Be good global citizens, Annan tells students in Republic of Korea
On the second stage of a six-nation tour, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today urged university students in the Republic of Korea to rise to the challenge of creating a better society at home and helping the United Nations create a better one in the world at large.
“You already have the skills and the knowledge required to make tremendous contributions to society. Today, I ask you to also make sure you have the courage and the commitment to do so,” he told students at the start of question and answer session with students at Seoul National University.
“If you take up this challenge, I assure you that you will find the United Nations a willing and able partner every step of the way.”
Mr. Annan detailed UN reforms currently underway, including increased transparency in management, expansion of operations worldwide, enhanced capacity to respond to natural disasters like Asia’s tsunamis and earthquakes or Central America’s hurricanes and mudslides, and especial emphasis on confronting global challenges ranging from migration and youth unemployment to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
“As we renew our Organization and its structures, we look to concerned individuals everywhere to re-energize and reinvigorate our mission. This will happen if you join our struggle and we’re looking to you,” he said. “I ask you to maintain your country’s clear-eyed and constructive engagement with the world. I expect you to advance the high standard of global citizenship already set by your elders.”
Mr. Annan, who arrived in the Republic of Korea from Vienna over the weekend, attended a working luncheon with Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Kim Duk-kyu and later met with Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon, the country’s official candidate for UN Secretary-General after Mr. Annan completes his term on 31 December.
He told reporters after his talks with the minister that he hoped peaceful solutions could be found to the nuclear issues with both the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and Iran.
On Iran, he said: “I am encouraged by the intensified diplomatic efforts to resolve this issue peacefully and seek a negotiated settlement.”
On the DPRK, he said the nuclear issue is by far the most important and should be given a separate category and priority as compared with the human rights and the other activities.
“I would urge the parties to the six-party talks not to slow their efforts but to persevere and press ahead energetically to get everybody back to the table to continue the discussions because it is only at the table where we are going to find a solution,” he added, referring to talks in Beijing between the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States.
On the questions of the sometimes stormy relations between South Korea, Japan and China, he said dialogue should continue. “There is no doubt that all three countries need good relations with each other,” he added.
In a separate programme today, Mr. Annan’s wife Nane visited the International Vaccine Institute, South Korea’s first international organization. She toured laboratories and heard about the Institute’s work to accelerate development and distribution of vaccines to prevent diseases in developing countries. She also attended a lunch meeting with Korean women leaders hosted by the Minister for Gender Equality and Family, Ha-Jin Jang.
In the afternoon, she met people living with HIV/AIDS and representatives of Korean government and non-governmental organizations dealing with AIDS.
After the Republic of Korea, Mr. Annan will visit Japan, China, Viet Nam and Thailand where he will meet with top government officials as well as students from leading universities and other groups.