UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Delivers Major Address on Disarmament & Nonproliferation at MIIS
“There are no right hands for wrong weapons,” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a crowd of Monterey Institute students, staff and invited guests during his visit to campus on January 18.
Before a packed audience in Irvine Auditorium, Ban called on governments and citizens alike to address the dangers posed by nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. To that end, Ban noted the role played by the Insitute and its James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) in promoting nonproliferation education.
“The world needs you skills and commitment, especially in advancing disarmament and nonproliferation,” he said, encouraging the students in the room to take up what he called “great causes” that are “part of my own personal and professional DNA.” Ban, the eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations, has often talked about how growing up during a time of war on the Korean peninsula led him to a career in international diplomacy.
“The world is over-armed. Peace is under-funded,” said Ban, sounding a theme that permeated his remarks, which were framed around an update to his five-point plan on nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation. “The world spends more on the military in one month than it does on development all year.”
Delivering a stern warning to Syria regarding its chemical weapons, he called the possible use of such weapons “an outrageous crime with dire consequences.” On Iran, Ban stated that “I am deeply concerned about Iran’s nuclear program… Iran must fully comply with relevant Security Council resolutions.”
Underscoring the significance of nonproliferation education, Ban stressed that “Education can help the world to build a global culture of peace that rejects all weapons of mass destruction as illegitimate and immoral,” and specifically cited the Institute’s “innovative teaching methods,” which rely heavily on simulations and role-playing.
At the conclusion of his address, the Secretary-General engaged in a question and answer session, responding to queries from the audience about tensions on the Korean peninsula, the US military’s use of military drones, and his advice for MIIS students who want to make a difference on nonproliferation issues. The proceedings were interpreted by Monterey Institute conference interpretation students in Chinese, Russian, Spanish, and Korean.
Before his address, the Secretary-General met privately with President Sunder Ramaswamy and CNS Founding Director Dr. William Potter and posed for a photo with students in the Institute’s Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies program. Ban also extended a formal welcome to the Institute on its joining the United Nations Academic Impact initiative, which calls on institutions of higher education to join the UN in actively supporting 10 universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, literacy, sustainability, and conflict resolution.
In his public welcome for the Secretary-General, Ramaswamy noted the Institute’s “long history of close collaboration with the United Nations,” adding that it is “difficult to walk the halls of the UN for any length of time without becoming acquainted with one of our alumni,” including interpreters, translators, diplomats, nonproliferation experts, NGO representatives and others. The Institute counts more than 150 alumni currently working for the United Nations and associated agencies.
In November 2009, the Institute signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the UN making the Institute’s translation and interpretation program one of nine in the world—and the only one in the Western Hemisphere—that the UN has chosen to partner with to promote the development of future translation and interpretation professionals.
The Secretary-General’s visit earned wide attention in the local media and on social media, with the UN tweeting a series of quotes and links to its 1.2 million followers. The speech was also live-streamed to thousands of viewers, and remains viewable online at go.miis.edu/unsg.