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[Diplomatic Circuit] I was a child of war and a product of multilateralism, former UN chief says

Ban Ki-moon fist-bumps attendees at his book launch ceremony at the GGGI headquarters in central Seoul on Thursday. (Sanjay Kumar/The Korea Herald)
Ban Ki-moon fist-bumps attendees at his book launch ceremony at the GGGI headquarters in central Seoul on Thursday. (Sanjay Kumar/The Korea Herald)

Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon officially launched his new book titled “Resolved: Uniting Nations in a Divided World” in Seoul on Thursday.

“Without the United nations troops, humanitarian agencies and advisers, Korea would not be where she is today, such experiences grounded in me importance of peace, opportunity, security, stability, and collective responsibility, beliefs that shaped my life and my tenure as (UN) secretary-general,” Ban said at the book launch ceremony at the Global Green Growth Institute headquarters.

“You could say that I was a child of war, and a product of multilateralism.”

Ban revisited his life that spanned decades in Korea’s tumultuous history -- the Japanese occupation, the Korean War, dictatorship, struggle for democracy and the security threat caused by North Korea’s nuclear weapons.

He also recalled and remembered the day when he, an 18-year-old boy from the rural country, met then-US President John F. Kennedy.

“That meeting really made me resolved that I should do something for my poor country to recover from this poverty, and that time Kennedy said whether you were ready to extend your helping hand to others is important,” Ban said.

“Soviet Union and the United states were just confronting that time, political leaders were not talking to each other. President Kennedy told us -- you young boys and girls, you could do. That was inspiring, I resolved that I wanted to do something for my country by becoming a diplomat.”

GGGI Director-General Frank Rijsberman, one of the attendants of the book launch ceremony, said that Ban’s book was “inspiring.”

“’Resolved: Uniting Nations in a Divided World’ is an autobiography of memories and recollection of many important events in the last half century and reading the book, it feels like having a first row seat at world events in a way, that journalist can never offer,” he said.

“The book provides a glimpse of how Ban Ki-moon experienced humanitarian regime in Myanmar, attempts to bring peace, seeing ordinary people crushed between world events such as war, floods, diseases, or climate change, and frequently reminds his own origin as boy during Korean War,” he added.

During his book launch, Ban also laid emphasis on equal opportunities and said human rights is not just about voting and freedom of speech. For true equality, there must be opportunities for all regardless of sex, race, religion or region.

“Development is not just about fighting poverty, but pursuing dignity for human being, no person can achieve potential without good health, basic education, sanitation, sufficient food and sustainable environment,” Ban said.

“Women should be given at least equal opportunity if not more,” Ban said.

Referring to Sustainable Development Goal 17 of the United Nations, Ban said there needs to be more global partnership among government, civil societies, NGOs and business communities.

Ban hopes the book will leave readers with one major message: “Now is the time for everyone to transcend our boundaries and act as global citizens, and make sure that we leave this planet earth to our succeeding generations sustainable, prosperous, and united.”

By Sanjay Kumar (sanjaykumar@heraldcorp.com)
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