New York – Ms. Paula Rice Jackson, President of the United Nations Association-New York, Mr. Richard Lui, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, This has been quite a week at the United Nations.
On Wednesday, I met the daredevil Felix Baumgartner who jumped to earth from the edge of outer space.
Then I met the Korean music sensation, Psy, the singer of Gangnam Style.
Mr. Baumgartner said he would teach me to jump from a plane.
Psy said he would teach me to dance.
I am terrified of both.
I thought jumping from a plane might be safer – but my security officers said no.
So I danced.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I will spare you my technique tonight, but I do want to thank you for your leadership and strong support for the United Nations.
Your advocacy is important at all times – but it is essential in our times.
We are confronting a world of great insecurity, inequality, intolerance and injustice.
We see it all around us.
The unrelenting bloodshed in Syria;
Looming fears over nuclear issues and proliferation;
And everywhere people are worried about jobs, education and a better life for their children.
Our world is shifting — and we are all trying to find our footing in this new era.
One thing is certain: In our changing world, no issue can be seen in isolation. No institution or country can work alone.
It takes a global outlook and a global approach to solve problems.
That is what you are helping to push each and every day.
And you are doing it tonight, once again, as we honour His Excellency Ambassador Nassir Abdul Aziz Al-Nasser as your 2012 Humanitarian of the Year
Ambassador Al-Nasser has dedicated much of his life in public service helping to advance cross-cultural dialogue, diversity, peace, and development.
As President of the UN General Assembly during a very tumultuous period, he helped mobilize support for the transitions underway in the Arab world. We travelled together to Libya and then again to Somalia to evaluate conditions on the ground.
He kept disarmament, peacekeeping, and non-proliferation high on the UN agenda.
He built consensus around mediation to peacefully resolve disputes.
He garnered political support around sustainable development and the goals of Rio+20.
Because of his strong commitment to inter-cultural dialogue, peace and development, I was pleased to appoint Mr. Al-Nasser as my next High Representative for the UN Alliance of Civilizations.
The Alliance was founded to advance the most noble of our common ideals – greater understanding among peoples and nations … a deeper embrace of global diversity.
The Alliance is dedicated to showing practical ways to work together to address common challenges — across boundaries of race, gender, religion, ethnicity, and culture.
It links civil society, young people, media, the private sector, and governments for cross-cultural dialogue and action.
To my mind, the Alliance represents one of the best hopes of preventing the sparks of interreligious or interethnic tensions and extremism from growing into flames of conflict.
I will rely heavily on Ambassador Al-Nasser to help make the Alliance of Civilizations all that it can and must be.
Once again, I thank you for all your support. And I am proud to join with you in honouring Mr. Al-Nasser as we look to the work ahead.