Secretary-General’s Remarks

The Secretary-General’s Remarks at General Assembly Commemorative Meeting for the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, New York, 24 March 2017

Excellencies,

It is an honour to join you in commemorating the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

We must never forget this dark chapter of human history. And we must always remember the role played by many of our countries – including my own country of Portugal – in carrying out the largest forced migration in history and in robbing so many millions of people of their dignity and often also of their lives.

The legacy of slavery resounds down the ages.  The world has yet to overcome racism.  Many countries still suffer from economic patterns and decisions set in motion long ago.  Many families still feel keenly the trauma imposed on their forebears.  We must continue to recognize the persistent pain of this legacy even in the present moment.

Moreover, we know that while some forms of slavery may have been abolished, others have emerged to blight our world, including human trafficking and forced and bonded labour.  Heeding the lessons of yesterday means fighting these ills today.

The theme for this year’s International Day, “Recognizing the Legacy and Contributions of People of African Descent,” invites us to pay tribute to the many achievements of the African diaspora.
We see those contributions in every field of human endeavour.  The descendants of slaves have made their mark as inventors, economists and jurists; as authors and scholars; as artists and athletes; as politicians and civil rights leaders.

Mae Jemison was the first African-American woman to enter outer space.  She is among the distinguished individuals of African descent who are being honoured in an exhibition currently on display in our visitors’ lobby.

One descendant of slaves made an imprint on the United Nations itself: Ralph Bunche, the first African-American to win a Nobel Prize and one of the most respected and celebrated international civil servants in the history of this Organization.

It seems especially appropriate at this commemorative meeting to recall the life and work of Derek Walcott, the poet and Nobel laureate from Saint Lucia who died one week ago today.
In poems and other writings, he confronted the brutality of slavery and the legacy of colonialism.  In “The Sea is History”, for example, he gave us the searing image of “men with eyes as heavy as anchors / who sank without tombs”.

The United Nations and I personally attach the greatest importance to the challenge of slavery, past and present.

Through our Remember Slavery Programme, we will continue shedding light on tragedies related to slavery and highlighting the impressive and living contributions that people of African descent are making to their communities and to our world. These are two crucial ways through which we can combat racism.

At this time of rising divisiveness, let us unite against hatred.  And let us build a world of freedom and dignity for all.
Thank you.

The Secretary-General’s Remarks at the Commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Racial Profiling and Incitement to Hatred, including in the context of migration, 21 March 2017

As the President of the General Assembly just referred, this day reminds us that in 1960 in Sharpeville, South Africa, 69 unarmed protestors were killed in a peaceful protest against the discriminatory pass laws of the racist apartheid regime.

I join my voice to his voice in praising South Africa’s leadership in our common struggle  against racial discrimination.

Yet as we scan the global landscape 57 years later, it seems that we are living in an increasingly intolerant and ever more divided world.

Discrimination and violence are rising.

People are being targeted because of their race, nationality, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation.  Borders are being closed and the international refugee protection regime is being undermined. In a time of upheaval and change, it is easy to paint vulnerable communities as the cause of problems.

Migrants have become convenient scapegoats, and xenophobia widespread. Women and girls of minority communities are often targeted. Many minorities are experiencing racial profiling by authorities. Far too often, hate speech, stereotyping and stigmatization are becoming normalized.Fringe figures have moved to centre stage in many political systems.

And yet despite this dark picture, there are many rays of hope. Millions of people are speaking out against racism and intolerance.   Many communities have opened their hearts and their doors to refugees and migrants – recognizing and appreciating migration as a part of the solution of our global problems..

Today is a day to pledge to build on this progress and do even more – to work even harder to close divisions, to combat intolerance and to protect human rights of all.This day is also a reminder of our common obligations. International law requires States to take effective actions to prevent and eliminate discrimination on all grounds and in all fields of civil, economic, political, social and cultural life.

They must be vigilant and respond immediately and appropriately, including by prohibiting incitement to racial, national and religious hatred and ending racial profiling. And they must uphold the integrity of the international refugee protection regime. Politicians and leaders must speak up and counter hateful speech. And every one of us needs to stand up for human rights.
I applaud civil society organisations around the world for reminding us that we need to do better and to do more.  We all have a role to play and the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination highlights our collective responsibility.

After all, racial discrimination destabilizes societies, undermines democracies and erodes the legitimacy of governments. By acting together to end discrimination, we can lift humanity as a whole. As societies become multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural, we will need greater political, cultural and economic investments in inclusivity and cohesion in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.

We can build communities that recognize that diversity is not a source of weakness, it is a source of strength and richness.

Let us stand up against intolerance and eliminate discrimination. Let us join forces in our global campaign — Together for Respect, Safety and Dignity for all. Thank you.

The Secretary-General’s Remarks at Ministerial Open Debate on Trafficking in Persons in Conflict Situations: Forced labour, slavery and other similar practices

New York, 15 March 2017

I thank the United Kingdom for convening this meeting, which builds on last December’s adoption of a far-reaching resolution targeting human trafficking in conflict situations.
Allow me to start with a short personal reflection.

I come from a country which, for centuries, engaged in the cruel trade in human beings. It is part of our history, that we will also not allow anyone to forget.

Portugal ultimately outlawed slavery in the 19th century

A global norm against it has now long been in place.  Indeed the very conscience of the United Nations was shaped by this disgraceful violation of human dignity.I wish that I could say that human trafficking is a thing of the past. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Trafficking networks have gone global.  According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, victims can be found in 106 countries.

The International Labour Organization reports that 21 million people around the world are victims of forced labour and extreme exploitation.  Annual profits are estimated to be $150 [billion].

