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'Long walk to freedom' unfinished for women, girls – Deputy Secretary-General says in Mandela lecture

UN News Service, 25 November 2017 – Reflecting on the legacy of Nelson Mandela, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed called for investment in women and girls, decrying gender inequality as perhaps the most pervasive disparity around the world.

“Sadly, the long walk to freedom for women and adolescent girls globally remains unfinished,” Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed told the 15th Nelson Mandela annual lecture in Cape Town, South Africa, referring to the title of Mr. Mandela's autobiography.Speaking on 25 November, which is marked annually as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against women, the Deputy Secretary-General issued a call to action for the international community “to invest in the missing 50 per cent of our human asset base, the potential of our women and unleash their power for good.”

“Sadly, the long walk to freedom for women and adolescent girls globally remains unfinished,”  .. UN Deputy Secretary-General

“Just as the world came together to support the end of subjugation on the basis of race in this great country, we need today to birth a new movement that calls for true equality, everywhere,” she urged.Ms. Mohammed noted that violence against women in homes and war zones is “a global pandemic”. Additionally, fewer than one-third of senior management positions in the private sector are held by women, and less than 25 per cent of all parliamentarians are women.She said the new narrative must address the current context and constituency of young people left behind.

[ read the full story at UN News Centre

"What is 16 Days of Activism?" 

OrangeWorldLogo2017 Square Print

From 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day, the 16 Days of 

Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign is a time to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world. The international campaign originated from the first Women's Global Leadership Institute coordinated by the Center for Women's Global Leadership in 1991.

This year, the UNiTE Campaign will mark the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence under the overarching theme, “Leave No One Behind: End Violence against Women and Girls”— reflecting the core principle of the transformative 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.




Free from Polio: World Polio Day

“We need to focus on leaving no child unvaccinated, no matter how difficult it is to reach them,” says, World Health organization (WHO) polio coordinator Mohammed Mohammedi, for twenty years. World Polio Day, 24 October, is an opportunity to recognize the work of committed WHO staff members like Mohammedi.

Polio is a virus that can cause incurable paralysis.
In 1988, polio paralysed 10 children for life every 15 minutes, in nearly every country in the world. Today, there are only 3 countries that are still fighting polio, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.

WHO staff play an important role in polio eradication from local to global levels. For example, WHO Surveillance Officers in Somalia have trained a network of more than 500 parents, students, and community leaders to identify every case of acute flaccid paralysis to stop infection immediately.

Through these efforts, more than 16 million people are walking today who would otherwise have been paralysed for life. More than 400 million children are vaccinated every year.

However, there is more to be done. There are more children who should be vaccinated.


Their Future is Our Future – Sustainable Development for Wildlife & People

Did you know our future depends on migratory animals?

Migratory animals provide vital services that satisfy people’s everyday needs – as a source of food and medicine, as pollinators and seed dispersers, and as a means of pest control. They can also fire our imagination with their majestic presence and beauty and inspire us with their intrepid journeys across deserts and oceans. 

In the Caribbean, sea turtles are probably one of the most well-known migratory animals. However, they are endangered because humans have killed so many endangering entire species, and damaged their marine environment. When people throw the plastic bags into the sea, turtles mistake these for food, eat them, and die. Also, turtles are very sensitive to light. Baby turtles are attracted by artificial lights, and crawl inland. These hatchlings never find the sea and they often die in the morning sun. Such threats can continue to undermine these migratory animals.

The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals emphasises the need to conserve migratory species and to protect them from endangerment.  When the Conference of Parties to the Convention (UN Global Wildlife Conference – CMSCOP12) meets in the Philippines from 23 to 28 October 2017, participants will assess progress made on these issues.  They will also reflect on the intrinsic link between international efforts to conserve the world’s wildlife and the environment, and global ambitions to reach the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The slogan for the Conference, “Their Future is Our Future – Sustainable Development for Wildlife and People”, highlights SDGs to end poverty and hunger, improve health and education, combat climate change, and protect oceans, forests, humans, and animals.  This theme reminds us that global efforts to reach the SDGs must benefit both people and wildlife.

