Category Archives: Statements from the UN Secretary-General

UN Secretary-General’s Message on the International Day against Nuclear Tests, 29 August 2019

The International Day against Nuclear Tests marks the closing, in 1991, of the nuclear test site in Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan, the largest in the former Soviet Union. More than 450 tests took place there, with impacts still being felt decades later.

But this observance also has a broader message. It commemorates all victims of nuclear tests, anywhere they have been conducted. Affected communities have yet to fully recover from the environmental, health and economic damage.

Honoring those victims requires bringing nuclear testing to a permanent end. Yet, an effective and legally-binding prohibition remains one of the longest unfulfilled goals of nuclear disarmament. The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is a central pillar of international efforts, but despite being widely supported – with 184 signatories and 168 ratifying States – it has not yet entered into force, more than 20 years after its adoption.

The legacy of nuclear testing is nothing but destruction. The CTBT is vital to ensuring there are no more victims; it is also essential to advancing nuclear disarmament.

On the International Day Against Nuclear Tests, I reiterate my call for all States that have not yet done so, to sign and ratify the Treaty, especially those whose ratification is needed for the Treaty’s entry into force. In a world of rising tensions and divisions, our collective security depends on it.

UN Secretary-General’s Message on the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, 9 August 2019

UN Photo

This year marks the International Year of Indigenous Languages, declared by the United Nations General Assembly to draw attention to the urgent need to preserve, revitalize and promote indigenous languages.

Languages are how we communicate, and they are inextricably linked to our cultures, histories and identity.  Almost half of the world’s estimated 6,700 languages – of which most are indigenous — are in danger of disappearing.  With every language that disappears, the world loses a wealth of traditional knowledge.

There are an estimated 370 million indigenous people in the world.  A significant proportion still lack basic rights, with systematic discrimination and exclusion continuing to threaten ways of life, cultures and identities.  This is contrary to the intent of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with its promise to leave no one behind.

I count on Member States to engage and support indigenous peoples in determining their own development through policies that are inclusive, equitable and accessible.  The United Nations stands ready to support all initiatives aimed at realizing the rights and aspirations of indigenous peoples.

Read about the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading

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]