THE SECRETARY-GENERAL’S REMARKS TO GENERAL ASSEMBLY EVENT MARKING THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON POPULATION AND DEVELOPMENT, NEW YORK, 16 July 2019
It is a pleasure to be here with you to mark the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development.
Many of the policies set out in the Cairo Programme of Action, from tackling inequality and environmental degradation, to promoting gender equality and access to sexual and reproductive health, remain fundamental to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, agreed two decades later. This is a testament to the enduring legacy of Cairo.
This conference consolidated a major shift in thinking around population, away from specific demographic targets, towards a greater emphasis on the rights, equality, dignity and well-being of individuals as they experience the cycle of life.
One of its most important achievements was in making the link between population, human rights, sustained economic growth, and sustainable development, and addressing these issues in a holistic and coherent way.
I commend the work of Member States and civil society representatives on implementing the Cairo Programme of Action.
Many of the issues raised in Cairo have only become more urgent in the past 25 years.
Population growth is a sign of human achievement, since it means people are living longer, healthier lives. But it also has contributed to an increase in global production and consumption.
This is one more reason to adjust our production and consumption habits to avert even more serious consequences for lives and livelihoods, especially for the most vulnerable. We must remember that we are still losing the race against climate change.
Elsewhere, countries face the challenge of ageing populations, including the need to promote healthy active ageing and to provide adequate social protection.
Urbanization remains a major demographic trend, with nearly two-thirds of us predicted to be living in urban areas by 2050. Sustainable development and climate change will increasingly depend on the successful management of urban growth.
Migration is also an important factor in managing population trends, with potentially positive impacts on countries of origin and destination. The Global Compact for Migration agreed last year reflects many of the priorities and policies set out in Cairo.
The Cairo conference rightly emphasized that promoting the rights of women and girls is key to ensuring the well-being of individuals, families, and nations. It recognized gender equality as a pre-requisite to inclusive, sustainable development and affirmed sexual and reproductive health as a fundamental human right.
Over the past 25 years, there has been significant progress. Advances in gender equality and the promotion of women’s rights have contributed to reducing poverty and hunger, and improving education and health. Child and maternal mortality have been cut by nearly half.
However, many women and girls still face enormous challenges to their health, well-being and human rights.
Violence against women and girls affects one in three women worldwide. In parts of the world, and during conflict and emergencies, this figure is even higher. Globally, some 650 million women were married as children, and every day, more than 500 women and girls die during pregnancy and childbirth. We are seeing a global pushback on women’s rights, including reproductive rights and vital health services.
As the Cairo Programme of Action recognizes, women’s rights and access to sexual and reproductive health are an essential response to demographic trends that could undermine our efforts to achieve sustainable, equitable and inclusive development for all.
Young women and men are also central to implementing the Cairo Programme. They are not only beneficiaries, but powerful agents of change, able to make their own choices and demand the action needed to address today’s challenges.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, which has had a major role in implementing the Cairo Programme of Action. Through its leadership and operational work, UNFPA has been instrumental in empowering young people and enabling women and couples to access the sexual and reproductive health care they need; in preventing gender-based violence; and in tackling female genital mutilation and early marriage.
In November, the Governments of Kenya and Denmark, together with UNFPA, will convene a summit in Nairobi to mark the 25th anniversary of the Cairo Conference. I encourage Member States to participate and to make firm political and financial commitments to realize the Programme of Action.
Completing the unfinished business of the Cairo Conference will put us on course to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and to ensure lives of peace, prosperity and dignity for all.
THE SECRETARY-GENERAL’S REMARKS TO AFRICAN REGIONAL HIGH-LEVEL CONFERENCE ON COUNTER-TERRORISM AND THE PREVENTION OF VIOLENT EXTREMISM CONDUCIVE TO TERRORISM, Nairobi, 10 July 2019
Your Excellency, Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta,
President of the Republic of Kenya,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I thank the Government of Kenya for helping the United Nations organize this landmark conference.
To begin, I would like to honour the tens of thousands of African victims of terrorism and to express solidarity with African countries that have suffered terrorist attacks that shock with their barbarity and disregard for human life.
Kenya itself has endured numerous terrorist attacks.
This year alone, terrorists murdered 21 people in the Dusit hotel complex in Nairobi and, in Wajir County, eight police officers were killed and others injured when their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device.
The threat of terrorism in Africa is spreading and destabilizing entire regions.
I am greatly concerned by the situation in the Sahel and increasing risks in West Africa.
Boko Haram and its splinter faction continue to terrorize local populations and attack security forces in northeast Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin despite the considerable efforts of the Multinational Joint Task Force.
In Mali, terrorist groups have launched regular attacks against local and international security forces, including the Blue Helmets serving in MINUSMA.
The violence has spilled over into neighbouring countries, with an alarming number of recent attacks in Burkina Faso and Niger.
There is an urgent need for the international community to support Member States in this region to strengthen national capacities and resilience against terrorism.
The trauma from terrorism causes lasting damage to individuals, families and communities.
In Africa, as elsewhere, terrorists continue to use sexual violence to spread fear and assert control, and children are often forced to join terrorist groups as a matter of survival.
The people of Africa continue to show great courage and resilience in challenging those who seek to spread violence and hatred.
From working within their families and communities to prevent the spread of radicalisation and recruitment, to serving in AMISOM, MINUSMA, the G5 Sahel Joint Force, the Multinational Joint Task Force against Boko Haram and similar missions, the people of Africa are on the front line of efforts to tackle terrorism and the spread of violent extremism.
I deeply believe that African peace-enforcing and counter-terrorism operations must have strong and clear mandates by the UN Security Council backed by sufficient, predictable and sustainable financial support, namely through assessed contributions.
The determination of Africans to find solutions to the scourge of terrorism is clear.
And the role of women is inspirational in so many ways.
We have with us women from Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Tunisia and elsewhere.
All over the continent women are taking matters into their own hands, engaging with local leaders, mayors, young people, children and their fellow men, to fight against exclusion, marginalisation, inequality and abuse – the conditions that lead many to radicalisation and conflict.
Their experiences also tell us that radicalisation, terrorism and conflict cannot be resolved through enforcement alone.
For terrorism to be defeated, it is essential that African counter-terrorism is holistic, well-funded, underpinned by respect for human rights, and — most importantly – backed by strong political will.
This is also true of operations mandated by the UN Security Council.
We must not allow terrorism to undermine the great progress that is being made on this continent.
Africa remains a top priority for the United Nations.
We share common goals, particularly on delivering Agenda 2063 – in full alignment with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – and our joint aim for an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa.
In these efforts, the United Nations works closely with the African Union and many regional and sub-regional coordination mechanisms represented here today.
We believe in African leadership to develop African solutions to African problems.
So I am delighted to be here to demonstrate my full support for the aims of this conference.
Let me outline what I hope it will achieve over the next two days.
First, I would like to see the development of new and strengthened partnerships, both between African states and between Africa and the rest of the international community, to tackle the threat of terrorism and violent extremism.
There are many excellent examples of African countries working together to share counter-terrorism information, expertise and good practices, such as the innovative cross-border initiative on preventing violent extremism along the Kenya-Ethiopia border with the support of the United Nations.
But I believe that more can be done to expand these partnerships and networks and to unify this continent and the wider Global South against the threat of terrorism.
The transnational nature of terrorism and violent extremism underscores the vital importance of multilateral cooperation to detect, identify and disrupt violent extremism and to bring terrorists to justice.
That is why I convened the first-ever High-level Conference of Heads of Counter-Terrorism Agencies of Member States in New York in June last year.
In my Chair’s Summary to close that conference, I promised that the United Nations would work with Member States to organize regional conferences on key thematic issues to sustain momentum and feed into the next High-level Conference in June next year.
This is the third such regional conference and the only one where all Member States have been invited.
This is because this conference can help to mobilize the entire international community to strengthen its political commitment and provide resources and expertise to support African counter-terrorism efforts.
Second, I hope this conference will underline the continuing need to address the drivers and enablers of violent extremism conducive to terrorism.
Nothing can justify terrorism and violent extremism, but we must also acknowledge that they do not arise in a vacuum.
Narratives of grievance, actual or perceived injustice and promised empowerment become attractive wherever human rights are being violated, good governance is being ignored and aspirations are being crushed.
A study from the United Nations Development Programme on the threat of violent extremism in Africa found that lack of education and poverty were factors behind radicalization.
But the final tipping point was often state violence and the abuse of power.
There needs to be a renewed and sustained focus on prevention, including addressing the underlying conditions that cause young men and women to be lured by terrorism.
This includes preventing conflicts, addressing fragility, strengthening state institutions and civil society, building durable peace and promoting sustainable development to tackle the poverty, inequality and lack of opportunity that feed despair.
Third, this conference is an opportunity to explore how we can put even greater emphasis on encouraging “bottom-up” local solutions to the challenges of terrorism and violent extremism in Africa.
We all know there is no “one size fits all” approach to address the conditions conducive to terrorism.
So we need to engage affected communities and decentralize our efforts wherever possible to reflect local realities.
This means adopting comprehensive and inclusive “all-of-society” approaches to preventing and countering terrorism at the grassroots level.
We must fully engage women, who play multiple roles in relation to violent extremism and its prevention – as victims, as those recruited and radicalized, but most importantly as influencers and leaders in prevention and agents of peace.
The meaningful inclusion of women will also strengthen our own responses.
Common to each of these groups, regardless of their ideology, is the subjugation of women’s and girls’ rights.
This is not a coincidence, it is foundational to their creed, and for this reason gender equality must be equally central in our response.
And we must support civil society organizations to deliver tailored programmes to strengthen community resilience and turn vulnerable individuals away from violence.
I am delighted to see so many civil society representatives here today, who have unique knowledge and access to their communities across Africa.
Fourth, I hope this conference considers practical ways to harness the creativity, energy and power of young people to strengthen resilience against terrorism and build more peaceful, just and inclusive societies.
Three-quarters of Africa’s population of over 1.3 billion are under the age of 35. Nearly half are under the age of 15.
We know that in Africa – as elsewhere around the world – creating jobs and expanding opportunity for young people are major challenges. And we also know that youth unemployment not only limits personal fulfilment and drains away hope, it also undermines social cohesion and could threaten security.
We need to make a strategic investment in these young people through increased education, training and employment opportunities. Indeed, job creation for young people must be at the centre of any development strategy.
As set out in the 2015 Amman Declaration on Youth, Peace and Security and Security Council resolution 2250, young Africans should also be fully involved in developing and implementing strategies and activities to prevent and counter violent extremism conducive to terrorism.
With the rise of misinformation on social media and the Internet, young people also need education and empowerment to denounce manipulative narratives, xenophobia and hate speech, which can all lead to online radicalization.
I look forward to hearing youth perspectives throughout this conference and especially in tomorrow morning’s session.
Fifth, I urge this conference to exchange ideas on how we can further support the victims and survivors of terrorism, including victims of sexual violence and children exploited by terrorist groups.
Victims are extremely powerful and credible messengers.
Their experiences put a human face to the impact of terrorism and help to counter the distorted narratives of terrorists and violent extremists.
When we listen to the voices of victims of terrorism, uphold their rights and provide them with support and justice, we are reducing the lasting damage done by terrorists.
So I am delighted that the United Nations will convene the first-ever Global Congress of Victims in New York in June next year.
Finally, I hope this conference will consider how the United Nations can enhance its counter-terrorism support to African Member States and regional and sub-regional organizations.
When I became Secretary-General, I was determined to reform the United Nations counter-terrorism architecture to meet the growing needs of countries around the world.
The establishment of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism and the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact means we have a clear framework and solid platform for our work.
We have prioritized capacity-building projects for African countries on issues such as mitigating the threat of foreign terrorist fighters, empowering and engaging youth, countering terrorist financing and improving aviation security.
I recently launched a major multi-year programme to assist Member States in countering terrorist travel, which will initially focus on the Horn of Africa and Sahel regions.
But there is more we can do and
I look forward to hearing your suggestions.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Africa is increasingly the new frontline in the global struggle against terrorism and violent extremism.
Yesterday I saw how a community, ravaged by violence and radicalization, can turn things around.
It took commitment from community leaders, young people, local government and beyond, but it was possible.
It took years but it was possible.
Most importantly, it took political commitment.
