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Secretary-General's Messages

Secretary-General's Messages (9)

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.

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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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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Message on World AIDS Day 2016

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

MESSAGE ON WORLD AIDS DAY

1 December 2016

 

Thirty-five years since the emergence of AIDS, the international community can look back with some pride but we must also look ahead with resolve and commitment to reach our goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

 

There has been real progress in tackling the the disease. More people than ever are on treatment. Since 2010, the number of children infected through mother-to-child transmission has dropped by half. Fewer people die of AIDS-related causes each year. And people living with HIV are living longer lives.

 

            The number of people with access to life-saving medicines has doubled over the past five years, now topping 18 million. With the right investments, the world can get on the fast-track to achieve our target of 30 million people on treatment by 2030. Access to HIV medicines to prevent mother-to-child transmission is now available to more than 75 percent of those in need.

 

While there is clear progress, gains remain fragile. Young women are especially vulnerable in countries with high HIV prevalence, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. Key populations continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV. New infections are on the rise among people who inject drugs as well gay men and other men who have sex with men. The AIDS epidemic is increasing in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, fuelled by stigma, discrimination and punitive laws. Globally, people who are economically disadvantaged lack access to services and care. Criminalization and discrimination foster new infections each day. Women and girls are still especially hard hit.

 

            The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted with a promise to leave no one behind. Nowhere is this more important than in tackling AIDS. Supporting young, vulnerable and marginalized people will change the course of the epidemic. The UNAIDS strategic framework is aligned with the SDGs, which highlight how the work against HIV is linked to progress in education, peace, gender equality and human rights. I am proud to see how the United Nations and UNAIDS, under the leadership of Michel Sidibé, are committed to finding new and better approaches to end this epidemic. 

 

During its first decade, affected groups refused to accept inaction, mediocrity and weakness in the AIDS response. Their courage drove progress on securing women and children’s health, lowering the costs of lifesaving drugs and giving voice to the voiceless. We must all join together in that same uncompromising spirit. On World AIDS Day, I salute the tireless effort of leaders, civil society, colleagues in the UN and the private sector to advance this cause.

 

As I prepare to complete my tenure as Secretary-General, I issue a strong call to all: let us recommit, together, to realizing our vision of a world free of AIDS.

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International Day to End Violence Against Women and Girls

UN Secretary-General's Message for the International Day

to End Violence against Women and Girls

25 November 2016

 

At long last, there is growing global recognition that violence against women and girls is a human rights violation, public health pandemic and serious obstacle to sustainable development.  Yet there is still much more we can and must do to turn this awareness into meaningful prevention and response.

 Violence against women and girls imposes large-scale costs on families, communities and economies.  When women cannot work as a result of violence, their employment may be put at risk, jeopardizing much-needed income, autonomy and their ability to leave abusive relationships.  Violence against women also results in lost productivity for businesses, and drains resources from social services, the justice system and health-care agencies. Domestic and intimate partner violence remains widespread, compounded by impunity for those crimes.  The net result is enormous suffering as well as the exclusion of women from playing their full and rightful roles in society.

 The world cannot afford to pay this price. Women and girls cannot afford it – and should not have to.  Yet such violence persists every day, around the world.  And efforts to address this challenge, although rich in political commitment, are chronically under-funded.

 Since 2008, I have led the UNiTE campaign to End Violence against Women, which calls for global action to increase resources and promote solutions.  I call on governments to show their commitment by dramatically increasing national spending in all relevant areas, including in support of women’s movements and civil society organizations.  I also encourage world leaders to contribute to UN Women and to the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence against Women.  We look as well to the private sector, philanthropies and concerned citizens to do their part.

 Today, we are seeing the world lit up in orange, symbolizing a bright future for women and girls. With dedicated investment, we can keep these lights shining, uphold human rights and eliminate violence against women and girls for good.

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Remarks at event marking the International Day to End Violence against Women and Girls:

The Secretary-General

Remarks at event marking the International Day to End Violence against Women and Girls:

“Orange the World: Raise Money to End Violence Against Women”
New York, 21 November 2016

 


It is a great pleasure to join you today.

Since this will be my last observance of this Day, Orange Day, as Secretary-General, I want to thank all of you for a decade of remarkable global activism towards ending violence against women and girls. I will try to participate in Korea and I will be with you in spirit, in the future. 

You have defended the vulnerable and fought impunity.  The United Nations and I, personally, have stood with you.  

This is truly a matter of life and death.  In some countries, as many as 70 per cent of women report having experienced physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner.  In some countries, intimate partner violence accounts for between 40 and 70 per cent of female murder victims.

The statistics almost defy belief.  What is even harder to understand is why: Why, why men prey on women and girls. Why societies shame the victims.  Why governments fail to punish deadly crimes.  Why the world denies itself the fruits of women’s full participation.

The world cannot afford to pay this price. Women and girls cannot afford it – and should not have to.   

I have tried to put the full UN machinery behind our efforts to rid the world of violence against women and girls, including through UN Women, the Unite campaign, the Network of Men Leaders, and my own constant advocacy.

At long last, we are seeing a growing global recognition that violence against women and girls is a human rights violation, public health pandemic and serious obstacle to sustainable development. 

Yet there is still much more we can and must do to turn this awareness into meaningful prevention and action.

These efforts are chronically under-funded.  I call on governments to show their commitment by dramatically increasing national spending in all relevant areas, including in support of women’s movements and civil society organizations.  I also encourage world leaders to contribute to UN Women and to the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence against Women.  We look as well to the private sector, philanthropies and concerned citizens to do their part. 

I have seen much horror during the past ten years.  But I have also seen great heroism and resilience -- by women risking their lives in the fight for human rights, and by girls reclaiming their lives following unspeakable attacks.

Some of the most impactful and inspiring moments of my entire term as Secretary-General occurred in the context of our struggle for women’s empowerment.  I will never forget my conversations with girls and women at the HEAL Africa hospital in Goma, DRC.  And I will always remember my meetings with one of the world’s great advocates, Malala Yusafzai. 

I thank everyone who has joined to support this vital cause, including you here in this room.  

Today, we are seeing the world lit up in orange, symbolizing a bright future for women and girls. With investments and political will, we can keep these lights shining for good.

Thank you very much.

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International Day of the Girl Child 2016

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

--

MESSAGE ON INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE GIRL

 

11 October 2016

 

The theme of this year’s International Day of the Girl is based on the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals. The slogan is: Girls’ Progress equals Goals’ Progress: What Counts for Girls.

The wellbeing, human rights and empowerment of the world’s 1.1 billion girls are central to achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. When we agreed on that agenda, we promised girls quality education and health services.

We committed to ending discrimination and violence against girls, and harmful practices like child marriage. We pledged to leave no one behind.

Too often, in villages, shanty towns and refugee camps around the world, girls are the ones left behind: without nutritious food, healthcare or quality education, and at risk of sexual violence. 

Investing in girls is both the right thing to do, and the smart thing to do. It has a powerful ripple effect across all areas of development, and reaches forward to future generations.

But what cannot be measured cannot be managed. If we do not gather the data we need, we will never know if we are delivering on our promises.

We need to make sure that our initiatives are reaching all girls: girls in extreme poverty; girls in isolated rural areas; girls living with disabilities; girls in indigenous communities; girls who are refugees or displaced within their own countries.

Timely, high-quality data is vital so that we know where we are meeting our promises, and where we are falling behind.

Let us all work hard to make sure we count all girls, because all girls count.

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