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UNIS/SGSM/736
28 April 2016

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

Address to the Parliament of Austria

Vienna, 28 April 2016

VIENNA, 28 April (United Nations Information Service) - Es ist mir eine große Ehre, als erster internationaler Gast eine Ansprache in diesem Parlament halten zu dürfen. [I am deeply honoured to be the first international dignitary to address this Parliament.]

Ich danke Ihnen für Österreichs wichtigen Beitrag zur Arbeit der Vereinten Nationen und dafür, dass Sie ein so großzügiges Gastland sind! [I thank you for Austria's significant contribution to the United Nations, and for being such a generous host country!]

In the vocabulary of the international community, Vienna and Austria is synonymous with global action.

Here we negotiated the Vienna Declaration on Human Rights, the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, and even a pact about pacts - the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, as well as many others international treaties and conventions which govern today's world.

The United Nations convenes major meetings here on issues at the top of the global agenda. Vienna is a hub for United Nations action on nuclear energy, drugs and crime, industrial development and more.

This week, Vienna is hosting all United Nations system leaders for our semi-annual Chief Executives Board meeting.  I thank you for your warm hospitality and strong support.

Just yesterday, we marked the 20th anniversary of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization here. This was a homecoming for me - 17 years after I chaired the Preparatory Commission of CTBTO.

At that time, I served here as my country, Korea's Ambassador. It turned out to be my first and last posting as Ambassador. Although that assignment was rather brief, Vienna's passion and energy helped to define the course of my future life, leading me to serve this great Organization, the United Nations.

I was especially inspired by Vienna's vibrant arts. One of my initiatives was to organize the first Österreichisch-Koreanische Philharmonie or Austria-Korea philharmonic orchestra here in Vienna which is still going on. It embodies harmony between the two countries. I am very proud to have organized and established that philharmonic orchestra.

Vienna will always hold a special place in my heart. My wife and I remain so close to our friends from those days.

I am deeply grateful and honoured by the presence of His Excellency President Fischer today in this august chamber.

I met President Fischer when he was Speaker of the National Assembly.  Ever since then, he has been a rich source of counsel for me and a wonderful friend. As he prepares to depart after completing his second term as President of this great country, I commend his inspiring leadership in guiding Austria at home and on the international stage.

My wife and I took a rare vacation here last New Year's Eve to start 2016 among our Austrian friends by participating in the world's unique Vienna Philharmonic New Year's Concert.

Thank you for the outstanding contributions that Vienna has made to the United Nations - and that Austria has made to our world.

From your leadership on major United Nations bodies to your peacekeepers in the field, from your development aid to your defence of human rights, Austria is a very important, vital member of the world community.

Ich danke Ihnen für Österreichs wichtigen Beitrag zur Arbeit der Vereinten Nationen! [Thank you for Austria's important contributions to the United Nations."]     

We urgently need global citizenship  to address the many threats facing the world.

Insecurity is spreading all throughout the world.

Inequality among people, among nations, is growing. Women and girls suffer terrible discrimination. Too many people in too many places are excluded because of their race, religion, faith, sexual orientation, gender identity and other superficial differences.

Violent extremists are committing atrocities designed to divide and destroy communities.

The response must be thorough yet thoughtful. The United Nations Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism focuses on addressing the drivers of this threat.

No single country or region, however powerful or resourceful, can resolve global problems on its own. The United Nations is forging common solutions. We must be united, we must show global solidarity based on unity.

Throughout my service as Secretary-General of the United Nations, I have stressed the importance of global problem-solving and the need for greater international solidarity.  I have made it a point to listen to people on the frontlines of human suffering.

I am especially touched by the children who have been forced to flee their homes. They reminded me of when I was just a six-year old boy after the Korean War. My family, my parents had to flee to the remote mountains during the Korean War.

Today's refugee children are caught up in the biggest displacement crisis of our era.

I have been calling the leaders around the world and everywhere, especially in Europe, to respond with compassion and respect for human rights.

Austria has shown its solidarity through the years.

In 1956, this country opened its borders to Hungarians fleeing the Soviet crackdown.      

During the Balkan wars of the 1990s, Austria was a haven for thousands of traumatized refugees.

And when the latest wave of arrivals of refugees came from Syria and other parts of the Middle East last autumn, Austrians mobilized at train stations to extend a warm helping hand.

I was so impressed then by this humane approach, I called Federal Chancellor Werner Faymann to commend his compassionate leadership.

We have a moral, legal and political obligation to help those fleeing war, human rights abuses and persecution.

Our commitment to human dignity is meaningful when we provide shelter, food and a warm welcome to families who have risked their lives in search of peace.