We can all learn a lot from the determination, unity and courage of the people of Kamukunji.
We should aim to reproduce the wisdom of those in power who saw what was happening in the community and helped to raise them up.
The United Nations was also there to help, but it was local leaders who led the way.
African states have made considerable efforts to implement the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism at national and regional levels, including through the African Union Peace and Security Architecture.
It is now time for the international community to step up and provide the financial and technical resources needed to support African-owned and led counter-terrorism efforts, while fully respecting human rights, the rule of law and gender considerations.
The United Nations remains fully committed to working with all of you to address the evolving threat of terrorism and violent extremism and help build a more secure and prosperous future that all Africans deserve.
I wish you a productive conference.
THE SECRETARY-GENERAL’S REMARKS AT INFORMAL MEETING OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON “COMBATTING ANTI-SEMITISM AND OTHER FORMS OF RACISM AND HATE – THE CHALLENGES OF TEACHING TOLERANCE AND RESPECT IN THE DIGITAL AGE”,
New York, 26 June 2019
I thank all involved for bringing us together to tackle the tsunami of hatred that is so visible and violent across the world today.
A special welcome to Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein from the Chabad of Poway synagogue in San Diego. Rabbi, thank you for your inspiring actions since the shooting in April that took the life of one of your congregants and injured you as well.
Recently I viewed an exhibition at the Museum of Jewish Heritage here in New York that is called “Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away”.
It is an apt title.
The Holocaust was indeed not long ago – only as far back as a single average human lifespan.
And it is indeed not far away – it happened at the heart of Europe, and it remains at the centre of our awareness as we fight anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance today.
The exhibition documents the propaganda, pseudoscience and vile caricatures that were among the signatures of Hitler’s rule and worldview.
Hitler was defeated.
Yet anti-Semitism has not been extinguished. Far from it.
A study released last month by Tel Aviv University reported that the number of violent anti-Semitic incidents rose by 13 per cent in 2018 over the year before.
In the United States, Europe and elsewhere, attacks on synagogues, graveyards and individuals continue to make many Jews feel insecure.
This age-old hatred is showing grim staying power.
Moreover, intolerance is a multi-headed monster.
In recent months alone, and in different parts of the world, beyond the attacks on synagogues, we have seen massacres at mosques and bombings at churches. Refugees and migrants continue to face hostility. White supremacists and neo-Nazis are emboldened by elections showing the appeal of their racist messages.
And in today’s digital realm, we have new vectors of venom, algorithms that accelerate the spread of bigotry, and new platforms where far-flung extremists can find each other and spur each other on.
The United Nations fights these ills as a matter of our very identity, founded as we were in response to genocide.
Today we have reached an acute moment in this struggle.
One week ago, I launched a United Nations system-wide strategy to combat hate speech. Bigoted words can provide the kindling for bigger fires, as we have seen from Rwanda to Myanmar and so many places in between. Hatred left unopposed can erode democratic values, social stability and peace.
We need to treat hate speech as we treat every malicious act: by condemning it and refusing to amplify it. That does not mean limiting freedom of speech; it means keeping hate speech from escalating into something more dangerous, particularly incitement to discrimination, hostility and violence, which is prohibited under international law.
In the wake of recent attacks on places of worship, I have asked the High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations to explore what more the United Nations can do to support the safety and sanctity of religious sites. I expect the Action Plan to be ready soon.
Our efforts need to step up most urgently in the digital space, where hatred is thriving.
Social media provides a conduit for hatred on an enormous scale, with virtually no cost and no accountability, making them particularly appealing to those with evil intent.
And indeed social media are being used to polarize societies and demonize people, often targeting women, minorities and the most vulnerable.
The High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation that I established last year has just delivered its report, urging social media enterprises to respond to concerns about the “growing threat to safety and human rights”.
The Christchurch Call – a commitment by governments and leading technology companies to tackle online extremism and incitement to violence – is another important contribution.
The United Nations offers a platform where the full range of stakeholders can discuss the way forward.
We need to invest in social cohesion so that all members of society can feel that their identities are respected and that they have a stake in the future.
I guarantee you that I will continue to call out anti-Semitism, racism and other forms of hatred – loudly and unapologetically.
In closing, allow me to mention that the exhibition at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – “Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away.” — is itself not far away, in lower Manhattan. It is on display through January 3rd, and I commend it to all of you as a spur to the action and reflection we need at this time.
THE SECRETARY-GENERAL’S REMARKS AT THE LAUNCH OF THE GROUP OF FRIENDS OF VICTIMS OF TERRORISM
New York, 25 June 2019
I am pleased to join your launch of the Group of Friends of Victims of Terrorism.
I thank the Permanent Representatives of Afghanistan and Spain for their leadership and vision in establishing this group.
I am also pleased to see so many Member States here today from around the world.
Terrorism in all its forms and manifestations remains a global and transnational challenge.
Recent terrorist attacks in Kenya, Mali, New Zealand, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and elsewhere have claimed thousands of innocent lives.
Terrorists continue to use sexual violence to spread fear and assert control.
Children are often forced to join terrorist groups as a matter of survival.
The trauma from terrorism causes lasting damage to individuals, families and communities.
I have seen this for myself when I visited Christchurch earlier this year. Or Mali last year. Or Afghanistan the year before. And so many other places.
The scars run deep. While they may fade with time, they may never disappear.
We cannot erase those memories, but we can help victims and survivors cope and heal by listening to them and supporting them.
Countless victims and victims’ groups tell us that achieving justice for the crimes they endured is essential to helping them cope and transform their lives.
Appropriate psychological, social and livelihood support in accordance with their rights is also vital.
The launch of the Group of Friends of Victims of Terrorism is an important step to address all these challenges.
Through its leadership role at the United Nations, this group can ensure that victims’ voices are heard, their rights protected, and their recovery and rehabilitation needs addressed.
We already have a strong foundation on which to build.
This includes the International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism, the forthcoming adoption of a General Assembly resolution on victims of terrorism, and the first global Victims’ Congress that the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism will organize during the “UN counter-terrorism week” in June 2020.
But there are also many challenges.
A new regulatory landscape on victims needs to be developed.
There must be more room for the meaningful engagement of civil society actors — and greater commitment to the human rights of victims in national laws and policies.
As you explore these and other pressing issues, I want you to know that you have my full support.
I thank Under-Secretary-General Voronkov for making support to victims a key priority of his Office. The United Nations is advancing this in two concrete ways.
First, through a global program specifically tailored to enhancing the voices of victims and ensuring comprehensive support.
Second, through improved coordination of assistance to justice systems to help countries fight against impunity and seek justice for victims of terrorism in a manner consistent with international law.
Combatting terrorism requires all of us to work together through the prism of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy to address the threat of terrorism and violent extremism in a comprehensive and balanced manner.
We must ensure equal implementation of all four pillars of the Strategy, including the pillar to protect and promote human rights, which includes the rights of victims and their needs.
Victims must be at the heart of our efforts to prevent and counter terrorism.
They are also powerful and credible messengers to denounce the ideology of violence espoused by terrorist groups.
We must help them raise their voices. Often, they are members of communities most targeted for terrorism recruitment as well as easy target for attacks.
Their remarkable courage and resilience are an inspiration to us all.
By supporting them, we will move further ahead in upholding our responsibility to defend human dignity and our common humanity.
I thank you for everything you are doing, and everything you will do, in support of victims to both seek justice and rebuild their lives.
Secretary-General António Guterres’s remarks at press encounter at launch of United Nations Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech, New York, 18 June 2019
Secretary-General: Good afternoon.
Hate speech is a direct assault on our core values of tolerance, inclusion and respect for human rights and human dignity. It sets groups against each other, contributes to violence and conflict, and undermines all our efforts for peace, stability and sustainable development. As such, addressing it is a priority for the entire United Nations system.
Around the world, we see a groundswell of xenophobia, racism and intolerance, violent misogyny, anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hatred. In some parts of the world, Christian communities are also under attack. While hate speech has always existed, the new element today is digital communications and specifically, social media platforms. They are making hate speech more virulent than ever, amplifying it and enabling it to move farther and faster.
Hate-filled content is reaching new audiences at lightning speed, and has been linked with violence and killings from Sri Lanka to New Zealand and the United States. It is also used by extremist groups to recruit and radicalize people online.
Political leaders in some countries are adopting the slogans and ideas of these groups, demonizing the vulnerable and weakening the standards of decency in public discourse that have served us for decades.
In the face of this, we all – the United Nations, governments, the private sector, academia, civil society, the international community as a whole – need to step up. That is why I asked my Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, to prepare the Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech we are launching today in cooperation with a large number of UN entities.
This strategy aims to coordinate our efforts across the whole United Nations system, addressing the root causes of hate speech, and making our response more effective.
Many of our programmes to support implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development are already tackling hate speech, by promoting gender equality and human rights, and addressing discrimination of all kinds. But we need to speed up, strengthen and expand the reach of these activities, focused around a defined strategy so that they are as coordinated and as effective as possible.
The strategy includes actions for offices both at headquarters and in the field, and at national and global level. I have asked United Nations agencies and offices to prepare their own plans, aligned with this Strategy and in coordination with my Special Envoy for the Prevention of Genocide.
Ladies and gentlemen of the media,
I would like to mention one aspect of this strategy that is particularly relevant to you.
All action aimed at addressing and confronting hate speech must be consistent with fundamental human rights.
The United Nations supports freedom of expression and opinion everywhere.
Addressing hate speech does not mean limiting or prohibiting freedom of speech. It means keeping hate speech from escalating into something more dangerous, particularly incitement to discrimination, hostility and violence, which is prohibited under international law.
We need to treat hate speech as we treat every malicious act: by condemning it, refusing to amplify it, countering it with the truth, and encouraging the perpetrators to change their behaviour.
This is clearly not something we can do alone.
We are counting on the support of governments, civil society, the private sector and in particular, you, the members of the media.
Because tackling the poison of hate speech is everybody’s responsibility.
The Secretary-General’s Remarks at the launch of the United Nations Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech, New York, 18 June 2019
Thank you for being here today to mark the launch of the United Nations Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech.
This Strategy and Plan of Action are brand new – but they are rooted in our oldest commitment. Respect for human rights, without discrimination based on race, sex, language or religion, is a thread running through the United Nations Charter.
When the Charter was drafted, the world had just witnessed genocide on an industrial scale. Hate speech had sown the seeds, building on millennia of scapegoating and discrimination against the Jews, and culminating in the Holocaust.
Seventy-five years on, we are in danger of forgetting this lesson.
Around the world, we see a groundswell of xenophobia, racism and intolerance, violent misogyny, and also anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hatred. In some places, Christian communities are attacked. Hateful and destructive views are enabled and amplified exponentially through digital technology, often targeting women, minorities, and the most vulnerable. Extremists gather online and radicalize new recruits.
In both liberal democracies and authoritarian regimes, some political leaders are bringing the hate-fueled ideas and language of these groups into the mainstream, normalizing them, coarsening the public discourse and weakening the social fabric.
Hate speech is in itself an attack on tolerance, inclusion, diversity and the very essence of our human rights norms and principles. More broadly, it undermines social cohesion, erodes shared values, and can lay the foundation for violence, setting back the cause of peace, stability, sustainable development and the fulfillment of human rights for all.
Over the past 75 years, hate speech has been a precursor to atrocity crimes, including genocide, from Rwanda to Bosnia to Cambodia.
More recently, it has been strongly linked with violence and killings in several regions of the world, including Sri Lanka, New Zealand and here in the United States. Governments and technology companies alike are struggling to prevent and respond to orchestrated online hate.
As new channels for hate speech are reaching wider audiences than ever at lightning speed, we all – the United Nations, governments, technology companies, educational institutions – need to step up our response.
The United Nations Strategy and Plan of Action we are launching today is an ambitious programme to coordinate efforts across the UN system to identify, prevent and confront hate speech, using all the means in our power.
The United Nations System-Wide Strategy and Plan of Action has two overriding objectives.
First, it aims to enhance our efforts to address the root causes of hate speech, in line with my prevention vision. These root causes include violence, marginalization, discrimination, poverty, exclusion, inequality, lack of basic education, and weak state institutions.
We are addressing many of these issues as we support governments in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. But this new strategy goes further, recommending a coordinated response, including efforts to identify those who engage in hate speech, and those who are best placed to challenge it. The strategy promotes education as a preventive tool that can raise awareness and bring about a shared sense of common purpose to address the seeds of hatred.