Beyond these numbers is the human toll — the lives cut short, the families and societies torn apart, the gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.
Human trafficking takes many forms.

Women and girls in particular are targeted again and again and again. We see brutal sexual exploitation, including forced prostitution, forced marriage and sexual slavery.  We see the appalling trade in human organs. Let us also remember that modern manifestations of servitude may touch and even implicate us all.  Global supply-chains have transformed many lives for the better – but not always without costs.  In some situations – clothes, food, smartphones, jewelry and other consumer goods may bear, wittingly or unwittingly, the traces of exploitation.  Gleaming new skyscrapers may owe some of their shine to the sweat of bonded laborers.

Human trafficking thrives where the rule of law is weak or nonexistent.  Situations of armed conflict are especially virulent breeding grounds for human trafficking.

In some of today’s conflicts, we are confronted by armed groups that not only openly engage in enslavement and forced labour, but actually argue that it is legal.

In Syria, Daesh has organized slave markets and even published manuals instructing its fighters on how to capture, control and trade enslaved women and girls. The leaders of Boko Haram have also argued that slavery is legal.

In other conflicts, other groups force men, women and children under their control to labour in unsafe mines, as porters and domestic servants, and on the frontlines. Fleeing these threats, refugees and displaced people confront new ones.  As people take to the road, predators take advantage.  Smugglers often coerce and manipulate individuals for profit and make them victims of sex or labour trafficking.  Terrorists and violent extremists use sexual enslavement as a tool for recruitment. Drug traffickers use kidnapping and ransom to finance their operations.  Criminal gangs force unaccompanied children into a life of petty crime.

Moreover, impunity prevails.  According to UNODC’s December 2016 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, there are hardly any convictions for crimes related to human trafficking in conflict situations or elsewhere.   The lack of aggressive investigations and prosecutions only adds to the injustice, allows perpetrators to function without fear, fuels corruption and creates widespread disillusion. Allow me another personal reflection on this. I remember that, when I was in government, I never expected my two children to be victims of trafficking, but I always was afraid of the impact of drugs on their lives. I think it is the same with most political leaders around the world. Most political leaders around the world are afraid of the impact of drugs on their families, and they don’t think it likely that their families will be impacted by human trafficking. Probably that is why we have seen much more priority given to fighting drug traffickers than to fight the traffickers of human beings. Of course, drug trafficking is an awful crime, but to traffic human beings is, I must say, much worse. I believe it is our duty to really commit ourselves to do everything to make this a clear priority for all governments and for all forms of international cooperation.

There is much that we can do both to punish human trafficking, and to prevent it in the first place.

A solid legal and normative framework is in place, including the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocol, which includes the first internationally agreed definition of the crime of trafficking in persons and provides a framework to effectively prevent and combat it.

ILO Conventions and the Global Plan of Action on Human Trafficking complement the Protocol, and are further key parts of the picture.  All of these build on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Under the Rome Statute, enslavement can constitute a crime against humanity.
UN military and civilian personnel must also be held accountable to these standards.  I continue to take steps to strengthen our efforts to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse committed under the UN flag.

Since human trafficking does not respect borders, Member States need to strengthen cooperation on law enforcement, investigations and intelligence-sharing. We also [need] to strengthen coordination among Member States, civil society, the business community and UN entities, including through ICAT — the Inter-Agency Coordination Group Against Trafficking in Persons.

At the same time, we need to get at the underlying vulnerabilities that fuel this phenomenon, for example by empowering girls through education, by respecting the rights of minorities and by establishing safe and legal channels of migration.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development can also help us break the chains of exploitation.  Three of the goals explicitly address human trafficking, including sex trafficking, forced labour, child labour and the recruitment and use of child soldiers.

As we engage the private sector as a key partner in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, we need to ensure they take greater responsibility when they are sourcing from conflict areas.

Better data will be crucial.  Funding is critical.  The United Nations is also committed not only to supporting victims, but to incorporating their voices and views as we develop and implement anti-trafficking interventions.

Finally, Excellencies, at a time of divisions in so many areas, this should be an issue that can unite us.  Let us come together around the key issues of prosecution, protection and prevention, and thereby build a future without human trafficking.

Thank you very much.

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL’s REMARKS AT THE COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN New York, 13 March 2017

Welcome and thank you all for being here. I would like to share three simple messages with you today. My first and most important message is one of gratitude: a deep and heartfelt thank you. I thank you and salute you for raising your voices for women’s equality and dignity around the world. Every day, you are on the frontlines for fairness – for a more just and decent world. I have seen the difference you make in every corner of our globe. You are an inspiration. As you champion equality, you make the world better for all. I thank you very much. My second message is clear: in a male dominated world, the empowerment of women must be a key priority. Women already have what it takes to succeed. Empowerment is about breaking structural barriers. Men still dominate, even in countries that consider themselves as progressive. Male chauvinism blocks women – and that hurts everyone.

We are all better off when we open doors of opportunity for women and girls: in classrooms and boardrooms, in military ranks and at peace talks, in all aspects of productive life. This is vital to address a historic injustice that continues today.   But it is also about effectiveness. Institutions, companies, governments and organizations – including our own – those in which gender equality reflect the people they serve get better results by every measure. They are the future.   If countries address the gender gap at work, women can generate enough funds to underpin success across the 2030 Agenda which was approved by all leaders at the United Nations in 2015.

