Category Archives: Statements from the UN Secretary-General

UN Secretary-General’s Message on World Population Day, 11 July 2019

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is the world’s blueprint for a better future for all on a healthy planet.

On World Population Day, we recognize that this mission is closely interrelated with demographic trends including population growth, ageing, migration and urbanization.

While the world’s population overall continues to increase, this growth is uneven. For many of the world’s least developed countries, the challenges to sustainable development are compounded by rapid population growth as well as vulnerability to climate change. Other countries are facing the challenge of ageing populations, including the need to promote healthy active ageing and to provide adequate social protection. As the world continues to urbanize, with 68% of the world population projected to live in urban areas by 2050, sustainable development and climate change will increasingly depend on the successful management of urban growth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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UN Secretary-General’s Message on the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, 26 June 2019

The world drug problem is one of the most challenging issues we face. It has wide-ranging impacts on the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities, as well as on the security and sustainable development of nations.

Therefore, preventing and addressing drug challenges in all their complexity is essential to delivering on a fundamental global pledge, enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals: to leave no one behind.

National priorities may differ, but the international community shares a common goal to protect people’s security and well-being, while striving for the progress and dignity of all.

I welcome the theme of this International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking – “health for justice, justice for health” – underlining the importance of a holistic approach involving health, human rights, criminal justice and social service institutions.

This comprehensive response guided the drug policy launched by my government when I was Prime Minister of Portugal two decades ago.

Earlier this year, at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, Member States committed to “working together for rights- and health-based responses to drugs so that people can live in health, dignity and peace, with security and prosperity”.

I call on all governments to live up to this pledge. This means cracking down on drug trafficking and those who profit from human misery, including by enhanced international cooperation and intelligence-sharing across the entire drug supply chain. It also means human rights-based, gender- and age-sensitive prevention, treatment and rehabilitation services for drug use and HIV, offered without stigma or discrimination. It also means law enforcement approaches that protect people from violence and criminal exploitation.

Families, schools and communities play a crucial role, especially in supporting youth who may be affected by drug abuse with terrible and long-lasting consequences. Let us work with and for young people to prevent drug use and help young people lead healthier lives and navigate life choices with strength and resilience.

On this International Day, let us show our commitment to fulfilling our promise to ensure health and justice for all.

[Ends]

UN Secretary-General’s Message for International Day of UN Peacekeepers, 29 May 2019

Today we honor more than one million men and women who have served as United Nations peacekeepers since our first mission in 1948.

We remember the more than 3,800 personnel who paid the ultimate price.

And we express our deepest gratitude to the 100,000 civilian, police and military peacekeepers deployed around the world today, and to the countries that contribute these brave and dedicated women and men.

This year, the United Nations marks 20 years since the Security Council first mandated a peacekeeping mission to protect civilians.

Peacekeepers protect men, women and children from violence every day, often at great personal risk.

In that same spirit, on this International Day, the Captain Mbaye Diagne Medal for Exceptional Courage is being awarded for the first time.

We pay tribute to Private Chancy CHITETE, a Malawian who served in the Democratic Republic of Congo and died trying to save the life of a fellow peacekeeper.

UN peacekeeping is a vital investment in global peace and security.

But it requires strong international commitment.

That is why we launched the “Action for Peacekeeping” initiative, which aims to make our missions stronger, safer and fit for the future.

For millions in conflict-affected situations around the world, peacekeeping is a necessity and a hope. Let us work together to make peacekeeping more effective in protecting people and advancing peace.

Thank you.

2019 Theme: “Protecting Civilians, Protecting Peace”

Read about this Day.

UN Secretary-General’s Message on the International Day of Biological Diversity, 22 May 2019

From individual species through entire ecosystems, biological diversity is vital for human health and well-being.  The quality of the water we drink, the food we eat and the air we breathe all depend on keeping the natural world in good health.  We need healthy ecosystems to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and to address climate change: they can provide 37 per cent of the mitigation needed to limit global temperature rise.

Yet the world’s ecosystems face unprecedented threats.  An alarming and authoritative new report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services reveals that nature is declining at rates never seen before in all of human history.  Since 1990, Earth has lost 28.7 million hectares of forests that help to absorb harmful carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere.  One million plant and animal species are at risk of extinction and more than 90 per cent of marine fish stocks are in decline or overfished.