Home Safe Home: Reducing Exposure, Reducing Displacement

In September 2017, hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated Barbuda, St. Maarten, Dominica, Puerto Rico, and other parts of the north-eastern Caribbean. It left people without electricity and water, destroyed homes and health clinics, and isolated communities on these islands. Recovery and rebuilding will require the technical guidance of UN and other disaster management experts, and collaboration among support organisations.

Disasters like these and others across the globe, cause death, injury, ill-health, loss of livelihood, displacement, and lack of access to basic services. Especially vulnerable are children, people living with disabilities, and older persons. To promote risk-awareness among all people and mitigate the impact of disasters, the United Nations, governments, civil society organisations and other emergency support groups, educate on best practices at all levels -  international, regional and national.

Their work is critical to reduce exposure, protect communities and lower the numbers of people displaced by disasters. This year’s International Day for Disaster Reduction (13 October) focuses on these best practices, and related actions and policies that can save homes and livelihoods.


World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day focuses on "Mental health in the workplace"

During our adult lives, a large proportion of our time is spent at work. A negative working environment may lead to physical and mental health problems like depression and anxiety disorders.

They are common mental disorders that have an impact on our ability to work, and to work productively. Globally, more than 300 million people suffer from depression, making it a leading cause of disability. More than 260 million are living with anxiety disorders. According to the World Health Organization, these two disorders cost the global economy US$1 trillion a year in lost productivity. Workplaces that promote mental health and support people with mental disorders are more likely to reduce absenteeism, increase productivity and benefit from associated economic gains.

Also, supportive and confidential communication with management can help people with mental disorders continue to or return to work. Access to evidence-based treatments has been shown to be beneficial for depression and other mental disorders. Because of the stigma associated with mental disorders, employers need to ensure that individuals feel supported and able to ask for support in continuing with or returning to work.

World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues and mobilizing efforts in support of better mental health.

I can happen to anyone, including yourself, so #LetsTalk

Read more about Mental Health Day

Please stop the executions: The death penalty has no place in the 21st century.

Please stop the executions.

The death penalty has no place in the 21st century.

The death penalty does little to serve victims or deter crime.

And even with meticulous respect for fair trials, there will always be a risk of miscarriage of justice.

This is an unacceptably high price.

The world is now moving in the right direction.

Ever more countries are abolishing the death penalty and establishing moratoria on its use. Some 170 States have either abolished it or stopped using it.

But at the same time, we are concerned by the trend of reversing long-standing moratoria on the death penalty, in cases related to terrorism.
Excerpts from the remarks by the UN Secretary-General at the Panel "Transparency and the death penalty" on World Day Against the Death Penalty

Read the full statement below:

Remarks at Panel on “Transparency and the death penalty”
New York, 10 October 2017

[as delivered]

I thank the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Member States who have co-sponsored this important event.

We are here to explore a very urgent and troubling human rights issue: the continued use of the death penalty, and the secrecy that surrounds it.

This is my first public statement as Secretary-General on the death penalty.

I want to make a plea to all States that continue this barbaric practice:

Please stop the executions.

The death penalty has no place in the 21st century.

I am proud to say that my country, Portugal, abolished capital punishment 150 years ago – one of the first countries to do so. As a matter of fact, I was told in school that we were the first country, but I don’t want to create any incident with any other country that claims … but this is indeed something I am very proud of.

The reasons were those that we call on today:

The death penalty does little to serve victims or deter crime.

And even with meticulous respect for fair trials, there will always be a risk of miscarriage of justice.

This is an unacceptably high price.

The world is now moving in the right direction.

Ever more countries are abolishing the death penalty and establishing moratoria on its use. Some 170 States have either abolished it or stopped using it.

