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Speech at the FINMUN2016 Opening Ceremony 13.4.2016: The next UN Secretary General should be a woman

Honourable Secretary General, distinguished chairs and delegates, dear FINMUN2016 organisers,


It is an honour to address you here at the opening ceremony of Finnish Model United Nations 2016 conference. It is my pleasure to welcome you to Finland and to Helsinki, and I am confident that you have a fantastic conference ahead of you. I firstly wish to congratulate the FINMUN2016 Organising Team and madame Secretary General on the fantastic work you have put into organising this event. The team has been working on the conference since November last year and the efforts are now paying off. Congratulations and well done.


As you may be aware, the labour market is now ever so demanding for young aspiring professionals. In addition to vast knowledge on a range of issues, you will need skills you cannot develop in class rooms or lecture halls. You will need a variety of transferrable skills that you can develop though extracurricular activities, such as Model UN. That is why you have chosen a fantastic hobby and an experience that you can utilise on many occasions in your future careers. The international community needs more young diplomats who have international mind-sets and who are open minded, who have the skills for negotiation and compromise, and who are innovative and resourceful. So embrace this experience and make the most of it as these are the skills that will take you far.


Respected guests,


The purpose of the Model UN is of course to simulate the real UN to the best of your ability. The United Nations is an important part of Finnish foreign policy, has been for over 60 years now. While the UN celebrated its 70th anniversary year last year, at the same time we in Finland celebrated our 60 years of membership to the UN.  The UN is our most important tool of multilateral cooperation. For a small country like Finland, the UN is an extremely important forum in our foreign policy. There is no other forum in the world that can match up to the United Nations. Finland has been an active member to the UN, promoting human rights and the rule of law in particular. Through the UN Finland is committed to the maintenance of international peace and security, human rights and international efforts for safer and more secure world. We are socially, politically and financially invested in the UN and its values as well as solving international issues that we are facing today. At the UN Finland is particularly active in peace mediation, peacekeeping and human rights issues, to name a few. Upon our membership application over 60 years ago, Finland promised to do its very best to promote the UN’s goals. That promise still stands.


In the recent years the United Nations has been subject to wide criticism. Afghanistan, Syria, Ukraine and many other failures beg the question: what is the UN’s role and value in the 21st century. The UN has not been able to stop conflicts, prevent war or maintain peace in areas where it is most desperately needed. But despite the UN’s short-comings, Finland still firmly believes that the significance of the UN has not disappeared or decreased but quite the contrary. The United Nations is a forum where all states in the world can come together in diplomacy, to negotiate and to discuss most pressing international issues of our time. And that is where the UN’s significance derives from. We did not create the UN to be an after-school club of like-minded states and the UN is not an alliance just for the countries with mutual ideas. Quite the opposite, the United Nations was created to bring together even the most harshly divided nations to work for peace and our mutual security.


In December I had the honour of meeting Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon when he visited Finland and the Parliament in celebration of Finland’s 60 year membership. We had very fruitful discussions on current crises and conflicts and the UN’s role in them. Mr Ban Ki-Moon is a very wise and nice gentleman, and meeting him again was an honour and a valuable experience. As you all are surely aware, his term as the Secretary General is about to end. The UN is currently undergoing world’s most important recruitment process, the selection of a new Secretary General. It is a race of one person to work for 7 billion people, one for 7 billion as the slogan says. For the first time ever, the process is highlighted by an emphasis on transparency, participation and openness. This development is highly welcomed: I would much rather see more openness and less unofficial hallway diplomacy. This time there is also a lot of call for a female candidate to be elected for the first time ever. I believe that the world is ready for breaking this glass ceiling. After eight male Secretaries-General it is a time for a female leader.


Distinguished guests,


Your topic at FINMUN2016 is drugs and the international issues relating to drugs. It could not be more topical. The UN General Assembly Special Session on the world drug problem will begin only days after you finish this conference. So if you do manage to solve the problem, please do let us know so we can take it to the real UN next week. Finland’s priorities for the session naturally reflect much of own foreign and social policies. We emphasise the human rights approach, the preventive measures and multidiscipline cooperation in the implementation of drugs policies. Multidiscipline approach must include the target groups, the law enforcement and the social and health sector together. In addition to the social, health and national drug problems, drugs and crimes are furthermore important an issue in the battle against terrorism. Drug trafficking is closely related to the funding of terrorism. In the fight against terrorism, cutting its financing is at heart of solving the wider issue. In the light of recent events in Brussels and Paris, we can clearly see that this is more and more important and the international community must cooperate closely to find solutions in these issues. I hope you will have fruitful discussions on the drug issue during the conference on this very pressing topic which undoubtedly is difficult, but all the more important.


Dear listeners,

Without further ado, I am happy to once more welcome you to FINMUN 2016. I hear that you have interesting visits and social events coming up. One that particularly drew my attention was the very Finnish Sauna diplomacy evening. Finnish saunas hold many legends in them and they have seen many political negotiations in their time, so I expect nothing but similar proceedings to take place at your sauna negotiations. Do not forget to drink loads of water though, the might of sauna may surprise even the most experienced diplomats!


I can stay back for a couple of questions if there are any, but first I wish you a fantastic conference.  I hope you make the most of it and come out with many new memories and friends. Thank you.