The impacts on people around the world will be grave.  Current negative trends in biodiversity and ecosystems are projected to undermine progress towards 80 per cent of the targets for the Sustainable Development Goals.  We simply cannot allow this to happen.

This year’s International Day highlights the impact of environmental neglect on food security and public health.  The world’s current food system is increasingly broken.  Billions of people lack access to proper nutrition.  Approximately one third of what is produced is lost or wasted.  The ways in which we grow, process, transport, consume and waste food are leading causes of biodiversity loss, while also contributing to climate change.

We must act quickly to reverse these trends and promote transformative change.  Solutions exist.  By halting environmentally harmful practices, diversifying our food systems and promoting more sustainable production and consumption patterns, we can improve global health, increase food security and strengthen resilience to climate change.

On this International Day for Biological Diversity, I urge all — governments, businesses and civil society — to take urgent action to protect and sustainably manage the fragile and vital web of life on our one and only planet.

[Ends]

2019 Theme: Our Biodiversity, Our Food, Our Health

Read about this Day.

UN Secretary-General’s Video Message on World Press Freedom Day, 3 May 2019

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says in his video message on World Press Freedom Day:

“I am deeply troubled by the growing number of attacks and the culture of impunity.

According to UNESCO, almost 100 journalists were killed in 2018.

Hundreds are imprisoned.

When media workers are targeted, societies as a whole pay a price.

On World Press Freedom Day, I call on all to defend the rights of journalists, whose efforts help us to build a better world for all.”

The full video message may be downloaded here:

https://s3.amazonaws.com/downloads2.unmultimedia.org/public/video/ondemand/MSG%20SG%20PRESS%20FREEDOM%20DAY%20EN%2024%20APR%2019.mp4

 

UN Secretary General’s Message on World Press Freedom Day, 3 May 2019

A free press is essential for peace, justice, sustainable development and human rights.

No democracy is complete without access to transparent and reliable information. It is the cornerstone for building fair and impartial institutions, holding leaders accountable and speaking truth to power.

This is especially true during election seasons — the focus of this year’s World Press Freedom Day.

Facts, not falsehoods, should guide people as they choose their representatives.

Yet while technology has transformed the ways in which we receive and share information, sometimes it is used to mislead public opinion or to fuel violence and hatred.

Civic space has been shrinking worldwide at an alarming rate.

And with anti-media rhetoric on the rise, so too are violence and harssasment against journalists, including women.

I am deeply troubled by the growing number of attacks and the culture of impunity.

According to UNESCO, almost 100 journalists were killed in 2018.

Hundreds are imprisoned.

When media workers are targeted, societies as a whole pay a price.

On World Press Freedom Day, I call on all to defend the rights of journalists, whose efforts help us to build a better world for all.

Thank you.

Read about World Press Freedom Day

2019 Theme: Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation

Video Message of the UN Secretary-General for Earth Hour, 30 March 2019

 

Below is the transcript of the UN Secretary-General’s video message for Earth Hour 2019:

This Earth Hour comes with a great sense of urgency.

We can see the worsening impacts of climate change, biodiversity loss, ocean pollution, soil degradation and water scarcity.

The good news is: there are solutions.

It is still possible to limit climate change, protect our planet and safeguard our future.

Technology is on our side.

I am convening a Climate Action Summit in September.

And I am telling global leaders to bring concrete plans.

Earth Hour is an opportunity to show support for ambitious climate action, by turning off your lights this Saturday, March 30th, at 8:30 p.m. local time.

Together, let’s build a cleaner, safer and greener future for everyone.

[Ends]

UN Secretary-General’s Message on the International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members, 25 March 2019

Day in and day out, deed by deed, United Nations personnel work unwaveringly to help the most vulnerable, protect the planet and build a better future for all.

Sadly, fulfilling this vital mission often entails great perils.

In 2018, 16 UN staff members were kidnapped or abducted, and one thus far in 2019. Thankfully, all have been released. As of today, there are 21 UN staff members under arrest or in detention — five of whom are being held without any known charges. We will continue to do everything within our means to secure our colleagues’ release.

On this International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members, I call on all countries to support the 1994 Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel as well as its 2005 Optional Protocol. To date, only 95 countries are party to the Convention and only 33 to the Optional Protocol.