Just last month, two African States – The Gambia and Madagascar – took major steps towards irreversible abolition of the death penalty. I welcome these developments and congratulate both governments for their principled stance.  

In 2016, executions worldwide were down 37 per cent from 2015.

Today just four countries are responsible for 87 per cent of all recorded executions.

But at the same time, we are concerned by the trend of reversing long-standing moratoria on the death penalty, in cases related to terrorism.

And those countries that do continue executions also have international obligations. In many cases, they are failing to meet them.

Transparency is a prerequisite to assess whether the death penalty is being carried out in compliance with international human rights standards.

It also honours the right of all people to know whether their family members are alive or dead, and the location of their remains.

But some governments conceal executions and enforce an elaborate system of secrecy to hide who is on death row, and why.

Others classify information on the death penalty as a state secret, making its release an act of treason.

Some limit the information that can be shared with defence lawyers, limiting their ability to appeal for clemency.

Still others grant anonymity to companies that provide the drugs used in executions, to shield them from negative publicity.

This lack of transparency shows a lack of respect for the human rights of those sentenced to death and to their families.

It also damages the administration of justice more generally.

Full and accurate data is vital to policy-makers, civil society and the general public. It is fundamental to the debate around the death penalty and its impact.

Secrecy around executions undermines that debate, and obstructs efforts to safeguard the right to life.

Today, on the World Day Against the Death Penalty, I reaffirm my opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances.

I invite all those states that have abolished the death penalty to support our call on the leaders of those that retain it, to establish an official moratorium, with a view to abolition as soon as possible.

I wish you a successful and thought-provoking discussion, and I thank you very much.


Teaching in Freedom, Empowering Teachers:World Teachers' Day

Quality teachers are key to sustainable global development, and their training, recruitment, retention, status and working conditions are among the top priorities for the United Nations Educational,Scientific and Cultural Organization(UNESCO). Indeed, to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 4 target of universal primary education by 2030, the demand for teachers is expected to rise to 25.8 million.

However, worldwide, there is a shortage of well trained teachers, and UNESCO is leading another Goal 4 target that calls for a substantial increase in qualified teachers. World Teachers’ Day, commemorated annually since 1994, focuses on such efforts to improve the status of teachers. This year's theme is “Teaching in Freedom, Empowering Teachers”.

The 2017 edition of World Teachers’ Day will also celebrate the 20th anniversary of the 1997 UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel. It will focus on institutional autonomy and academic freedom to highlight this year’s theme.

Read more about World Teachers’Day.


Read more about UNESCO



International Day of Older Persons: stepping into the future

1st October is the International Day of Older Persons, which seeks to address the global issue of ageism.

Ageism is a widely prevalent and prejudicial attitude that stems from the assumption that age discrimination, and sometimes neglect and abuse of older persons is a social norm and therefore, acceptable. It is a reality in some form in all societies, and finds expression in individuals’ attitudes, institutional and policy practices, as well as media representation that devalue and exclude older persons. In 2014, Governments around the world adopted a resolution at the Economic and Social Council that recognized ageism as “the common source of, the justification for and the driving force behind age discrimination.”

Such discrimination shapes how older persons are treated and perceived by their societies, including in medical settings and workplaces, creating environments that limit older persons’ potential and impact their health and well-being. The failure to tackle ageism undermines older persons’ rights and hinders their contributions to social, economic, cultural and political life.

“Stepping into the Future: Tapping the Talents, Contributions and Participation of Older Persons in Society.”

The theme of the 2017 International Day of Older Persons is about enabling and expanding the contributions of older people in their families, communities and societies at large. It focuses on the pathways that support full and effective participation in old age, in accordance with old persons’ basic rights, needs and preferences.

This year’s theme underscores the link between tapping the talents and contributions of older persons and achieving the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, which is currently undergoing its third review and appraisal process.

