UW Today

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October 22, 2009

UN Secretary-General receives honorary UW degree

Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the UW at a formal academic convocation Monday, Oct. 26, in Meany Hall. As part of the convocation, Ban also delivered the 2009 Severyns-Ravenholt Lecture, sponsored by the Department of Political Science.

UW President Mark A. Emmert presided over the ceremony. Also participating were the University’s Regents.

In conferring the award, Emmert said, “The University confers honorary degrees upon individuals whose accomplishments reflect the fundamental values of the University and our civilization. They are offered upon the recommendation of the faculty of the University and are authorized and conferred by the Board of Regents. Those who receive them are exceptional individuals who have made profound and enduring contributions towards the betterment of our world, and whose vision and achievements represent the highest ideals to which humanity aspires.”

Ban is the eighth Secretary-General of the UN, having served for 37 years in government and on the global stage.

The citation accompanying Ban’s honorary degree was read at the ceremony by Regent William H. Gates:

“Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, you have devoted your life to bringing peace and prosperity to the peoples of all nations.

“In a world inured to the casualties of war and conflict, you have given voice to the suffering of humanity. On a planet too often harmed by unbridled power and arrogance, you are a passionate advocate for the rights of the weak and the dignity of the downtrodden. In an age where there is no shortage of cause for cynicism, you carry forth the promise of a brighter tomorrow and offer proof that quiet, steadfast diplomacy can prevail over force.

“Your idealism has been hard won. Born in a small village in the Republic of Korea, you experienced as a boy the devastation that war brought to the Korean people. But you also witnessed your country’s remarkable rise to a leading role on the world stage, and you were determined to rise with it.

“You earned your bachelor’s degree in international relations from Seoul National University and came to America for a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s prestigious John F. Kennedy School of Government.

“During a long and distinguished career in Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, your diplomatic skill led to appointments as Director General for American Affairs, National Security Advisor to the President, Foreign Policy Advisor to the President, and, ultimately, as Korea’s Foreign Minister.

“Your exemplary service to the United Nations began three decades ago, when you became the director of Korea’s United Nations Division. And in 2006, the world’s diplomats selected you to lead this gathering of nations by electing you to the U.N.’s highest office, Secretary-General.

“Under your exceptional leadership, the United Nations has strengthened its role as a peacekeeper, improved the economic condition of the world’s poorest countries, removed landmines, built schools, battled epidemics of disease, helped repatriate refugees to their homes, made real progress towards nuclear disarmament, and focused the world’s attention on the threat of climate change. Your unwavering commitment to the path of genuine and principled statesmanship has ever advanced the cause of a more just and equitable world.

“For your tireless efforts to bring all nations to the realization that their destinies are inextricably linked, for being a true friend to those who have lost all hope, and for continuing to believe in the power of honest engagement and communication to resolve the terribly fateful issues of our day, the University of Washington is proud to confer upon you the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.”