Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today declared that United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s vision lives on in the United Nations Charter’s “collective commitment to peace and security, economic and social welfare, tolerance and fundamental human rights.”
Mr. Ban was addressing a gathering for the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the US President’s former residence, the Roosevelt House in New York City, where he underlined his belief in the values and principles of the UN while drawing on his own childhood experiences.
“I grew up in poverty in a country destroyed by war. It is now a major economy,” said Mr. Ban. “We Koreans owe this to the United Nations whose roots lie in this house. It is here that [FDR] developed his plan for an international organization to help preserve world peace and security.”
The Secretary-General emphasized the UN’s continuing commitment to global peace, stability and development through its 16 missions around the world and its efforts to feed more than 90 million people in 73 countries.
“We are the voice of the voiceless,” he continued. “The defenders of the defenceless.”
Commenting on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the global anti-poverty targets with a 2015 deadline, and his recent visit to the Group of 20 (G20) Summit in Seoul, Mr. Ban underscored his role in mobilizing the international community “to deliver on their promises to the world’s most vulnerable people.”
He told the audience that if Mr. Roosevelt were alive today, he would also be working “hand-in-hand with the UN” to forge a new global deal on climate change.
The Secretary-General also reflected on Eleanor Roosevelt’s “commitment to equal rights for women and men,” as he noted the creation of UN Women, the new UN agency for gender equality and women’s empowerment.
“While FDR convalesced in this house, Eleanor was bringing key civil rights and human rights activists to meet him and raising awareness. After her husband’s death, Eleanor secured her own United Nations legacy.”
Mr. Ban pointed to Michelle Bachelet, former president of Chile and now head of UN Women, as a member of the growing ranks of senior UN officials “who are taking the spirit and example of Eleanor Roosevelt forward.”
“I take inspiration from the legacies that Eleanor and Franklin Delano Roosevelt left to the United Nations. I am honoured to participate in the official opening of this home,” the Secretary-General concluded. “Let us hope it will inspire a new generation to devote themselves to international public service; to the work of the United Nations.”