Category Archives: Secretary-General’s messages and statements

The Secretary-General’s message on Human Rights Day

Human Rights Day 2015Amid large-scale atrocities and widespread abuses across the world, Human Rights Day should rally more concerted global action to promote the timeless principles that we have collectively pledged to uphold.

In a year that marks the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, we can draw inspiration from the history of the modern human rights movement, which emerged from the Second World War.

At that time, President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the United States identified four basic freedoms as the birthright of all people: freedom of expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear.  His wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, joined forces at the United Nations with human rights champions from around the world to enshrine these freedoms in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Today’s extraordinary challenges can be seen – and addressed – through the lens of the four freedoms.

First: freedom of expression, which is denied to millions of people and increasingly under threat. We must defend, preserve and expand democratic practices and space for civil society. That is essential to lasting stability.

Second: freedom of worship. Around the world, terrorists have hijacked religion, betraying its spirit by killing in its name. Others are targeting religious minorities and exploiting fears for political gain.  In response, we must promote respect for diversity based on the fundamental equality of all people and the right to freedom of religion.

Third: freedom from want still plagues so much of humankind. World leaders in September adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with the aim of ending poverty and enabling all people to live in dignity on a peaceful, healthy planet. Now we must do everything possible to realize this vision.

Fourth: freedom from fear. Millions of refugees and internally displaced persons are a tragic product of the failure to fulfil this freedom. Not since the Second World War have so many people been forced to flee their homes. They run from war, violence and injustice across continents and oceans, often risking their lives. In response, we must not close but open doors and guarantee the right of all to seek asylum, without any discrimination. Migrants seeking an escape from poverty and hopelessness should also enjoy their fundamental human rights.

Today we reaffirm our commitment to protecting human rights as the foundation of our work. This is the spirit of the UN’s Human Rights up Front initiative, which aims to prevent and respond to large-scale violations.

On Human Rights Day, let us recommit to guaranteeing the fundamental freedoms and protecting the human rights of all

The Secretary-General’s message on International Anti-Corruption Day

International Anti-Corruption Day 2015Global attitudes towards corruption have changed dramatically.  Where once bribery, corruption and illicit financial flows were often considered part of the cost of doing business, today corruption is widely — and rightly — understood as criminal and corrosive. The new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, our plan to end poverty and ensure lives of dignity for all, recognizes the need to fight corruption in all its aspects and calls for significant reductions in illicit financial flows as well as for the recovery of stolen assets.

Corruption has disastrous impacts on development when funds that should be devoted to schools, health clinics and other vital public services are instead diverted into the hands of criminals or dishonest officials.

Corruption exacerbates violence and insecurity. It can lead to dissatisfaction with public institutions, disillusion with government in general, and spirals of anger and unrest.

The United Nations Convention against Corruption provides a comprehensive platform for governments, non-governmental organizations, civil society, and individual citizens. Through prevention, criminalization, international cooperation and assets recovery, the Convention advances global progress toward ending corruption.

On International Anti-Corruption Day, I call for united efforts to deliver a clear message around the world that firmly rejects corruption and embraces instead the principles of transparency, accountability and good governance. This will benefit communities and countries, helping to usher in a better future for all.

The Secretary-General’s message on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Idpd_poster_2015We mark this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities in the wake of the adoption of the ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This global blueprint for action summons us to “leave no one behind”.

Building a sustainable, inclusive world for all requires the full engagement of people of all abilities. The 2030 Agenda includes many issues of concern to persons with disabilities and we must work together to transform these commitments into action.

Earlier this year, the United Nations Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction recognised the key role people with disabilities can play in promoting a more universally accessible approach in disaster preparedness and response. Next year, the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (HABITAT III) will discuss a new urban development agenda to make our cities inclusive, accessible and sustainable. The voices of persons with disabilities will be critical to this process

As we look ahead, we need to strengthen development policies and practices to ensure that accessibility is part of inclusive and sustainable development. This requires improving our knowledge of the challenges facing all persons with disabilities – including through more robust, disaggregated data — and ensuring that they are empowered to create and use opportunities.

Together with persons with disabilities, we can move our world forward by leaving
no one behind.

The Secretary-General’s message on World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day 2015

This year, we mark World AIDS Day with new hope. I applaud the staunch advocacy of activists. I commend the persistent efforts of health workers. And I pay tribute to the principled stance of human rights defenders and the courage of all those who have joined forces to fight for global progress against the disease.

World leaders have unanimously committed to ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted in September. This commitment reflects the power of solidarity to forge, from a destructive disease, one of the most inclusive movements in modern history.

We have a lot to learn from the AIDS response. One by one people stood up for science, human rights and the empowerment of all those living with HIV. And this is how we will end the epidemic: by moving forward together.

The window of opportunity to act is closing. That is why I am calling for a Fast-Track approach to front-load investments and close the gap between needs and services.

