UN – Development, peace and security, and human rights are interdependent, mutually reinforcing dimensions of freedom, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today said at the historic Leiden University in the Netherlands urging world leaders to make sure no person is left behind.
“There can be no peace without development… no development without peace… and neither can be achieved without full respect for human rights and the rule of law,” Mr. Ban said delivering the 2013 Freedom Lecture at Leiden University.
His speech earlier today coincided with the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Peace Palace in The Hague and the fiftieth anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr. delivering his “I have a dream” speech in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Ban noted that Mr. King has presented a common future with shared responsibility quoting “their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.”
“That understanding is even truer today,” Mr. Ban said, adding that “our” freedoms, possibilities and perils are linked “like never before.”
The UN chief stressed the importance of freedom from want, particularly relevant as the UN is amidst its 1,000 days of action to accelerate progress towards the eight anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
He also highlighted the importance of shaping an “ambitious, inspiring and universal” global agenda on poverty eradication and sustainable development to follow up on the MDGs once their deadline eclipses at the end of 2015.
This is particularly relevant given the global time of austerity, Mr. Ban noted, but urged governments to “do the most with whatever they have” to reflect people’s priorities and not military needs.
The MDGs and the post-2015 agenda will be on the agenda of the high-level opening of the new General Assembly year at the UN headquarters in New York next month.
Development and peace are two sides of the same coin, Mr. Ban said, highlighting the UN’s reinvigorated use of preventive diplomacy and mediation, peacekeeping and post-conflict peacebuilding to build societies “founded on hope instead of fuelled by fear.”
Citing a series of human rights violations around the world ranging from media censorship to rising examples of national legislation that restrict human rights defenders and civil society, Mr. Ban also called for protection of human rights.
“Concerns about national security and criminal activity may justify exceptional and narrowly-tailored use of surveillance,” Mr. Ban said. “But surveillance without safeguards to protect the right to privacy hampers fundamental freedoms.”
He added one word of advice to leaders around the world – “listen.”
“Listen to the concerns, demands and hopes of your people. If you do not listen to your people, you will hear from them – in the streets, in the squares, and most tragically on the battlefield.”
Mr. Ban said he was appealing to leaders to promote dialogue, reconciliation and support inclusive political transitions as a way to build stable, democratic, free and united societies.
He added that with the power of the state comes responsibility to make sure that no person – regardless of ethnicity, gender, geography, disability, race or other status – is left behind, denied universal human rights or basic economic opportunities.