After receiving the honorary doctor of laws degree, Lagos spoke to the students and faculty gathered in the Morehead Building banquet hall about the importance of security in the world after the tragedies of Sept. 11.
Lagos said the terrorist attacks were the second time he has seen democracy challenged on the Sept. 11 date.
On Sept. 11, 1973, General Augusto Pinochet overthrew Chile's democratic government, after which Lagos chose to live in exile in the United States.
During that time, he spent three years at UNC as a visiting professor in the Department of Latin American Studies.
Lagos returned to his homeland in 1978 to help restore democracy and the kind of security that he said the world needs after Sept. 11. "We are not only fighting terrorism, we are fighting in favor of a new world," he said. "We must improve security in every sense of the word."
Lagos said the entire world needs security, including the "more than 50 percent of mankind" that is living in cruel conditions. Those people need security against the cruelty of starvation, among other things, he said.
The role of university students is to think about how to solve these problems, Lagos said. "I strongly believe it is up to us to be able to change the world."
Lagos said his country is fully behind the United States and its coalition against terrorism. "We feel deeply sorry about the loss of life," he said. "Your pain is our pain, your resolve to fight terrorism is our resolve to fight terrorism."
Lagos also reflected on his days in Chapel Hill, which he said helped him greatly during his life in politics. "What I learned here, what I was able to think here, the discussion I was able to have here, has (influenced) my decisions for the better," he said.