegal traffic in small arms.
We must work with equal urgency to enable future generations to sustain their lives on this planet. Different regions face different environmental threats, but their people have one thing in common: they want their governments to do more to protect their environment. This is a time to commit ourselves --people and governments -- to a new ethic of conservation and stewardship.
Working towards all these goals will require all our ingenuity, resources and will. Not least, the world's people must have in their hands a United Nations that works -- a truly effective instrument for tackling all these problems. That means, among other things, a United Nations that knows how to take full advantage of information technology. And it means a United Nations working in partnership with civil society and the private sector. We have much to learn from both these sectors, who were quick to catch on to the new realities of globalization and who operate across borders, enabled by communications technology. They are both true partners of the United Nations of the twenty-first century.
Among those partners, we count all of you. The United Nations is your United Nations. I know that you will start already now to think about how you can make this indispensable instrument the most effective and responsive it can be. As young Americans, you have a particularly crucial contribution to make -- because in order to succeed, the United Nations needs the United States.
But you are here today because you also believe that to succeed, the United States needs the United Nations. The principles of the United Nations Charter -- the promotion of peace, human rights, justice and freedom -- are very dear to the heart of all Americans. I am pleased, therefore, that you will soon hear from Betty King of the United States Mission to the United Nations. On behalf of the United Nations, I wish you all a most enjoyable and productive session.
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