Whether in their home countries or abroad, United Nations staff members have an admirable commitment to service. Their safety must be our priority. On this International Day of Solidarity, I call on the Member States and the international community to strengthen resolve to give them the protection they need to continue their work for peace and prosperity for all.

(Above) Alec Collett, a UN staff member, who was abducted in 1985. UN Photo/Milton Grant

[Ends]

UN Secretary-General’s Message on World Water Day, 22 March 2019

Water is vital for survival and, alongside sanitation, helps protect public and environmental health. Our bodies, our cities and our industries, our agriculture and our ecosystems all depend on it.

Water is a human right. Nobody should be denied access. This World Water Day is about upholding this right for all, leaving no one behind.

Today, 2.1 billion people live without safe water due to factors such as economic status, gender, ethnicity, religion and age. Growing demands, coupled with poor management, have increased water stress in many parts of the world. Climate change is adding dramatically to the pressure. By 2030, an estimated 700 million people worldwide could be displaced by intense water scarcity.

We must encourage cooperation to tackle the global water crisis and strengthen our resilience to the effects of climate change to ensure access to water for all, especially for the most vulnerable. These are vital steps towards a more peaceful and prosperous future. As we strive to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we must value water resources and ensure their inclusive management if we are to protect and use this vital resource sustainably for the benefit of all people.

UN Secretary-General’s Message on International Women’s Day, 8 March 2019

Gender equality and women’s rights are fundamental to global progress on peace and security, human rights and sustainable development. We can only re-establish trust in institutions, rebuild global solidarity and reap the benefits of diverse perspectives by challenging historic injustices and promoting the rights and dignity of all.

In recent decades, we have seen remarkable progress on women’s rights and leadership in some areas. But these gains are far from complete or consistent – and they have already sparked a troubling backlash from an entrenched patriarchy.

Gender equality is fundamentally a question of power. We live in a male-dominated world with a male-dominated culture. Only when we see women’s rights as our common objective, a route to change that benefits everyone, will we begin to shift the balance.

Increasing the number of women decision-makers is fundamental. At the United Nations, I have made this a personal and urgent priority. We now have gender parity among those who lead our teams around the world, and the highest-ever numbers of women in senior management. We will continue to build on this progress.

But women still face major obstacles in accessing and exercising power. As the World Bank found, just six economies give women and men equal legal rights in areas that affect their work. And if current trends continue, it will take 170 years to close the economic gender gap.

Nationalist, populist and austerity agendas add to gender inequality with policies that curtail women’s rights and cut social services. In some countries, while homicide rates overall are decreasing, femicide rates are rising. In others we see a rollback of legal protection against domestic violence or female genital mutilation. We know women’s participation makes peace agreements more durable, but even governments that are vocal advocates fail to back their words with action. The use of sexual violence as a tactic in conflict continues to traumatize individuals and entire societies.

Against this backdrop, we need to redouble our efforts to protect and promote women’s rights, dignity and leadership. We must not give ground that has been won over decades and we must push for wholesale, rapid and radical change.

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day, “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change”, addresses infrastructure, systems and frameworks that have been constructed largely in line with a male-defined culture. We need to find innovative ways of reimagining and rebuilding our world so that it works for everyone. Women decision-makers in areas like urban design, transport and public services can increase women’s access, prevent harassment and violence, and improve everyone’s quality of life.

This applies equally to the digital future that is already upon us. Innovation and technology reflect the people who make them. The underrepresentation and lack of retention of women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and design should be a cause of concern to all.

Last month, in Ethiopia, I spent time with African Girls Can Code, an initiative that is helping to bridge the digital gender divide and train the tech leaders of tomorrow. I was delighted to see the energy and enthusiasm these girls brought to their projects. Programmes like this not only develop skills; they challenge stereotypes that limit girls’ ambitions and dreams.

On this International Women’s Day, let’s make sure women and girls can shape the policies, services and infrastructure that impact all our lives. And let’s support women and girls who are breaking down barriers to create a better world for everyone.

[Ends]

You may view the Secretary-General’s video message at the link below:

https://s3.amazonaws.com/downloads2.unmultimedia.org/public/video/ondemand/MSG%20SG%20INT’L%20WOMEN’S%20DAY%208%20MAR%202019%20Clean.mp4