H.E. Mr. Cho Hyun
Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs
for the 72nd UN Day Commemorative Luncheon
hosted by the UN Association of the Republic of Korea
Seoul, October 24, 2017
Ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of the Korean Government, and also on behalf of Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, I would like to join all of you here in celebrating the 72nd anniversary of the United Nations. I would also like to express my gratitude to the UN Association of Korea for hosting this event and also having me here today.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
From the end of the 20th century and to the beginning of the 21st century, we had high hopes for the United Nations, not least because it coincided with the end of the Cold War. The international community at the time seemed to inch towards a “global village,” and liberal democracy was expected to spread all over the world with the assistance of the United Nations.
In fact, the Millennium Summit was held in the year 2000 at the UN Headquarters in New York, and we adopted the MDGs at the time. And at the World Summit again in 2005, we also embraced the concept of R2P, Responsibility to Protect, which was the most dramatic shift from our concept of sovereignty since the Treaty of Westphalia. It was indeed the moment when the “end of history” was about to be realized.
However, if you look at the situation around the world today, the reality on the ground seems to be far from the ideals we had envisioned at the time. Nationalistic sentiments are almost everywhere in the world, and separatist movements are on the rise in many parts of the world. Despite the Paris Agreement, we even witness denial of the climate change itself. There are still gross violations of human rights in many places. Furthermore, in many places, brutal wars are still going on, and we Koreans are under the threat of nuclear weapons by North Koreans.
Having seen all of these problems, some people argue that this is the limit of the United Nations. Some others even doubt its usefulness. However, the international community is still confronted with numerous challenges that one country alone cannot address, and the UN is still called for to do the work. From this perspective, I would like to talk a little bit about Korea’s position on the United Nations.
First, we will continue to cooperate with the United Nations to address many challenges, including the North Korean nuclear threat, the most imminent and serious challenge to us. Right after the 6th nuclear test by North Korea, the Security Council promptly responded with the strongest ever Resolution 2375. I believe the Security Council resolutions, all together, are indeed the core of the “peaceful pressure campaign” on North Korea. I am confident that these efforts by the international community will eventually lead to a meaningful dialogue for denuclearization of North Korea. The Korean Government will overcome the challenges of North Korean nuclear issue and threat by closely cooperating with the international community at the United Nations.
Second, as President Moon Jae-in mentioned in his speech at the 72nd Session of the General Assembly, Korea will continue to increase its contributions to the United Nations in all sectors, including PKO, development, climate change, education, and women empowerment.
Over the past ten years, Korea’s financial contribution to the UN has increased ten times, and I will not deny that it is due to our special relationship at the time with then Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
However, building upon this development, the Korean Government will continue to increase its contribution to the UN and play an active role at the United Nations.
Third, the Korean Government will cooperate closely with many NGOs and citizens, and support their efforts for achieving SDGs. Given the fact that a peaceful global village cannot be achieved or built by the efforts of governments alone, the roles of NGOs and citizens or volunteers are crucial.
In this regard, I would like to underline the importance of global citizenship education. Global citizenship education aims to encourage citizens to play active roles in resolving global challenges and to become proactive contributors in building a more peaceful, tolerant and inclusive world.
In this vein, I am thrilled to hear that the Ban Ki-moon Center for Global Citizens was established in Vienna in August. The Ban Ki-moon Center for Sustainable Development at Yonsei University in Seoul is another good example.
Indeed, enhancing public awareness of the United Nations and its objectives is very important to achieve SDGs. I am glad therefore to share with you that Professor Paik Jin-hyun of Seoul National University was recently elected as the President of ITLOS (International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea). I was thinking, however, that can we have a better symbol for the United Nations, a better symbolic figure, if you will, than my boss Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, the first female foreign minister, who happens to be the product of the United Nations. She is now on her way back from Brussels, and she asked me to convey her best regards to each and every one of you. Thank you very much. /END/