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[Ban Ki-moon Center for International Cooperation] “Without Human Rights, Development Doesn’t Mean Anything”
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In two special lectures presented to Yonsei undergraduate students, Honorary Chairman of IGEE Ban Ki-moon reflected on his two-term tenure as Secretary-General of the United Nations while also calling for youth participation in the implementation of SDGs.

In his first lecture on October 31, Ban gave an overview of the historical development of SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement. For the 100 students enrolled in the Understanding Sustainable Development with Ban Ki-moon course, his talk provided a rare opportunity to hear a first-person account of how the UN operates and global leadership works.

Ban encouraged the students, many of whom plan to work in international development–related jobs, research, or diplomacy, to think of both the planet and humanity beyond national boundaries. “SDGs cover all spectrums of our life and each goal is logically connected. Look outside your immediate surroundings and think of both the planet and humanity beyond national boundaries,” he said.

His second lecture on November 21 focused on human rights and peace. Ban explained that human rights has tremendous effect on politics and economy. “It is possible for dictatorial states to achieve peace and economic growth, but without human rights, development doesn’t mean anything,” he said.

It was such conviction that led to the creation of the Human Rights up Front (or HRuF) under his leadership. As an internal campaign, HRuF helped position the UN’s work on human rights protection as a priority for all UN entities. Ban acknowledged however that the HRuF, like other initiatives for cooperation among UN entities, has to rely on an institutional commitment based on a limited legal basis for cooperation between specialized agencies. “The challenges we face are simply too numerous to be left in the hands of a few leaders. Think beyond yourself. You hold the keys to unlock a more sustainable, peaceful and prosperous future,” he said.

Tae In Park, Research Professor and convener of the course, says the course has garnered strong interest from Yonsei students around the campus and it will repeat next semester. Educating students and increasing public awareness about the SDGs is a major component of IGEE’s work. Understanding Sustainable Development with Ban Ki-moon is a flagship course developed by IGEE to increase students understanding of SDGs. Students learn about the definition, historical background, and normative and analytical aspects of sustainable development taught by renowned scholars and experts. Aside from this course available to Yonsei students, IGEE developed a special Coursera course Sustainable Development in the 21st Century with Ban Ki-moon open to the public.

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