To break the epidemic and prevent it from rebounding, we must act on all fronts. We need to more than double the number of people on life-changing treatment to reach all 37 million of those living with HIV. We need to provide adolescent girls and young women with access to education and real options to protect themselves from HIV. And we need to provide key populations with full access to services delivered with dignity and respect.

Every child can be born free from HIV to mothers who not only survive but thrive. Ending AIDS is essential to the success of Every Woman Every Child and the Global Strategy I launched to ensure the health and well-being of women, children and adolescents within a generation.

Reaching the Fast-Track Targets will prevent new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths while eliminating HIV-related stigma and discrimination.

I look forward to the 2016 High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on AIDS as a critical chance for the world to commit to Fast-Track the end of AIDS.

On this World AIDS Day, let us pay tribute to all those who have lost their lives to this disease by renewing our resolve to stand for justice, access and greater hope around the world.

The Secretary-General’s message on the International day for the elimination of violence against women

INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ELIMINATION  OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMENThe atrocity crimes being committed against women and girls in conflict zones, along with the domestic abuse found in all countries, are grave threats to progress.

I am deeply concerned about the plight of women and girls living in conditions of armed conflict, who suffer various forms of violence, sexual assault, sexual slavery and trafficking. Violent extremists are perverting religious teachings to justify the mass subjugation and abuse of women. These are not random acts of violence, or the incidental fallout of war, but rather systematic efforts to deny women’s freedoms and control their bodies. As the world strives to counter and prevent violence extremism, the protection and empowerment of women and girls must be a key consideration.

Roughly half of today’s 60 million forcibly displaced people are women.  Many who flee war and violence are often exploited by unscrupulous smugglers, and frequently suffer gender discrimination and xenophobia in host societies.  Those who are too young, too old or too frail to make the risky journey are left behind even more vulnerable without those who have left.

Even in areas at peace, violence against women persists in the form of femicide, sexual assault, female genital mutilation/cutting, early marriage and cyberviolence. These practices traumatize individuals and tear at the fabric of society.

I have led a global response through the UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign and the HeForShe initiative to engage men in promoting gender equality.  I call on governments to increase contributions to the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, which aims to address chronic underinvestment in this area.

Millions of people across the world are uniting under the banner colour orange, chosen to symbolize the brighter future of a world free from violence against women and girls. This year, in a sign of the growing momentum for change, orange lights will illuminate iconic landmarks from the historic ruins at Petra in Jordan to Niagara Falls in North America.

We can also blaze a path to a future of dignity and equality for all by implementing the newly adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which recognizes the importance of eliminating violence against women, with related targets across several of the Sustainable Development Goals.  Recent major reviews of United Nations peace operations, peacebuilding efforts and the women, peace and security agenda have all highlighted the critical value of women’s participation in peace and security.

The pervasiveness of violence against women and girls means we can all take steps to address it. Let us join forces to end this crime, promote full gender equality and realize a world where women and girls enjoy the safety they deserve – for their sake and for all of humanity.

The Secretary-General’s message on Universal Children’s Day

The Universal Children’s DayThe Universal Children’s Day is dedicated to promoting the well-being and human rights of the world’s children, especially those suffering the impacts of poverty, armed conflict, discrimination and exploitation.  The date of the observance — 20 November — marks the day on which, in 1989, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Today, we reaffirm our obligation to do everything in our power to enable all children to survive and thrive, learn and grow, have their voices heard and reach their full potential.

This year, I wish to emphasize the importance of ensuring that the commitments made by the international community to the world’s children are extended to a group of children who are often forgotten or overlooked: those deprived of their liberty.

Far too many children languish in jail, mental health facilities or through other forms of detention.  Some children are vulnerable because they are migrants, asylum seekers, homeless or preyed on by organized criminals.  Whatever the circumstances, the Convention dictates that the deprivation of liberty must be a measure of last resort, and for the shortest time. Our aim must be to pursue the best interests of the child, prevent the deprivation of liberty and promote alternatives to detention.

With that in mind, and further to a request by the General Assembly, the United Nations is preparing a Global Study that aims to shine a light on the scale and conditions of children deprived of their liberty and secure the protection of their rights. The study will gather relevant data, identify good practices and help countries grasp the worrisome magnitude of the phenomenon and design measures to address it.  A coalition of UN actors has come together to assemble resources and expertise to take the study forward. I strongly support this effort and urge Member States to do so as well.

This year’s observance falls at a time when 60 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes – more than at any time since the Second World War.  Almost half of them are children fleeing oppression, terrorism, violence and other violations of their human rights.  This observance also comes following the landmark adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which can point the way towards peaceful, prosperous and inclusive societies for all.  Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals will depend crucially on reaching the most vulnerable children.

On Universal Children’s Day, let us reaffirm our commitment to a future in which
no child is left behind, including those deprived of their liberty.

 

The Secretary-General’s message on United Nations Day

UN70National flags are a mark of pride and patriotism in every country around the world.  But there is only one flag that belongs to all of us.