I recognize the generosity shown so far by the people and governments of Europe to migrants and refugees, not least here in Austria. But I am concerned that European countries are now adopting increasingly restrictive immigration and refugee policies. Such policies and measures negatively affect the obligations of Member States under international humanitarian law and European law.

I welcome the open discussions in Europe - including in Austria - on integration. But I am alarmed again about growing xenophobia here and beyond. All of Europe's leaders should live up to the principles that have guided this continent.

Divisiveness and marginalization hurt individuals and undermine security.

When the arrival process is well-managed, accepting refugees is a win for everyone.

These are brave, resilient and forward-looking people. They bring needed skills and energy to their new societies.

I understand the difficulties and challenges. I fully appreciate and sympathize [with] the enormity of the challenges. I trust that Austria will continue to contribute towards the European Union's efforts to forge a truly cooperative approach to addressing these issues. The United Nations will persist in forging comprehensive solutions together with the European Union.

On September 19th of this year, the United Nations General Assembly will hold an important Summit to address large movements of migrants and refugees across the world - and the need for shared responsibility. I have asked and invited Federal Chancellor Faymann to participate in this summit meeting in September.

Next month, on May 23rd and 24th, we will convene the first-ever in the history of the United Nations, the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey. Leaders will make a global commitment to ending the assaults against innocent people and shared values.

The World Humanitarian Summit should send a message of support to the 125 million people in our world who are in immediate crises.

I count on Austria to engage in these important events - and to reaffirm its proud tradition of openness and solidarity.

This includes official development assistance. I was very encouraged to hear from Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz that the Austrian Government plans to dramatically increase its invaluable official development assistance. Thank you very much.

Against a backdrop of grave suffering, we see proof that multilateralism works.

Last week, on International Mother Earth Day, we broke a record for the highest number of countries to sign any treaty in one day, with 175 countries endorsing the Paris Agreement on climate change at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

This builds on the historic vision of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with 17 Goals to enable all people to live in dignity, leaving no one behind.

This is a universal project. Even the richest countries still have communities living in abject poverty. Even the most technologically advanced may exploit the environment. And even the most stable democracies struggle against racism, religious intolerance and other forms of oppression.

I count on Austria to create a national plan for the Sustainable Development Goals - and take international action to help others advance. The United Nations bodies based here in Vienna will all support you.

I also ask the Members of the Parliament to ratify the Climate Change Agreement which was signed by 175 countries last week.

To turn these ambitious plans into actual progress, we need your support.

The Members of Parliament and this is the place you hear the voices of people, you are the real representatives of the voices of the people. You can raise their concerns at the United Nations. And as lawmakers, you can shape your society and Austria's influence in the world.   

I hope you will make the Sustainable Development Goals the foundation of  Austria's development policies - and, again, I am urging you to ratify the Paris Agreement as soon as possible.

Fifteen countries have already ratified on the day of signature and I was very much encouraged that many countries have expressed their intention to ratify this Agreement by the end of this year. We need 55 countries and 55 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions accounted to make this Climate Change [Agreement] enter into force. We have no time to waste. I will count on your leadership, as Parliamentarians.

As parliamentarians, you can play a critical role in countering dangerous xenophobic narratives and building trust among communities.

You can also help empower women, one of my top priorities as Secretary-General, a top priority of the United Nations. Without empowering 50 per cent of the global population we cannot expect the full realization of our potential.

I am delighted to be here on Töchtertag, or Girls Day, when you bring your daughters to work.

I have a message to the girls in this Chamber and around the world: Be a global citizen. Each and every one of you can make a difference. Seid Weltbürgerinnen! Be a global citizen. I count on your strong commitment and engagement.

When I lived in Austria, I worked very hard but I always had a sense of ease and comfort  because Austrians have so much good cheer and goodwill.

I never learned perfect German, but I did master one word that summed up this feeling:  Gemütlichkeit. It is difficult to translate, but you all understand that it speaks to a sense of acceptance, even coziness, in social relations.

For me, this is the essence of Austria. I count on you to build on your relations with the United Nations and your neighbours, near and far, to seize our global chance for a better world. 

It is your and our common moral and political responsibility to make this world better.  All the people, regardless of where you are coming from, ethnicities or religions or whatever difference one may have, we need to live with human dignity. That's what the United Nations is doing.

I am very much conscious of criticism about the efficiency or effectiveness of the United Nations but this is the only universal, international organization based on the Charter of the United Nations, respecting human dignity and human rights, working for peace and security of the world and providing sustainable development for all the people. That is the organization which you need to nurture, you need to support.

And as the Secretary-General of the United Nations I am committed to work until the very last day of my mandate as Secretary-General, to work with you, with the people of the world to make this world better for all. 

I thank you for your leadership, ich danke Ihnen für Ihr Leadership,  and Danke schön.

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