Ahead of World Peace Day, UN chief says Global Goals are ‘building blocks for peace’

World Peace Day 2016Ahead of the International Day of Peace, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has stressed that each of the new global Sustainable Development Goals adopted a year ago by 193 countries are the “building blocks” for peace.

Mr. Ban said that every year on that day, the United Nations calls on warring parties around the world to observe a 24-hour ceasefire.

“But peace is not just about putting weapons aside. It is about building societies where people share the benefits of prosperity on a healthy planet,” Mr. Ban said in his message for the Day, observed annually on 21 September.

The UN system is marking the Day early this year, with a host of events that kicked off this morning in the Peace Garden at UN Headquarters, where Mr. Ban rang the Peace Bell and observed a minute of silence.

Women Nobel Peace Prize laureates and the United Nations Messengers of Peace have been invited to participate in the ceremony.

Mr. Ban sounded a call for peace and a day of non-violence before proceeding to ring the Bell. “You know best of all that peace is not an accident. Peace is not a gift. Peace is something we must all work for, every day, in every country,” he said.

While welcoming ceasefires – like the Cessation of Hostilities in Syria, the UN chief stressed that peace is about far more than putting weapons aside and that it involves the hard work of mediation, conflict resolution through diplomacy, reconciliation, peacebuilding and sustaining peace.

He said that he looks forward to visiting Cartagena, Colombia on 26 September for the signing of the historic peace agreement which ends the 50-year war between the Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army.

In addition, the UN Education Outreach Section will hold a global student videoconference, also at Headquarters.

The Education Outreach Section invited young people from around the world to submit videos on how the Sustainable Development Goals can build peace. The most engaging videos can be viewed on the UN International Day of Peace YouTube channel and a small selection will be shown at the global student videoconference.

The Secretary-General’s message on International Day of Democracy

International Day of DemocracyA year ago, the world’s Governments agreed on an ambitious sustainable development agenda for the next 15 years. They recognized that what people want is not so complicated — but that it does require a transformation of how our economies and societies work.

People want food and shelter; education and health care and more economic opportunity.  They want to live without fear.  They want to be able to trust their Governments and global, national and local institutions.  They want full respect for their human rights and they are rightly demanding a greater say in the decisions that affect their lives. 

Each of the Sustainable Development Goals on its own reflects fundamental desires shared by people everywhere. Together, the 17 Goals  make up an intricate tapestry of challenges, choices and opportunities that people encounter in their everyday lives.  Delivering a better tomorrow will require integrated responses to interconnected challenges. 

Democratic principles run through the Agenda like a golden thread, from universal access to public goods, health care and education, as well as safe places to live and decent work opportunities for all. Goal 16 addresses democracy directly: it calls for inclusive societies and accountable institutions.  

The Goals demonstrate an important dynamic: effective democratic governance enhances quality of life for all people; and human development is more likely to take hold if people are given a real say in their own governance, and a chance to share in the fruits of progress.  

Our new Agenda aims to leave no one behind, which means we must reach those who are rarely seen or heard, and who have no voice or group to speak on their behalf. The implementation of the Goals must be underpinned by a strong and active civil society that includes the weak and the marginalized. We must defend civil society’s freedom to operate and do this essential job. 

On this International Day of Democracy, let us rededicate ourselves to democracy and dignity for all.

 

The Secretary-General’s message on International Literacy Day

Literacy Day 2016This year, the world has embarked on implementing the ambitious and transformational 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  With its 17 universal, integrated and interdependent Sustainable Development Goals, the 2030 Agenda is an action plan for people, planet, partnership and peace.

Literacy stands at heart of the 2030 Agenda.  It is a foundation for human rights, gender equality, and sustainable societies.  It essential to all our efforts to end extreme poverty and promote well-being for all people.  That is why the Sustainable Development Goals aim for universal access to quality education and learning opportunities throughout people’s lives.

