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'Use your voices to claim your rights,' Ban urges university graduates in Belgium

India Blooms News Service | | 29 May 2015, 09:40 am
New York, May 29 (IBNS): Addressing the graduating class at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, where he was bestowed an honorary degree on Thursday, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gave students one final homework assignment: become global citizens with global vision.

“Use your voices to claim your rights and I will work as your ally,” Ban pledged.

He added, “Act with passion and compassion. Challenge your leaders, your professors, your presidents, prime minister and CEOs. Tell them you want to be at the negotiation table with them taking part in the decisions affecting your lives.”

“With this honorary degree, you give me another moral mission and I accept this moral mandate and mission as Secretary-General. I know that you ask the United Nations to do much more, and I am committing myself to work for world peace, development, and human rights,” he added.

Ban is in Belgium where yesterday he addressed the European Parliament on the migration crisis in the Mediterranean.

He also met with the leadership of the European Commission and the European Council.

Speaking at Leuven, Ban said that this year’s 70th anniversary of the United Nations is a good moment to reflect on the past, but even more importantly, a time to have a conversation about how to build a better future.

“We are also working at a deeper level, trying to nurture new generations of global citizens. Today, around the world, too many millions of children are out of school, and too many others do not get an education that matches the needs of today’s economy,” the UN chief continued.

He highlighted ways Belgium is involved on the global stage and encouraged the European nation to engage further in pushing for the adoption of sustainable development goals (SDGs) in September in New York and adopting a global agreement on climate change in December in Paris.

“We are the first generation that can put an end to poverty and we are the last generation that can put an end to climate change,” declared Ban, adding that the United Nations is working hard to address global challenges such as war, migration and education.

On migration, he said that what is happening on the European continent and in Southeast Asia, has taken on new urgency with tragic situations in the Mediterranean and Southeast Asia.

Migrants are desperately trying to find a better life, but fall prey to perilous journeys, he said.

“I know we have all been saddened to see so many men, women and children lose their lives in the Mediterranean. Our efforts are aimed at saving lives but also resolving the conflicts and poverty that lead people to flee in the first place,” Ban emphasized.

But the United Nations cannot solve the crises of the world alone. It will need the full support of every citizen in the world.

“We have to shape the future development agenda, which will put us all on a sustainable path, where all the citizens of the world can live peacefully, harmoniously, where their dignity can be respected,” the UN chief said.

In Brussels on Thursday, Ban also met with the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, to welcome Europe’s proposal on migration, including the relocation of 40,000 asylum-seekers, as a step in the right direction.

The two leaders also deplored terrorism and pledged to counter the violent extremism.

Also on Thursday, Ban briefed reporters on his meeting with Belgium’s Prime Minister Charles Michel. They also discussed efforts to promote peace in Central African Republic (CAR) and Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and also the situations in Yemen, Libya, Syria and Burundi.

Prime Minister Michel and Ban also touched on sustainable development, climate change, and July’s conference on financing for development set to take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

“This is an opportunity – a historic opportunity – to place the world on more sustainable footing, and I encouraged Belgium to continue doing its part to make this year a great success for the world’s people,” he said.

Photo: © European Union 2015 - European Parliament 

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Erdogan's Turkey turns Hagia Sophia into a mosque again; UNESCO regrets #HagiaSophia, #Turkey, #Istanbul, #HagiaSophiaMosqueAgain Istanbul/IBNS: Hagia Sophia, Turkey's iconic monument, a UNESCO World Heritage and one of the central attractions of its capital Istanbul, is no longer a museum. It has been turned back as a mosque though some 1500 years ago it was built as an Orthodox Christian cathedral. Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque during the Ottoman time in 1453 while under Ataturk it was turned into a museum in 1935. The decision comes amid a growing rise of the Islamists in Turkey who had been demanding that it be restored as a mosque though Opposition leaders with secular credentials had been against the move. A top court in Turkey ruled that turning it into a museum in 1935 by modern Turkey's secular architect Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was illegal, paving the way for present Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to declare it as a mosque again and to open it for Muslim prayers. Erdogan made the announcement an hour after the court ruled the conversion to museum in 1935 as illegal and scrapped its status. "May it be beneficial," posted Erdogan on Twitter, sharing an official document on the change with his signature. UNESCO regrets In an immediate reaction, UNESCO said it "deeply regrets" the decision. UNESCO said it was "regrettable that the Turkish decision was not the subject of dialog nor notification beforehand". "UNESCO calls on the Turkish authorities to open a dialog without delay in order to avoid a step back from the universal value of this exceptional heritage whose preservation will be reviewed by the World Heritage Committee in its next session," the United Nation's cultural body said in a statement. Istanbul icon of beauty and wonderment According to Turkey's official tourism website, Hagia Sophia is a remarkable achievement in the history of architecture. and a living proof of mankind's revolt against the laws of physics and it calls it a monument whose importance transcends borders. It is one of UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage sites attracting millions of visitors across the world with its majestic grandeur

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Erdogan's Turkey turns Hagia Sophia into a mosque again 11 Jul 2020, 01:37 pm