The second overriding objective is to enable the United Nations to respond effectively to the impact of hate speech on societies.
The recommendations include convening individuals and groups with opposing views; working with traditional and social media platforms; engaging in advocacy; and developing guidance for communications to counter hate speech trends and campaigns. While digital technology has provided new areas in which hate speech can thrive, it can also help to monitor activity, target our response and build support for counter-narratives.
The recent emergence of volunteer groups that are organizing to counter harassment and hate online shows the potential for collaboration. The proposals set out last week by the High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation can play a part. New forms of self-policing by social media platforms, and the commitments included in the Christchurch Call, are another welcome development.
Our Action Plan goes beyond New York; it includes ways in which Country Teams and Missions around the world can take action to defend the truth and counter hate speech. And it goes beyond the United Nations; it must engage Governments, civil society, the private sector and other partners.
United Nations agencies and offices have pledged to enhance their cooperation based on the commitments set out in the Strategy. I have also asked them to prepare their own plans, aligned with this Strategy and in coordination with my Special Envoy for the Prevention of Genocide.
I urge Member States and all partners to support the Special Envoy, who will be the focal point for implementing and coordinating the Plan of Action.
To follow up on this launch, I intend to convene a conference on the role of education in addressing and building resilience against hate speech. I count on the support of Member States.
Addressing hate speech should never be confused with suppressing freedom of expression.
The United Nations supports all human rights, including the freedom to seek, receive and spread information and ideas of all kinds, as set out in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Addressing hate speech does not mean limiting or prohibiting freedom of speech. It means keeping hate speech from escalating into more something more dangerous, particularly incitement to discrimination, hostility and violence, which is prohibited under international law.
We should treat it like any other malicious act: by condemning it unconditionally; refusing to amplify it; countering it with the truth; and encouraging the perpetrators to change their behaviour.
This will not only prevent it from escalating. It will support progress across our entire agenda, from preventing conflict and terrorism, to ending violence against women and other serious violations of human rights, to building peaceful and resilient societies.
Hate speech may have gained a foothold. But it is now on notice, and we will never stop confronting it.
As we see time and again, people everywhere value their common humanity and want to help each other out in a crisis.
In Christchurch, people ferried the injured to hospital in their own cars, before ambulances could reach them.
In Sri Lanka, the Muslim Council called on the faithful to help the Christian brothers and sisters affected by the Easter Sunday bombings.
In Pittsburgh, members of the Muslim community organized to help the victims and survivors of the United States’ worst anti-Semitic attack.
We all need to do better at looking out for each other. This Strategy sets out how we, the United Nations, can play our part.
Thank you for your engagement and support.
The Secretary-General’s Remarks to the Security Council on Cooperation between the United Nations and the League of Arab States, 13 June 2019, New York
Saidi al Raiis, Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen, As salam alaikum. I thank the Government of Kuwait for convening this discussion on “Issues of Priority to the League of Arab States and outcomes of the Arab Summit.” I want to express my warm welcome to Mr. Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States. We have been working together on many of the most difficult dossiers that our two organizations confront, and it is for me an enormous pleasure to see you sitting in the Security Council. From day one, I have prioritized cooperation with regional organizations to prevent conflict and sustain peace. We know that no single organization or country can address the complex challenges our world faces today. Global problems require global solutions, and that is why partnerships remain essential to maximize our impact on people’s lives and advance a global order based on international law. And our cooperation with the League of Arab States is pivotal. I was honoured to attend the Arab League Summit in Tunis in March – and appreciate the Tunis Declaration reaffirmation of the “lofty universal values and purpose of the United Nations Charter.” Our two organisations share a common mission: to prevent conflict, resolve disputes and act in a spirit of solidarity and unity. We work together to expand economic opportunity, advance respect for all human rights and build political inclusion. Today, we recognize an expectation from the peoples of the region – indeed from people around the world — for a new social contract for education, jobs, opportunities for young people, equality for women, respect for human rights and a fair share in national wealth. We understand the impulse for a more inclusive vision rooted in cooperation, respect and dignity. We appreciate all efforts to help break the vicious cycle of conflict while establishing a new security architecture. Within the challenges [faced] by the region, lies the opportunity to build on the words and intentions of the charters of our two organizations for action that will bring real change to the peoples of the Arab world and beyond. In relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, for example, we maintain our collective commitment to the vision of two States, based on relevant UN resolutions, long-held principles, previous agreements and international law. As I have said before, there is no alternative to the two-state solution. There is no Plan B. Ending the occupation that began in 1967 and achieving a negotiated two-state outcome is the only way to lay the foundations for enduring peace. In Syria, deadly escalation in the country’s northwest has displaced hundreds of thousands, and if continued could result in broader humanitarian catastrophe for the three million people residing in greater Idlib. After more than eight years of violence, Syria’s conflict continues to take a devastating toll on the country’s civilian population, impose burdens on neighbouring states, and threaten international peace and security. I reiterate my appeal for full respect for international humanitarian law, which must prevail in all circumstances, including in combat against terrorism. The alarming violence in Syria is a stark reminder of the urgent need to forge a political path to a sustainable peace for all Syrians. This will require an inclusive and credible political solution, based on Security Council resolution 2254 in its entirety, including the convening of a constitutional committee that is credible, inclusive, and balanced. The support and active engagement of the international community, including the Member States of the Arab League, will be essential. And, of course, any solution must respect the territorial integrity of Syria, including the occupied Syrian Golan. Regarding Libya, I would like to thank the League of Arab States and its Member States for its continued support to the efforts of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya and my Special Representative, including through the Libya Quartet. However, I remain deeply concerned about the impact of the armed clashes on the country as well as on the region. There is no military solution, we need to work towards a ceasefire and a return to the negotiating table. I welcome Iraq’s sustained and active outreach to strengthen its relations with neighbouring countries. Conversely, Iraq needs the continued and sustained support from the region and the international community to help rebuild the country and overcome the trauma and impact of Da’esh. Iraq’s Arab neighbours have a critical role to play. The United Nations will continue to assist the Government of Iraq, including through stabilization and reconstruction support, as well as in facilitating regional dialogue and cooperation on border security, energy, environment, water, and refugees. The League of Arab States is vital in supporting Lebanon’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. Let us do more to help Lebanon — a country significantly affected by regional developments and the generous hosting of large numbers of refugees – in strengthening state institutions and upholding its international commitments and remain stable and secure. In Yemen, we continue to work towards a resumption of negotiations leading to a sustainable political solution. Every effort is being made to address the extraordinary suffering on the ground in what remains the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Implementation of the 2018 Stockholm Agreement will not only significantly improve humanitarian access, it will also pave the way toward a lasting political solution. All these efforts require patience, good faith and a continued commitment by all of us to preserve and to build on gains. I note with deep concern this morning’s security incident in the Strait of Hormuz. I strongly condemn any attack against civilian vessels. Facts must be established, and responsibilities clarified. If there is something the world cannot afford, it is a major confrontation in the Gulf region. In Somalia, the international community must remain united to support political progress and the development of security institutions. The League of Arab States is a key partner — both as an organization and through its individual members — for political support and economic development. Sudan is going through a delicate transition. The United Nations is working with regional partners, especially the African Union, in supporting this process with the objective of enabling the Sudanese parties to reach agreement on an inclusive, civilian-led transitional authority. On all these efforts and more, we continue to invest in building our engagement with regional and sub-regional organizations, including through regular consultations and collaboration. Such activities with the Arab League include our biennial General Cooperation meetings, sectoral meetings, capacity building exercises and staff exchanges. With this in mind, I am pleased to inform you that the UN Liaison Office to the League of Arab States in Cairo will become operational this very month. I am very grateful to the government of Egypt for its support and hospitality. I fully expect this Liaison Office — the first funded by the UN regular budget – and will improve the effectiveness of cooperation between our two organizations. I intend to continue this fruitful engagement and deepen our collaboration to advance the vision set out in the UN Charter, in the interest of the peoples we collectively serve. As we look ahead together, you can continue to count on my full and active support. Shukran.
THE SECRETARY-GENERAL’S REMARKS TO SECURITY COUNCIL ON THE PROTECTION OF CIVILIANS IN ARMED CONFLICT, New York, 23 May 2019
I thank the Government of Indonesia for convening this open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions, a cornerstone of international humanitarian law. And it is with enormous please that I see with us Mr. Peter Maurer, the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the guardian of these Conventions. It also marks the twentieth anniversary of the Security Council’s adoption of the protection of civilians as an item on its agenda – a response to the Council’s “deep concern” at the erosion of respect for international humanitarian law. However, while the normative framework has been strengthened, compliance has deteriorated. We are rightly critical when assessing the state of the protection of civilians, for there is great cause of concern. But let us first recall that we have seen some progress over the last 20 years. A culture of protection has taken root in the Security Council and across the United Nations. To use the Council’s own words, protection of civilians is “one of the core issues” on its agenda. A comprehensive protection framework now exists, based on international law and Security Council practice. The protection of children and of all civilians from the loathsome acts of sexual violence in conflict has been strengthened through the deployment of specialist advisors in peace operations, reinforcing the work of humanitarian agencies. Monitoring and reporting on grave violations against children in conflicts and engagement with warring parties has led to the demobilization and reintegration of thousands of children. And Security Council-mandated United Nations peace operations have protected and saved countless civilian lives. In South Sudan, nearly 200,000 internally displaced people are currently sheltering at sites for the protection of civilians. In the Central African Republic, the United Nations mission has supported local peace and ceasefire agreements that are monitored by civilian and military components. Civilian casualty recording by the United Nations in Afghanistan has led to the adoption of measures by pro-Government forces to minimize harm. Millions of civilians receive cross-border humanitarian assistance in Syria. And war criminals, from Cambodia to the former Yugoslavia, have been tried and convicted. Security Council resolutions on the protection of medical care in armed conflict and on conflict and hunger have given important focus and urgency to these issues. I look forward to working with Member States to ensure that they are implemented. But, despite these advances, grave human suffering is still being caused by armed conflicts and lack of compliance with international humanitarian law. As my report underlines, civilians continue to make up the vast majority of casualties in conflict. In 2018 alone, the United Nations recorded the death and injury of more than 22,800 civilians in just six countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen. In Idleb in northwest Syria, we saw a new wave of shelling and airstrikes against hospitals, schools, markets and camps for the displaced, killing, wounding and creating panic among the civilian population. In all conflicts, when explosive weapons were used in populated areas, 90 per cent of those killed and injured were civilians. Overall, some 1.4 million people were newly displaced across international borders, while a further 5.2 million were internally displaced. Widespread access constraints jeopardized humanitarian and medical assistance to civilians in need. Violence against humanitarian and medical workers and facilities persisted. The World Health Organization recorded 705 attacks against healthcare workers and facilities in just eight conflicts, resulting in 451 deaths and 860 injuries. Three hundred and sixty-nine aid workers were kidnapped, wounded or killed. And starvation of civilians was used as a method of warfare, as well as rape and sexual violence. Chief among our challenges is enhancing and ensuring respect and compliance for international humanitarian law in the conduct of hostilities. In many cases, our information suggests that respect for those bodies of law is at best questionable; in others, and as detailed in several of my country-specific reports, we have witnessed blatant violations. Nonetheless, there are examples where warring parties respect the law and are implementing precautions, collateral damage estimation and other efforts to minimize the impact of fighting on civilians. These practices must be implemented effectively and standardized across parties and theatres of operation. And greater attention must be paid to those who are already vulnerable during peace time – such as the elderly, children and the disabled – who are rendered all the more vulnerable and in need of protection during flight and conflict. We must also take urgent action to reduce the humanitarian impact of urban warfare and, in particular, of explosive weapons. Member States should do more to condition arms exports on respect for international humanitarian law and human rights law. And they must call for greater respect for the law and protection of civilians by parties to conflict and, in particular, partner forces, including in the context of multinational coalition operations. We also need greater progress on accountability by closing the gap between allegations of serious violations and their investigation and prosecution. Progress is needed most at the national level. My report recommends action in three areas. First, to develop national policy frameworks that establish clear institutional authorities and responsibilities for the protection of civilians in armed conflict. Second, principled and sustained engagement by humanitarian organizations and others with non-State armed groups to negotiate safe and timely humanitarian access and promote compliance with the law. Third, ensuring accountability for serious violations. The UN Security Council, as a practical matter, can do much to enhance compliance with the laws of war. This includes providing financial and technical assistance to support the investigation and prosecution of war crimes in conflict-affected States. We also need action at the global and multilateral levels. For the Security Council, this means being more consistent in how it addresses protection concerns within and across different conflicts, and being more comprehensive in terms of, for example, grappling with the protection challenges of urban warfare. And it means keeping today’s conversation going, with Member States, United Nations actors and civil society engaging on a sustained basis to implement the actions I have outlined. For, as bleak as the current state of protection is, there is considerable scope for improvement if we each do our utmost to promote and implement the rules that bind us to preserve humanity in war. This is the best way that we can honour the 20th anniversary of the protection agenda. We have the rules and laws of war. We all now need to work to enhance compliance. Thank you.