One study found that women’s equality can add twelve trillion dollars to global growth over the next decade. Women and girls with better reproductive health and education have also better chances in life. They earn higher salaries. They invest more in the health of their children. Investments now pay dividends for generations. Empowerment is also the best way to prevent protection challenges that arise from violent extremism, human rights violations, xenophobia and other threats. We need you more than ever before. Globally, women are suffering new assaults on their safety and dignity. Extremists have built their ideologies around the subjugation of women and girls and the denial of their rights. Sexual violence, forced marriage, human trafficking and virtual enslavement – these are weapons of physical and psychological warfare in today’s world. Some governments are enacting laws that curtail women’s freedoms. Others are rolling back legal protections against domestic violence. Discrimination against women sounds a loud alarm that our common values are under threat. Women’s rights are human rights – and attacks on women are attacks on all of us. This is why we have to respond together.

For the 830 women at risk of dying each day from causes related to childbirth. For the 225 million women who lack access to modern contraceptives. For the 15 million girls forced to marry each year. For the 130 million women and girls who have suffered genital mutilation.
For the women domestic workers who globally do two and a half times as much unpaid work as men. And for the nearly one billion women who will enter the global economy in the next decade. Empowerment will unleash the potential of all these women and girls – and they will lead us to a new future. This brings me to my third message: The United Nations and I will personally support you every step of the way. It is true, I have to confess, I am a man, but we need all men to stand up for women’s empowerment. Our world needs more women leaders. And our world needs more men standing up for gender equality.

Today, I am happy to announce that I am joining the International Gender Champions. I encourage other senior leaders to be part of this campaign for equality. We have had goals in the past – sometimes ambitious goals – and they have led to some improvement, but not enough. The outstanding women in my cabinet are at the vanguard women’s leadership at the United Nations. We need a cultural shift – in the world and our United Nations. Women everywhere should be recognized as equal and promoted on that basis. We need more than goals; we need action, targets and benchmarks to measure what we do. But for the UN, gender equality is not only a matter of staffing. It relates to everything we do.

And allow me to tell one story that I lived in my own party twenty years ago when we were fighting for quotas in our own party board  and I remember the dialog between two of my colleagues at that time on the usual argument about gender equality. One was saying to other “I have nothing against women as members of our board, provided that they are competent”. And the other wisely answered “Look, there will only be equality on our board when incompetent women will also be members because we have a lot of incompetent man there”.

That does not mean that I am here to promote incompetent women here at the UN,  what we need is to have both competent women and competent men with equal opportunities in the Organization.

We have announced ambitious new steps to help end sexual exploitation and abuse committed under the UN flag. A major part of the solution is to deploy more women in uniform – and more women leaders in our Organization. Again – this is not just about equality; it is about results. When women meaningfully participate in peace processes, the chance of sustainable peace goes up by 35 percent over 15 years. With peacekeeping, I am asking the Member States to move us beyond the current level, where women make up just 3 per cent of our peacekeepers. When we deploy more women, our credibility goes up. Our protection reaches further. Our community relations thrive.

That is why I intend to draw more on the immense talents of women to foster peace and security in our world.

Dear friends, We stand for a powerful truth: women’s equality works for the world. I have one last request to all of you.  I ask you to hold us to our promises.  Do not let us in the UN off the hook.  Keep our feet on the fire. Keep pushing.  Keep inspiring.  Keep making a difference.   I thank you because we need you.  You can count on me and you can count on the UN.

The Secretary-General’s Remarks to the Human Rights Council, Geneva, 27 February 2017

Distinguished President of the Human Rights Council, President of the General Assembly, High Commissioner, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Colleagues, Friends,
It is a profound honour to address the Human Rights Council.

For 10 years, you may have known me as the “other” High Commissioner, just down the road.  And so it is a great privilege to be with you for the first time in my capacity as Secretary-General.

I am here in a spirit of gratitude.  And I am here at a time of urgency.

Disregard for human rights is a disease, and it is a disease that is spreading – north, south, east and west.

The Human Rights Council must be part of the cure.

You can be pivotal for prevention – sounding early warnings of crises.

Commissions of Inquiry and fact-finding missions respond to serious allegations of human rights violations around the world.

The scrutiny and recommendations of the Council’s independent experts shed light, enhance protection and guide policy.

The Council’s growing engagement with civil society strengthens so much of your work – and is especially vital at a time when civil society space is shrinking in so many places.

And through the Universal Periodic Review, every country in the world has had its human rights record thoroughly examined.

Despite differences among members, this Council is based on a shared understanding: upholding the rights of all people and in the interest of all States.

And that truth is integral to every aspect of the work of the United Nations.  Our three pillars of peace, development and human rights are inseparable and they are mutually reinforcing.

Human rights – civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights — must never be seen as a luxury or “saved for later”, after peace and development have been achieved.

Human rights are an intrinsic part of all that we do – and all that we are.

And so we must speak up for human rights in an impartial way without double standards.

We must invest in human rights and recognize human rights as values and goals unto themselves – not allowing them to be instrumentalized as a political tool.

And indeed, the integrity and credibility of this Council will only be enhanced by proceeding in a manner that avoids unbalanced treatment of Member States.

Mr. President,

I say all of these things as the Secretary-General of the United Nations.  But my support for human rights goes deeper.

It’s personal.

I grew up under the Salazar dictatorship in Portugal.  I did not know democracy until I was twenty-four years old.

I came of age seeing how the denial of not just civil and political rights – but also social, cultural and economic rights – corroded every aspect of society.

It condemned many to a life of poverty.

It triggered mass migration.  Portuguese couldn’t vote through the ballot box, so many voted with their feet.

And I saw the dictatorship oppressing not only its own citizens, but also the people of the African colonies, including by waging wars for 13 long and bloody years.

And my passion for defending human rights has sprung both from the grassroots as a young man – and later from the top as Prime Minister leading a country in pursuit of human rights and dignity for all its citizens.