That blue flag of the United Nations was a banner of hope for me growing up in wartime Korea.

Seven decades after its founding, the United Nations remains a beacon for all humanity.

Every day, the United Nations feeds the hungry and shelters those driven from their homes.

The United Nations vaccinates children who would otherwise die from preventable diseases.

The United Nations defends human rights for all, regardless of race, religion, nationality, gender or sexual orientation.

Our peacekeepers are on the frontlines of conflict; our mediators bring warriors to the peace table; our relief workers brave treacherous environments to deliver life-saving assistance.

The United Nations works for the entire human family of seven billion people, and cares for the earth, our one and only home.

And it is the diverse and talented staff of the United Nations who help bring the Charter to life.

The 70th anniversary is a moment to recognize their dedication – and to honour the many who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.

The world faces many crises, and the limits of collective international action are painfully clear.  Yet no single country or organization can address today’s challenges alone.

The timeless values of the UN Charter must remain our guide.  Our shared duty is to “unite our strength” to serve “we the peoples”.

To mark this anniversary, monuments and buildings across the world are being illuminated in UN blue.  As we shine a light on this milestone anniversary, let us reaffirm our commitment to a better and brighter future for all.

The Secretary-General’s remarks to media after Summit for the adoption of the Post-2015 Development Agenda

The Secretary-General’s remarks at UNDG side event: “From global conversation to global action: making the SDGs work”

The adoption of the 2030 Agenda heralds a new era of global solidarity for promoting prosperity, equal opportunity, and environmental stewardship.

For the first time ever, we have a transformative set of global goals agreed by all countriesSGremarksonUNGA – and that applies to every nation.

Two years ago, along with UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, I had the pleasure to launch a report that called for a step change in global diplomacy.

‘A Million Voices: the World We Want’ – we reached out to the world – ‘What kind of a world do you want? – just let us know.’ We collected all the views from young people, women and business groups and civil society, philanthropists and some vulnerable groups of people. We have reflected and sent to the Member States for their consideration.

Some 8.5 million people have made their voice heard to the United Nations – in face-to-face meetings and in the MY World survey.

The message to policy-makers is clear: go beyond business as usual; work for true transformation; provide the conditions that allow us all to be agents of change.

This global conversation has set the tone for an agenda for the people.

Sustainable Development GoalsAgenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals are designed to resonate with people around the world, women and men, young and old, rich and poor.

They encapsulate a message of hope that the world can unite to eliminate poverty, protect the planet, and provide a life of dignity for all.

Last year, with the proposal for the Sustainable Development Goals on the table, thoughts began to turn to how to make them work.

Numerous global dialogues on implementation conveyed the world’s ideas and expectations.

Three key principles emerged: participation, inclusion, and partnerships.

Agenda 2030 embraces these principles.

The Preamble states: “All countries and all stakeholders, acting in collaborative partnership, will implement this plan.”

Implementation is the litmus test of the new agenda.

Governments are encouraged to adapt the agenda to their national circumstances, bearing in mind its high ambitions.

Incorporating the agenda in national planning, policies, legislation and institutions will be critical.

This will require political leadership and integrated action.

The UN system is ready to support Member States to make the global goals a success.

Today, we can say to all the people around the world, to those experts from all walks of life who have contributed to this global conversation: we have listened to your views.

All your governments have heard you.

This 2030 Agenda is for you; it is for everyone, everywhere.

Claim it, demand that commitments are made and promises kept.

Be part of this global call to action.

Preparations across the United Nations system are in full swing to support you.

Together, we can build a better future for people and planet.

Thank you for your commitment and leadership.

Statement by the Secretary-General on International Day of Peace

peaceday2015This year’s International Day of Peace comes at a time of deadly violence and destabilizing conflicts around the world. Rather than succumbing to despair, we have a collective responsibility to demand an end to the brutality and impunity that prevail.

I call on all warring parties to lay down their weapons and observe a global ceasefire. To them I say: stop the killings and the destruction, and create space for lasting peace.

Although it may seem hopelessly distant, the dream of peace pulses in the lives of people everywhere.

There is no group more poised to help realize this dream than today’s young people. They are part of the largest generation of youth in history, more aware and connected than any before. I urge all governments to make greater investments in realizing the potentially massive contributions of the world’s young peacebuilders.

At the same time, we need to mobilize all partners who share the goal of peace. Non-governmental organizations, faith-based groups and corporations all have a role to play in fostering social progress, protecting the environment and creating a more just, stable and peaceful world. The value of this collaboration is our theme for the Day: “Partnerships for Peace – Dignity for All.”

We live at a moment of peril – but this is also an era of great promise. In a matter of days, leaders from across the globe will gather at the United Nations to adopt the 2030 agenda, our 15-year plan to achieve sustainable development. This is fundamental to ushering in a life of dignity for all, where poverty is history and peace is paramount.

On the International Day, as we mark the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, let us seize the opportunity achieve the Organization’s founding purpose: to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.

Ban Ki-moon