As the World Health Assembly convenes in Geneva this week, one item on the agenda will be polio, or more specifically, how to finally deliver on an epic promise made a quarter-century ago: to liberate humankind from one of the world's most deadly and debilitating diseases.
The world's war on polio has been as ambitious an undertaking as the successful campaign to eradicate another great public health menace, smallpox. Slowly but surely we have advanced on that goal. Polio, a highly preventable disease, today survives in only three countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. But there is a looming danger that we could fall victim to our own success.… Seguir leyendo »
As a child growing up during the Korean War, I studied by candlelight. Electric conveniences such as refrigerators and fans were largely unknown. Yet within my lifetime, that reality changed utterly. Easy access to energy opened abundant new possibilities for my family and my nation.
Energy transforms lives, businesses and economies. And it transforms our planet — its climate, natural resources and ecosystems. There can be no development without energy. Today we have an opportunity to turn on the heat and lights for every household in the world, however poor, even as we turn down the global thermostat. The key is to provide sustainable energy for all.… Seguir leyendo »
As the world population clock ticks past 7 billion, alarm bells are ringing. The gathering force of public protests is the popular expression of an obvious fact: that growing economic uncertainty, market volatility and mounting inequality have reached a point of crisis.
Too many people are living in fear. They are discouraged by uncertainty and angry at their diminished prospects. Around kitchen tables and in public squares, they are asking: who will deliver for my family and my community? In these difficult times, the biggest challenge facing governments is not a deficit of resources; it is a deficit of trust. People are losing faith in leaders and public institutions to do the right thing.… Seguir leyendo »
Growing up as a child during the Korean War, I knew poverty first hand. I saw it around me every day; I lived it. One of my earliest memories is walking up a muddy track into the mountains to escape the fighting, my village burning behind me and wondering what would happen to my family and me.
The answer was the United Nations and other international agencies. With the help of many countries and friends, my country was able to get back on its feet and carry on after that terrible and devastating conflict. Thanks to decades of hard work and sacrifice by millions of Koreans, the Republic of Korea rose from desperate poverty to prosperity in less than a half-century.… Seguir leyendo »
Across the Horn of Africa, people are starving. A catastrophic combination of conflict, high food prices and drought has left more than 11 million people in desperate need. The United Nations has been sounding the alert for months. We have resisted using the "F-word" — famine — but on Wednesday, we officially recognized the fast-evolving reality. There is famine in parts of Somalia. And it is spreading.
This is a wake-up call we cannot ignore. Every day I hear the harrowing reports from our U.N. teams on the ground. Somali refugees, their cattle and goats dead from thirst, walking for weeks to find help in Kenya and Ethiopia.… Seguir leyendo »
This Saturday, July 9, the Republic of South Sudan will join the community of nations. Foreign dignitaries will converge on its capital, Juba, to watch the new country raise its flag and inaugurate a first president, Salva Kiir Mayardit.
For the more than 8 million citizens of South Sudan, it will be a momentous and emotional day. In January, they voted in an historic referendum to separate from the rest of Sudan. That they did so peacefully is a credit to both the North and South Sudanese leadership.
Yet nationhood has come at steep cost: A staggering number of lives lost and people displaced in a 21-year civil war that ended only in 2005.… Seguir leyendo »
Cuando la Conferencia de las Naciones Unidas sobre Desarme comience una sesión de siete semanas en Ginebra, su futuro estará en juego. Mientras que hay en movimiento iniciativas de los países y la sociedad civil, la Conferencia se ha estancado. Su credibilidad - de hecho, su propia legitimidad - se encuentra en riesgo.
La "CD", como se la conoce informalmente, ha servido por largo tiempo como el único foro multilateral del mundo para la negociación sobre desarme. Entre sus muchos e impresionantes logros se incluyen las Convenciones sobre armas biológicas y químicas, el Tratado de no proliferación nuclear y el Tratado de prohibición completa de los ensayos nucleares.… Seguir leyendo »
Twenty-five years ago, the explosion at Chernobyl cast a radioactive cloud over Europe and a shadow around the world. Today, the tragedy at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant continues to unfold, raising popular fears and difficult questions.
