Saturday, August 15, 2009

Catching Two Birds With a Stone

Whoever writes Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s speeches is going to need therapy after his/her assignment is over. The speeches Ban delivers give every indication of – how shall I put this delicately – of being Asianized.

Take the speech Ban delivered to the University Presidents’ Forum on Climate Change and Sustainable Development in Asia and Africa, at Korea University in Seoul, on 17 August. It was titled “We can catch two birds – climate change and economic growth – with one stone.”

The text was interesting too.

“Asia’s scholars should be taking their rightful place under a larger sun” the Secretary-General said, adding: “And to the presidents of Africa’s great universities, I would say the same.”

“Your voices should be heard. Your influence should be felt, far and wide. You are a force for social, economic and political advancement -- a force for change -- at home and within our world community at large.”

“Let me begin by telling you a bit about how I see the world and its challenges.

“Then I would like to invite your support and ask for your help in dealing with them, first as individuals, as opinion-makers and influencers, and second as Asians and Africans.

“Because I see this as your moment.

“We meet at a critical time -- a moment of profound challenge and change.

“I often describe this as the age of multiple crises. Food. Fuel. Flu. Financial.

“Each is something not seen in years, even generations. But now they are hitting all at once.

“These crises are compounded by others of greater human dimension and consequence.”

As someone who drafted statements for Kurt Waldheim I feel the speech-writer’s pain.