A- A A+

UNIC Port of Spain - Caribbean UN - Secretary-General's Messages

Secretary-General's Messages (14)

Message on International Day for Biological Diversity - 22 May

The rich variety of life on Earth is essential for the welfare and prosperity of people today and for generations to come.

That is why, 25 years ago, the world’s nations agreed on the Convention for Biological Diversity.

The Convention has three goals: the global conservation of biodiversity, its sustainable use and the equitable sharing of its benefits. Achieving these objectives is integral to meet our goals for sustainable development. Protecting and restoring ecosystems and ensuring access to ecosystem services are necessary for the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger. Reducing deforestation and land degradation and enhancing carbon stocks in forests, drylands, rangelands and croplands are needed for mitigating climate change. And protecting the biodiversity of forests and watersheds supports clean and plentiful water supplies.

These are just some of the benefits of biodiversity. Yet, despite this understanding, biodiversity loss continues around the globe. The answer is to intensify efforts and build on successes.

This year, Parties to the Convention will begin work on a new action plan to ensure that, by 2050, biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored and wisely used for the benefit of all people.

The entire world needs to join this effort.

On this International Day for Biological Diversity, I urge governments, businesses and people everywhere to act to protect the nature that sustains us.

Our collective future depends on it.

Read more...

Message on World Press Freedom Day

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

3 May 2018

A free press is essential for peace, justice and human rights for all.

It is crucial to building transparent and democratic societies and keeping those in power accountable.

It is vital for sustainable development.

Journalists and media workers shine a light on local and global challenges and tell the stories that need to be told.

Their service to the public is invaluable.

Laws that protect independent journalism, freedom of expression and the right to information need to be adopted, implemented and enforced.

Crimes against journalists must be prosecuted.

On World Press Freedom Day 2018, I call on governments to strengthen press freedom, and to protect journalists.

Promoting a free press is standing up for our right to truth.

Thank you.

Read more...

Remarks at launch of International Decade for Water Action 2018-2028

I am pleased to be with you on World Water Day to launch the International Decade for Action on Water for Sustainable Development.

I commend President Rahmon of Tajikstan for spearheading this effort at the General Assembly. 

I recall my trip to Tajikistan last year, when I had the opportunity to see the impact of receding glaciers in the Pamir mountains.

During my visit, I also had the chance to attend the forum on the Sustainable Development Goals.

And it is clear these 17 global Goals are inter-related, interdependent and mutually reinforcing.

Safe water and adequate sanitation for all – the object of Sustainable Development Goal 6 -- are indispensable to achieve many other goals. 

Safe water and adequate sanitation underpin poverty reduction, economic growth and healthy ecosystems. 

They contribute to social well-being, inclusive growth and sustainable livelihoods.

But, growing demands for water, coupled with poor water management, have increased water stress in many parts of the world.

Climate change is adding to the pressure – and it is running faster than we are.

With demand for freshwater projected to grow by more than 40 per cent by the middle of the century, and with climate change having a growing impact, water scarcity is an enormous concern.

By 2050 at least one in four people will live in a country where the lack of fresh water will be chronic or recurrent. 

Without effective management of our water resources, we risk intensified disputes between communities and sectors and even increased tensions among nations.

So far, water has historically proven to be a catalyst for cooperation not for conflict.

From my own experience, the Albufeira Convention, agreed during my time as Prime Minister of Portugal, continues to promote good relations on water management between Spain and Portugal. 

And, there are many more examples of cooperation on water – between India and Pakistan, Bolivia and Peru, and several others.

But we cannot take peace – or our precious and fragile water resources -- for granted.  

Quite simply, water is a matter of life and death.

Our bodies are 60 per cent water.

Our cities, our industries and our agriculture all depend on it.

Yet, today, 40 per cent of the world’s people are affected by water scarcity; 80 per cent of wastewater is discharged untreated into the environment, and more than 90 per cent of disasters are water-related. 

More than 2 billion people lack access to safe water, and more than 4.5 billion people lack adequate sanitation services. 

What these numbers mean is a harsh daily reality for people in rural communities and urban slums in all regions of the world.