Read more about International Day of Older Persons



Connecting Ships, Ports and People: World Maritime Day

"Connecting ships, ports and people", is critical to the community of Caribbean countries as we seek to recover from the ravages of hurricanes Irma and Maria. World Maritime Day this year highlights the importance of shipping and those who manage it, as well as their importance to everyone else. The swift movement of emergency supplies and reconstruction materials depends on the links between ships, ports and people.

The aim of the 2017 theme is to build on the World Maritime Day theme for 2016, "Shipping: indispensable to the world", by focussing on helping International Maritime Organization (IMO) Member States to develop and implement maritime strategies to invest in a joined-up, interagency approach that addresses the whole range of issues, including the facilitation of maritime transport, and increasing efficiency, navigational safety, protection of the marine environment, and maritime security.

In this way, IMO will be contributing to achieving the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which are a broad response to the challenges facing the world today – increasing world population; climate change; threats to the environment; unsustainable exploitation of natural resources; threats to food security; societal threats posed by organized criminals and violent extremists; and instability leading to mixed migration.

Ultimately, more efficient shipping, working in partnership with a port sector supported by governments, will be a major driver towards global stability and sustainable development for the good of all people.

Read more about World Maritime Day at the International Maritime Organization's official website:




Tourism, a key sector in the world

World Tourism Day, observed on 27 September, provides an opportunity to highlight the importance this economic activity has in the world. Over the past six decades, tourism has experienced continued expansion and diversification, and it has become one of the fastest growing and most important economic sectors in the world, benefiting destinations and communities worldwide. International tourist arrivals worldwide have grown from 25 million in 1950 to nearly 1.2 billion in 2015. Similarly, international tourism revenues earned by destinations around the world have grown from 2 billion US dollars in 1950 to 1260 trillion in 2015. The sector represents an estimated 10% of the world’s GDP and 1 in 10 jobs globally.

It is estimated that tourism will continue to grow at an average of 3.3% annually until 2030. This growth over the second half of the 20th century and the 21st is due to the fact that access to tourism has progressively expanded thanks to the recognition of the right to holidays in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the improved adoption of labour rights in many countries and the growing middle class worldwide. Furthermore, in recent decades the emergence of new technologies applied to tourism and the decline in the price of transport, especially air transport, have led to an increase in international travel. Noteworthy is the resilience shown by the sector in recent years, which despite challenges such as the global economic crisis, natural disasters and pandemics, has experienced almost uninterrupted growth.

Like any activity, tourism has powerful effects on the economy, society and environment in generating countries and especially in the receiving countries. In addition to the socioeconomic impact of tourism, the sector, if managed sustainably, can be a factor for environmental preservation, cultural appreciation and understanding among peoples.

"Sustainable Tourism – a Tool for Development"

In 2017, the celebration of this World Day focuses on how sustainable tourism can contribute to development and it is held in Doha (Qatar). 
Sustainable tourism is defined as tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities. It should thus make optimal use of environmental resources, respect host communities and ensure viable, long-term economic operations so that benefits are equitably distributed among all stakeholders.

It is a positive instrument towards the eradication of poverty, the protection of the environment and the improvement of quality of life, especially in developing countries. Well-designed and well-managed tourism can make a significant contribution to the three dimensions of sustainable development —economic, social and environmental—, has close linkages to other sectors and can create decent jobs and generate trade opportunities.

It is therefore essential for all actors, including companies operating in the sector, to be aware of opportunities and responsibilities alike, and to act accordingly so that their actions leave a positive mark on the society in which they operate and ensure the sustainability of the destination and their businesses.

International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development

Recognizing the importance of international tourism in fostering better understanding among peoples everywhere, in leading to a greater awareness of the rich heritage of various civilizations and in bringing about a better appreciation of the inherent values of different cultures, hereby contributing to the strengthening of peace in the world, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

This year provides a unique opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to sustainability and move forward to ensure the positive impact of well-managed tourism on inclusive and equitable growth, sustainable development and peace.

Read more about the World Tourism Day at the UN Official website:




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