Tag Archives: The Secretary-General’s message

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 World Health Day 2016

World Health Day 2016 Diabetes is an ancient disease that is taking a growing toll on the modern world.  In 1980, 108 million adults were living with diabetes.  By 2014, that number had risen to 422 million – 8.5 per cent of adults — reflecting a global increase in risk factors such as being overweight or obese.  Even though we have the tools to prevent and treat it, diabetes now causes some 1.5 million deaths a year.  High blood glucose causes an additional 2.2 million deaths.

This year, the World Health Organization has issued its first Global Report on Diabetes, outlining the scale of the problem and suggesting ways to reverse current trends.  The burden of diabetes is not equally shared, within or between countries.  People in low- and middle-income countries are disproportionately affected, but wherever we find poverty we also find disease and premature deaths.

Diabetes affects countries’ health systems and economies, through increased medical costs and lost wages.  In 2011, world leaders agreed that non-communicable diseases, including diabetes, represent a major challenge to achieving sustainable development.  Last year, Governments adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, which include the target of reducing premature mortality from non-communicable diseases by one-third.

We can limit the spread and impact of diabetes by promoting and adopting healthier lifestyles, especially among young people.  This includes eating better and being physically active.  We must also improve diabetes diagnosis and access to essential medicines such as insulin.

Governments, health-care providers, people with diabetes, civil society, food producers and manufacturers and suppliers of medicines and technology must all contribute to changing the status quo.

On this World Health Day, let us all commit to working together to halt the rise in diabetes and improve the lives of those living with this dangerous but preventable and treatable disease.

The Secretary-General’s message on International Day of Sport for Development and Peace

International Day of Sport for Development and Peace 2016Sport is a unique and powerful tool for promoting dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of every member of the human family.  It is a driving force for positive social change.  That is why some of the world’s greatest sportsmen and women have been, and remain, engaged in helping the United Nations to raise awareness on important issues such as hunger, HIV-AIDS, gender equality and environmental stewardship.

This year the world is embarking on a major new challenge – implementing the visionary 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  United Nations Member States have adopted 17 universal Sustainable Development Goals to build a future of peace, justice, dignity and opportunity for all.  Together, they provide a set of integrated and indivisible priorities for people, planet, prosperity, partnership and peace.

To reach these global goals, we must engage all sectors of society, everywhere.  Sport has an essential role to play.  Sport promotes health and well-being.  It fosters tolerance, mutual understanding and peace.  It contributes to social inclusion and equality.  It empowers women and girls and persons with disabilities.  It is a vital part of quality education in schools.  It empowers, inspires and unites.

On this third International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, I urge Governments, organizations, businesses, and all actors in society to harness the values and power of sport to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.  By working – and playing – together, we can create the future we want.

The Secretary-General’s message on World Radio Day

World Radio Day 2016In times of crisis and emergency, radio can be a lifeline.

For people in shattered societies, or caught in catastrophe, or desperately seeking news, radio brings lifesaving information.

Radio can help in emergency response operations – and it can assist with rebuilding.

Through community radio, local people can raise their voices and be heard.

This year, as we start carrying out the Sustainable Development Goals, let us resolve to use radio for human progress.

In the lead-up to the World Humanitarian Summit this May, let us find ways for radio to do even more to help people in emergencies.

On this World Radio Day, let us resolve to prove that radio saves lives.

 

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.