And it only grew stronger serving as High Commissioner for Refugees and witnessing the terrible consequences of ignoring – or blatantly trampling on – people’s fundamental rights and dignity.

Now, as Secretary-General, I see every day how the future of our world and the future of human rights go hand-in-hand.

Mr. President,

Our world is becoming more dangerous, less predictable, more chaotic.

New conflicts are multiplying.  Old ones never die.  And both are more and more interconnected with the threat of global terrorism and violent extremism.

Again and again, we see violations of human rights as early and leading indicators of crisis.

Again and again, we have seen human rights abuses play into the hands of extremists.

At the same time, violations of economic rights — such as massive inequalities within and between States – are a growing source of social unrest.

If we are to truly address these challenges, we must make prevention our priority, tackle root causes of conflict, and react earlier and more effectively in addressing human rights concerns.

That is the lesson of so many conflicts and the driving force behind the Human Rights up Front initiative.

We know that just as denial of human rights is part of the problem – the active promotion of human rights is part of the solution.

And that means supporting Member States in building capacity — strengthening states, institutions and civil society.

Perhaps the best prevention tool we have is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – and the treaties that derive from it.

The rights set out in it identify many of the root causes of conflict, but equally they provide real world solutions through real change on the ground.

I look to the Human Rights Council to be fully engaged and help affect the change on the range of issues that require your attention in our troubled and turbulent world.

They include deliberate and systematic violations of international humanitarian law in a growing number of conflicts – and which this Council has done much to expose.

We are increasingly seeing the perverse phenomenon of populism and extremism feeding off each other in a frenzy of growing racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim hatred and other forms of intolerance.

Minorities, indigenous communities and others face discriminations and abuse across the world.  And the same applies to members of the LGBTI community.

The rights of refugees and migrants are under attack.  Human trafficking is on the rise.

And with so many people escaping war, the international community must not escape its responsibilities.

We must do our utmost to re-establish the integrity of the international refugee protection regime.

Our challenge here is not really about “sharing the burden”– it is about “sharing the responsibility”.  We have a collective responsibility embedded in the values we share and the Charter that defines us.

By the same measure, we must forcefully resist calls to reinstate torture.  Torture is cowardly, produces no usable information and shames every country that inflicts it.

And similarly, let us work together to turn back efforts to reinstate capital punishment.   I say this as a citizen of a country that abolished the death penalty 150 years ago.

Mr. President,

We simply cannot achieve any of our goals without the full participation of women and girls.  Within the UN, I am committed to establish a clear road map with benchmarks to achieve gender parity across the system.  I will soon propose to the General Assembly ambitious new steps to help end sexual exploitation and abuse committed under the UN flag.

We must do far more around the world.  Hard fought gains on women’s rights are  being chipped away – whether it is through a pushback on women’s reproductive rights or turning a blind eye to domestic violence or violently enforcing traditional gender roles.

Let us say loud and clear:  women’s rights are human rights.

As we do so, I also make a special appeal for the rights of children.  Millions of children around the world are denied their rights.

And children are the main victims of war and crises – the effects of which often last a lifetime.  More than half of the world’s refugees are children – perhaps the most defenceless people on earth.

Let us act to protect children of all ages, ensure they know their rights, and can live and breathe those rights every day and everywhere.

Mr. President,

Let us also recognize that we must do more to ensure equal attention to economic, social and cultural rights.

The corpus of human rights is indivisible and interdependent.

We cannot pick and choose, emphasizing some and ignoring others.

The 2030 Agenda provides an ideal platform to demonstrate our commitment to all human rights.

As the High Commissioner has often pointed out, the right to development is at the core of the 2030 Agenda.

The right to quality education, housing, food, water, equal access to employment – these and other economic and social rights can and must be realized.

As we work to promote all human rights, I want to express a final word of appreciation and admiration to those on the frontlines.

To human rights defenders, I say:  thank you for your courage.  The United Nations is on your side.  And I am on your side.

I remind Member States of their responsibility to ensure that human rights defenders can operate without fear of intimidation.

Human rights defenders must be able to freely participate in the Council and engage more broadly with the UN without fear of reprisal.  This is critical to our work and to the credibility of Member States.

Journalists are an essential part of the checks and balances of any society.  They, too, must be guaranteed full protection in law and practice to do their vital work independently and without interference.

Mr. President, Excellencies,
The struggle for human rights is at the heart a struggle to expand the horizons of the possible, to bring out the best of our selves and to unleash the best of our societies.

Human rights inspire.  Human rights transform.  Human rights drive progress and change the course of history.

I am determined to raise the profile of human rights and to speak out whenever necessary.

And I will do my utmost to defend the defenders.

We will build a safer and more stable world for our children as we recognise the interconnections between peace, development and human rights.

We will advance security by advancing dignity, justice, equality and the rule of law.

I thank the Human Rights Council for working to point the way.  Thank you very much.

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL’S REMARKS AT 2016 UN GLOBAL COMPACT LEADERS SUMMIT: 

MAKING GLOBAL GOALS LOCAL BUSINESS, New York, 22 June 2016

It is a great pleasure to join you for the 2016 UN Global Compact Leaders Summit.
I warmly welcome all the participants who have come to the United Nations today from the worlds of business, civil society, labour and academia, as well as the many young people who are here in force.

All of you are leaders in the campaign for a world without poverty, a thriving planet, a vibrant and inclusive global economy, and a life of dignity for all.  This is the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals, agreed upon by the Member States of the UN in September last year.
Last year’s adoption of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, together with the historic Paris Climate Agreement on climate change, sent a powerful message far and wide: we cannot continue on our current course.

