Category Archives: Statements from the UN Secretary-General

UN Secretary-General’s Message on International Day for Persons with Disabilities, 3 December 2019

When we secure the rights of people with disabilities, we move closer to achieving the central promise of the 2030 Agenda – to leave no one behind.

While we still have much to do, we have seen important progress in building an inclusive world for all.

Almost all United Nations Member States have ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and I urge those who have not yet done so to ratify it without delay.

In June, I launched the United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy, to raise our standards and performance on disability inclusion, across all areas of our work and around the world.

And for the first time, the Security Council adopted its first-ever resolution dedicated on the protection of persons with disabilities in armed conflict.

We are determined to lead by example.

On this International Day, I reaffirm the commitment of the United Nations to work with people with disabilities to build a sustainable, inclusive and transformative future in which everyone, including women, men, girls and boys with disabilities, can realize their potential.

Thank you. [Ends]

Watch the Secretary-General’s video message here: https://s3.amazonaws.com/downloads2.unmultimedia.org/public/video/ondemand/MSG%20SG%20INTL%20DAY%20PERSONS%20WITH%20DISABILITIES%20CLEAN%203%20Dec%20%2019.mp4

UN Secretary-General’s Message on Human Rights Day, 10 December 2019

(THEME: YOUTH STANDING UP FOR HUMAN RIGHTS)

This year, on Human Rights Day, we celebrate the role of young people in bringing human rights to life.

Globally, young people are marching, organizing, and speaking out:

For the right to a healthy environment…

For the equal rights of women and girls…

To participate in decision-making…

And to express their opinions freely…

They are marching for their right to a future of peace, justice and equal opportunities.

Every single person is entitled to all rights: civil, political, economic, social and cultural. Regardless of where they live. Regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, social origin, gender, sexual orientation, political or other opinion, disability or income, or any other status.

On this International Day, I call on everyone to support and protect young people who are standing up for human rights. [Ends]

 

UN Secretary-General’s Message on World AIDS Day, 1 December 2019

Ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030, as we committed to in the Sustainable Development Goals, will require a continuous collaborative effort. The United Nations, Governments, civil society and other partners have been working together to scale up access to health services and to halt new HIV infections. More than 23 million people living with HIV were receiving treatment in 2018.

Communities around the world are at the heart of this response―helping people to claim their rights, promoting access to stigma-free health and social services, ensuring that services reach the most vulnerable and marginalized, and pressing to change laws that discriminate.  As the theme of this year’s observance rightly highlights, communities make the difference.

Yet unmet needs remain. A record 38 million people are living with HIV, and resources for the response to the epidemic declined by $1 billion last year. More than ever we need to harness the role of community-led organizations that advocate for their peers, deliver HIV services, defend human rights and provide support.

Where communities are engaged, we see change happen. We see investment lead to results. And we see equality, respect and dignity.

With communities, we can end AIDS.

by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

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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]