Not only do you not see this picture every day, but chances are you have never seen a sitting and former UN Secretary General on the same stage at the same time. This kind of photo is so rare in fact, that in introducing Ban Ki Moon and Kofi Annan, UN Foundation President Sen. Timothy E. Wirth admitted he had to look up the correct pluralization of “Secretary General” (It’s “Secretaries General).
The occasion was the 2012 Global Leadership Dinner and Awards, hosted by the United Nations Foundation and United Nations Association of the USA in New York City last night. At the same event 15 years ago, Ted Turner made his historic pledge of $1 billion to UN causes, which created the United Nations Foundation. In his remarks last night, Kofi Annan recounted that everyone in the room politely applauded when Ted Turner spoke, thinking he had said one million dollars–not one billion dollars. It was only later in the evening 15 years ago that people realized the magnitude of his gift. “That was the best investment I ever made, and I made some good ones, ” Ted Turner remarked last night. “You have to have made some good investments to be able to give away $1 billion!”
Ban Ki Moon and US Ambassador the UN Susan Rice also delivered keynote remarks. The focus of the evening was very much on the good works of the UN Foundation, but to my mind Ban Ki Moon made some news when he touted Syria envoy Lakhdar Brahimi’s new ceasefire plan. After some very harsh remarks about the deteriorating situation in Syria, Ban approvingly cited Brahimi’s new push to negotiate a ceasefire for the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha, a very bold (and I think somewhat doomed) effort.
For her part, Ambassador Rice used the opportunity (on the eve of a presidential debate) to remind the audience of the many accomplishments of American engagement at the UN. In particular, she singled out successful American supported efforts to bring LGBT issues and rights to the fore of the UN’s human rights agenda.
The honorees last night included: Johnson & Johnson; Variety; Director-General of the UN Industrial Development Organization and Chair of UN-Energy Kandeh K. Yumkella; Former Chair of UNA-USA John C. Whitehead; Chair of the International Commission of Inquiry for Syria Paulo Segio Pinheiro; And Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The actress and UN Special Envoy for Youth Issues Monique Coleman emceed. I’ll soon post a video of a conversation between Coleman and Tutu, which was predictably fantastic.
UPDATE: Here you go!
*As most of you know, UN Dispatch receives the support of the UN Foundation.