We are delighted to provide you with a transcript of the Opening Speech delivered by Miroslav Lajčák, President of the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly, at GLOBSEC 2018.

 

 

 

 

Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,

 

Welcome to another GLOBSEC.

It is not the first time I have attended this conference, but it gives me enormous pleasure and honor to do so as President of the United Nations General Assembly.

We are here for a conference. It is one that has been held for 13 years. And it has brought some of the brightest minds together – on the most pressing global security issues.

But, I see it more as a laboratory. Because it can be a space for us to experiment with new ideas and models.

In opening this conference – in inviting us all into the lab – I want to point out what I think are three major trends we are facing.

 

First: I believe we have never lived in more uncertain times.

There are many things we do not know.

We do not know if we will, someday, wake up to news of a nuclear attack.

We do not know when – or, even, if – today’s conflicts – from Syria and Yemen, to South Sudan – will end.

We do not know what changes in technology – including artificial intelligence – will bring to our daily lives.

We do not know what impact Brexit will have on the European and international stage.

And, we do not know when – or where – the next terror attack will hit.

But this does not mean that we should stop asking.

Which is what we are here to do:

To put our heads together. To brainstorm. To gather different ideas and perspectives. To look at what is in front of us, now – and to scan the horizon, for tomorrow.

This is how we prevent. This is how we form contingency plans. And, this is how we can begin to expect the unexpected.

Too often we have been left scrambling for solutions. Yet, we are sitting, today, in a forum that could act as an early warning mechanism.

So, let’s use it.

As I said, today’s world is full of uncertainties.

But it is not all doom and gloom.

And, here, I want to highlight a second trend. Because, I also believe we have never had so many opportunities in front of us.

Let me, first, focus on technology. And in particular, information and communication technology.

It has transformed our world. It has allowed whole societies to leapfrog into the digital age. It has created life-saving links, for marginalised groups. It has expanded access to basic services. I was in Rwanda last week – where people can now communicate with doctors, and access healthcare services, on their smartphones.

 

The second major opportunity I want to mention is the fact that our world is getting smaller.

Not in a physical sense of course, but in many other ways.

Our supply chains are getting longer – and looping more of us in. There are bridges being built between us, without our notice, every day. Our biggest challenges have no regard for borders or territorial lines. And, we are more dependent on each other, now, than ever before. If something happens to one of us – it has a domino effect on many others. If one of us takes unilateral action – it touches us all.

And, that is not to say, there are only good sides to these trends, in all of this. Technology has a lot of dangers. We have heard a lot about the very real risks of the Dark Web. And we have seen how cyber-attacks can bring havoc, and confusion. Also, increasing globalisation carries its own security challenges.

Yet, I believe there are more opportunities than risks – and that it is time for us to reach out, and take them.

Too often we have been left scrambling for solutions. Yet, we are sitting, today, in a forum that could act as an early warning mechanism.

MIROSLAV LAJČÁK

President of the UN General Assembly

The third major trend I want to mention relates to the contradictions, and paradoxes, of today.

We have never had so many plans for action……yet we hear more and more people asking the question: what can we do?

We have never had so much access to information…….yet we are more misinformed and confused, than ever.

We have never had so many tools for communication and outreach…..yet there is a widening gap, between institutions and the people they serve.

We have never been more aware of the urgent need for action……yet we are stuck talking about it, rather than taking it.

And, we have never needed multilateralism more……yet calls for unilateralism and isolation seem to be louder than ever.

I saw these trends – these contradictions – within the European Union context. I see them now – in the United Nations.

And I hope we use this forum to address them.

So I want to hand the floor over, to all of you.

Let us use this laboratory of ideas.

Let us innovate.

Let us put our heads together.

Let us test out new ways of thinking.

Let us share the lessons we have learned.

Let us be open to both changing, and reinforcing, our own views.

Let us bring the visions we create, in here… out there.

And let us make this the most vibrant – the most forward-looking – GLOBSEC ever.

Thank you very much.