Kofi Annan speaks to a full house

Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations and a winner of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize, spoke Wednesday about globalization to an overflowing crowd at Battell Chapel.

Sponsored by the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, the event was free and open to the public. Students and faculty filled Battell well before the 4:30 p.m. speech. Would-be audience members gathered to watch a live broadcast in the Law School auditorium but the broadcast was stopped when too many people filled the room.

Annan focused on the importance of restructuring globalization to incorporate “the world’s shared values” — human rights, prosperity, peace and diversity. He also answered several questions from the audience about Iraq and Kashmir.

“We need to be concerned about the gap between insiders and outsiders in the globalized world,” Annan said.

Following a brief introduction by Ernesto Zedillo, director of the globalization center and former president of Mexico, Annan discussed his thoughts on globalization and his goals for changing and continuing it in the future.

“It has been said that globalization is what distinguishes our era from all its predecessors,” Annan said.

Annan explained that some people in underdeveloped countries have not been able to take advantage of globalization’s economic benefits. He added that expanding opportunities for people in underdeveloped countries should be a high priority because it would promote worldwide peace and prosperity.

Annan received a standing ovation after his 30-minute speech, which was followed by several questions. Audience members submitted questions before the speech, and Zedillo selected and read the ones he said were most challenging.

When asked how to deal with Saddam Hussein, Annan responded that the Iraqi leader must disarm and comply with U.N. resolutions.

Annan was also asked about the worldwide HIV/AIDS epidemic, a topic he has spoken about frequently in the past. Calling the spread of the disease “the greatest tragedy the world is facing today,” Annan explained that it will affect security and economic issues and its global impact cannot be ignored.

Once finished speaking, Annan received an enthusiastic response from the audience on his way out. Though audience members gave him another standing ovation, several protestors outside held signs saying the United States should end its participation in the U.N.

Rebecca Lohnes ’05 said she thought Annan’s speech was good and that she was impressed with his unprepared remarks.

“I thought his answers to the questions were better than the speech,” Lohnes said.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, globalization center president and former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo, and Yale President Richard Levin leave a packed Battell Chapel after Annan's speech on globalization Wednesday.
Nathan Francis
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, globalization center president and former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo, and Yale President Richard Levin leave a packed Battell Chapel after Annan's speech on globalization Wednesday.

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