In an address to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday in New York City, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon discussed numerous global crises requiring resolution or progress in 2013, stating, “We will have to think and act innovatively and differently … to throw off another brake on our common progress: the tyranny of the status quo.”
According to Ban’s address, actions required in 2013 by the worldwide community in order to confront issues of global concern include providing a greater response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria, helping Mali in its attempts to regain stability, providing aid within the entire Sahel region of Africa to combat drought, poverty, extremism and the region’s lack of unifying leadership, working to end violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, working towards Middle East Peace, enacting the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and moving towards greater nuclear disarmament, developing economies globally through sustainable means, and continuing the fight against violence from intolerance and hatred, including such violence against those of a different sexual orientation.
“Too often, Governments and our international machinery operate on auto-pilot,” Ban stated at his first meeting with the UN General Assembly in 2013. He continued, “Issues remain in their silos; worrying trends are allowed to persist and unfold, all because ‘that is the way things have been done,’ or because true change is seen as costly or unrealistic, or entrenched interests have a hold on the legislative machinery.
“Let us make the year ahead one in which we rise above disunity and the lowest common denominator, and show the world that good international solutions are in the national interest.”
In addition, the Secretary General listed five key steps which must be taken to bring about Middle East peace through an eventual two-state solution as the goal for Israel and Palestine:
- “we must renew collective international engagement”
- “we must resume meaningful negotiations”
- “we must preserve stability in Gaza”
- “we must make progress on Palestinian reconciliation”
- “we must prevent the financial collapse of the Palestinian Authority”
An ongoing roadblock to any start of negotiations for peace between Israel and Palestinians has been Israel’s continued insistence against international law to build illegal settlements in the occupied territories: lands populated by Palestinians which Israel seized militarily in the 1967 Six-Day War and has been occupying ever since. Continued rocket attacks from Palestinian territory into Israel have also hampered any ability for the two sides to sit down at the table for negotiations.
In the closing of his address, Ban stated, “The decisions we take, or fail to take, in the crucial next few years will shape the world for decades to come. Let us be wise, responsible and forward-looking. Let us work as one to deliver for all.”