One of the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 4 is to ensure that all young people achieve literacy and numeracy and that a substantial proportion of adults who lack these skills are given the opportunity to acquire them.

Fifty years ago, International Literacy Day was proclaimed to promote literacy as a tool to empower individuals, communities and societies.  We have made significant progress over the past five decades, but the world is still very far from universal literacy.  And today, with the world becoming increasingly digitized and information rich, new opportunities and challenges are emerging.

More than 750 million adults are illiterate, including 115 million young people.  Two thirds are female.  Some 250 million children of primary school age lack basic literacy skills and 124 million children and adolescents receive no schooling at all.

These obstacles to sustainable development can and must be overcome by developing and implementing the right policies, backed up by commitment and resources.  We need to ensure that those out of school get access to quality learning opportunities, we need to improve the quality of schooling, and we need to promote adult education and learning.

On this International Literacy Day, I call on governments and their partners, including in the private sector, to join forces for universal literacy so we can translate the vision of the 2030 Agenda into reality and build peaceful, just, inclusive and sustainable societies.

The 50th anniversary of International Literacy Day

50th anniversary of International Literacy DayThis year marks the 50th anniversary of International Literacy Day and UNESCO is celebrating it under the banner “Reading the Past, Writing the Future”. International Literacy Day 2016 celebrates and honours the past five decades of national and international engagement, efforts and progress made to increase literacy rates around the world. It also addresses current challenges and looks to innovative solutions to further boost literacy in the future.

Fifty years ago, UNESCO officially proclaimed 8 September International Literacy Day to actively mobilize the international community and to promote literacy as an instrument to empower individuals, communities and societies.

Now International Literacy Day is celebrated worldwide, bringing together governments, multi- and bilateral organizations, NGOs, private sectors, communities, teachers, learners and experts in the field. On this day also International Literacy Prizes are awarded to people with outstanding solutions that can drive literacy towards achieving the 2030 Education Agenda. This year the focus is on innovation.

This is the first year of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In this context the vision of literacy is aligned with lifelong learning opportunities with special focus on youth and adults. Literacy is a part of Sustainable Development Goal 4, which aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. The target is that by 2030 all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy (SDG Target 4.6).

The International Literacy Day will be celebrated all around the world. The main global celebration of the day will take place at UNESCO Headquarters, Paris in the form of a two-day conference on 8 – 9 September, the highlight of which will be the awarding of the Literacy Prizes. At the same time the Global Alliance for Literacy (GAL) will be launched, a new and ambitious initiative to make all major stakeholders pull together to promote literacy as a foundation for lifelong learning.

Remarks by UN Resident Coordinator in Uzbekistan on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Uzbekistan’s independence

25th anniversary of Uzbekistan’s independenceOn September 1, 1991, the Republic of Uzbekistan became a sovereign nation and entered a new period in its history. This year Uzbekistan will celebrate 25 years of independence. In a relatively short period of time, the country has achieved important milestones in moving forward its socio-economic development through a process of gradual reforms.

As a signatory to the Millennium Declaration adopted in 2000, Uzbekistan has made good progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, due to sustainable high rates of economic growth and the implementation of effective programmes in the social sector, particularly in education and health.  It shows that policies and actions, backed by adequate funding and political commitment, does yield results.

The United Nations (UN) in Uzbekistan commends the goal “to build an open democratic and law governed state, in which a person, his interests, his rights and freedoms are the highest value” as articulated in “The Concept of further deepening the democratic reforms and establishing the civil society in the country”. Recent improvements of legislation on strengthening the role of the parliament and openness of state bodies can be highlighted as part of these evolutionary reforms. Indeed, human development, economic development and democratization have to go hand in hand to fully unleash a country’s potential.