Many of the most serious diseases in the developing world are directly related to unsafe drinking water, poor sanitation, and insufficient hygiene practices.   

Today, I am using the launch of the Water Action Decade to make a global call to action for water, sanitation and hygiene – or WASH -- in allhealth care facilities. 

A recent survey of 100,000 facilities found that more than half lack simple necessities, such as running water and soap - and they are supposed to be healthcare facilities.

The result is more infections, prolonged hospital stays and sometimes death.

We must work to prevent the spread of disease. Improved water, sanitation and hygiene in health facilities is critical to this effort.

Ladies and gentlemen,We cannot continue to take water for granted and expect to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.Solutions exist and new technologies are in the pipeline to improve how we manage water for nations, communities and households. But often these solutions are inaccessible for those who need them most, perpetuating inequity within and among countries. 

As with most development challenges, women and girls suffer disproportionately. For example, women and girls in low-income countries spend some 40 billion hours a year collecting water.That is equivalent to the annual effort of the entire workforce of a country like France. The time spent could be much better invested in earning a livelihood or – in the case of girls – attending school. It is time to change how we value and manage water. 

Last week, the High-Level Panel on Water delivered its outcome report, “Making every drop count: An agenda for water action”.Their work is deep, serious and inspiring for us all. 

The United Nations stands ready to help countries to implement the Panel’s recommendations, including by promoting policy dialogue, exchanging best practices, raising awareness and forging partnerships.  Member States have also asked me to prepare an Action Plan for the Water Decade, with the support of UN-Water – which I am determined to strengthen. 

My plan sets forth three core objectives.  

First, to transform our silo-based approach to water supply, sanitation, water management and disaster risk reduction to better tackle water stress, combat climate change and enhance resilience.

Second, to align existing water and sanitation programmes and projects with the 2030 Agenda. 

Third, to generate the political will for strengthened cooperation and partnerships.

I look forward to implementing this plan.The growing water crisis should be much higher on the world’s radar.   

Let us work collectively towards a more sustainable world, and an action-packed Decade of “Water for Sustainable Development”.

Thank you.

Read more...

Message on International Women's Day 2018

We are at a pivotal moment for women’s rights. The historical and structural inequalities that have allowed oppression and discrimination to flourish are being exposed like never before. From Latin America to Europe to Asia, on social media, on film sets, on the factory floor and in the streets, women are calling for lasting change and zero tolerance for sexual assault, harassment, and discrimination of all kinds.

Achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls is the unfinished business of our time, and the greatest human rights challenge in our world.

The activism and advocacy of generations of women has borne fruit. There are more girls in school than ever before; more women are doing paid work and in senior roles in the private sector, academia, politics and in international organizations, including the United Nations. Gender equality is enshrined in countless laws, and harmful practices like female genital mutilation and child marriage have been outlawed in many countries.  

But serious obstacles remain if we are to address the historic power imbalances that underpin discrimination and exploitation.

More than a billion women around the world lack legal protection against domestic sexual violence. The global gender pay gap is 23 per cent, rising to 40 per cent in rural areas, and the unpaid work done by many women goes unrecognized. Women’s representation in national parliaments stands, on average, at less than one quarter, and in boardrooms it is even lower. Without concerted action, millions more girls will be subjected to genital mutilation over the next decade.

Where laws exist, they are often ignored, and women who pursue legal redress are doubted, denigrated and dismissed. We now know that sexual harassment and abuse have been thriving in workplaces, public spaces and private homes, in countries that pride themselves on their record of gender equality.

The United Nations should set an example for the world.

I recognize that this has not always been the case. Since the start of my tenure last year, I have set change in motion at UN headquarters, in our peacekeeping missions and in all our offices worldwide.

We have now reached gender parity for the first time in my senior management team, and I am determined to achieve this throughout the organization. I am totally committed to zero tolerance of sexual harassment and have set out plans to improve reporting and accountability. We are working closely with countries around the world to prevent and address sexual exploitation and abuse by staff in peacekeeping missions, and to support victims.

