Kofi Annan: Towards a More Harmonious World Order
Peking University, Apr. 28, 2015: On April 22, 2015, Kofi Annan, Chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation, delivered a keynote speech on world order to students at Peking University.In the meanwhile, he became a scholar in the “PKU Global Fellowship” program.
It was Annan’s third visit to Peking University and he received a warm welcome. More than 300 scholarsand students attended the meeting to listen to his lecture. Before the lecture, Mr. Annan and PKU President Lin Jianhua shared their opinions on exchange programs, which can be hugely beneficial to lives of students. President Lin Jianhua said that Peking University has extensive exchange programs, and that the school encourages students to study or get an internship ininternational organizations.
"Mr. Annan heavily values the active role that education plays in nurturing citizens so that they can meet with the standard of modern society”,President Lin Jianhua said, and praised Annan for his efforts topromote regional peace, social progress and human sustainability.
Harmony is the universal aspiration, and establishing harmony among countries is also the goal of the United Nations. How should we achieve this difficult task? Chairman Annan shared what he thought as three supporting pillars for harmonious order: peace and security, sustainable and inclusive development, and the rule of law and respect for human rights.
That today’s world is more peaceful than it used to be, but we still live in uncertain times, Annan pointed out. The world order has been greatly changed since the economic crisis broke out in the west, and Asian countries reclaimed their historical places with robust economic growth. These changes also brought challenges to the peace and security of the region: resurgence of nationalism, ethnic and religious tensions and territorial disputes.In order to manage these risks, Annan commented that “that will require wisdom, moderation on all sides.”
The world’s economy grows at great cost to the environment. We witness China’s economic growthand also its consequences on the environment and public health. Sustainable and inclusive development needs to be promoted. “Fortunately, China is now taking measures to address both (environment and public health) problems,”Annan added.
One major problem of the last few decades is that international law has not been fully respected. “A global rules basis is vital for the world order,” Annan states. Countries should work together to create a foundation for the common values. He used an African proverb to illustrate the importance of coalition: “Wisdom is like a baobab tree; no one person can embrace it.”
Annan also shared his views on China. “China’s national interest has changed,” he argued. As China is heavily involved in international trade and investment, it has a vital interest in a prosperous and peaceful world. He believed that international interest is now also China’s national interest.
In the Q&A session, a student from Tonga expressed his concern about the impact climate change brings to his country. Annan agreed with him, “It (climate change) is already happening…particularly on the small island states…the sea [gets] into their land, affecting their food production…” Annan suggestedthe problem should be tackled from two angles: financial aid and technology transfer. Greener technologies should be introducedin these small countries so that they will not repeat the mistakes developed countries had made.
This speech is among a series of activities in Annan’s visit to PKU. Yesterday he had a discussion with professors and students on global issues at Linghuxuan. We are looking forward to more collaboration between Annan and PKU, and his interactions with young people in China.
Reported by: Li Yike/Lai Huan
Edited by: XU Karen