THE SECRETARY-GENERAL’S REMARKS AT MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR FALLEN STAFF, New York, 6 May 2019
Dear colleagues, Each year we meet to pay tribute to our colleagues and friends who have lost their lives on United Nations duty. It is a sad reminder of the often perilous nature of our work. And it is testament to the commitment of the thousands of women and men from around the globe who are prepared to risk all to promote peace and provide assistance to some of the world’s most vulnerable and needy people. This year, we honour 115 colleagues from 43 nations who lost their lives between January 2018 and March this year. Most were involved in peacekeeping, which faces increasingly complex and deadly challenges, and the vast majority – 103 of those 115 – were our African peacekeeping colleagues and I am very grateful to Chairperson Faki for his presence today with us. This number is striking, and is a stark testament to the commitment and sacrifices of our African partners to our joint endeavours toward global peace and security. We also lost 19 civilians from agencies, funds and programmes. And we remember with sadness our 21 colleagues who perished in the Ethiopian air disaster in March. Our deepest condolences go to all their families and loved ones, many of whom are present here today with us. Please join me in a moment of silence as we reflect on their sacrifice. [MOMENT OF SILENCE] Dear colleagues, Our organization, by its very nature, is compelled to operate in some of the world’s most dangerous and unstable environments. Our duty, therefore, is to mitigate, as far as possible, the risks our colleagues face, and to provide adequate support for bereaved families when the worst happens. To that end, we are promoting better individual preparedness for crises and providing enhanced medical and psychological support to victims. We are working to speedily settle claims and we are providing more comprehensive counselling, care and assistance to survivors and families. But I am aware that there is always more we can do, and I am committed to ensuring our Organization reviews and constantly improves our practices related to the safety and care of staff. Ultimately, the United Nations is about we the peoples – the people we serve. But today – and every day – we must also think of and support the people who serve – the courageous women and men, uniformed and civilian, who work under the blue flag in the world’s crisis zones. I am particularly outraged when our humanitarian and peacekeeping colleagues are directly targeted for the work they do. It is essential that we demand justice and accountability for what, in many instances, constitute war crimes. When our colleagues pay the ultimate sacrifice, it is our duty to honour them and support their families. Today we mourn. But we should also be proud, for the colleagues we remember today died in the service of humanity – keeping the peace, providing humanitarian assistance and helping further the Sustainable Development Goals. On this solemn occasion, let us honour their memory by rededicating ourselves to the noble cause of promoting peace, prosperity and opportunity for every woman, man and child on the planet. Thank you.
THE SECRETARY-GENERAL’S REMARKS TO THE MINISTERIAL MEETING ON PEACEKEEPING
New York, 29 March 2019
I thank you all, and particularly the co-hosts of today’s meeting, for your commitment to United Nations peacekeeping. Across the decades, our peacekeeping operations have helped countries from Liberia and Sierra Leone to Timor Leste and Cambodia in transition from conflict to peace. They protect hundreds of thousands of civilians, support political solutions to conflict and help preserve ceasefires. But as conflicts become more complex and high-risk, our operations must keep pace. Twenty-seven United Nations peacekeepers were killed by violent acts in 2018. I ask you please to observe a moment of silence for them, and for all who have died in the service of peace. Making our missions stronger and safer is one of the key elements of my Action for Peacekeeping initiative, together with refocusing peacekeeping with more realistic expectations, and mobilizing greater support for political solutions. I thank the more than 150 governments that have signed up to the Statement of Shared Commitments. We are already seeing results; last year, there was a significant reduction in the number of peacekeepers killed. Our missions are more agile and more proactive – as we have seen recently in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic. Thanks in part to your support at previous ministerial meetings in London and Vancouver, the UN now has verified military units on standby that can be deployed in less than 60 days – for the first time ever. But we still lack some critical capabilities. As the Declaration of Shared Commitments makes clear, we must bridge these gaps together. In Mali, there is an urgent need for the armored personnel carriers that greatly improve chances of surviving an attack. More than 119 peacekeepers have been killed and 397 injured in Mali since MINUSMA was established in 2013. In the Central African Republic and many other missions, we need helicopters that can operate 24/7 for medical and casualty evacuations from remote areas. Elsewhere, we need Armed Utility Helicopters; Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance units; Quick Reaction Forces, and Air Medical Evacuation Teams. I urge you to consider contributing these high-value and critical capabilities; and I assure you they will be utilized effectively and efficiently, in accordance with our command and control policy. I hope you will also consider innovative solutions like triangular partnerships and joint contingents, in which one group of governments provides equipment and training, and another provides troops and police. Training is essential to address our peacekeeping challenges in relation to safety and security, the protection of civilians and the overall performance of our personnel. Quality training requires sustained investments by all Member States and we count on your continued support. Beyond better equipment and readiness, we must increase local engagement. Women peacekeepers and civilian staff are essential to improve those efforts. We have almost doubled the number of female staff officers and observers since the Vancouver meeting, and more women are deploying in mixed police and military units. I commend everyone involved, including the Canadian government for launching the Elsie initiative for Women in Peace Operations. But we must do more, because it is unacceptable that in 2019, only 4 percent of our military peacekeepers are women. We will present a strategy to increase the numbers of female uniformed personnel to the Security Council next month, and I urge your support.
THE SECRETARY-GENERAL’S Remarks at High-Level Meeting on the Theme: Climate and Sustainable Development, New York, 28 March 2019
I am pleased to be with you today to discuss the defining issue of our times and I thank the President of the General Assembly for choosing to place the focus of this event on present and future generations. Climate change is happening now and to all of us. Every week brings a new example of climate-related devastation. No country or community is immune. And, as is always the case, the poor and vulnerable are the first to suffer and the worst hit. My heart goes out to the hundreds of thousands – perhaps millions – of people affected by the recent cyclone Idai in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Such events are becoming more frequent, more severe and more widespread and will become even worse unless we act urgently, now. It is clear that climate change threatens decades of development progress and places in jeopardy all our plans for inclusive and sustainable development. From increased poverty and food insecurity, to growing water stress and accelerated environmental damage, climate change is a clear and present threat. Yet it is also true that tackling climate change provides an opportunity to consolidate and accelerate development gains through cleaner air, improved public health and greater security for nations and economies. We have no excuse not to act. We have the tools to answer the questions posed by climate change, environmental pressure, poverty and inequality. They lie in the great agreements of 2015 – the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change. But tools are no use if you don’t use them. So, today, and every day, my appeal is clear and simple. We need action, ambition and political will. More action, more ambition and more political will. Last December, in Katowice, Poland, Parties to the United Nations climate convention agreed a work plan for the Paris Agreement so it can unleash its full potential. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said we have less than 12 years to avoid potentially irreversible climate disruption. Last year’s IPCC special report found that limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels will require “rapid and far-reaching transitions” in how we manage land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities. To help generate ambition, and to show that our goals are feasible, I am convening a climate action summit. I am telling leaders: “In September, please don’t come with a speech; come with a plan.” I am calling on leaders to come to New York on 23 September with concrete, realistic plans to put us, once and for all, on a sustainable path. These plans must show how to enhance Nationally Determined Contributions by 2020. The United Nations, with its new generation of country teams stands ready to assist. I also want leaders to demonstrate how we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent over the next decade and get to net zero emissions globally by 2050. That is what science says is needed. I will also ask leaders to address issues such as a just transition – where no one is left disadvantaged by necessary climate action. And I will ask them to demonstrate the many benefits of climate action, such as job creation, reduced air pollution and improved public health. We all know that the green economy is the future, but we must make sure that everyone benefits, and no one is left behind. I am also counting on leaders to make sure their plans include women as key decision-makers. Only gender-diverse decision-making has the capacity to tackle the different needs that will emerge in this coming period of critical transformation. The climate action summit will bring together governments, the private sector, civil society, local authorities and other international organizations to showcase and develop the ambitious solutions we need. It will focus on the energy transition; sustainable infrastructure; sustainable agriculture; forests and oceans; resilience to climate impacts; and investing in the green economy. We can already see a growing momentum for transformational change. A growing number of governments, cities and businesses understand that climate solutions can strengthen our economies and protect our environment at the same time. New technologies are already delivering energy at a lower cost than the fossil-fuel driven economy. Solar and onshore wind are now the cheapest sources of new power in virtually all major economies. But we must set radical change in motion. This means ending subsidies for fossil fuels and high-emitting, unsustainable agriculture and shifting towards renewable energy, electric vehicles and climate-smart practices. It means carbon pricing that reflects the true cost of emissions, from climate risk to the health hazards of air pollution. And it means accelerating the closure of coal plants, halting the construction of new ones and replacing those jobs with healthier alternatives for the people there employed, so the transformation is just, inclusive and profitable. The coming years will see vast investment in infrastructure around the world. We must ensure it is sustainable and climate-friendly. By doing so, we will march far down the road to realizing the 2030 Agenda. The time for action is now. We need multilateral action by all governments. And we need them to work hand-in-hand with the private sector and civil society. Global climate marches are sending a clear message. Young people are demanding that today’s leaders act on behalf of future generations. I echo that demand. The youth are torchbearers and the future is now. We must address this global emergency with ambition and urgency. That really is the only one choice to be made. Thank you.
THE SECRETARY-GENERAL’S REMARKS AT EVENT ON CONFLICT-RELATED SEXUAL AND GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE, Geneva, 25 February 2019
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It is good to be back in this room after almost two years. Thank you very much for being here as President Peter Maurer and I, together with Madame Julienne Lusenge, launch an urgent joint appeal for global action to prevent and end sexual and gender-based violence in and around conflict. These crimes are just some of the tragic violations of International Humanitarian Law that we see around the world. As we mark the 70th anniversary of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, I congratulate President Peter Maurer and the International Committee of the Red Cross for their guardianship of the Conventions — a powerful assertion of human dignity – and for their work to save lives around the world. Throughout my years at UNHCR, I was frequently horrified by first-hand accounts of sexual and gender-based violence in war zones, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the former Yugoslavia. Last year in Bangladesh, Rohingya refugees told me of the gang-rape of women and girls in their homes before they fled Myanmar. And earlier this month, we heard of brutal sexual violence, including the rape of at least 130 women and girls, in South Sudan between September and December last year. We should also remember that all forms of violence against women, including domestic abuse, increase in situations of armed conflict and displacement. Let me be clear. Sexual and gender-based violence in conflict is not only a horrendous and life-changing crime, most often perpetrated against women and girls. It is also used as a tactic of war; to terrorize familes, dehumanize communities and destabilize societies, so that they struggle to recover for years or even decades after the guns fall silent. That is why sexual and gender-based violence in conflict is now widely recognized as a war crime that is preventable and punishable. The United Nations Security Council has played an important role in the past decades by passing successive resolutions that emphasize accountability for perpetrators and services for survivors. I salute those who have been working to bring these crimes to the world’s attention, including Nobel Laureates Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege. I also commend the activists and civil society organizations that have played such an important role in supporting survivors, and I thank Julienne Lusenge for representing them here today. But while there have been significant steps towards accountability, most sexual and gender-based violence in and around conflict is never reported, investigated or prosecuted. And while supporting the women and girls who survive such violence costs relatively little, many victims and survivors are isolated and stigmatized, rejected by their families and communities, and without the support they need to deal with unimaginable physical and emotional trauma. Ladies and gentlemen, Governments have the central responsibility for tackling this global crisis. And we are also grappling with how to address the non-state actors that perpetrate such crimes. But it doesn’t stop there. All of us must do everything in our power to prevent and end sexual and gender-based violence in and around conflict, and to support victims and survivors. At the United Nations, I have taken serious steps in the past two years to make zero tolerance of sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations staff and peacekeepers into a reality. We will not tolerate anyone who attempts to cover up these crimes with the UN flag. Today, I am proud that the United Nations and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement are united in our commitment to do more, and to demand more of others, to prevent and end these crimes. We will replace impunity with justice; and indifference with action. Survivors — their experiences, needs and demands — will be at the heart of everything we do. And the United Nations will scale up its efforts in several ways. First, we are instructing all our peace operations around the world to make sure they have policies and systems in place to prevent conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence, and to pursue justice for victims and survivors; Second, our peace operations and, where relevant, other field presences will include gender and protection advisers who will be able to respond to this crisis and conduct outreach with local communities and organizations; Third, we are stepping up efforts to mobilise resources for grassroots organisations, particularly women’s organizations, that are on the frontlines of prevention and response. And finally, we are directing staff across the UN System to promote women’s meaningful participation in conflict prevention and resolution, and in all formal peace processes. The world is growing ever more aware of the ubiquity of conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence. We must do everything in our power to end the horror and stigma that affects hundreds of thousands of women and girls, as well as men and boys, worldwide.