We need new ways of living that will end the suffering, discrimination and lack of opportunity that define the lives of billions of people around the world, and that drive instability and conflict.
The solutions must involve everyone, from world leaders and chief executives, to educators and philanthropists. We must work together – across sectors and industries – in broader and deeper partnerships. Sustainable development cannot be separated from fighting the impact of climate change.

The Paris Agreement will reinforce climate action and make important contributions to realizing the Sustainable Development Goals.

A holistic development model will take climate impact and fragile ecosystems into account, and will benefit both people and the planet.

Trillions of dollars will be invested in infrastructure in the coming years.

Governments and the private sector must align their investment and infrastructure decisions with the Sustainable Development Goals, and with the goal of limiting global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius. If possible, we must strive to lower it down to 1.5 degrees Centigrade.

The Paris Agreement and the SDGs give the private sector an unprecedented opportunity to create clean-energy, climate-resilient, sustainable economies.

We are at a decisive moment in the shift to sustainable and inclusive markets.
Two steps are essential.

First, we need to mobilize the global business community as never before.
All businesses, everywhere, can and should play a role in improving our world.
That starts with integrity — doing business right.

I have seen first-hand the power of the UN Global Compact’s Ten Principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.

They are helping thousands of companies contribute to sustainability.
I ask each of the corporate leaders here and entrepreneurs today to renew your commitment to principled business, and to speak up for the UN Global Compact. Second, innovation will be crucial.

I urge you to take advantage of the new markets and solutions that are emerging; to set corporate goals inspired by the SDGs; and to let sustainability drive innovation and investment.
As a starting point, the UN Global Compact launched a search for entrepreneurs and changemakers who can play a pivotal role.

Today, I am honoured to announce the ten 2016 Global Compact SDG Pioneers. Please join me in congratulating:

· Kerry Adler of Canada;  Zubaida Bai of India;  Farzana Chowdhury of Bangladesh;  Sonia Favaretto of Brazil;  Liang Xiaohui of China;  Patrick Ngowi of Tanzania;  Claus Stig Pedersen of Denmark; Ulisses Sabara of Brazil;  Dina Sherif of Egypt; and  Ulysses Smith of the United [States.].

I call on the ten SDG Pioneers to please stand up so that we can thank you! Thank you. Congratulations, and I count on your strong commitment and engagement. I think that even though I announced the ten pioneers, you are all champions, and you are all pioneers. Thank you very much for your strong engagement. The Global Compact is uniquely prepared and positioned to help businesses seize the opportunities of the SDG era.  The Compact’s 80 local networks are the ideal launching pad for campaigns to turn global goals into local business.
Achieving the SDGs will require unprecedented cooperation and extraordinary leadership.
And it will require us each to be a pioneer, forging ahead into new territory.  That means taking personal and corporate responsibility for how we do business and who we choose as our staff and partners.

It means taking stock of our decisions as consumers and investors.   It also means raising our voices and taking a stand when it matters.  The United Nations Global Compact is the forum to make all this happen.   In my ten years as Secretary-General, we have come a long way.  The Global Compact was established under my predecessor, Kofi Annan, and I am very encouraged by its significant expansion during my time in office in the last nine-plus years.

    Together, we have helped to put corporate sustainability on the map. The United Nations Global Compact now has over 13,000 signatories in 165 countries. Congratulations, and I thank you for your strong engagement and commitment.
    I congratulate you all on this enormous success.  Institutional investors representing an astonishing $60 trillion in assets have signed up to the UN-supported Principles for Responsible Investment. Over 600 business schools are committed to teaching according to the Principles for Responsible Management Education. The Global Compact’s Caring for Climate initiative is now the largest coalition of businesses actively engaging on climate.

Global Compact action platforms are providing ways for business to engage with the United Nations on issues from peace and security to women’s empowerment and the rule of law.
I hope and expect my successor to back you as enthusiastically as I have.  Together, we have shown that responsible business must be part of the solution to the global challenges we face.
Now, we must have the courage and determination to turn the aspirations of the Sustainable Development Goals into action for the better future we want.

I thank you for your leadership and your strong engagement and commitment. Thank you very much.

UN Secretary-General’s remarks to the closing ceremony of the World Humanitarian Summit, Istanbul, Turkey, 24 May 2016

05-24-2016Closing

This unique summit has set us on a new course. It is not an end point, but a turning point.
I thank all of you who came to Istanbul with vision, ideas and commitment.

Governments, people affected by crisis, Non-Governmental Organizations, the private sector, United Nations agencies and other partners came together and expressed their support for the Agenda for Humanity and its five Core Responsibilities.  Implementing this agenda is a necessity, if we are to enable people to live in dignity and prosperity, and fulfil the promise of last year’s landmark agreements on the Sustainable Development Agenda and Climate Change.

Humanitarian and development partners agreed on a new way of working aimed at reducing the need for humanitarian action by investing in resilient communities and stable societies.
Aid agencies and donor governments committed to a ‘Grand Bargain’ that will get more resources into the hands of people who need them, at the local and national level. And Governments committed to do more to prevent conflict and build peace, to uphold international humanitarian law, and live up to the promise of the Charter of the United Nations. I hope all Member States will work at the highest level to find the political solutions that are so vital to reduce humanitarian needs around the world.

Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

I congratulate you on the many innovative projects and initiatives that have been launched over the past two days. Together, we launched a ground-breaking charter that places people with disabilities at the heart of humanitarian decision-making; a platform on young people in crises;
and commitments to uphold the rights of women and girls in emergencies and protect them from gender-based violence.

The ‘Education Cannot Wait’ fund was launched with a pledge for $100 million from the Global Business Coalition for Education. Islamic financing tools for humanitarian action – a social bond and an endowment fund – were inaugurated.

