Address at the 64th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations
President/ South Korea/H.E. Mr. Lee Myung-bak
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, let me extend my sincere congratulations to you, Mr. Ali Treki, on your assumption of the
Presidency of the 64th Session of the UN General Assembly. I am confident that under your able
leadership, meaningful progress will be made during this session.
I also wish to express my appreciation and support to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for his
tireless efforts in reforming the UN.
The Republic of Korea and the United Nations
I would first like to recall the special historic ties between the Republic of Korea and the United
Nations. The contemporary history of the Republic of Korea began with the UN.
Under the auspices of the UN, we held our first democratic elections in 1948. And, with the approval of
the UN, we became the only legitimate government on the Korean Peninsula. Indeed, the Republic of
Korea is a country that has been championed by the UN.
Men from 16 UN Member States came to our support when the Korean War broke out in 1950, only
two years after the founding of the Republic. Fallen heroes of the Korean War from 11 countries are
buried in the only UN cemetery in the world, located in Busan, the second largest city in Korea. To this
day, the cemetery serves as a place for the Korean people to commemorate their noble sacrifices.
At the time of the Korean War, Korea was among the least developed countries in the world, with a per
capita income of less than 50 dollars.
But to everyone’s surprise, Korea was able to achieve both industrialization and democratization in
only a single generation. Korea has transformed itself from an aid recipient country to a donor country.
While this achievement is the fruit of the Korean people’s toils and tears, the invaluable support of the
UN has been a great source of strength.
For this reason, Korea has been observing UN Day even before becoming a Member State in 1991.
Global Korea, Contributing to the World
Mr. President and Distinguished Delegates,
Building on such achievements, Korea will embark on a path of actively contributing to the world and all
of humanity. This is the very goal that Global Korea aims for.
We wish to share our past development experiences in order to help developing countries lift themselves
out of famine and poverty. While financial support to developing countries is important, it is more
important to find the right development model that fits each country can be a more fundamental way of
Today, the international community is working closely together to overcome an unprecedented
financial crisis. As a member of the G20 Troika, Korea is making utmost efforts to strengthen the free
trading system, which has been the powerhouse for global economic growth, while also ensuring that
the voice of the developing countries is heard.
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set forth by the UN should be realized. Development
cooperation and humanitarian assistance need to increase, especially towards the developing countries
most severely affected by the economic crisis.
Korea will fulfill its pledge to triple the volume of its 2008 official development assistance (ODA) by
2015. And in 2011, we will be hosting the Fourth High Level Forum (HLF-4) on Aid Effectiveness in
Seoul. By ensuring its success, we will enhance aid effectiveness for the achievement of the MDGs by
2015, and contribute to strengthening the global partnership for a more comprehensive and effective
Today, young Korean volunteers under the name of “World Friends Korea” are doing volunteer work
throughout the world to put into practice the spirit of love and giving. Currently, there are more than three
thousand dispatched to some forty countries, and we will continue to send more volunteers, focusing on
sharing our areas of strength in information-technology, medicine, and agricultural technologies as well as
our experience in governance development.
Among other efforts, through its participation in peacekeeping operations, Korea is also actively
engaging in promoting international peace and security and preventing terrorism. Currently, Koreans
are serving in 13 missions around the world. Since last March, we have also been taking part in multinational
efforts to protect commercial vessels of all flags from acts of piracy in the waters off the coast
Korea will faithfully fulfill its responsibilities, as is expected by the international community, including
in the areas of preventing conflicts, countering terrorism, and responding to natural disasters.
Promoting Green Growth
Mr. President and Distinguished Delegates,
Responding to climate change has become an indispensable and urgent agenda for all of humanity.
Climate change poses a common challenge to all humankind, and thus requires the concerted efforts of
developed and developing countries as well as newly industrialized countries. For this reason, all
countries need to take part and be prepared in addressing this challenge.
Korea highly appreciates the role of the UN in placing climate change as an urgent priority agenda and
in galvanizing global efforts to address this critical issue.
At the Copenhagen Conference to be held in December of this year, the international community is
expected to deliver a very important decision with great implications for the future. At this very place
yesterday, we affirmed our commitment to making the Copenhagen Conference a success.
not included in Annex I of the UNFCCC, plans to make a voluntary announcement before the end of
this year, its midterm target emissions cut by the year 2020.
Korea has proposed to establish a Registry of Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) of
developing countries at the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
(UNFCCC), with a view to inviting developing countries to voluntarily participate in mitigation actions
and providing the international support that they need. We hope that our proposals and efforts will
contribute positively to successful outcomes at Copenhagen.
To proactively respond to climate change, Korea adopted “Low Carbon Green Growth” as a guiding
vision for our nation and a strategy for further development. We are currently working to enact a
Framework Law on Green Growth and establish a Five-Year Plan for Green Growth.
Thereby, we will
not only transform our economic and industrial structures, but also change our very lifestyles to
become more future-oriented.