THE SECRETARY-GENERAL’S REMARKS ON THE OCCASION OF THE 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE GENEVA ASSOCIATION OF UNITED NATIONS CORRESPONDENTS, Geneva, 25 February 2019
Your excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen, Dear journalists, It is an honour and pleasure to be back here with you today to mark the 70th anniversary of the Geneva Association of United Nations Correspondents, ACANU. I congratulate you on reaching this milestone as an organization, and I wish you all the best for your future success. I see familiar faces today, of journalists who covered humanitarian crises and refugee issues while I was working here in Geneva as the High Commissioner for Refugees. Many appalling humanitarian crises and issues would never gain international attention without your work. I remember discussing the refugee situation in Europe with some of you long before it reached its climax, for example. I thank you for your consistent interest and engagement, and for reporting the facts, even when those facts may have made some people uncomfortable. Some seventy years ago, most of the members of ACANU came from the countries of the Global North, and most were men. The Cold War was in full swing. Around the world, democracies were the exception rather than the norm. There were very few countries in which people were allowed to express themselves freely. Seventy years on, the situation here at the Association of Correspondents, at the United Nations more generally, and indeed around the world, is fortunately very different. ACANU itself is much more diverse. Decolonization, the end of the Cold War and other developments have transformed the United Nations and the world we live in. We’ve come a long way towards realizing freedom of expression, and other fundamental freedoms. The right to access to information is entrenched in law in over a hundred countries. But despite these advances, in recent years, civic space has been shrinking worldwide at an alarming rate. In just over a decade, more than a thousand journalists have been killed while carrying out their indispensable work. And nine out of ten cases are unresolved, with no one held accountable. Last year alone, UNESCO reports that at least 99 journalists were killed. Many thousands more have been attacked, harassed, detained or imprisoned on spurious charges, without due process. This is outrageous. This should not become the new normal. When journalists are targeted, societies as a whole pay a price. And I am deeply troubled by the growing number of attacks and the culture of impunity. No democracy is complete without press freedom. Nor can any society be fair and impartial without journalists who investigate wrongdoing and speak truth to the power. As the influential German intellectual Jurgen Habermas has said, a critical media that informs reliably and comments diligently is essential to a functioning public sphere. It stimulates and orients people’s opinions, while at the same time forcing the political system to adjust and to become more transparent. Journalism and the media are essential to peace, justice, sustainable development and human rights for all – and to the work of the United Nations. Dear friends, During my ten years as High Commissioner for Refugees, I saw for myself many situations in which the rights of the most vulnerable were routinely trampled and the lives of women, children and men were viewed as bargaining chips at best, and collateral damage at worst. Among the displaced and the desperate in war zones and refugee camps, I was deeply impressed by the work of two groups of people: humanitarian workers, including my own staff at UNHCR, who provided help and protection to people in need; and journalists, who often worked alongside them to make sure people’s stories were heard around the world. Unfortunately, as they work to protect others, both humanitarian workers and journalists put their lives on the line. Media workers go to the most dangerous places on earth, to bring us important information, to give a voice to people who are being ignored and abused, and to hold the powerful to account. And like everyone here, I rely on the work of journalists on a daily basis to do my job. In the two years since I became Secretary-General, the media has brought to light dramatic human suffering in conflict zones, major cases of corruption and nepotism, ethnic cleansing, premeditated sexual and gender-based violence and more, from every corner of the globe. In some cases, these reports were the basis for further investigations by independent observers and human rights reporters. But journalists are on the front lines, sounding the first alarm, questioning official accounts, looking into difficult and dangerous issues and – at their best – asking questions that demand an answer and telling truths that must be heard. In many cases, they risk their personal safety and freedom, and even their lives, to do so. To single out just one example, I remember Anja Niedringhaus, a photojournalist and member of this Association, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2014 while covering the presidential election. I pay tribute to her and to all journalists and media professionals who have paid the ultimate price to keep us informed. According to UNESCO and press freedom organizations, the media has become significantly less free in recent years, including unprecedented threats to journalists and media outlets, and attempts to control the media – strangely, not only in authoritarian states, but also in democracies. Women journalists are often at greater risk of being targeted, including through online threats of sexual violence. The harassment, abuse, kidnapping, detention and even torture of hundreds of journalists every year is unfortunately becoming the new normal. Press freedom organizations report that more than 250 journalists were imprisoned in 2018. And while the harassment of international journalists tends to garner attention, the vast majority of those detained and attacked are local journalists working in their own countries and communities. And the most dangerous subject for journalists to cover is not conflict. The number of journalists killed in combat or crossfire is low and falling. Most of the journalists and media workers killed, injured and detained were covering politics, crime, corruption and human rights. Those arrested and imprisoned often face charges of anti-state activity, while a growing number are accused of publishing false news. In the face of this sustained campaign of harassment, intimidation and lack of accountability, we – the international community – cannot remain silent. The news that is suppressed – reports about corruption, conflicts of interest, illegal trafficking and crimes and abuses of all kinds – is exactly the information the public needs to know. I call on Governments and the international community to protect journalists and media workers, and to create the conditions they need to do their essential work, and to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of attacks on them. I am personally committed to defending press freedom and the safety of journalists. And I will continue to express my deep concern about this issue to Governments and leaders, both privately and in public, and to urge them to comply with their obligations. We need leaders to defend a free media and to counter disinformation. The United Nations General Assembly, the Security Council and the Human Rights Council have condemned attacks on journalists and expressed their support for media freedom through many different frameworks and processes. The United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity is our system-wide strategy to support the environment journalists need to perform their vital work, and the General Assembly has designated 2 November as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists. I have mobilized a network of focal points throughout the UN system to propose specific steps to strengthen our efforts. UNESCO and the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations are stepping up their work in Media and Information Literacy, to help people with the knowledge and skills they need to detect disinformation, counter hate-speech and defend media freedom. Monitoring violence against journalists is another element of our work. It contributes to tracking freedom of expression and human rights violations more generally, and it is an important indicator for sustainable development. I applaud the efforts of your Association, and of other civil society organizations that work to keep journalists safe, particularly through alert systems for those who travel to places where they fear for their safety.
THE SECRETARY-GENERAL’S REMARKS TO THE HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL, Geneva, 25 February 2019
Distinguished President of the Human Rights Council, Madame High Commissioner, this is my first time before this Council in your new capacity. And I know your leadership will bring enormous added value to the advancement of human rights around the world. Excellencies, Colleagues, Friends, The Human Rights Council is the epicentre for international dialogue and cooperation on the protection of all human rights — civil, political, economic, social and cultural. Every door you open helps promote opportunity. Every right you secure is another brick in the building of a better world. Your efforts underscore how human rights are of value in themselves and should never be instrumentalized, and that they are also essential to advancing peace and human dignity. To empower women and girls. To deepen development. And to spark hope. The rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights belong to everyone, everywhere. They are independent of nationality, gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, belief or any other status. In my inaugural speech as Secretary-General, I said that prevention must be a priority in everything we do. Human rights are a template for this – building resilience and preventing crises. Every measure to uphold human rights helps ease tensions, deliver sustainable development and sustain peace. Our surge for diplomacy is also about promoting human rights. If the ceasefire holds in Hudaydah, if the recent peace agreement takes root in the Central African Republic, if conflict ends in South Sudan – we will dramatically reduce human suffering and pave the way for a much needed justice for victims. Of course, the primary responsibility to uphold and champion human rights rests with Member States – and I am encouraged by those who are leading the way, especially in these challenging times. One of your key mechanisms is through the Universal Periodic Review, which brings to this Council the realities on the ground and collective commitments for progress. Excellencies, I speak from experience. I lived under the Salazar dictatorship in Portugal which oppressed not only its own citizens, but also the peoples of the African colonies. And it was the human rights struggles and successes of others around the world that moved us to believe in change and to make that change happen. Human rights inspire and drive progress. And that truth is the animating spirit of this Council. It is the DNA of our Organization’s founding Charter. And it is vital to addressing the ills of our world. Excellencies, let us be clear. The human rights agenda is losing ground in many parts of the globe – but I am not losing hope. Yes, we see troubling trends — but we also see powerful movements for human rights and social justice. Youth, indigenous people, migrants and refugees are demanding their rights and making their voices heard. Journalists are fearlessly getting their stories out. Women are bravely standing up and saying “me too”. The largest number of countries in history have now abolished the death penalty or no longer practice it. More people are speaking out about the indispensability of cultural rights for protecting the diversity of beliefs and practices on our planet – recognizing these rights as an essential tool for preserving diversity and our common heritage. And we are seeing greater recognition of the imperative to ensure rights for persons with disabilities. We have proven the case that it is only possible to fight terrorism successfully when human rights are upheld. Our own Human Rights Up Front initiative is becoming more systematic in the capacity to spot early signs of crises and improving how we respond to them. One billion people have been lifted out of extreme poverty in just a generation. More than two billion people have gained access to improved sanitation. And more than 2.5 billion people have gained access to improved drinking water resources. The mortality rate for children under five has declined by almost 60 percent. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most widely ratified international human rights instrument, and it is a rallying point for intensifying efforts to ensure we leave no child behind. It is in this overall context of progress and concern that I want to focus on a few human rights challenges as I scan the global horizon. The understanding that underpins these efforts reflect the indivisible and interdependent nature of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. Excellencies, Let’s begin with those that hold up half the sky. We can celebrate tremendous progress in the fight for women’s rights and gender equality in recent decades. In every continent, women have been elected to lead and occupy key positions in governments. Gender gaps in education are closing around the world. Maternal mortality has dropped by nearly half. And I am proud that for the first time in UN history we have already achieved parity in the Senior Management Group and among Resident Coordinators around the world. But much remains to be done at the UN and around the world. Untold women and girls still face insecurity, violence and other violations of their rights every day. Doors of economic opportunity remain closed. Glass ceilings abound. And let’s never forget gender equality is a question of power. At present trends, it will take two centuries to close the gap in economic empowerment. I do not accept a world that tells my granddaughters that economic equality can wait for their granddaughter’s granddaughters. I know you agree: Our world cannot wait. Excellencies, I am also deeply alarmed by the shrinking civic space in every region of the globe – and every corner of the internet. Activists and journalists are being targeted by surveillance, misinformation campaigns and threats of violence that too often result in actual violence. The immediacy and reach of online threats pose serious challenges to those who wish to speak up. Big data and facial-recognition technology are being misused for undue surveillance and interference with free speech, causing a chilling effect and a shrinking space for dialogue. And meanwhile, harassment and attacks are on the rise. Over a thousand human rights defenders and journalists were killed in the last three years. In 2018, four environmental activists, mostly indigenous people, were killed every week. We must do more to defend defenders and end reprisals against those who share their human rights stories. And we must hold accountable those who commit such acts. And we must not tolerate the outrageous near impunity for crimes against journalists and other media workers. Respect for human rights is just a game of words if there is no respect for people. We must also work to close the gaps in discriminatory laws and practices that target people – in the workplace, in accessing public services or in the community – simply because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics. Excellencies, We are also seeing a groundswell of xenophobia, racism and intolerance – including rising anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hatred. Hate speech is a menace to democratic values, social stability and peace. It spreads like wildfire through social media, the Internet, and conspiracy theories. It is abetted by public discourse that stigmatizes women. minorities, migrants, refugees and any so-called “other”. Indeed, hate is moving into the mainstream – in liberal democracies and authoritarian States alike. Some major political parties and leaders are cutting and pasting ideas from the fringes into their own propaganda and electoral campaigns. And parties once rightly considered pariahs are gaining influence over governments. And with each broken norm, the pillars of humanity are weakened. For our part, I have asked my Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, to bring together a UN team to scale up our response to hate speech, define a system- wide strategy and present a global plan of action on a fast-track basis. We have seen how the debate on human mobility, for example, has been poisoned with false narratives linking refugees and migrants to terrorism and scapegoating them for many of society’s ills. An insidious campaign sought to drown the Global Compact on Migration in a flood of lies about the nature and scope of the Agreement. That campaign failed. And it was particularly fitting that the first day of the conference to adopt the Convention coincided with the 70th anniversary of the General Assembly adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This action was soon followed with the adoption of a Global Compact on Refugees. We must re-establish the integrity of the international refugee protection regime and continue to work for common values and international cooperation to reassert rights and help protect people from ruthless traffickers, smugglers and other predators. And in this anniversary year of the Geneva Conventions, let us all recommit to upholding international humanitarian law.