Today I am presenting a Chair’s Summary which reflects our rich discussions at this Summit. This will be followed by a document detailing the commitments that have been made, which will also be registered on an online platform. In September, I will report to the United Nations General Assembly on the Summit’s achievements. I will propose ways to take our commitments forward through intergovernmental processes, inter-agency forums and other mechanisms. I congratulate you all on living up to your responsibilities. And I call on everyone, including world leaders who missed this opportunity to join us, to honour and champion the Agenda for Humanity as we implement it over the coming years.

During this Summit, I have had the privilege of talking to some of you here who have been deeply affected by crisis: people who are enduring the conflict in South Sudan, people who lost everything to last year’s cyclone in Vanuatu, and NGO workers from Syria, who brave bombs and rockets to bring humanitarian aid to women, men and children in need. Despite their very difficult circumstances, all these people are working hard to help their communities. You are true humanitarian heroes. I salute your courage and resilience.

The World Humanitarian Summit must deliver for you, and for people and communities caught up in crisis around the world. Together, we will put people first, secure their safety, uphold their dignity and give them a chance of a better future.

Thank you.

United Nations Secretary-General’s remarks at the High Level Roundtable on Natural Disasters and Climate Change at the World Humanitarian Summit,

Istanbul, Turkey, 24 May 2016

Distinguished Heads of State and Government,

 Distinguished Ministers,

 Distinguished representatives of intergovernmental organizations,

 United Nations agencies and other stakeholders,

 Excellencies,

 Ladies and gentlemen,

 I call to order the High-level Leaders’ Roundtable on [Natural Disasters and Climate Change [GAVEL]

Welcome. I am honoured to serve as your Moderator.

I am pleased to be joined by the Co-Chairs of this roundtable,

His Excellency Baron Divavesi Waqa, President of the Republic of Nauru,

His Excellency Mr. William Ruto, Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya,

His Excellency Mr. Demeke Mekonnen, Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia,

His Excellency Mr. Kamal Thapa, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal.

Before we proceed, I would like to make some introductory remarks. Natural disasters are having a major impact around the world. Over the past two decades, an average of 218 million people every year have been affected by natural disasters, leading to an economic impact of some $250-300 billion per year. Despite some improvements in building resilience in recent years, we know that the impact of climate change, urbanization and other factors will increase the frequency and intensity of disasters.

The current El Niño demonstrates the challenges we face. This weather phenomenon – which was foreseen – is already affecting sixty million people with droughts and flooding. Last January, I myself witnessed the effects of El Nino on farmers in Ethiopia, and the Deputy Secretary-General saw them in Vietnam three weeks ago. We saw what a difference greater investment in preparedness and prevention can make. I have appointed the Honorable Mary Robinson, the former President of Ireland, and Ambassador Macharia Kamou of Ethiopia as my Envoys to address El Nino.

Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Reducing disaster risk dominated last year’s political achievements: the Sendai Framework, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. We must now honor these agreements and deliver on their promises. That is the first core commitment for this roundtable.

We can reduce risks, but we can never eliminate them. Unfortunately, natural disasters will continue to happen, as we have seen recently in the devastating earthquakes in Nepal and Ecuador. We must prepare for them much more effectively, so we can respond as quickly as possible. These are the second and third core commitments. We must increase investment in community resilience, with the full participation of women, young people, and other groups in society. This is the fourth commitment. And the fifth and final commitment is to follow the rule: as local as possible; as international as needed. Local action must be driven by local needs, and complemented by regional and international support.

I look forward to your commitments, so that this Summit marks the beginning of a major change in the global management of disaster risks and crises. For its part, the United Nations commits to making all its plans and programmes risk informed, and to building the resilience of communities that are most vulnerable.

 Thank you.

UN Secretary-General’s Remarks to High-Level Round Table on Humanitarian Financing at the World Humanitarian Summit, Istanbul, Turkey, 23 May 2016

Over the past decade, the gap between humanitarian needs and the funds available to meet them has grown to unprecedented levels. This is not because the world cannot afford to help people in need.

Estimates put the total sum requested for humanitarian aid at about one per cent of global military spending.  Nor is it because people do not want to help each other.

Those who have the least often give the most. Some of the poorest countries in the world are hosting the highest numbers of refugees. No. The challenge is directed at us: the leaders; the decision-makers; the professionals. It is a question of our priorities, our accounting and our funding systems.

That is why I established the High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing last year, to find out how the international community can deliver for the most vulnerable. Their report was a clarion call for a change of direction. The panel found that significant improvements are needed in how we mobilize, allocate, and use resources. The Grand Bargain that will be launched later today is one result.

We also need better risk management and a new approach to protracted crises.  Humanitarian and development organizations must work towards the same goals, with the same priorities: risk management, preparedness and resilience. Traditional and new donors must build broad partnerships with the communities and governments that are on the frontlines of humanitarian action.

Above all, we need your commitment and action

For our part, the United Nations commits to making humanitarian action as local as possible and as international as necessary. We commit to improving our engagement with local and national partners.  I urge everyone here today to consider your priorities as we work together to reduce and end humanitarian needs around the world.

Thank you.

UN Secretary-General’s Remarks at Climate Action 2016

Washington D.C., 5 May 2016

It is a great pleasure to be with you today.

Just two weeks ago, 175 countries came to the United Nations to sign the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Never before have so many countries signed an international agreement in one day. It is clear that the Paris Agreement enjoys overwhelming support from all regions. Large emerging economies, high and middle income countries, and nations at all stages of development are saying they want a low-carbon future that can limit global temperature rise and underpin sustainable development.  Two of the world’s largest emitters – China and the United States – have pledged their continued commitment and collaboration. The Presidents of both countries jointly announced in March that they would join the Paris Agreement this year. I thank President Obama and President Xi Jinping for their leadership.