Visiting Chernobyl a few days ago, I saw the reactor, still deadly but encased in concrete. The adjoining town of Pripyat was dead and silent — houses empty and falling into ruin, mute evidence of lives left behind, an entire world abandoned and lost to those who loved it.
More than 300,000 people were displaced in the Chernobyl disaster; roughly six million were affected.… Seguir leyendo »
Standing under leaden skies in Pakistan last Sunday, I saw a sea of suffering. Flood waters have washed away thousands of towns and villages. Roads, bridges and homes in every province of the country have been destroyed.
From the sky, I saw thousands of acres of prime farmland — the bread and butter of the Pakistani economy — swallowed up by the rising tides. On the ground, I met terrified people, living in daily fear that they could not feed their children or protect them from the next wave of crisis: the spread of diarrhea, hepatitis, malaria and, most deadly, cholera.… Seguir leyendo »
World leaders gathered in Rome 12 years ago to establish the International Criminal Court. Seldom since the founding of the United Nations has such a resounding blow been struck for peace, justice and human rights.
On Monday, nations will come together once again, this time in Kampala, Uganda, for the first formal review of the Rome treaty. It is a chance to not only take stock of our progress but also to build for the future. It is an occasion to strengthen our collective determination that crimes against humanity cannot go unpunished -- the better to deter them in the future.… Seguir leyendo »
Juché sur une colline, le Club de golf de Pétionville surplombe Port-au-Prince et la mer. Ses parcours jadis bien soignés accueillent ces jours-ci près de 50 000 personnes, parmi les quelque 1,2 million qui ont été déplacées par le tremblement de terre et qui se retrouvent entassées dans des tentes ou des appentis en bâche fournis par l'ONU ou des organismes internationaux de secours.
Lorsque je m'y suis rendu la semaine dernière, le soleil brillait. La vie continuait, semble-t-il : les enfants jouaient, les mères faisaient la lessive en plein air. Plusieurs personnes avaient établi des commerces et des marchés informels pour vendre de la nourriture, du charbon de bois, des fruits, des chaussures, du shampooing… Dans la lueur du soleil, on pourrait aisément y voir un signe d'espoir, la vie au milieu des ruines.… Seguir leyendo »
The Petionville Golf Club sits on a hillside overlooking Port-au-Prince and the sea. These days, its once-groomed fairways are home to nearly 50,000 people, among the 1.2 million displaced by the earthquake that devastated Haiti in January. They are crowded together in tents or tarpaulin lean-tos provided by the United Nations or international relief agencies.
When I visited two weeks ago, the sun was shining. Life went on, it seemed: children played, mothers washed clothes in open-air tubs. Many people had set up businesses and informal markets selling food, charcoal, fruit, shoes, shampoo. In the sunlight it might be easy to see this as a sign of hope, life amid the ruins.… Seguir leyendo »
The disaster in Haiti shows once again that even amid the worst devastation, there is always hope.
I saw that this week in Port-au-Prince, where the United Nations suffered the single greatest loss of life in its history. Our headquarters in the Haitian capital is a mass of crushed concrete and tangled steel. Upon seeing it, I wondered: How could anyone survive? Yet moments after I left the scene on Sunday, rescue teams pulled out a survivor -- who had been buried five days without food or water.
As I moved around the stricken city, I saw horrific images like those we have all seen on television: collapsed buildings; bodies in the streets; people in dire need of food, water and shelter.… Seguir leyendo »
The destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 marked an end and a beginning. The close of the second world war ushered in a cold war, with a precarious peace based on the threat of mutually assured destruction.