THE SECRETARY-GENERAL’S REMARKS TO THE CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT, Geneva, 25 February 2019
Mr. President, Excellencies, Distinguished delegates Ladies and Gentlemen, It is indeed a privilege to take the floor here in this Council Chamber, a space that was created to nurture the agreements that make our world a safer place. The words inscribed outside these doors are as urgent as ever: “Nations must disarm or perish.” I will be blunt. Key components of the international arms control architecture are collapsing. The continued use of chemical weapons with impunity is driving new proliferation. Thousands of civilian lives continue to be lost because of illicit small arms and the use in urban areas of explosive weapons designed for open battlefields. New weapon technologies are intensifying risks in ways we do not yet understand and cannot even imagine. We need a new vision for arms control in the complex international security environment of today. But, as we work toward this new common endeavor, we must take great care to preserve our existing frameworks which continue to bring us indispensable benefits. Many of the most successful and ambitious disarmament and arms control initiatives over the past several decades were those led by the major powers; that is perfectly natural. Their drive to regulate and eliminate arms was the product of a strategic understanding of how cooperation and agreement could be the most effective security tools to help prevent, mitigate and resolve armed conflict. And that is why it is one of my highest priorities. Over the past seven decades, United Nations Member States have made great gains in these fields. But our efforts are in increasing jeopardy. States are seeking security not in the proven collective value of diplomacy and dialogue, but in developing and accumulating new weapons. And the situation is particularly dangerous as regards nuclear weapons. The demise of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, should it be allowed to happen, would make the world a more insecure and unstable place. That insecurity and instability will be keenly felt here in Europe. And we simply cannot afford to return to the unrestrained nuclear competition of the darkest days of the Cold War. I call on the parties to the INF Treaty to use the time remaining to engage in sincere dialogue on the various issues that have been raised. It is very important that this treaty is preserved. I also call on the United States and the Russian Federation to extend the so-called “New START” Treaty before it expires in 2021. This Treaty is the only international legal instrument limiting the size of the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals, and its inspection provisions represent an important confidence-building set of measures that benefit the entire world. I urge Russia and the United States to use the time provided by an extension to the treaty to consider further reductions in their strategic nuclear arsenals. I dream of the day when these bilateral arrangements become multilateral. And at their summit in Hanoi later this week, I hope that the leaders of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the United States agree to concrete steps for sustainable, peaceful, complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen, The treaties and instruments that make up the existing nuclear arms control and disarmament regime were painstakingly constructed over years. States entered into dialogue despite harboring deep suspicion towards each other. At that time, too, the world was suffering from a serious case of Trust Deficit Disorder. But in the absence of trust, governments sought the strictest verification measures. The bilateral arms control process between the Russian Federation and the United States has been one of the hallmarks of international security for fifty years. Thanks to their efforts, global stockpiles of nuclear weapons are now less than one- sixth of what they were in 1985. That is the legacy that is in grave danger. The arms control and disarmament regime is built on the good-faith implementation of provisions – and on rigorous verification and enforcement of compliance. I hope the parties will make use of both, while there is still time. More broadly, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty remains an essential pillar of international peace and security and the foundation for both nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Distinguished delegates, Since I last addressed this Conference, I launched the Disarmament Agenda “Securing Our Common Future” which includes 40 specific commitments to support disarmament. And I have directed the Office for Disarmament Affairs to work with the entire UN System to implement these, and significant progress has already been made. The Agenda is a useful guide for action by the United Nations system. But it was created to serve as a tool to support the work of Member States, who have a responsibility for providing a clear, ambitious and realistic vision. This vision should be a bridge from the lessons of the past to the emerging challenges of the twenty-first century. The slow demise of the Cold War-era arms control regime is already having profound consequences. Member States cannot let the world sleepwalk into a new nuclear arms race. And I urge you in the strongest possible terms to take a decisive action to safeguard and preserve the existing system through dialogue that will help restore trust. The development of risk reduction measures fit for this evolving environment, including transparency and confidence-building tools, would help to alleviate tensions and take us back from the nuclear brink. Such steps could take into account regional nuclear challenges, as well as technological developments including cyber security, artificial intelligence and so- called ‘hypersonic weapons’ that could be used to launch attacks at unprecedented speed. I stand ready to support you in any way I can to facilitate your efforts to develop a new vision for arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament in today’s world.
THE SECRETARY-GENERAL’S REMARKS AT THE 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE GENOCIDE CONVENTION AND THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF COMMEMORATION AND DIGNITY OF THE VICTIMS OF THE CRIME OF GENOCIDE AND OF THE PREVENTION OF THIS CRIME, New York, 7 December 2018
The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was the first human rights treaty adopted by the United Nations, on 9 December 1948. It embodies a collective determination to protect people from brutality and to prevent repetition of the horrors witnessed by the world during the Second World War. International law often emerges from centuries of custom and general principles. This was not the case for the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The Convention, and the word “genocide”, largely owe their existence to the work of one man, Raphael Lemkin. Genocide had existed for millennia. But Lemkin saw it for what it is, understood it, and named it for the first time. Lemkin lost 49 members of his own family in the Holocaust. But well before that, he was campaigning for the world to recognize mass murder as an international crime. The Nuremburg trials punished the Nazi leaders for the crimes they had committed against humanity. But Lemkin was concerned with the future, with protecting vulnerable groups, in order to prevent what he called “future Hitlers”. That is why the Genocide Convention is preventive at its core, and punishes specific acts that are committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such. These include killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. Preventing genocide means paying close attention to these provisions. Genocide is deliberate and premeditated and requires serious preparations that take time. Those preparations should give the world time to act. Tragically, the international community has sometimes failed to heed the warning signs and take early and decisive action. Rather than preventing genocide, we are still reacting to it, often too late. Since Nuremberg, we have failed to prevent genocide in Cambodia, Rwanda, and Srebrenica in the former Yugoslavia. But in the past two decades, we have at least started to hold perpetrators to account. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia have all convicted perpetrators for the crime of genocide. The work of these courts reflects a welcome resolve to punish genocide. Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen, Today, seventy years after the Genocide Convention was adopted, people are still being killed, raped, their homes torched, their lands confiscated, just because of who they are. In Iraq, the violent extremists of Daesh brutally targeted the Yazidi people for murder, sexual slavery and trafficking, so courageously described by survivor and Nobel laureate Nadia Murad. I am extremely concerned about the plight of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, who have been systematically killed, tortured, raped and burnt alive, victims of what has rightly been called ethnic cleansing. I will never forget the bone-chilling accounts I heard from Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh earlier this year. Elsewhere around the world, racism, hate speech, violent misogyny, antisemitism, Islamophobia and all forms of xenophobia are on the rise. We now know that dehumanizing language is not only evil in itself. It may also sow the seeds for far more evil acts, including genocide. It is incumbent on all of us, individually and collectively, to reject every single attempt to target people because of their nationality, ethnicity, religion or race, or any other form of identity. That means speaking out. It means nurturing the courage and the political will to act decisively, at the right time, and to support others when they take action. My generation believed that after the Holocaust, we would never see genocide again. We were wrong. Modernity does not protect us from genocide. The digital age does not protect us from genocide. Nothing but our own actions, based on our values and principles, can protect us from genocide. The Genocide Convention offers an essential legal framework for our efforts. Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen, As we mark this 70th anniversary, we also commemorate the dignity of the victims of genocide. In doing so, we commit to making sure that communities affected by this crime can tell their stories, create a historical record of what happened and, where appropriate, receive reparations. I am grateful to all those who are working to preserve the testimony of genocide survivors, our most effective leaders and guides. I look forward to today’s demonstration of one innovative way to educate young people and future generations about the horrors of genocide. The Genocide Convention has been ratified or acceded to by 149 States; 45 Member States have not become party to it. I urge those 45 States to consider becoming party as an urgent priority. Universal participation will send a unifying signal of resolve in this 70th anniversary year. I also call upon those States that are parties to the Convention to back their commitments with action. Preventing and punishing genocide is the duty, the responsibility and the obligation of the entire international community. Thank you.
