Category Archives: Statements from the UN Secretary-General

UN Secretary-General’s Message on the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, 16 September 2018

This has been a year of record-breaking heat around the world. It is also a pivotal time for climate action.

As we address this threat, we can draw inspiration from the Montreal Protocol, a shining example of how the world can come together for people and planet.

When science showed us that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other substances were tearing a hole in the ozone layer that protects all life on earth, the world responded with determination and foresight by banning them.  Thanks to this global commitment, the ozone layer is expected to return to its 1980 levels by mid-century.

However, this work is not yet done.

The landmark Kigali Amendment, which enters into force on 1 January 2019, sets its sights on hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), powerful climate-warming gases still used in cooling systems.

So far, 46 countries have ratified this new instrument; I call on all others to follow suit and show their commitment to a healthier planet. I expect countries to demonstrate significant progress in implementing the Kigali Amendment at the Climate Summit I am convening in September 2019.

For over three decades, the Montreal Protocol has done much more than shrink the ozone hole; it has shown us how environmental governance can respond to science, and how countries can come together to address a shared vulnerability.

I call for that same spirit of common cause and, especially, greater leadership as we strive to implement the Paris Agreement on climate change and mobilize the ambitious climate action we so urgently need at this time.

[Ends]

UN Secretary-General’s Remarks at Funeral of Kofi Annan

Accra, Ghana, 13 September 2018

[As delivered]

To Nane Annan and the Annan Family,  

To Kofi Annan’s larger family, starting with you, President Akufo-Addo and the people of his beloved Ghana, and extending to every corner of the globe, 

To the many members of the United Nations community who grieve the passing of one of our own.

Since the shock of Kofi’s death, I have been reflecting on what made him so special.

To my mind, it is simply this:   

Kofi Annan was both one-of-a-kind and one of us. 

Portrait of Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
27 June 1999
Oxford, England

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UN Secretary-General’s Remarks on Climate Change

New York, 10 September 2018

Dear friends of planet Earth,

Thank you for coming to the UN Headquarters today.

I have asked you here to sound the alarm.

Climate change is the defining issue of our time – and we are at a defining moment.

We face a direct existential threat.

Climate change is moving faster than we are – and its speed has provoked a sonic boom SOS across our world.

If we do not change course by 2020, we risk missing the point where we can avoid runaway climate change, with disastrous consequences for people and all the natural systems that sustain us.

That is why, today, I am appealing for leadership – from politicians, from business and scientists, and from the public everywhere.

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UN Secretary-General’s Message on the International Day of Democracy, 15 September 2018

Democracy is showing greater strain than at any time in decades. That is why this International Day should make us look for ways to invigorate democracy and seek answers for the systemic challenges it faces.

This means tackling inequality, both economic and political.  It means making our democracies more inclusive, by bringing the young and marginalized into the political system.  It means making democracies more innovative and responsive to emerging challenges.

Working for a future that leaves no one behind requires us to consider essential pressing questions.  For example, what impact will migration or climate change have on democracy in the next generation?  How do we best harness the potential of new technologies while avoiding the dangers? How do build better governance so that democracy delivers better lives and fully meets the public’s aspirations?

On this International Day of Democracy, let us commit to joining forces for the future of democracy.

[Ends]

UN Secretary-General’s Message on the International Day Against Nuclear Tests, 29 August 2018

The history of nuclear testing is one of suffering, with the victims of more than 2,000 nuclear tests often from the most vulnerable communities around of the world.  The devastating consequences – which were not confined by international borders — encompassed impacts on the environment, health, food security and economic development.

Since the end of the Cold War, a robust norm has developed against nuclear testing, violated by only one State this century.  The strength of that norm has been validated by the international community’s overwhelming condemnation of each violation.

Nevertheless, the restraint displayed through voluntary moratoria cannot replace a global, legally-binding ban on nuclear-testing.  The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty has an essential role within the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime.  It fosters international peace and security by constraining the development of nuclear weapons.  Our collective security demands that every effort should be made to bring this essential treaty into force.

[END]

UN Secretary-General’s Message on World Humanitarian Day, 19 August 2018

We mark World Humanitarian Day every year on 19 August, to express solidarity with people affected by humanitarian crises and pay tribute to the humanitarian workers who help them.

This year’s commemoration marks the fifteenth anniversary since the attack on the United Nations in Baghdad, Iraq, in which 22 of our colleagues were killed. Since that tragedy, which led to this day’s designation as World Humanitarian Day, over 4,000 aid workers have been killed, injured, detained or kidnapped. That is an average of 300 fellow humanitarians killed, detained or injured every year.

