News / Middle East

UN Chief Calls 2011 a Remarkable Year

Larry Freund

The U.N. Secretary-General says 2011 is an extraordinary and remarkable year, and he urged support for protesters seeking democracy.  

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a year-end news conference, said the Arab Awakening or Arab Spring has transformed the geopolitical landscape.

The United Nations, he added, played an essential role in the liberation of Libya and stands ready to continue to help Tunisia and Egypt, at their request, as they install new governments.  The agreement mediated by the U.N. envoy in Yemen, Mr. Ban continued, sets the stage for an end to fighting - and the creation of a new government of national unity.

Mr. Ban said more than five thousand people are dead in Syria, adding it is time for the international community to work to halt the Syrian government's attacks on its opposition.

The secretary-general said pro-democracy demonstrations around the world are what he considers rare opportunities for change that the United Nations should address. “We are seeing such yearnings like wildfire spreading across the Middle East and North Africa. Because they have been oppressed by tradition, by culture, by authoritarian leaders.  It is only natural evolution of history that we have to look at from that perspective.  That is why I termed it as generational opportunities.  This is the moment which we have to seize and help them," he said.

Mr. Ban pointed to the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in the United States that, he said, have been spreading throughout the developed world. “In the course of rapid industrialization and globalization, there has been some gap between the peoples, there have been marginalized people and there has been inequity between rich and poor, and particularly we have not paid much attention to women and youth groups," he said.

Mr. Ban called this an inflection point in history, where all is changing and the old rules are breaking down.

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