THE SECRETARY-GENERAL’S REMARKS TO SECURITY COUNCIL OPEN DEBATE ON “PEACE AND SECURITY IN AFRICA: STRENGTHENING PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS IN AFRICA
New York, 20 November 2018
Peacekeeping is a remarkable exercise in global solidarity. United Nations peacekeepers are ready to pay the ultimate price for peace, and we are all in their debt. Last week, eight of our peacekeepers, all from African countries – Malawi and Tanzania, were killed in the line of duty. Most were trying to prevent an attack on the town of Beni in the Democratic Republic of Congo and create a safe environment for those working to end the Ebola outbreak there. I send my deepest condolences to their families, and to the families of all peacekeepers killed in the line of duty. I dare ask you please if you could stand and observe a moment of silence for the fallen. [Moment of silence.] I thank the Chinese Presidency for convening this open debate on strengthening peacekeeping operations in Africa, and for China’s contributions to UN peacekeeping operations in Africa and around the world. Some 2,500 uniformed Chinese personnel, including well-trained and equipped individual and formed police units, are making an important contribution to multilateral efforts for peace. I welcome President Xi’s pledge to establish a Peacekeeping Standby Force and hope to build on the 13 units that have already been registered. The African continent hosts seven of the fourteen UN peacekeeping missions and more than 80 per cent of the UN’s peacekeepers. African countries provide nearly half of United Nations Blue Helmets deployed around the world, including almost two-thirds of all women peacekeepers, and the majority of UN police officers. Peacekeeping in Africa continues to present some of our greatest challenges. United Nations missions are carrying out complex operations with multidimensional mandates in extremely dangerous environments. Transnational crime, non-state armed groups and terrorist groups pose serious challenges, sometimes targeting our peacekeepers directly. Against this backdrop, our partnership with the African Union and African Member States is vital to our collective efforts for peace, and we must continue working to strengthen it. There is excellent cooperation at the highest levels. AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat and I have signed two Joint United Nations-African Union Frameworks, on Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security and on the Implementation of Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. These frameworks are already promoting coherence, efficiency and effectiveness in our common action. The Deputy Secretary-General and senior officials from the African Union have undertaken several joint visits to the continent. The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations and the Commissioner for Peace and Security, that we have with us today, at the African Union have conducted joint visits to the Central African Republic, Sudan and South Sudan. The role of women in peace and security was at the heart of their recent visit to South Sudan. I am also encouraged by African support for my Action for Peacekeeping initiative. This aims to mobilize all partners and stakeholders to first refocus peacekeeping around more realistic mandates; second, to make our missions stronger and safer; and third, to mobilize greater collective support for political solutions, and for well-equipped and well-trained troops. More than 150 governments have signed the Declaration of Shared Commitments in support of Action for Peacekeeping, including 42 on the African continent. Partnerships with troop-contributing countries, with regional organizations, particularly the African Union, and with host governments are critical to the success of this initiative — which is already showing results. The Action for Peacekeeping initiative was also informed by the recommendations of the Santos Cruz Report on improving the safety and security of our peacekeepers. This also led to the development of an Action Plan to address the performance and security of UN peacekeepers. Our operations are now taking a more proactive posture to make these improvements. We are adopting innovative measures to train and equip our troops. And undertaken independent reviews of our missions to determine how we can better fulfil our mandates. We will continue to remain vigilant and review the results of these steps. At the same time, our reforms of the UN’s peace and security architecture will improve performance by providing more integrated analyses and stronger country and regional strategies. Closer integration of conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peacebuilding will allow us to put sustainable development at the heart of our work. Increasing the numbers of women in peacekeeping at all levels is another way to improve the effectiveness of our operations. I am taking steps to ensure that my gender parity strategy is implemented across all our peacekeeping missions, and to increase the numbers of female troops and police. We are also mobilizing to tackle sexual exploitation and abuse in our ranks, including our peacekeeping missions, putting the rights and dignity of victims front and centre. We are providing more support to victims, and more effective capacity in seeking justice. We have stepped up training and improved investigations. Dozens of world leaders have joined the Circle of Leadership in support of measures to implement a zero-tolerance policy, and 100 countries have signed voluntary compacts with the UN to tackle these issues. The era of silence and taboos around this issue is over. The era of accountability has begun. The United Nations and African Union are cooperating more closely than ever before. African peace operations, including those mandated by the African Union, have played a key role in maintaining peace and security on the continent. They deserve predictable systems of support. Chairperson Faki and I will soon sign a Joint Communiqué guiding the work of the Secretariat and the AU Commission in strengthening UN peacekeeping operations in Africa, paving the way for more adequately-supported African peace operations. We are working closely with the AU on joint planning for the mandating of their peace support operations, and on legal and human rights compliance frameworks. As I have told this Council before, we need to understand that UN peacekeeping has limits. We face more and more situations where we need peace-enforcement and counter-terrorism operations that can only be carried out by our partners – namely, the African Union and various sub-regional organizations. It is essential that African-led Peace Operations acting under the Security Council’s authority are provided with strong mandates and predictable, sustainable and flexible finance, including through UN assessed contributions where appropriate. I have appealed to the international community to support the regional G5 Sahel Joint Force in combatting terrorism and organized crime. I am grateful to the European Union and other donors who have pledged to the Force, but so far, almost half the pledges have not been earmarked, let alone disbursed. There has been progress over the past year. The Joint Force has reached initial operational capacity. But we are far from what is needed to meet the security challenges of the Sahel. An adequate level of funding would enable the force to fill equipment shortfalls and capability gaps, and to better address the serious threats facing the region. In our interconnected age, security challenges on one continent present a risk to the whole world. The factors that drive conflict in Africa – including poverty, youth unemployment, climate change, competition for resources, and transnational crime – threaten global security. Improving the impact and effectiveness of peacekeeping in Africa is a collective responsibility. We will continue to tackle it with our African partners, across the continent and around the world. Thank you.
THE SECRETARY-GENERAL’S REMARKS TO GROUP OF FRIENDS OF UNITED NATIONS ALLIANCE OF CIVILIZATIONS,
New York, 20 November 2018
I am very pleased to be with you today and to thank you for your commitment to the success of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations. In these troubled times, the Alliance is a unique and inclusive platform for Member States, the private sector, youth, civil society and the media to exchange views and commit to dialogue and new partnerships. It is closely aligned with my own priorities and the vision that I have outlined in my prevention agenda. Over the past six years, the Alliance has been ably led Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser. He has guided the work of the Alliance during a period of unprecedented challenges to peace and security. He has increased the membership of this Group of Friends and led the development and expansion of the Alliance’s programming He has broadened partnerships and the Alliance’s engagement with the UN system, and worked to raise the Alliance’s visibility. I thank you very much for your commitment to the Alliance and to the UN work as a whole. As you know, Mr. Al-Nasser’s tenure concludes at the end of this year. So, today, I would like to introduce and welcome his successor, Mr. Miguel Angel Moratinos of Spain, as the new High Representative for the Alliance effective first of January 2019. Mr. Moratinos brings rich experience as the former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain, not to mention many other very distinguished services he has given to the international community. He can count on my support – and, I hope on your support. This Group of Friends has indeed a critical role to play. None of the Alliance’s progress would have been possible without the political leadership and financial contributions of the members of the Group of Friends, and in particular the founding co-sponsors Spain and Turkey. I want once again, to express my deep appreciation for the imitative that Spain and Turkey took years ago, and for the firm commitment that those countries took, making sure that this initiative gets very strong support from Member States. I thank you all for your consistent support for the Alliance. However, the financial sustainability and viability of the initiative remain fragile. The Alliance serves the best interests of us all, and I hope that replenishing the Alliance’s Voluntary Trust Fund is addressed in your meeting today. I would like to conclude by reaffirming my full support for the work of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and to encourage you to continue to strengthen this important initiative of our Organization. Thank you very much.
THE SECRETARY-GENERAL’S REMARKS ON INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR
THE ELIMINATION OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN,
New York, 19 November 201
I am very pleased to be with you to discuss this essential topic. Violence against women and girls is a global pandemic. It is a moral affront to all women and girls and to us all, a mark of shame on all our societies, and a major obstacle to inclusive, equitable and sustainable development. At its core, violence against women and girls in all its forms is the manifestation of a profound lack of respect – a failure by men to recognize the inherent equality and dignity of women. It is an issue of fundamental human rights. The violence can take many forms – from domestic violence to trafficking, from sexual violence in conflict to child marriage, genital mutilation and femicide. It is an issue that harms the individual but also has far-reaching consequences for families and for society. Violence experienced as a child is linked to vulnerability and violence later in life. Other consequences include long-term physical and mental health impacts and costs to individuals and society in services and lost employment days. This is also a deeply political issue. Violence against women is tied to broader issues of power and control in our societies. We live in a male-dominated world. Women are made vulnerable to violence through the multiple ways in which we keep them unequal. When family laws which govern inheritance, custody and divorce discriminate against women, or when societies narrow women’s access to financial resources and credit, they impede a woman’s ability to leave abusive situations. When institutions fail to believe victims, allow impunity, or neglect to put in place policies of protection, they send a strong signal that condones and enables violence. In the past year we have seen growing attention to one manifestation of this violence. Sexual harassment is experienced by almost all women at some point in their lives. No space is immune. It is rampant across institutions, private and public, including our very own. This is by no means a new issue, but the increasing public disclosure by women from all regions and all walks of life is bringing the magnitude of the problem to light. This effort to uncover society’s shame is also showing the galvanizing power of women’s movements to drive the action and awareness needed to eliminate harassment and violence everywhere. This year, the global United Nations UNiTE campaign to end violence against women and girls is highlighting our support for survivors and advocates under the theme ‘Orange the World: #HearMeToo’. With orange as the unifying colour of solidarity, the #HearMeToo hashtag is designed to send a clear message: violence against women and girls must end now, and we all have a role to play. We need to do more to support victims and hold perpetrators accountable. But, beyond that, it is imperative that we – as societies — undertake the challenging work of transforming the structures and cultures that allow sexual harassment and other forms of gender-based violence to happen in the first place. These include addressing the gender imbalances within our own institutions. This is why we have adopted a UN system-wide gender parity strategy. We have achieved parity in the senior management group and we are well on track to reach gender parity in senior leadership by 2021, and across the board by 2028. The UN has also reaffirmed its zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment and assault committed by staff and UN partners. We have recruited specialized investigators on sexual harassment, instituted fast-track procedures for addressing complaints and initiated a 24/7 helpline for victims. I also remain committed to ending all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers and UN staff in the field – one of the first initiatives I took when I assumed office. Nearly 100 Member States that support UN operations on the ground have now signed voluntary compacts with us to tackle the issue, and I call on others to join them, fully assuming their responsibilities, in training, but also in ending impunity. Further afield, we are continuing to invest in life-changing initiatives for millions of women and girls worldwide through the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women. This Fund focuses on preventing violence, implementing laws and policies and improving access to vital services for survivors. With more than 460 programmes in 139 countries and territories over the past two decades, the UN Trust Fund is making a difference. In particular, it is investing in women’s civil society organizations, one of the most important and effective investments we can make. The UN is also working to deliver on a comprehensive, multi-stakeholder, innovative initiative to end all forms of violence against women and girls by 2030, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. The 500-million-euro EU-UN Spotlight Initiative is an important step forward in this direction. As the largest-ever single investment in eradicating violence against women and girls worldwide, this initial contribution will address the rights and needs of women and girls across 25 countries and five regions. It will empower survivors and advocates to share their stories and become agents of change in their homes, communities and countries. A significant portion of the Spotlight’s initial investment will also go to civil society actors, including those that are reaching people often neglected by traditional aid efforts. But even though this initial investment is significant, it is small given the scale of the need. It should be seen as seed funding for a global movement in which we must play a role. It is that global movement that we celebrate today, as we look forward to the coming 16 days devoted to ending gender-based violence. Not until the half of our population represented by women and girls can live free of fear, violence and everyday insecurity, can we truly say we live in a fair and equal world. Thank you very much.
THE SECRETARY-GENERAL’S REMARKS AT OPENING OF UNITED NATIONS ALLIANCE OF CIVILIZATIONS GLOBAL FORUM
New York, 19 November 2018
Just a few hours’ drive from here is the city of Pittsburgh.