Today the world is at another turning point. The assumption that nuclear weapons are indispensable to keeping the peace is crumbling. Disarmament is back on the global agenda – and not a moment too soon. A groundswell of new international initiatives will soon emerge to move this agenda forward.
The cold war's end, 20 years ago this autumn, was supposed to provide a peace dividend.… Seguir leyendo »
All politics are local, goes the old aphorism. Yet today, we can say that all problems are global. As world leaders meet at the G8 summit in Italy, they will have to update their politics to grapple with problems that none of them can solve alone. The last two years have witnessed a cascade of interconnected crises: financial panic, rising food and oil prices, climate shocks, a flu pandemic, and more. Political co-operation to address these problems is not a mere nicety. It has become a global necessity.
The intensity of global interconnectedness is stunning. The H1N1 influenza virus was identified in a Mexican village in April.… Seguir leyendo »
La Organización Mundial de la Salud ha declarado oficialmente que el virus H1N1 constituye una pandemia mundial. Los Gobiernos, las organizaciones internacionales y las personas de todo el mundo están centrados en luchar contra ella. La velocidad con la que el virus se ha extendido pone de relieve nuestra interdependencia mutua. En la actualidad, las repercusiones de la enfermedad en un país acaban sintiéndose en todos. Así pues, cualquier reacción eficaz debe estar basada en el sentido de la solidaridad mundial y en el interés propio, en el mejor sentido del término.
Todos vamos en el mismo tren. Cuando una nueva enfermedad recorre el mundo, el acceso a las vacunas y los antivirales no puede limitarse a quienes puedan pagarlos.… Seguir leyendo »
Today's G20 meeting can make the difference between human hope and despair, between economic recovery and a plunge into deepening recession. We have seen the frightening velocity of change. What began as a financial crisis has become a global economic crisis. I fear worse to come: a full-blown political crisis defined by growing social unrest, weakened governments and angry publics who have lost all faith in their leaders and their own future.
We must stop the slide. The recession hurts everyone, but those hurt worst are the poor - people with no homes or savings to lose, who in some countries spend as much as 80% of their income on food, and often lack the basics of healthcare, water and sanitation.… Seguir leyendo »
Global growth is the leitmotif of our era. The great economic expansion, now in its fifth decade, has raised living standards worldwide and lifted billions out of poverty.
Yet today, many wonder how long it can last. The reason: Plenty comes at an increasingly high price. We see it daily in the rising cost of fuel, food and commodities. Consumers in developed countries fear the return of "stagflation" -- inflation coupled with slowing growth or outright recession -- while the world's poorest no longer can afford to eat.
Meanwhile, climate change and environmental degradation threaten the future of our planet. Population growth and rising wealth place unprecedented stress on the Earth's resources.… Seguir leyendo »
The price of food is soaring. The threat of hunger and malnutrition is growing. Millions of the world's most vulnerable people are at risk.
An effective and urgent response is needed.
The first of the Millennium Development Goals, set by world leaders at the U.N. summit in 2000, aims to reduce the proportion of hungry people by half by 2015. This was already a major challenge, not least in Africa, where many nations have fallen behind. But we are also facing a perfect storm of new challenges.
The prices of basic staples -- wheat, corn, rice -- are at record highs, up 50 percent or more in the past six months.… Seguir leyendo »
Antes de asumir como secretario general de la ONU, era un diplomático asiático. Mientras fui ministro de Asuntos Exteriores de la República de Corea, mi gobierno y yo defendimos con decisión la tregua con el Norte. Cuando algunos en el mundo reclamaban sanciones y una acción punitiva, Corea del Sur defendió el diálogo.
Eso exige hablar pero también escuchar. Significa aferrarse a principios, pero también intentar entender a la otra parte, por más irracional o intransigente que pudiera parecer por momentos.
Ese sigue siendo mi estilo en las Naciones Unidas. Creo en el poder de la diplomacia y el compromiso. Priorizo el diálogo por encima del debate o la declaración.… Seguir leyendo »