Ban Ki-moon (Photo: Reuters)
"Government leaders should always try to reach out to those people whose needs, whose human rights have not been properly addressed," UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told reporters on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference in Germany.
"Before this kind of aspiration and wish erupts into massive demonstrations, I think that government leaders should pay more attention. This is a good lesson."
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the same conference on Saturday that countries in the Middle East and North Africa were being battered by a "perfect storm" of unemployment, poverty and conflict over resources.
"This generation is rightly demanding that their governments become more effective, more responsive, and more open," Clinton said.
"This is what has driven demonstrators into the streets of Tunis, Cairo, and cities throughout the region. The status quo is simply not sustainable," she said.
"Across the region, there must be clear and real progress toward open, transparent, fair, and accountable systems."
Egypt has been rocked for almost two weeks by mass demonstrations across the country, inspired by an uprising in Tunisia. There have also been protests in Yemen and Jordan.