Global attitudes towards corruption have changed dramatically. Where once bribery, corruption and illicit financial flows were often considered part of the cost of doing business, today corruption is widely — and rightly — understood as criminal and corrosive. The new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, our plan to end poverty and ensure lives of dignity for all, recognizes the need to fight corruption in all its aspects and calls for significant reductions in illicit financial flows as well as for the recovery of stolen assets.
Corruption has disastrous impacts on development when funds that should be devoted to schools, health clinics and other vital public services are instead diverted into the hands of criminals or dishonest officials.
Corruption exacerbates violence and insecurity. It can lead to dissatisfaction with public institutions, disillusion with government in general, and spirals of anger and unrest.
The United Nations Convention against Corruption provides a comprehensive platform for governments, non-governmental organizations, civil society, and individual citizens. Through prevention, criminalization, international cooperation and assets recovery, the Convention advances global progress toward ending corruption.
On International Anti-Corruption Day, I call for united efforts to deliver a clear message around the world that firmly rejects corruption and embraces instead the principles of transparency, accountability and good governance. This will benefit communities and countries, helping to usher in a better future for all.
UN70: Strong UN. Better World
Manila, 23 October 2015 – ‘Strong UN. Better World.” is the global theme as the United Nations (UN) marks its 70th anniversary on 24 October 2015. The UN Philippines in collaboration with the Government of the Philippines is holding a series of activities to celebrate seven decades of partnership.
“The year 2015 is momentous for the United Nations. The development agenda for the coming 15 years has just been agreed by Member States – including the Philippines – the 2030 Agenda encapsulated in the shape of Sustainable Development Goals or the Global Goals,” UN Philippines Resident Coordinator Ola Almgren said today in his welcome remarks in a Department of Foreign Affairs and UN joint event held at the SM Mall of Asia to celebrate UN70. The event was joined by senior Government and UN officials, diplomats and dignitaries, partners and the media.
Not since the end of the Second World War have so many people been forced from their homes across the planet. With nearly 60 million individuals having fled conflict or disaster, women and adolescent girls are particularly vulnerable. Violent extremists and armed groups are committing terrible abuses that result in trauma, unintended pregnancy and infection with HIV and other diseases. Shame and accountability rest squarely on the shoulders of the perpetrators who wage cowardly battles across the bodies of innocents.
These women are far from just victims. They have hopes, plans and the potential to make important contributions to our common future. We must staunchly protect women’s health, including their sexual and reproductive health, and address their needs as a priority in emergency relief operations. At the same time, we must continuously advance women’s human rights in times of both turmoil and calm in order to enable them to help avert conflict, stand strong should it strike, and foster the healing that is so badly needed in war-torn societies.
As the United Nations marks its 70th anniversary this year, let us take strength from our founding mission to give hope and support to the most vulnerable. On this World Population Day, I urge countries to commit to bold results that will make 2015 a time of global action, putting people first so that they help build resilience, peace and sustainable prosperity for generations to come.
The rise of violent extremism and unprecedented levels of forced displacement in our world demand a comprehensive response – and no aspect is more urgent than assisting the many victims of rising levels of torture that these and related trends generate.
The world is rightly shocked and horrified by the treatment of innocent civilians, especially women, at the hands of violent extremists. At the same time, record numbers of people fleeing their homes risk a perilous journey that is often marred by grave violations of human rights, including torture.
Creating a world with greater equality for generations to come is the defining challenge of our times. This is especially urgent for women, who often experience multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination. Their age, income, ethnicity, disabilities and other factors can put women at greater risk of injustice.
Widows are particularly vulnerable. Many are aging and may not have worked outside of the home. The death of their partner can leave them in precarious living conditions, particularly in areas of conflict, natural disaster and humanitarian crisis.
Today we celebrate the dedication of public servants everywhere. We salute their tireless efforts to provide efficient and inclusive services that are available to all.
The world faces enormous social, economic and environmental challenges. Ensuring that our public services are accountable and that our public servants are fully able to rise to the moment is vital.
On this World Refugee Day, let us remember the plight of the millions of people worldwide who have been forced to flee their homes as a result of conflict and persecution. At the end of 2014, 59.5 million persons – the highest number on record – were forcibly displaced around the globe. This means that one in every 122 human beings today is either a refugee, internally displaced or seeking asylum.
The ongoing conflict in Syria, as well as crises in Iraq, Ukraine, South Sudan, Central African Republic, northeastern Nigeria and parts of Pakistan, have led to a staggering growth and acceleration of global forced displacement. In 2014, 42,500 people became refugees, asylum seekers or internally displaced every single day – a rate that has quadrupled in only four years. At the same time, many long-standing conflicts remained unresolved, and the number of refugees who were able to return home last year was the lowest in over three decades. Protracted asylum situations now last for an average of 25 years.
“Invest in healthy soils”
Land degradation and desertification undercut human rights, starting with the right to food. Nearly 1 billion people lack adequate nutrition, and those living off degraded areas are among the most affected. Their situation could worsen if land degradation, as projected, reduces global food production by 12 per cent by 2035.
Food security is also impacted by the decline in water resources. Due to land degradation there is less water and snow being stored in the ground. In 10 years, two out of every three people in the world could be living under stressed water conditions.
On this Day of Vesak, I extend special greetings to the victims of the earthquake in Nepal, a country that was instrumental in leading the United Nations General Assembly to designate this observance. I hope that the Nepalese people observing this holiday amid the rubble are able to take some measure of comfort from its message of human solidarity.
The spirit of Vesak can help to animate a global response to the challenges of our day. As the United Nations works for the adoption this year of a set of new sustainable development goals and a meaningful new agreement on climate change, we would do well to heed the Buddhist teaching that life and the environment are essentially one. And the Lord Buddha’s observation that all peoples are interconnected reminds us of the importance of uniting as one human family resolved to address our shared struggles based on common values.