And I thank Secretary of State Kerry for the statesmanship he showed in Paris that helped secure a deal.  Once 55 countries accounting for 55 per cent of global emissions join the Paris Agreement, it will enter into force. I will do all I can to help this happen. We must turn the promise of Paris into action and implementation as soon as possible.  We need action now.
Temperatures continue to climb. Arctic sea ice is melting fast. Droughts, storms and floods are costing lives and productivity from Fiji to the Philippines; from Thailand to Texas.

It is time to take climate action to the next level.

We need to accelerate the speed, scope and scale of our response, locally and globally. I have been looking forward to this event because it is about solutions – innovation and imagination; collaboration and partnerships between the public and private sectors.  Today as never before, the stars are aligning in favour of climate action.  Everywhere I look, I see signs of hope.
Governments have signed the Paris Agreement and submitted their national climate plans.
Here, in the United States, cities, the private sector, investors, the finance community, the military, faith communities and civil society are driving the transformative change we need.
The advantages are clear: new markets; new jobs; cleaner air and better health. That is why cities are reducing emissions and increasing their resilience.  Companies are inventing new, green technologies and scaling up their use of sustainable, clean  energy.  Investors are scrutinizing fossil fuel investments and insurers are beginning to integrate climate risk into their decision-making. Across this country and around the world we are seeing the emergence of the clean energy, climate-resilient economy of tomorrow.

Initiatives such as Sustainable Energy for All and Caring for Climate are gathering momentum.
Our goal now must be nothing less than a radical transformation of the global economy to a zero-carbon world in the second half of this century.  This will require mobilization on an unprecedented scale –here and around the globe. Both the United States and China are pivotal for this task. Both have pledged significant reductions in their emissions.  And both have agreed in Paris on transparent rules of the road to monitor progress, enhance accountability and foster a race to the top to drive climate ambition. That is why, in September, in the margins of the G20 meeting, I intend to co-convene a meeting similar to this one in China.We cannot afford a minute’s rest.

Last year, the world united to create an ambitious sustainable development agenda to transform the global economy, bring new opportunities to billions of people, and leave a more habitable planet for future generations. We have to deliver on these promises by working together. Climate Action 2016 will further solidify the coalitions that were highlighted at my Climate Summit in 2014, and in the Action Agenda in Lima and Paris. I encourage all of you to work with the COP Presidencies to make the High-Level Event on Climate Action at COP-22 in Marrakesh a resounding success by demonstrating concrete progress on the action agenda.
Here, you will focus on six, high-value areas of multi-stakeholder partnership: sustainable energy; sustainable land-use; cities; transport; and tools for decision-making.   Each is integral to tackling climate change and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. To rise to these challenges we will need strong partnerships at all levels. No sector of society and no nation can succeed alone.  I encourage you to collaborate. Innovate.  Invest.

Together we can build the world we want, and the world we are proud to leave to our children.
Thank you.

Secretary-General’s remarks to Security Council on Health Care in Armed Conflict

New York, 3 May 2016

Let me begin by welcoming the presence of Mr. Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, and Dr. Joanne Liu, International President of Médecins Sans Frontières.  

The ICRC and MSF are our good partners, playing unique and vital roles in conflict and disaster areas.  Through their leaders here today, I want to thank and commend all of their personnel for their professionalism and dedication in serving people in danger and distress across the world.
Last week, MSF’s head of mission in Aleppo underscored the urgency and importance of efforts such as today’s resolution.

“No corner is being spared”, he said.  And he added: “Aleppo is already a shell of what it once was; this most recent assault appears determined to eliminate even that”.
He was reacting to an air strike, by all accounts by the Government of Syria, that destroyed a hospital, killing at least 20 people, including three children and the area’s one and only pediatrician, Dr. Mohammad Wassim Maaz. Yet this appalling act was only the latest wartime assault on health care in Syria.

Since the beginning of the conflict, Physicians for Human Rights has documented more than 360 attacks on some 250 medical facilities.  More than 730 medical personnel have been killed.
Today, almost half of all medical facilities in Syria are now closed or only partially functioning.  Millions of Syrians lack life-saving healthcare.

A similar pattern of systematic destruction of health facilities is evident in Yemen. More than 600 medical facilities have closed because of damage sustained in the conflict and shortages of supplies and medical workers. Last year, the United Nations verified 59 attacks against 34 hospitals. In January this year, Coalition air strikes hit the Shiara Hospital, which serves around 120,000 people in Sa’ada Governorate. Following the attack, pregnant women were reportedly forced to give birth in caves rather than risk travelling to the hospital. And last October in Kunduz, Afghanistan, a bombing by United States military destroyed another MSF hospital and killed dozens, as patients were burned alive in their beds.

These patterns are repeated in other conflicts, including in Iraq and South Sudan, where violence against healthcare is multiplying the difficulties of already fragile health systems.
Such attacks must end.  When so-called surgical strikes end up hitting surgical wards, something is deeply wrong. Explanations ring hollow to parents burying their children and communities pushed closer to collapse. All too often, there is no respect for the sick and no sanctity for those who provide care.

All too often, attacks on health facilities and medical workers are not just isolated or incidental battlefield fallout, but rather the intended objective of the combatants. This is shameful and inexcusable.  In Syria, Government forces systematically remove medical supplies from humanitarian convoys.

