Category Archives: Statements from the UN Secretary-General

UN Secretary-General’s Message on the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, 2 November 2019

Freedom of expression and free media are essential to fostering understanding, bolstering democracy and advancing our efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

In recent years, however, there has been a rise in the scale and number of attacks against the physical safety of journalists and media workers, and of incidents infringing upon their ability to do their vital work, including threats of prosecution, arrest, imprisonment, denial of journalistic access and failures to investigate and prosecute crimes against them.

The proportion of women among fatalities has also risen, and women journalists increasingly face gendered forms of violence, such as sexual harassment, sexual assault and threats.

When journalists are targeted, societies as a whole pay a price.  Without the ability to protect journalists, our ability to remain informed and contribute to decision-making is severely hampered.  Without journalists able to do their jobs in safety, we face the prospect of a world of confusion and disinformation.

On this International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, let us stand up together for journalists, for truth and for justice.

[Ends]

 

UN Secretary-General’s Message on World Cities Day, 31 October 2019

More than half the world’s population now lives in urban areas. By 2050, two thirds will do so. Much of what will be needed to house and serve this increasingly urban world has yet to be constructed, and even some new cities will need to be built. This brings enormous opportunities to develop and implement solutions that can address the climate crisis and pave the way toward a sustainable future.

Cities consume more than two-thirds of the world’s energy, and account for more than 70 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions. The choices that will be made on urban infrastructure in the coming decades – on urban planning, energy efficiency, power generation and transport – will have decisive influence on the emissions curve. Indeed, cities are where the climate battle will largely be won or lost.

But in addition to their enormous climate footprint, cities generate more than 80 per cent of global gross domestic product and, as centers of education and entrepreneurship, they are hubs of innovation and creativity, with young people often taking the lead.

From electric public transport to renewable energy and better waste management, many of the answers needed for the transition to a sustainable, low-emission future are already available. Cities around the world are turning them into a reality.  It is encouraging to see this happening, but we need this vision to become the new norm. Now is the time for ambitious action.

World Cities Day comes at the end of “urban October”, a month dedicated to raising awareness on urban challenges, successes and sustainability. As we conclude this period, let us commit to embracing innovation to ensure a better life for future generations and chart a path towards sustainable, inclusive urban development that benefits all.

[Ends]

UN Secretary-General’s Message on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, 17 October 2019

Ending extreme poverty is at the heart of the world’s efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and build a sustainable future for all.  But success in leaving no one behind will remain elusive if we do not target the people who are farthest behind first.

This year’s observance focuses on “acting together to empower children, their families and communities to end poverty”, as we mark the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Children are more than twice as likely to live in extreme poverty than adults.  Poverty condemns many children to lifelong disadvantage and perpetuates an intergenerational transfer of deprivation.  Today’s children will also live with the devastating consequences of climate change if we fail to raise ambition now.

From conflict zones to cyberspace, from forced labour to sexual exploitation, girls are at particular risk, but they are also a force for change. For every additional year a girl remains in school, her average income over a lifetime increases, her chances of being married early decrease, and there are clear health and education benefits for her children, making it a key factor in breaking the cycle of poverty.

One of the keys to ending child poverty is addressing poverty in the household, from which it often stems. Access to quality social services must be a priority, yet today, almost two-thirds of children lack social protection coverage.  Family-oriented policies are also indispensable, including flexible working arrangements, parental leave and childcare support.

On this International Day, let us recommit to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 1 and a fair globalization that works for all children, their families and communities. [Ends]

UN Secretary-General’s Message on the International Day of Rural Women, 15 October 2019

Rural women represent the backbone of many communities, but they continue to face obstacles that prevent them from realizing their potential. The devastating impacts of climate change add to their hardship.

Almost a third of women’s employment worldwide is in agriculture. Women cultivate land, collect food, water and essential fuels, and sustain entire households, but lack equal access to land, finances, equipment, markets and decision-making power.

Climate change exacerbates these inequalities, leaving rural women and girls further behind. A quarter of the total damage and loss resulting from climate-related disasters between 2006 and 2016 was suffered by the agricultural sector in developing countries, and women suffer disproportionately in such disasters.

At the same time, rural women are a repository of knowledge and skills that can help communities and societies adapt to the consequences of climate change through nature-based, low-carbon solutions. As farmers and producers, they play a central role in embracing both traditional and modern practices to respond to climate variability and shocks like droughts, heat waves, and extreme rainfall.

Listening to rural women and amplifying their voices is central to spreading knowledge about climate change and urging governments, businesses and community leaders to act. As early adopters of new agricultural techniques, first responders in crises and entrepreneurs of green energy, rural women are a powerful force that can drive global progress.

On this International Day of Rural Women, let us take a concrete step towards such a future by supporting rural women and girls around the world. [Ends]

UN Secretary-General’s Message on World Food Day, 16 October 2019

World Food Day is a global call for Zero Hunger — for a world where nutritious food is available and affordable for everyone, everywhere.

But today, more than 820 million people do not have enough to eat.

And the climate emergency is an increasing threat to food security.

Meanwhile, two billion men, women and children are overweight or obese.

