On March 30 Ban Ki-moon became the 18th honouree to deliver the Dag Hammarskjöld Lecture. Hosted together with Uppsala University, the annual lecture is given in memory of Dag Hammarskjöld, the second Secretary-General of the United Nations, and in recognition of the values that inspired him as Secretary-General.
“It is a singular honour…to deliver a lecture named for a towering hero of humanity,” Mr Ban told the audience at Stockholm City Hall, which included Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, Crown Princess Victoria, members of the diplomatic corps and UN family, civil society groups, and university students. Mr Ban went on to explain that he thinks of Dag Hammarskjöld every day in the course of his duties as Secretary-General, and that he feels both privileged and humbled to be serving in the role his predecessor once filled so masterfully.
“Around the world, we are being tested in old ways that Hammarskjöld would have recognised — and in new ways for which his example can remain our guide,” he said. The Secretary-General underscored in his speech, entitled Evolving Threats, Timeless Values: The United Nations in a Changing Global Landscape, the many challenges the world currently faces, among them climate change, massive displacement, human rights abuses and terrorism.
“The world is changing—dramatically, rapidly…and our shared challenge is to shape this new world for the better—to build a landscape of opportunity and peace, while conquering persistent injustices, from hatred to hunger,” he said.
The lecture then outlined four areas where the international community needs to be more ambitious and where Sweden’s contributions are crucial: first, addressing the refugee challenge; second, advancing a more sustainable world; third, enhancing peace and security; and fourth, ensuring the strongest possible United Nations.
Mr Ban also emphasised in his speech the positive role Sweden has played in the United Nations for almost 70 years and the country’s indispensable contribution to UN humanitarian and peacekeeping efforts.
At the end of the lecture the Secretary-General was presented with the Dag Hammarskjöld Lecture medal by Henrik Hammargren, Executive Director of the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation and Eva Åkesson, Vice-Chancellor of Uppsala University.
“In today’s turbulent and increasingly inter-connected world, it is clear, more than ever, that we need a strong United Nations, and the Secretary-General has continued to lead the UN with a steady hand, working tirelessly to overcome the challenges to international peace and security,” explained Mr Hammargren as he presented the medal.
You can watch the lecture here.