Ban Ki-moon in Tehran for the Non-Aligned Summit

The most important speech UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made this week in Iran, was the one
at Tehran’s School of International Relations .


Below are some passages of this speech:

As you know, I am visiting Iran for the first time as the Secretary-General of the United Nations. This is a great opportunity for me to participate in the Non-Aligned [Movement] summit meeting, and I sincerely congratulated the leadership of the Iranian government. This will provide a good opportunity for them to raise their political profile in the international community, and also demonstrate their moderate and constructive leadership in the international community. 

I really wanted to speak with you about your path as a country, your place in the family of nations and your potential for the future, because I believe in this country’s future.

I have also a strong sense that the people of Iran know what kind of society they wish to build. I wanted to come and encourage you, to know what are your aspirations and how the United Nations can work together.

In a larger sense, I believe Iran would benefit from fully drawing on the activism of civil society. 

Of course, unleashing the potential of civil society means accepting its diversity of views, even when these views might seem challenging to authorities. Social activism and critics should never be conflated with national security and seen as a threat to the society or the state. 

I have grown up in a country where all this democratic transition has formed through a very turbulent period. We were, at least, under the military dictatorship, thoroughly [for] two years, but before and after even, there were a lot of social and political turbulences. The excuses of all politicians and critics were that this is not beneficial for national security. So they always tried to identify the causes of social, civil society with the national security priorities. I think it should not be conflicted with the national security. 

I know that the state of the economy is at the forefront of concerns; rising prices, declining economic opportunity, a lack of jobs. I know this is hitting young people particularly hard.

Expanding opportunities for youth is a generational imperative.

This is especially true in a place like Iran, which has one of the youngest populations in the world, with more than 60 per cent of the population under the age of 30. So you are very young people, on average.

You are also a highly networked society. Well over half of your population uses the Internet, again, led by young people. 

With freedom and space, Iran’s young people can be a primary engine for driving your country’s progress and standing. 

The United Nations and the international community are fully behind the people of Iran in your long struggle for democracy and human rights. 

Restricting freedom of expression and suppressing social activism will only set back development and plant the seeds of instability.

It is especially important for the voices of Iran’s people to be heard during next year’s presidential election. 

That is why I have urged the authorities during my visit this time to release opposition leaders, human rights defenders, journalists and social activists to create the conditions for free expression and open debate.

I also urge Iran to strengthen cooperation with the human rights mechanisms of the United Nations, in particular the Special Rapporteur. I have discussed this matter with your leadership.

Serious questions also persist over nuclear issues. 

It is in Iran’s interest to take concrete steps to build international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear programme. 

That is why I urge Iran to uphold its responsibilities as a UN Member State and party to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, NPT, and to comply with relevant Security Council resolutions.

And I urge all parties in the region to recognize the need to resolve this situation through diplomatic and peaceful means…

Provocative and inflammatory remarks and threats should be avoided by all means and all parties.

Under the Charter of the United Nations, all Member States have a clear obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any other State.

Every country has a responsibility to exercise maximum restraint and to refrain from any hostile behavior that could inflame tensions and further complicate the search for peace.

My purpose today is to highlight the cost of Iran’s current trajectory, both at home and in the international arena.

Any country at odds with the international community is one that denies itself much-needed investment and finds itself isolated from the thrust of common progress.

Any country at odds with itself deprives itself of its people’s energy and goodwill, and sets the stage for future instability.

I understand that Iran has suffered at the hands of external actors. You went through a terrible war with your neighbor. You have felt unduly singled out.

But I also know that you can overcome the current difficulties and build a better future.

The full speech can be read at:


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