Unhealthy diets present an enormous risk of disease and death.

It is unacceptable that hunger is on the rise at a time when the world wastes more than 1 billion tonnes of food every year.

It is time to change how we produce and consume, including to reduce greenhouse emissions.

Transforming food systems is crucial for delivering all the Sustainable Development Goals.

That is why I hope to convene a Food Systems Summit in 2021 as part of the Decade of Action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals.

As a human family, a world free of hunger is our imperative. [Ends]

UN Secretary-General’s Message on World Mental Health Day, 10 October 2019

Every 40 seconds, someone makes the tragic decision that life is no longer worth living.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people aged 15 to 29.

Mental health has been neglected for too long.

It concerns us all and greater action is urgent

We need stronger investments in services.

And we must not allow stigma to push people away from the assistance they need.

I am speaking my mind because I care deeply.

There is no health without mental health.

[Ends]

UN Secretary-General’s Message for the International Day of Peace, 21 September 2019

Peace is at the heart of all our work at the United Nations.

And we know peace is much more than a world free of war.

It means resilient, stable societies where everyone can enjoy fundamental freedoms and thrive rather than struggle to meet basic needs.

Today peace faces a new danger: the climate emergency, which threatens our security, our livelihoods and our lives.

That is why it is the focus of this year’s International Day of Peace.

And it’s why I am convening a Climate Action Summit.

This is a global crisis.

Only by working together can we make our only home peaceful, prosperous and safe for us and future generations.

On this International Day of Peace, I urge all of you: take concrete climate action and demand it of your leaders.

This is a race we can and must win.

Watch Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s video message:

 

[Ends]

UN Secretary-General’s Remarks at UN Staff Day, 6 September 2019, in New York

Dear colleagues,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am pleased to be with you once again to celebrate Staff Day and the dedicated women and men who make up our United Nations family.

Let me also commend the President of the Staff Union, Patricia Nemeth, and her staff for the effort put into organizing this day and representing the interests of the staff year-round.

As I said, we are a family, bound by the common desire to do good and breathe life into the values and principles of the United Nations as set out in our founding Charter.

We do this all around the world, often in some of the most challenging and dangerous environments.

And so, it is our duty today – and every day – to remember and commemorate our fallen colleagues.

So far this year, we have lost 25 civilian staff, 43 peacekeepers and 4 police.

Our sympathy goes to their families and friends who feel their loss so keenly.

Let us remember the sacrifice our fallen colleagues made in working to make the world safer and more dignified for those less fortunate than themselves.

And let us honour their memory by rededicating ourselves to their mission.

All around the world, United Nations staff are working to fulfil the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals to leave no one behind.

From addressing acute humanitarian needs to working on long-term development, from keeping the peace to defending human rights, from feeding the hungry to helping build resilience to climate change, United Nations staff are working on the front lines of today’s most pressing challenges.

You are my colleagues, and I am constantly made proud of the work you do, in the field and at our headquarter duty stations, saving lives and building hope.

For many of us, we are now entering a particularly busy period as the new General Assembly looms.

This year we have five important high-level meetings focused on adding impetus to our global goals: the Climate Action Summit; the High-Level Meeting on Universal health coverage; the SDG Summit; a high-level dialogue on financing for development; and a high-level meeting on Small Island Developing States.

We also have the usual broad schedule of high-level meetings and side events that will keep us all busy.

So, before we work, let us enjoy ourselves.

Each of you is a talented staff member.  But I know many of you have other talents that will be on display here today.

So, let me wish you and your families a happy Staff Day.

Thank you.

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

At heart, democracy is about people.  It is built on inclusion, equal treatment and participation — and it is a fundamental building block for peace, sustainable development and human rights.

These values and aspirations cannot be seen as tokens or lip service.  They must be real in people’s lives.

Yet the International Day of Democracy takes place at a time when trust is low and anxiety is high.

People are frustrated by growing inequalities and unsettled by sweeping changes from globalization and technology.

They see conflicts going unresolved, a climate emergency going unanswered, injustice going unaddressed, and civic space shrinking.

As we mark Democracy Day, I urge all governments to respect the right to active, substantive and meaningful participation; and I salute all of you who strive tirelessly to make this happen.

 

UN Secretary-General’s Message on World Humanitarian Day, 19 August 2019

World Humanitarian Day honours aid workers around the world who risk their own lives to help save and improve the lives of others. This year, we pay special tribute to women humanitarians and the huge difference they make for millions of women, men and children in urgent need.

From supporting civilians caught up in crisis to addressing disease outbreaks, women humanitarians are on the front lines. Their presence makes aid operations more effective by increasing their reach. It also improves the humanitarian response to gender-based violence, which increases during emergencies. Today, and for the rest of this month, we invite you to share their powerful stories through your online and social media platforms. In doing so, we reaffirm our common commitment to strengthening the role of women in humanitarian operations.

World leaders, and all parties to conflict, must ensure that humanitarians are protected from harm, as required under international law. Serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law continue around the world. They must be investigated and prosecuted.

On World Humanitarian Day and every day, we stand up for humanitarian workers around the world.

Watch the Secretary-General’s video message here: https://bit.ly/2KZtTiQ