We at the United Nations stand with women around the world as they fight to overcome the injustices they face – whether they are rural women dealing with wage discrimination, urban women organizing for change, women refugees at risk of exploitation and abuse, or women who experience intersecting forms of discrimination: widows, indigenous women, women with disabilities and women who do not conform to gender norms.

Women’s empowerment is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals means progress for all women, everywhere. The Spotlight initiative launched jointly with the European Union will focus resources on eliminating violence against women and girls, a prerequisite for equality and empowerment. 

Let me be clear: this is not a favour to women. Gender equality is a human rights issue, but it is also in all our interests: men and boys, women and girls. Gender inequality and discrimination against women harms us all.

There is ample evidence that investing in women is the most effective way to lift communities, companies, and even countries. Women’s participation makes peace agreements stronger, societies more resilient and economies more vigorous. Where women face discrimination, we often find practices and beliefs that are detrimental to all. Paternity leave, laws against domestic violence and equal pay legislation benefit everyone.

At this crucial moment for women’s rights, it is time for men to stand with women, listen to them and learn from them. Transparency and accountability are essential if women are to reach their full potential and lift all of us, in our communities, societies and economies.

I am proud to be part of this movement, and I hope it continues to resonate within the United Nations and around the world.

Read more...

UN Chief Op Ed - "We are at a pivotal moment for women’s rights"

We are at a pivotal moment for women’s rights. The historical and structural inequalities that have allowed oppression and discrimination to flourish are being exposed like never before. From Latin America to Europe to Asia, on social media, on film sets, on the factory floor and in the streets, women are calling for lasting change and zero tolerance for sexual assault, harassment, and discrimination of all kinds.

Achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls is the unfinished business of our time, and the greatest human rights challenge in our world.

The activism and advocacy of generations of women has borne fruit. There are more girls in school than ever before; more women are doing paid work and in senior roles in the private sector, academia, politics and in international organizations, including the United Nations. Gender equality is enshrined in countless laws, and harmful practices like female genital mutilation and child marriage have been outlawed in many countries.  

But serious obstacles remain if we are to address the historic power imbalances that underpin discrimination and exploitation.

More than a billion women around the world lack legal protection against domestic sexual violence. The global gender pay gap is 23 per cent, rising to 40 per cent in rural areas, and the unpaid work done by many women goes unrecognized. Women’s representation in national parliaments stands, on average, at less than one quarter, and in boardrooms it is even lower. Without concerted action, millions more girls will be subjected to genital mutilation over the next decade.

Where laws exist, they are often ignored, and women who pursue legal redress are doubted, denigrated and dismissed. We now know that sexual harassment and abuse have been thriving in workplaces, public spaces and private homes, in countries that pride themselves on their record of gender equality.

The United Nations should set an example for the world.

I recognize that this has not always been the case. Since the start of my tenure last year, I have set change in motion at UN headquarters, in our peacekeeping missions and in all our offices worldwide.

We have now reached gender parity for the first time in my senior management team, and I am determined to achieve this throughout the organization. I am totally committed to zero tolerance of sexual harassment and have set out plans to improve reporting and accountability. We are working closely with countries around the world to prevent and address sexual exploitation and abuse by staff in peacekeeping missions, and to support victims.

We at the United Nations stand with women around the world as they fight to overcome the injustices they face – whether they are rural women dealing with wage discrimination, urban women organizing for change, women refugees at risk of exploitation and abuse, or women who experience intersecting forms of discrimination: widows, indigenous women, women with disabilities and women who do not conform to gender norms.

Women’s empowerment is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals means progress for all women, everywhere. The Spotlight initiative launched jointly with the European Union will focus resources on eliminating violence against women and girls, a prerequisite for equality and empowerment. 

Let me be clear: this is not a favour to women. Gender equality is a human rights issue, but it is also in all our interests: men and boys, women and girls. Gender inequality and discrimination against women harms us all.

There is ample evidence that investing in women is the most effective way to lift communities, companies, and even countries. Women’s participation makes peace agreements stronger, societies more resilient and economies more vigorous. Where women face discrimination, we often find practices and beliefs that are detrimental to all. Paternity leave, laws against domestic violence and equal pay legislation benefit everyone.