Through our joint programmes and projects with the Government, the UN has been facilitating the country’s efforts to complement positive economic growth rates with effective social policies both at local and national levels, through policy advice and capacity development, as well as by sharing knowledge and experiences from other parts of the world. Our support covers areas from economic reform to improving governance. We assist in healthcare, including maternal and child health, and education reform and social protection. We support the preservation of Uzbekistan’s cultural treasures and the conservation of its natural resources and biodiversity. We also help efforts to counter drug trafficking and the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Since independence, Uzbekistan has ratified and signed onto several UN Conventions on the protection of human rights, on security, environmental protection and other areas, and the United Nations is supporting the Republic of the Uzbekistan in the implementation of these conventions.

Uzbekistan effectively cooperates within the framework of the UN General Assembly and with the various specialized institutions of the UN system.  In the framework of the United Nations, the Republic of Uzbekistan put forward a number of important initiatives in the field of ensuring international peace and security, for example through the creation of Nuclear Weapon Free Zone in Central Asia.

We express deep respect to Uzbekistan’s strong commitment to peaceful settlement of disputes and refraining from the use of force in international relations as it was reflected in the Concept of foreign policy activity of Uzbekistan adopted in 2012. We appreciate the acknowledgement by the country of the UN’s coordinating role in maintaining international peace and security as well as expressed commitment to pursue a foreign policy in the spirit of cooperation and friendliness in relation with regional neighbors.

Most recently in September 2015, Uzbekistan, together with other UN member states, supported the adoption of the global agenda 2030 – the Sustainable Development Goals.  The United Nations system in Uzbekistan welcomes and stands ready to assist Uzbekistan’s efforts on nationalization and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in the country. We particularly look forward to further strengthening our collaboration within the framework of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework for Uzbekistan for 2016-2020, which builds on national priorities and ensures a solid link to global agenda 2030. 

The UN in Uzbekistan congratulates the people of Uzbekistan at the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the national independence and wishes lots of prosperity, peace and wellbeing. 

 

On International Day, UN says youth can lead global drive for a more sustainable future

International Youth Day 2016The world’s young people – who make up the largest generation of youth in history – can lead a global drive to break the patterns of the past and set the world on course to a more sustainable future, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said youth, with their creativity and idealism are the key to delivering the goals of the new UN sustainability agenda.

“Young people are directly affected by the tragic contradictions that prevail today: between abject poverty and ostentatious wealth, gnawing hunger and shameful food waste, rich natural resources and polluting industries,” said Mr. Ban in his message on International Youth Day, celebrated annually on 12 August.

He said that youth can deliver solutions on such issues, which lie at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, stressing that in the first year of that15-year plan for a healthier, safer and more just future, the International community is counting on the active engagement of young people to transform the production and consumption of goods and services so they meet the basic needs and aspirations of the world’s poorest people without overburdening already strained ecosystems.

“Young people are traditionally at the cutting edge, and today’s youth have more information than any previous generation. Their dynamism, creativity and idealism can combine to shape attitudes toward demand and help create more sustainable industries,” continued the UN chief, noting that youth are already influencing how the world produces, distributes and consumes while driving green entrepreneurship by designing sustainable products and services.

As conscious consumers, young people are at the forefront of a shift toward more fair, equitable and sustainable buying patterns. Youth are strong and effective advocates of recycling, reusing and limiting waste, and they are leading technological innovations to foster a resource-efficient economy.

“When we invest in youth, they can contribute to new markets, decent jobs, fair trade, sustainable housing, sustainable transport and tourism, and more opportunities that benefit the planet and people,” he said, adding that he was proud that the UN is actively engaged in supporting young leaders who can carry out the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including Goal 12 on sustainable consumption and production patterns.

“I encourage all young people to become involved in advancing the SDGs and demanding action by their Governments. My Youth Envoy is eager to connect you to our campaigns, which are being carried out across the entire United Nations system,” he said urging others to join this global push for progress, empowering young people with the resources, backing and space they need to create lasting change in our world.

In her message, Irina Bokova, Director General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said that young people are powerful agents of positive change, essential to taking forward the 2030 Agenda.