In Syria and elsewhere, Governments impose cumbersome procedures that restrict access to healthcare.  This is strangulation by red tape.  It is violence by bureaucratic means rather than force of arms, but it is just as devastating.  Let us be clear: Intentional and direct attacks on hospitals are war crimes.  Denying people access to essential health care is a serious violation of international humanitarian law. All State and non-State parties to conflict are bound by a strict obligation to respect and protect medical personnel, facilities and vehicles, as well as the wounded and sick. Parties to conflict must allow and facilitate rapid and unimpeded passage of impartial humanitarian relief, including medical missions.

These obligations are at the very heart of international humanitarian law.  This Council and all Member States must do more than condemn such attacks.  They must  use every ounce of influence to press parties to respect their obligations.  They must press for perpetrators to be held fully accountable. The resolution you have just adopted demonstrates the Council’s determination to strengthen the protection of healthcare in armed conflict. For the sake of humanity, I urge all Member States, parties to conflict and other relevant actors to heed the Council’s demands.

Facilitate humanitarian access.

Develop domestic legal frameworks that protect health facilities and medical workers.
Train armed forces so they understand their obligations. Prosecute those responsible for such attacks and other violations.

Mr. President,

The growing insecurity of medical services is part of a broader trend of blatant disregard for international law in armed conflict. Across the world, parties to conflict are disregarding the most basic rules of international humanitarian and human rights law.  Every day, civilians are deliberately or indiscriminately killed or injured. Densely populated towns and cities are pummelled by air strikes and heavy shelling. Millions of people have fled their homes into perilous and uncertain futures.  Impunity compounds the crime.

Last October, ICRC President Peter Maurer and I issued a joint statement calling on States to take urgent action to uphold international law and address human suffering. I repeat that call in this chamber today.  Even wars have rules; it is time to uphold and enforce them. No government should stand by and watch the erosion of safeguards for the protection of civilians in conflict.  The international community must never become numb to flagrant abuses.
Affirming our common humanity will be a key theme at the World Humanitarian Summit meeting in Istanbul on May 23rd and 24th – and it highlights the importance and timeliness of this first-of-its-kind event.

I encourage Member States to seize the opportunity of the Summit to take concrete action to uphold the norms that safeguard humanity. Our world confronts disasters of staggering size and complexity.  125 million people need humanitarian assistance, and at least 60 million people have been forced to flee their homes or countries. The World Humanitarian Summit is the moment to come together to renew our commitment to preventing and ending crisis, and to show we are steadfast in reducing suffering and vulnerability. We need the full engagement and commitment of all partners – Governments and NGOs.  We can only strengthen humanitarian response and fulfil this duty to the world’s most vulnerable by working together. The success of the World Humanitarian Summit is in your hands.

Finally, I appeal to Member States to work with greater intensity to find political solutions to end bloodshed and suffering.  As the skies over Aleppo and other parts of Syria continue to be filled with barrel bombs and artillery fire, we must all work relentlessly to rescue the cessation of hostilities.  This is crucial for saving lives, for the credibility of the political process, and indeed – once again – this Council.

Thank you, Mr. President.

08-21-paris-signing-en

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL’S REMARKS TO SIGNATURE CEREMONY FOR THE PARIS AGREEMENT, New York, 22 April 2016

En décembre dernier à Paris, la communauté internationale a adopté le premier accord universel sur le climat.

Chaque pays s’est engagé à réduire ses émissions et à renforcer sa résilience face aux effets potentiellement dévastateurs des changements climatiques.
Aujourd’hui, au moins 171 pays se retrouvent ici à New York pour signer l’Accord de Paris.
Arrêtons-nous et songeons-y un instant.
C’est un moment d’histoire. Jamais auparavant un aussi grand nombre de pays n’avait signé un accord international en une seule journée.
Je félicite tous les pays qui signent ce matin et je salue tout particulièrement les 15 Parties qui vont egalement deposer leurs instruments de ratification, que je me fais un devoir de citer : la Barbade, le Belize, les Fidji, la Grenade, les Maldives, les Îles Marshall, Les Iles Maurice, Nauru, les Palaos, l’État de Palestine, La Féderation de Sain Christophe et Niéves, Sainte-Lucie, le Samoa, la Somalie et Tuvalu.

            “L’esprit de solidarite de Paris vive encore.
            Merci beaucoup.

We are breaking records in this Chamber – and that is good news.

But records are also being broken outside.Record global temperatures.  Record ice loss.  Record carbon levels in the atmosphere We are in a race against time. I urge all countries to move quickly to join the Agreement at the national level so that the Paris Agreement can enter into force as early as possible. The window for keeping global temperature rise well below two degrees Celsius, let alone 1.5 degrees, is rapidly closing. The era of consumption without consequences is over. We must intensify efforts to decarbonize our economies.  And we must support developing countries in making this transition. The poor and most vulnerable must not suffer further from a problem they did not create.  Let us never forget — climate action is not a burden; indeed, it offers many benefits.  It can help us eradicate poverty, create green jobs, defeat hunger, prevent instability and improve the lives of girls and women. Climate action is essential to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

        Many people contributed to the COP21 negotiations in Paris and to the preparations for this event.  I acknowledge their tireless efforts, particularly the work of the UNFCCC Secretariat. Today is a day that I have worked toward since day one as Secretary-General of the United Nations and declared climate change to be my top priority. Today you are signing a new covenant with the future. This covenant must amount to more than promises

It must find expression in actions we take today on behalf of this generation and all future generations; actions that reduce climate risk and protect communities; actions that place us on a safer, smarter path. This morning we will be joined by 197 children, representing the Parties that adopted the Paris Agreement.  Of course, they represent more than this. These young people are our future.  Our covenant is with them. Today is a day for our children and grandchildren and all generations to come. Together, let us turn the aspirations of Paris into action. As you show by the very act of signing today, the power to build a better world is in your hands.

Thank you very much for your leadership and commitment.