At this crucial moment for women’s rights, it is time for men to stand with women, listen to them and learn from them. Transparency and accountability are essential if women are to reach their full potential and lift all of us, in our communities, societies and economies.

I am proud to be part of this movement, and I hope it continues to resonate within the United Nations and around the world.

Read more...

UN chief issues 'red alert,' urges world to come together in 2018 to tackle pressing challenges

In his message on the New Year, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres is called for unity among the global community to tackle overwhelming challenges and defend values shared by all.

“On New Year's Day 2018, I am not issuing an appeal. I am issuing an alert – a red alert for our world,”

said the Secretary-General.“As we begin 2018, I call for unity. […] We can settle conflicts, overcome hatred and defend shared values.But we can only do that together,” he expressed. Recalling that last year he urged that 2017 be a year for peace, the UN chief noted that unfortunately – in fundamental ways, the world went in reverse.Perils, including deepening conflicts and new dangers emerged, and global concerns over nuclear weapons reached the highest since the Cold War, he added.

At the same time, impacts of climate change worsened at an alarming rate, inequalities grew and there were horrific violations of human rights.“Nationalism and xenophobia are on the rise,” said Mr. Guterres.Underscoring his belief that the world can be made more safe and secure, conflicts can be settled, hatred can be overcome and shared values defended, he emphasized that unity is indispensable to achieving these goals.“Unity is the path.

Our future depends on it,” said the Secretary-General, urging leaders everywhere to resolve in the New Year to: “Narrow the gaps. Bridge the divides. Rebuild trust by bringing people together around common goals.”

[ originally posted on UN News Centre ] 


 Full text of the message

Dear friends around the world, Happy New Year.

When I took office one year ago, I appealed for 2017 to be a year for peace.

Unfortunately – in fundamental ways, the world has gone in reverse.

On New Year’s Day 2018, I am not issuing an appeal. I am issuing an alert -- a red alert for our world. Conflicts have deepened and new dangers have emerged. Global anxieties about nuclear weapons are the highest since the Cold War.

Climate change is moving faster than we are. Inequalities are growing. We see horrific violations of human rights. Nationalism and xenophobia are on the rise.

As we begin 2018, I call for unity. I truly believe we can make our world more safe and secure. We can settle conflicts, overcome hatred and defend shared values. But we can only do that together.

I urge leaders everywhere to make this New Year’s resolution: Narrow the gaps. Bridge the divides. Rebuild trust by bringing people together around common goals.

Unity is the path. Our future depends on it.

I wish you peace and health in 2018.

Thank you. Shokran. Xie Xie. Merci. Spasiba. Gracias. Obrigado.

Read more...

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL REMARKS AT HUMAN RIGHTS DAY EVENT New York, 11 December 2017

I am very pleased to be with you today to begin a year-long celebration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Over seven decades, this mighty document has helped to profoundly change our world.

It establishes the equality and dignity of every human being.  

It stipulates that every government has a duty to enable all people to enjoy their inalienable rights and freedoms.

And it establishes that these rights are universal.

Wherever we live, whatever our circumstances or our place in society, our gender or sexual orientation, our race or religion or belief, we are all equal in human rights and in dignity.

Let me emphasise this point: human rights are not bound by any single tradition, culture or belief.

When the world’s nations adopted the Universal Declaration in 1948, they acknowledged the diversity of cultures and political systems.

But they also affirmed the Declaration as a “common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations”.

And it is by this essential yardstick that history will judge the leaders of nations and the United Nations itself.

Have we, through our actions and our advocacy, advanced respect for human dignity, equality and rights?

Have we created equitable and inclusive societies, based on justice and fair opportunities and services for all?

Have we advanced freedom from want and fear?

As the Universal Declaration of Human Rights enters its 70th year, we can take stock of some of the achievements it has enabled.

Over seven decades, humanity has achieved considerable progress.

People around the world have gained progressively greater freedoms and equality.

They have been empowered to oppose discrimination, fight for protections, and gain greater access to justice, health, education and development opportunities.

Conditions of profound economic misery and exploitation have been improved.