Civilians in conflict zones also continue to be killed and maimed, deliberately or in indiscriminate attacks. Last year, the United Nations recorded the deaths or injuries of more than 26,000 civilians in attacks in just six countries: Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Somalia and Yemen.

Around the world, conflict is forcing record numbers of people from their homes, with over 65 million people now displaced. Children are recruited by armed groups and used to fight. Women are abused and humiliated. As humanitarian workers deliver aid and medical workers provide for those in need, they are all too often targeted or treated as threats.

On World Humanitarian Day, I call on global leaders to do everything in their power to protect people caught up in conflict.

And I call on all who are concerned to join our campaign at worldhumanitarianday.org to show that civilians are #NotATarget.

Together, we stand in solidarity with civilians in conflict, and with the humanitarian workers who risk their lives to help them.

[Ends]

UN Secretary-General’s Message on the First International Day of Remembrance of, and tribute to, the Victims of Terrorism, 21 August 2018

Terrorism is one of the most challenging issues of our time and a serious threat to international peace and security. From Tajikistan to the United Kingdom, from Baghdad to Barcelona, these ruthless attacks have shaken us all to the core.  No country can consider itself immune, with almost every nationality in the world falling victim to terrorist attacks.

The United Nations itself is regularly targeted. Twenty-two people lost their lives in the attack on the headquarters of the United Nations mission in Iraq, which took place 15 years ago this week. Some of our peacekeeping missions are under constant threat.

But after terrorist attacks, we rarely hear about those who were killed and injured; the ordinary women, men, girls and boys, who were going about their daily business when their lives ended or were changed forever.  We rarely hear about their surviving families, friends and communities, who must learn to live with the burden of terrorism for their entire lives.

Today, the International day of Remembrance of, and Tribute to, the victims of terrorism, reminds us to stop and listen to the victims and survivors of terrorism, to raise up their voices and recognize the impact terrorism has on their lives.

We can all learn from their experiences. Communities around the world are demonstrating their resilience in response to terrorist attacks. They are countering terrorism and violent extremism in their everyday lives, in their schools, markets and places of worship.

Supporting victims and their families is a moral imperative, based on promoting, protecting and respecting their human rights. Caring for victims and survivors and amplifying their voices helps to challenge the narrative of hatred and division that terrorism aims to spread. We need to provide victims with long-term assistance, including financial, legal, medical and psychosocial support.

When we lift up the victims and survivors of terrorism, listen to their voices, respect their rights and provide them with support and justice, we are honouring our common bonds, and reducing the lasting damage done by terrorists to individuals, families and communities.

I thank those who are willing to speak out against terrorism every day. Your voices matter, and your courage in the face of adversity is a lesson to us all.

Today and every day, the United Nations stands in solidarity with you.

[Ends]

UN Secretary-General’s Remarks on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

20 March 2018

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination commemorates the Sharpeville massacre — the horrific killing of 69 people peacefully demonstrating against apartheid in South Africa.

The apartheid regime was based on institutionalized racial discrimination.

It was ultimately – and thankfully – consigned to history on the release from prison and accession to the presidency of Nelson Mandela, whose centennial we mark this year.

The memory of Sharpeville lives on in this annual UN observance, when we reaffirm our unequivocal rejection of all forms of racism, xenophobia and intolerance.

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UN Secretary-General’s Message for World Radio Day, 13 February

Radio reaches the widest audience in the world.

In an era of dramatic advances in communications, radio retains its power to entertain, educate, inform and inspire.

It can unite and empower communities, and give voice to the marginalized.

This year, with the Winter Olympics now under way, we also recognize the many ways in which sports broadcasting brings people together around excitement and achievement.

On World Radio Day, let us celebrate both radio and sports as ways of helping people achieve their full potential.

 

UN Secretary-General’s Message for International Day of Women and Girls in Science, 11 February

Both girls and boys have the potential to pursue their ambitions in science and mathematics, in school and at work.

But systemic discrimination means women occupy less than 30 percent of research and development jobs worldwide.

We need concerted, concrete efforts to overcome stereotypes and biases.

One starting point is banishing the predominantly male images of scientists and innovators on social media, in textbooks and in advertising.

We need to encourage and support girls and women achieve their full potential as scientific researchers and innovators.

Women and girls need this, and the world needs this, if we are to achieve our ambitions for sustainable development on a healthy planet.

Throughout history, from Hildegard of Bingen to Wangari Maathai, women scientists have built our world.

It’s time to support and invest in them.