The Business Year

Ban Ki-moon

UAE, DUBAI - Diplomacy

Transparent Goal

Secretary-General, United Nations

Bio

Ban Ki-moon is the eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations. His priorities have been to mobilize world leaders around a set of new global challenges, from economic upheaval to pandemics and increasing pressures involving food, energy, and water. He has sought to be a bridge-builder, to give voice to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, and to strengthen the Organization itself. The Secretary General was born in the Republic of Korea on June 13th, 1944. He received a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Seoul National University in 1970. In 1985, he earned a Master’s degree in public administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. At the time of his election as Secretary General, he was his country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade. His 37 years of service with the Ministry included postings in New Delhi, Washington, DC, and Vienna. During this time he had responsibility for a variety of portfolios including Foreign Policy Adviser to the President, Chief National Security Adviser to the President, Deputy Minister for Policy Planning, and Director-General of American Affairs.

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, on creating a more accountable and transparent world and the summits that can help to address that.

The UAE has shown dynamism in modernizing its government while preserving rich traditions. I also applaud the Emirati government for helping to advance progress on climate change and renewable energy. We are in a time of international turmoil. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues to take a terrible toll on individuals while undermining prospects for long-term peace and stability. The Arab world faces many other security threats, from instability in Libya and Yemen to the threat of Da’esh in Syria and Iraq. We have all been appalled by the recent upsurge in terrorism and violent extremism. I have repeatedly condemned the repugnant and cowardly behavior of those committing atrocious acts against innocent civilians.

The challenges facing governments are not only on the emergency front. People around the world are calling as never before for greater transparency, accountability, and democracy. Those that answer these calls will be strong. Leaders who place themselves above the law and their people put their own governments at risk of collapse. Corrupt, abusive, and exclusive public institutions breed hopelessness that leads to unrest and instability. True stability demands trusted institutions that deliver for people equally. Efficiency in government is more than a matter of smooth functioning—it demands public institutions that truly serve the common good.

I commend HH Sheikh Al Maktoum and the Cabinet for declaring 2015 as the Year of Innovation. For the UN and the world, this is a year to take transformative steps toward a more sustainable, equitable, and peaceful world. We are the first generation that can end poverty and maybe the last that can avert the worst impacts of climate change. People need effective governments to achieve our ambitious plans for a more sustainable future.

There are three important events this year: the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa in July; the Special Summit on Sustainable Development in New York in September; and the Climate Change Conference in Paris in December. The success of these plans will depend on accountable and transparent governments that engage people in decisions affecting them. Civil society groups often stand for issues that communities care about most; human rights, basic services, and justice. I am proud to have intensified the UN’s cooperation with these groups and I count on governments to give them a meaningful say in national policy making. States should also involve more citizens in co-designing solutions to development challenges. IT can allow people to help set priorities.

The UN harnessed this power through our MyWorld global survey on peoples’ concerns. More than 7 million individuals have responded by stating their aspirations and hopes for a better future. When governments open their books to the public, they earn trust. And that is critical to building stronger communities and states. Businesses also have great influence. The private sector can serve the public interest with creativity and innovation. States should reward corporations that are socially responsible.

The UN Global Compact is helping governments understand that sustainable investments generate public benefits. I have seen successful government activities around the world; from e-governance in northern Europe to youth mobilizations in southern Africa. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but there are universal principles that should guide every country. To establish accountability, we need the rule of law and equal access to justice for all people. All societies must actively fight corruption and bribery. People respect governments that punish dishonest officials for their crimes. IT can drive progress, but only when there is an open and free environment that encourages civic engagement and constructive criticism. Improving government is not just a matter of efficiency, it is essential to equity, justice, and stability. I welcome initiatives to cut red tape, lower costs, and fight fraud. We are doing this at the UN. Since my first day in office as Secretary General of the United Nations, I have insisted on transparency and accountability. We are creating a more modern, dynamic, and responsive UN that earns even greater public trust. I am the first Secretary General to publically disclose my financial assets, and I have asked all senior officials across the UN to be just as open.

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