Women’s rights have advanced, along with the rights of the child, the rights of victims of racial and religious discrimination, the rights of people with disabilities and a multitude of economic, social and cultural rights.

Oppressive dictatorships have been replaced by participatory systems of governance.

Perpetrators of horrific human rights violations – including sexual violence and genocide – have been prosecuted by international tribunals.

So, there is much to celebrate, and many to thank.

We have to thank a generation of world leaders, who emerged from a world war convinced that only justice would build peace among and within nations.

And we have to thank activists and human rights defenders – hundreds of thousands of ordinary people around the world who have mobilized to defend fundamental rights with immense courage, often in the face of extreme danger.

But as well as celebrating, we must also take stock of where we have fallen short.

In practice, recognition of the inherent dignity and equal rights of human beings is still far from universal.

Millions of people continue to suffer human rights violations and abuses around the world.

And human rights defenders still face persecution, reprisals are rising and the space for civil society action is shrinking in very many nations.  

But the founders of the United Nations were right.

Lasting peace and security can never be achieved in any country without respect for human rights.

The Sustainable Development Agenda – which aims to lift millions from poverty and enable them to access their economic and social rights -- is deeply rooted in respect for human rights.

So, Excellencies and ladies and gentlemen, we are here today not just to mark another anniversary and then go about our usual business.

We are here to reflect on the core and enduring importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to engage those around us to put its powerful words into practice.

We are here to affirm the existential commitment of the whole UN system to ensure that the central focus of all our policies is the advancement of human dignity, equality and rights.

And we are here to speak out and take a stand for human rights.

All of us have a role to play -- at work, in the street, in our daily lives.

As Secretary-General, I take the pledge that we are all being asked to take today by the UN Human Rights Office – the pledge is the following:

“I will respect your rights regardless of who you are.

I will uphold your rights even when I disagree with you.

When anyone’s human rights are denied, everyone’s rights are undermined, so I will stand up.

I will raise my voice.  I will take action.  I will use my rights to stand up for your rights.”

As Secretary-General, I am committed and will remain engaged in human rights, including by speaking out for those in need, promoting justice for all, and by ensuring that human rights are integrated throughout the work of the United Nations.

This is the path to a world of peace, dignity and opportunity for all.

Thank you very much.

Read more...

Message on International Women's Day 2017

The Secretary-General

Written message on International Women’s Day

New York, 8 March 2017

Women’s rights are human rights. But in these troubled times, as our world becomes more unpredictable and chaotic, the rights of women and girls are being reduced, restricted and reversed.

Empowering women and girls is the only way to protect their rights and make sure they can realize their full potential.

Historic imbalances in power relations between men and women, exacerbated by growing inequalities within and between societies and countries, are leading to greater discrimination against women and girls. Around the world, tradition, cultural values and religion are being misused to curtail women’s rights, to entrench sexism and defend misogynistic practices.

Women’s legal rights, which have never been equal to men’s on any continent, are being eroded further. Women’s rights over their own bodies are questioned and undermined.  Women are routinely targeted for intimidation and harassment in cyberspace and in real life. In the worst cases, extremists and terrorists build their ideologies around the subjugation of women and girls and single them out for sexual and gender-based violence, forced marriage and virtual enslavement.

Despite some improvements, leadership positions across the board are still held by men, and the economic gender gap is widening, thanks to outdated attitudes and entrenched male chauvinism. We must change this, by empowering women at all levels, enabling their voices to be heard and giving them control over their own lives and over the future of our world.

Denying the rights of women and girls is not only wrong in itself; it has a serious social and economic impact that holds us all back. Gender equality has a transformative effect that is essential to fully functioning communities, societies and economies.   

Women’s access to education and health services has benefits for their families and communities that extend to future generations. An extra year in school can add up to 25 per cent to a girl’s future income.

When women participate fully in the labour force, it creates opportunities and generates growth. Closing the gender gap in employment could add $12 trillion to global GDP by 2025. Increasing the proportion of women in public institutions makes them more representative, increases innovation, improves decision-making and benefits whole societies.

