By Lee Kyoung Mi
President Yoon Suk Yeol on Sept. 20 emphasized the international community's solidarity in defending freedom in his keynote speech to the 77th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York.
In his speech titled "Freedom and Solidarity: Answers to the Watershed Moment," he said, "When freedom of any citizen or nation in the global community is in peril, it is the community of nations that must stand together in solidarity to defend that freedom."
As the 10th leader of a U.N. member country to speak at the event, the president said, "Today, the global community is yet again witnessing freedom and peace of its citizens put in jeopardy."
"Attempts to alter the status quo by force endangers the lives of innocent people; nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction pose increasing threats to humanity; systemic violations of human rights leave millions of children deprived of their future," he added, proposing global solidarity to overcome such threats.
"Genuine freedom is not just being free from the shackles but having opportunities to live life to the fullest with dignity," he said. "Genuine peace is not an absence of war but removing conflict and enmity that hold back shared progress of humanity and building the foundation for greater prosperity."
"Genuine freedom and peace can turn into reality when we are free from disease and hunger, free from illiteracy and free from want of energy and culture."
To resolve global issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic, digital divide and climate change, President Yoon stressed cooperation of the international community as essential and pledged a bigger role for Korea as a responsible member of the international community.
On boosting the global health system, he said, "Korea has accelerated research and development for Covid-19 therapeutics and vaccines, pledging 300 million dollars toward the ACT-A Initiative." He also mentioned Seoul's hosting in November of the ministerial meeting of the Global Health Security Agenda.
Turning to climate change, President Yoon said, "Korea will scale up its green ODA, help developing countries transition to a low-carbon future and share its innovative green technologies with the entire humanity."
To narrow the digital divide, he mentioned Korea's ongoing efforts for "transferring and sharing its e-government digital technology with developing countries and many others," adding, "We will continue to more widely share our advanced digital technology and data, and spare no effort in providing support and in investing in education."
President Yoon's speech lasted 11 minutes and received seven rounds of applause.
He mentioned "freedom" (21 times) the most in his speech, followed by "the U.N." (20) and the "international community" (13).
On his speech, the presidential office said, "Through President Yoon's first keynote speech at the U.N. General Assembly since he took office, the Yoon administration unveiled what kind of diplomatic vision and what cooperation and solidarity it will pursue with the international community."