“It is not enough to hope for a better tomorrow – we must act now. Change is under way, and millions of citizens are already transforming the way we produce, consume, behave and communicate,” she said, noting that young people such as #YouthofUNESCO sustainable consumption advocate Lauren Singer, point the way towards a zero-waste lifestyle, fitting all of her refuse produced over the past four years into one small jar.

“This is an inspiration for this year’s celebration – ‘The Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Production and Consumption.’ There are countless initiatives like this, all giving shape to a new humanism, to new forms of solidarity and citizenship to combat poverty, marginalization and despair,” she emphasized.

Optimism and confidence do not mean minimizing the challenges ahead. Most young people live today in least developed countries, and shoulder the heaviest burden of conflicts and poverty, stressed Ms. Bokova, adding: “There can be no sustainable development if they remain on the side-lines, and I call upon all Member States and UNESCO partners to support their initiatives, to give them voice, to let them grow, to shape together the future of dignity that we are building today.”

International Youth Day Celebrated in Tashkent

International Youth Day Celebrated in TashkentInternational Youth Day is celebrated with a sport event at the National Water Sports Development Centre in Tashkent. Women’s Committee of Uzbekistan and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) joined hands in organizing the celebration of this annual observance.

The International Youth Day is marked annually on 12 August. This observance, celebrated by thousands of young people, activists, and youth organizations worldwide, brings public attention to important issues related to youth; in particular the need for better addressing youth concerns in international development efforts.

The theme of the 2016 International Youth Day is “The Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Consumption and Production”. This year’s Day is about achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustainable Development Goals recently adopted by the international community. It focuses on the leading role of young people in ensuring poverty eradication and achieving sustainable development through sustainable consumption and production. Sustainable consumption entails the use of products and services that meet the basic needs of communities while safeguarding the needs of future generations.

As part of the celebration of the International Youth Day in Tashkent a swimming competition among the adolescent girls of 11-14 years, followed by a synchronized swimming performance, as well as choreography and performances of creative groups, were organized. One of the exciting moments of the event was the awarding ceremony of winners of swimming competitions among more than 100 participants.

The event is to promote healthy lifestyles among young people. Promoting access to sports, education, healthcare, including reproductive health and family planning services – is  key to sustainable development.

«UNFPA is proud to partner with young people in more than 150 countries and territories around the world to promote their participation and leadership, enabling them to overcome barriers, spearhead innovations and unleash their full potential» – marked Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Under Secretary-General and UNFPA Executive Director, in his Statement for the International Youth Day.

 

The United Nations and the Olimpic truce

The United Nations and the Olimpic truceThe ancient Greek tradition of the ekecheiria, or “Olympic Truce”, was born in the eighth century B.C., serving as a hallowed principle of the Olympic Games. In 1992, the International Olympic Committee renewed this tradition by calling upon all nations to observe the Truce. Through its resolution 48/11 of 25 October 1993, the General Assembly urged Member States to observe the Olympic Truce from the seventh day before the opening to the seventh day following the closing of each Olympic Games. This appeal was renewed in the Millennium Declaration.

The Olympic movement aspires to contribute to a peaceful future for humankind through the educational value of sport. It brings together athletes from all parts of the world in the greatest of international sports events, the Olympic Games, and it aims to promote the maintenance of peace, mutual understanding and goodwill — goals it shares with the United Nations. As an expression of these common objectives, in 1998 the International Olympic Committee decided to fly the United Nations flag at all competition sites of the Olympic Games. The United Nations for its part, is expanding its cooperation with the International Olympic Committee and the Olympic family at large through a number of agreements and partnerships.