Gender equality is central to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the global plan agreed by leaders of all countries to meet the challenges we face. Sustainable Development Goal 5 calls specifically for gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, and this is central to the achievement of all the 17 SDGs. 

I am committed to increasing women’s participation in our peace and security work. Women negotiators increase the chances of sustainable peace, and women peacekeepers decrease the chances of sexual exploitation and abuse.

Within the UN, I am establishing a clear road map with benchmarks to achieve gender parity across the system, so that our Organization truly represents the people we serve.  Previous targets have not been met. Now we must move from ambition to action.

On International Women’s Day, let us all pledge to do everything we can to overcome entrenched prejudice, support engagement and activism, and promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. 

Read more...

Message on the International Day in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust

MESSAGE

ON THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF COMMEMORATION

IN MEMORY OF THE VICTIMS OF THE HOLOCAUST

27 January 2017

 

Today, we honour the victims of the Holocaust, an incomparable tragedy in human history.  

The world has a duty to remember that the Holocaust was a systematic attempt to eliminate the Jewish people and so many others.

 It would be a dangerous error to think of the Holocaust as simply the result of the insanity of a group of criminal Nazis.  On the contrary, the Holocaust was the culmination of millennia of hatred, scapegoating and discrimination targeting the Jews, what we now call anti-Semitism.

Tragically, and contrary to our resolve, anti-Semitism continues to thrive.  We are also seeing a deeply troubling rise in extremism, xenophobia, racism and anti-Muslim hatred.  Irrationality and intolerance are back. 

 This is in complete contrast to the universal values enshrined in the United Nations Charter and Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

 

We can never remain silent or indifferent when human beings are suffering. 

We must always defend the vulnerable and bring tormentors to justice. 

And as the theme of this year’s observance highlights, a better future depends on education.

 

After the horrors of the 20th century, there should be no room for intolerance in the 21st.  I guarantee you that as Secretary-General of the United Nations, I will be in the frontline of the battle against anti-Semitism and all other forms of hatred.

 

Let us build a future of dignity and equality for all – and thus honour the victims of the Holocaust who we will never allow to be forgotten. 

Read more...

Message on International Day for Persons with Disbilities

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

MESSAGE ON The International Day of Persons with Disabilities

3 December 2016

Ten years ago this month, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  One of the most widely ratified international human rights instruments, with 169 Parties, the Convention has spurred significant progress in commitment and action for equality, inclusion and empowerment around the world, with disability being increasingly incorporated into the global human rights and development agendas. 

This year, United Nations Member States have embarked on implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, our blueprint for peace, prosperity, dignity and opportunity for all on a healthy planet.  With its 17 interdependent Sustainable Development Goals, the 2030 Agenda is based on a pledge to leave no one behind.  Achieving this requires the full inclusion and effective participation of persons with disabilities in society and development.

Much remains to be accomplished before persons with disabilities can realize their full potential as equal and valued members of society.  We must eliminate the stereotypes and discrimination that perpetuate their exclusion and build an accessible, enabling and inclusive environment for all.  For the 2030 Agenda to succeed, we must include persons with disabilities in implementation and monitoring and use the Convention as a guide. 

On this International Day of Persons with Disabilities, I urge national and local governments, businesses and all actors in society to intensify efforts to end discrimination and remove the environmental and attitudinal obstacles that prevent persons with disabilities from enjoying their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.  Let us work together for the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in an inclusive and sustainable world that embraces humanity in all its diversity.

Read more...
Subscribe to this RSS feed

Contact

Email: unic.portofspain@unic.org 

Telephone: 1(868) 623 8438 or 623 4813

Fax: 1 (868) 623 4332 

Address: 

2nd Floor Bretton Hall, 16 Victoria Avenue, 

Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

 

 

 

Feature photos

  • UNESCO aspnetshot
  • aspnetyouth
  • RUBÉNUNCARES
  • sat18 04
  • UNESCO(National Commission) hosts ASPNET workshop at the UNIC
  • Students from the ASPnet programme connected who participated in gender based violence dialogue
  • UNIC UN Cares Trainer gets his certificate
  • Faces of Rotary (Central PoS) MUN 2017