Under this Plan, Korea will annually invest about 2 percent of its GDP in the field of green growth
during the next 5 years. This is twice the level recommended by the UN.
The underlying objective of the Low Carbon Green Growth strategy is to promote sustainable
development, by putting in place a positive cycle in which the environment revives the economy and
the economy preserves the environment.
This strategy is the most effective way to address global climate change and at the same time to
overcome the economic crisis. By pursuing a green growth policy that makes assertive fiscal investments
in the areas of green growth, Korea is preparing for the future, while also responding to the immediate
The development of green technologies and international cooperation are key factors to ensure success
in responding to climate change. At the outreach meeting at the G8 Summit last August, Korea was
designated as a leader in transformational technology, including the area of smart grid technology.
Korea will strengthen global partnership for cooperation on green technology, and share with the rest of
the world the ensuing benefits of this partnership.
Mr. President and Distinguished Delegates,
While fossil energy is replaceable, water is not. Water is the most important resource in our lives.
Accordingly, I wish to urge the President of the General Assembly, world leaders and the UN
Secretary-General to take a special interest in the issues concerning water, since it is also a crucial
factor in adopting to climate change and achieving the MDGs.
Today, close to half of the world’s population suffers from water-related problems, and most of the climate
change-related natural disasters, including floods, drought, and sea-level rises, are water-related disasters.
In the course of launching the East Asia Climate Partnership, the Korean Government reviewed waterrelated
issues in Asia. We have come to the conclusion that the provision of fresh water and the
development of policies and infrastructure for inundation and disaster prevention are the most pressing
issues at hand.
Korea possesses cutting-edge desalination technology, and has been improving its integrated water
resource management system. The restoration of Cheong Gae Cheon, which had been a concretecovered
dry stream for several decades in Seoul, has provided over 10 million residents with a pleasant
space to rest by and a clean stream. This was an environment-friendly, greening project that helped the
city to overcome the “heat island phenomenon,” not to mention becoming more attractive at the same
Such experiences and achievements have led us to launch a ‘Four Major Rivers Restoration Project,’
involving the four rivers that traverse from north to south and from east to west in our country. This
project not only provides a fundamental solution for securing water and controlling inundation, but also
enables us to revive the ecosystem of these rivers.
The time has come for the international community to establish a governance system that will
effectively address water-related issues. I am aware that some 20 UN agencies have been working in
earnest on water issues. Issues concerning water are of a complex nature, as they have bearings on a
wide range of areas.
To establish a more effective system of international cooperation on water, I would like to propose a
specialized and integrated water management cooperation initiative.
Nuclear Non-proliferation and the Korean Peninsula
Mr. President and Distinguished Delegates,
Global peace and security form the cornerstone for maintaining the stability and prosperity of all
mankind. Today, global peace is being threatened by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction
(WMD) and their means of delivery. To respond to these challenges, strong determination and
cooperation among all countries are essential in strengthening the international non-proliferation
regime, including the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Last October, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon put forward a “five-point proposal for nuclear
disarmament.” And in his speech in Prague last April, US President Barack Obama set out his vision
for “a world free of nuclear weapons.” Through sufficient discussions, we anticipate that these
initiatives, which embody the hopes and desires of humanity, will enhance a common understanding on
nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
In particular, a nuclear weapons free Korean Peninsula must be realized in order to attain peace in Northeast
Asia and beyond. Denuclearization is a prerequisite to paving a path toward genuine reconciliation and
unification in the Korean Peninsula, which is the only remaining divided region in the world.
The Republic of Korea will take an active part in the concerted international efforts to dismantle the
nuclear program of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). We urge the DPRK to join in
these efforts, and to return to the Six-Party Talks right away and without any preconditions.
The Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula of 1992 to which both Koreas
committed themselves must be observed. On such a basis, the Republic of Korea will increase dialogue
and exchanges with the DPRK, and strengthen cooperation with the international community for the
development of the DPRK.
I have proposed that through the Six-Party Talks, the DPRK dismantles the core component of its
nuclear weapons program, and at the same time we provide the DPRK with security assurances and
international assistance. This is what we call a “grand bargain.” We are discussing this proposal with
the related countries.
I want to make it clear that now is the time for the DPRK to make the decision, to achieve genuine
peace on the Korean Peninsula and for its own sake as well.
The Role of the UN
Mr. President and Mr. Secretary-General,
We are confronted with diverse and complex challenges that can only be overcome through
international cooperation. In meeting the expectations of the international community, we hope that a
renewed and strengthened United Nations will assume a greater role.
To this end, it is important for the UN to demonstrate efficient and effective management now more
than ever. We hope that the UN reform initiatives in the various areas will yield concrete results.
As a responsible Member State of the UN, Korea will continue to render its close cooperation, so that
the UN can play a leading role in bringing about progress to all of humanity and the international
community at large.
Korea seeks to be a friend to the world, one that is considerate of others and contributes to the global