UN chief launches first report to track Sustainable Development Goals

Launching the first-ever Sustainable Development Goals report on the new global development agenda adopted last year, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today said that the 15-year undertaking is “off to a good start” but will require all parts of the UN family and its partners to work together. “We have embarked on a monumental and historic journey,” the Secretary-General told the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), which opened on 11 July and ends on 20 July, at the UN Headquarters in New York. “We must all learn, in national governments, in local authorities, in business and civil society, and also at the United Nations, to think differently,” he said, also underscoring the need to break down silos, not only between the economic, social and environmental aspects of development, but also between government institutions, between different levels of government and between the public and private sectors. The Forum is the UN’s central platform for the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted last September by 193 Member States. With his speech, Mr. Ban launched the first SDG report, which will serve as a benchmark for the 15-year implementation period of the 2030 Agenda. “It provides an accurate evaluation of where the world stands on the 17 Goals, using data currently available to highlight the most significant gaps and challenges,” he said. “We are off to a good start,” he added, calling on the international community to “pledge never to rest until we have achieved a world of peace, dignity and opportunity for all.” “Ensuring progress in achieving the SDGs will be greatly enhanced by making sure that lessons are shared and best practices are replicated,” he explained, calling on Member States to intensify efforts at follow-up and review through a participatory process, with the full engagement of the business sector and civil society

Launching the first-ever Sustainable Development Goals report on the new global development agenda adopted last year, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today said that the 15-year undertaking is “off to a good start” but will require all parts of the UN family and its partners to work together.

“We have embarked on a monumental and historic journey,” the Secretary-General told the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), which opened on 11 July and ends on 20 July, at the UN Headquarters in New York.

“We must all learn, in national governments, in local authorities, in business and civil society, and also at the United Nations, to think differently,” he said, also underscoring the need to break down silos, not only between the economic, social and environmental aspects of development, but also between government institutions, between different levels of government and between the public and private sectors.

The Forum is the UN’s central platform for the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted last September by 193 Member States.

With his speech, Mr. Ban launched the first SDG report, which will serve as a benchmark for the 15-year implementation period of the 2030 Agenda.

“It provides an accurate evaluation of where the world stands on the 17 Goals, using data currently available to highlight the most significant gaps and challenges,” he said.

“We are off to a good start,” he added, calling on the international community to “pledge never to rest until we have achieved a world of peace, dignity and opportunity for all.”

 “Ensuring progress in achieving the SDGs will be greatly enhanced by making sure that lessons are shared and best practices are replicated,” he explained, calling on Member States to intensify efforts at follow-up and review through a participatory process, with the full engagement of the business sector and civil society.

Mandela day for freedom, justice and democracy

Mandela day

Every year on 18 July — the day Nelson Mandela was born — the UN joins a call by the Nelson Mandela Foundation to devote 67 minutes of time to helping others, as a way to mark Nelson Mandela International Day.

For 67 years Nelson Mandela devoted his life to the service of humanity — as a human rights lawyer, a prisoner of conscience, an international peacemaker and the first democratically elected president of a free South Africa.

In November 2009, the UN General Assembly declared 18 July “Nelson Mandela International Day” in recognition of the former South African President’s contribution to the culture of peace and freedom.

General Assembly resolution A/RES/64/13 recognizes Nelson Mandela’s values and his dedication to the service of humanity, in the fields of conflict resolution, race relations, the promotion and protection of human rights, reconciliation, gender equality and the rights of children and other vulnerable groups, as well as the upliftment of poor and underdeveloped communities. It acknowledges his contribution to the struggle for democracy internationally and the promotion of a culture of peace throughout the world.

In December 2015, the General Assembly decided to extend the scope of Nelson Mandela International Day to also be utilized in order to promote humane conditions of imprisonment, to raise awareness about prisoners being a continuous part of society and to value the work of prison staff as a social service of particular importance.

General Assembly resolution A/RES/70/175 not only adopted the revised United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, but also approved that they should be known as the “Nelson Mandela Rules” in order to honour the legacy of the late President of South Africa, who spent 27 years in prison in the course of his struggle referred to above.