Less than a month ago, Pittsburgh was the scene of a horrendous attack – Jewish worshippers gunned down in prayer. It was an unspeakable act – yet I was struck by the voices that emerged. The local Muslim community, for example, raised tens of thousands of dollars to help the victims. “Let us know what you need” a leader said. “We will be there.” He said he was echoing the same message of support that his community received in times of trouble. He was also echoing the essence of the mission of the Alliance of Civilizations. The Alliance is not a feel-good initiative. It is fundamental to peace, to security, to sustainable development, to the world we need to build. That is why I am pleased to welcome you to this opening session of the eighth Global Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations. I thank High-Representative Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser for his service in guiding the Alliance over the past six years. The role of the Alliance of Civilizations has never been more relevant to our 2030 Agenda objective of building more peaceful, just and resilient societies. For that, we need to promote the conditions where people of different identities, faiths and cultures can live in harmony, free of discrimination and persecution. Sadly, today, culture, faith and a false notion of identity are still creating serious problems and threats in different regions. Think no further than the desperate plight of the Rohingya people of Myanmar, subjected to ethnic cleansing in the only place that they can call home. Or the ordeal of the Yazidi people in Iraq, overrun by ISIS, their men slaughtered and their women and girls sold into slavery. These peoples, and many more around the world, are guilty of nothing except being different from their persecutors. It is unacceptable and a source of deep shame that identity should make a person or a community a target. Yet, in today’s world, people whose identities are defined by religion, culture or ethnicity, continue to be besieged by hatred. We see it in the resurgence of Neo-Nazis organizations and anti-Semitism. We see it in the vitriol directed at refugees and migrants – some of our world’s most vulnerable and needy people – which is why it is essential that, next month, nations embrace the compacts on migration and refugees. We see it in the homophobia that permeates minds and laws in countries throughout the world. And we see it in the global pandemic of violence against women and girls – from so-called honour killings to the pervasive sexual harassment that so many females endure in all societies. That is why we must all work together to build societies that are truly respectful and inclusive, where diversity is seen as a richness, not a threat. But this will not necessarily happen spontaneously. It needs the investment and commitment of political, community and faith leaders. How can we achieve this goal? First, we must engage in sincere and inclusive dialogue. Religious leaders and faith-based organizations have tremendously important roles to play – in promoting understanding and acting as moderating voices. Faith is too often used to divide us – usually as a result of cynical political manipulation. But faith can and should provide pathways for understanding and for people to celebrate their diversity based on their common values. I am particularly pleased that the Alliance of Civilizations is providing a global space for religious leaders to exchange views and explore how to amplify their role. I urge the international community to continue to draw on the wisdom and experience of religious leaders from all denominations in peacebuilding efforts, particularly in the context of promoting national reconciliation. Second, we need to harness the creativity and energy of young people. That is why I have launched a youth strategy to create an enabling environment for young people to engage with the United Nations – and with each other to promote understanding. I welcome the efforts of the Alliance to place youth at the centre of its activities. With the rise of misinformation, dangerous hoaxes and hate speech on social media, young people need to be educated and empowered to identify and repudiate those destructive trends. Third, our efforts must be anchored in respect for universal human rights. As we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights next month, let us recall that the inherent dignity and equal rights of all members of the human family provide the foundation for freedom, justice and peace. This includes respect for freedom of religion and expression, freedom from discrimination of any kind, and the right to participate in and preserve the cultural life of our communities. Only when our societies are based on true respect for the diversity of humankind can we provide a buttress against extremist propaganda. And that is why we need the Alliance of Civilizations – so people of all faiths and cultures and identities, can live together peacefully, safely and free of fear. I wish you a very productive and uplifting Forum. Thank you. Secretary-General’s Remarks to the Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security “Promoting the Implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda and Sustaining Peace Through Women’s Political and Economic Empowerment”, 25 October, 2018 Over the past year, we have seen positive examples of progress. Women’s organizations continue to make an impact – from keeping dialogue alive in Guinea Bissau, to rebuilding communities in Colombia. In the Central African Republic and Mali, women successfully contributed to negotiating between armed actors to halt the escalation of intercommunal tensions. In the Syrian Arab Republic, women have negotiated local ceasefires, mediated the creation of civilian safe zones and coordinated humanitarian and relief initiatives. Similarly in Yemen. I can personally attest to the critical importance of the work done by the women peacemakers I have met around the world, from Mali to Bangladesh. Here at the United Nations, the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund is channeling resources to women’s organizations that need them. The Peacebuilding Fund invests more than 30 percent of its resources in gender equality programming. And a growing number of donors are earmarking funds for gender equality. We are placing this agenda at the heart of our partnerships with regional organizations. The Deputy Secretary-General has made several high-level missions with the AU, focused on women, peace and security and development. And last month, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Dr. Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad, two champions of women, peace and security who exemplify the power of individuals to make a difference and the fact that survivors and advocates are best placed to determine the changes needed to build sustainable peace. But despite this progress in some areas, the facts on the ground show that we still have far to go. The participation of women in formal peace processes remains extremely limited. Between 1990 and 2017, women constituted just 2 percent of mediators, 8 percent of negotiators and 5 percent of witnesses and signatories in all major peace processes. Conflict continues to have a devastating effect on women and girls. The United Nations documented more than 800 cases of conflict-related sexual violence in 2017 – a 56 percent increase since 2016. Women human rights defenders, political leaders, journalists and activists, who play an important role in addressing the root causes of conflict, are targeted at alarming rates. Women’s marginalization, lack of access to health and education services, and economic disempowerment continue to be both a cause and an effect of conflict. And funding for programmes to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women in countries affected by conflict is just 5 per cent of total bilateral aid to such countries. The evidence linking gender equality and peace was recently set out in our joint study with the World Bank, Pathways for Peace. It is convincing and well-known. Maybe that is why the list of speakers for this debate is so long every year. In 2015, this open debate had the highest number of speakers in the history of the Security Council. But there is a significant gap between what we say in this chamber, and what we do outside. Every year, we make laudable commitments – but they are not backed with the requisite financial and political support. We repeat statistics about the sustainability of inclusive peace processes – but that is not how we mediate most conflicts. We extol the positive influence of women peacebuilders – but provide little space for their participation. We rely heavily on women’s organizations – but do not fund them adequately. We recognize the importance of gender analysis – but cut the budgets for such expertise. To address this gap, I intend to prioritize several action points in the coming year. First, gender parity has the greatest potential impact on effectiveness and credibility in our field operations. But this is where the numbers are lowest, and the rate of change is slowest. Women now comprise 41 per cent of heads and deputy heads of our peace operations — more than ever before. Their differing perspectives are already having a positive impact. But the number of women in peace operations overall has stagnated. Without decisive action, they will go backwards as some missions are downsized. I have therefore formed a working group to put emergency measures in place to address this. Some elements will need approval from Member States, and I hope your commitment here today will be reflected in your support for these reforms when we will seize the General Assembly to change some of our rules and regulations. It is also crippling to our credibility and protection capacity that women represent only 4 percent of our military peacekeepers and 10 percent of police. The United Nations fully supports the innovative efforts launched by Member States this year to incentivize greater representation. I remain committed to ending all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse within the United Nations – one of the first initiatives I took when I assumed office. I will continue to work with my Special Coordinator on Improving the United Nations Response to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, the Victims’ Rights Advocate, and Member States on this issue. I am pleased that nearly 100 Member States have now signed voluntary compacts with us to tackle sexual exploitation and abuse, and I call on others to join them. The Circle of Leadership of Heads of State and Government is committed to zero tolerance, to preventing and ending this scourge, and to addressing its impact effectively and humanely. Second, mediation. We know that women’s meaningful participation is directly linked to more sustainable peace. And yet we continue to support and lead processes that are not inclusive. The establishment of several women’s networks in recent years is an important trend, as they can play a role in influencing processes for the better. I am pleased that members of my high-level advisory board on mediation – which is gender balanced – full parity – are here this week to work with representatives of these networks. Women’s participation should not be confined to advisory roles or parallel structures and I welcome the growing sense of urgency from Member States, civil society and others to ensure that we are designing more effective peace processes with much stronger participation of women. Third, a gendered approach to peace and security means supporting peacebuilding at the local level, even during conflict. As peace processes falter at the national and international level, we must consistently support the local women’s groups that negotiate humanitarian access and support community resilience; learn from them; and build peace from the ground up. Fourth, financing this agenda is critical, and the UN intends to lead by example. I have created a high-level task force to review our funding on gender equality, including in the peace and security pillar. I will hold UN entities accountable to their commitments to track spending on women, peace and security, with a target of reaching or exceeding 15 percent by 2020. Finally, from now on, I will include gender analysis in my reports to this Council whenever it is relevant to inform your decisions. In two years’ time, we will mark the 20th anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1325, the fifth anniversary of the global agreement on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration. Gender equality and women’s participation are a unifying thread running through the implementation of these landmark agreements for human rights, sustainable development, and peace and security. In preparation for this, my report on Women, Peace and Security next year will include an assessment of implementation of the relevant recommendations in the three peace and security reviews undertaken in 2015, particularly the Global Study on implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325 and Security Council resolution 2242, adopted in 2015. The findings and recommendations from this assessment will be the basis for increased efforts in the year leading up to 2020. I encourage Member States to initiate similar preparations and reviews. As we look forward, I urge you to invest in gender equality and women’s empowerment not only as ends in themselves, but as critical means of achieving our overarching aim of preventing and ending conflict and building peace and prosperity in the world for all. Thank you.
THE SECRETARY-GENERAL’S REMARKS TO CHINA-AFRICA COOPERATION SUMMIT,
Beijing, 3 September 2018
Your Excellency Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, Distinguished Heads of State and Government, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, All protocol observed, I am honoured to be with all of you today. This Forum on China-Africa Cooperation is an embodiment of two major priorities of the United Nations: to pursue fair globalization and to promote development that leaves no one behind in the context of a rules-based system of international relations supported by strong multilateral institutions. China has achieved remarkable development progress in recent years, with an unprecedented reduction in poverty, and I commend its commitment to sharing its successes through different initiatives and namely the Belt and Road. Africa, too, has made dramatic advances, and hosts some of the world’s most dynamic economies. Together, China and Africa can unite their combined potential for peaceful, durable, equitable progress to the benefit of all humankind. It is important that current and future development cooperation contributes to peace, security and to building a “community of shared future for mankind.” China and Africa have strengthened their relationship in recent years, enjoying growing mutual trust and exchanges at all levels. Development cooperation is increasing, based on the two mutually compatible roadmaps: the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union’s Agenda 2063. I commend this engagement. Cooperation, based on the principles of the UN Charter, can benefit your peoples and can benefit the international community as a whole. And allow me to mention five areas that will be crucial for the success of this very important partnership. First, reinforcing the foundations of Africa’s progress. Stronger cooperation between China and Africa can lead to sustainable, environmentally-friendly and resilient development in Africa that is inclusive, reaching first those people that are furthest behind. Financial and technological support for infrastructure development is critical. So is building capacity on trade as African countries start to realize the potential of the landmark Continental Free Trade Area. And they’re also ready to support the strengthening national data systems to help African countries formulate policy and drive decision-making. Second, ensuring national ownership and African-led sustainable development. In the past year, the United Nations has agreed joint frameworks with the African Union on Peace and Security and on supporting Agenda 2063. These frameworks are based on our commitment to be a steadfast and trusted partner of Africa, with full respect for Africa’s stewardship of its own future. The China-Africa partnership echoes this collaborative approach to create not just immediate gains but long-lasting value. And we are ready to support the strengthening of governance and institutional capacities in African countries to ensure country ownership and leadership that fully responds to the needs and aspirations of Africa’s people. Of particular concern are education and job opportunities for young people, and equality and empowerment for the continent’s women and girls. Third, deepening South-South cooperation. I believe this Summit will contribute to preparations for the United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation in Buenos Aires next year. South-South cooperation is fundamental for fair globalization. But the dramatic increase in South-South cooperation does not eliminate the need to implement North-South commitments, including those assumed in the context of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. We need to ensure that cooperation paves the way for Africa’s economic vitality and greater trade, both at regional and global levels. Partnership for sustainable development must also give more space for African voices, innovations and perspectives in global development discourse around the world. Fourth, promoting sustainable fiscal policies. United Nations Country Teams are fully committed to supporting African nations to seize their full potential of their cooperation with China. At the same time, we all need to work together to guarantee the financial sustainability of African development. Sound fiscal policies are an essential pillar for sustainable development. It is imperative that we support Africa to both preserve and create fiscal space for investments. That includes a concerted global effort to combat tax evasion, money laundering and illicit financial flows allowing to contribute to the success to the strong African commitment to fight corruption as agreed at the African Union Summit in early January 2018. Fifth, climate change. Climate change is an existential threat. A sustainable future for China, Africa and the world means climate-friendly and climate-resilient development as it was underlined today by President Xi Jinping. As we are increasingly aware, climate change and environmental degradation are risk multipliers, especially for fragile states and vulnerable regions. China is today a global leader in climate solutions. It is important that it shares its advances with Africa to enable the continent to leapfrog traditional polluting development in favour of green growth. And also ,to support Africa in adapting to climate change and in building resilience to the impacts that Africans have done so little to cause. Excellencies, This Summit exemplifies the win-win collaboration that is necessary for the future we want. The United Nations will continue to support the China-Africa Partnership and more broadly, South-South cooperation, so that all nations – in Africa and beyond – may enjoy sustainable and inclusive development. Thank you, and I wish you a very productive summit.
The Secretary-General’s remarks at press encounter on appointment of michelle bachelet as united nations high commissioner for human rights, New York, 10 August, 2018
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am delighted that the General Assembly has confirmed the appointment of Ms. Michelle Bachelet as the new United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Ms. Bachelet has been as formidable a figure in her native Chile as she has at the United Nations. At home, she has known the heights and the depths – as the first woman to serve as the country’s President, but also as a survivor of brutality by the authorities targeting her and her family many decades ago. She was also a pioneer here at the United Nations – the first leader of UN Women, giving that new entity a dynamic and inspiring start. Now, she takes on a role for which she is perfectly suited. In this year in which we mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human rights, I could not think of a better choice. She has lived under the darkness of dictatorship. As a physician, she knows the trials of people thirsting for health and yearning to enjoy other vital economic and social rights. And she knows the responsibilities of both national and global leadership. She takes office at a time of grave consequence for human rights. Hatred and inequality are on the rise. Respect for international humanitarian and human rights law is on the decline. Space for civil society is shrinking. Press freedoms are under pressure. To navigate these currents, we need a strong advocate for all human rights – civil, political, economic, social and cultural. We need a person who can ensure the integrity of the indispensable human rights mechanisms of the United Nations. I want to express my deep gratitude to my good colleague and friend Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein for his leadership, passion, courage and skill in serving as High Commissioner for the past four years. I wish him well as he takes time with his beloved family, and in all his future endeavours. Michelle Bachelet brings unique experience to the United Nations and to all of us, and is strongly committed to keeping human rights at the forefront of the work of the United Nations. She has my full confidence and support, and I ask all Member States and our partners to extend to her their support. I look forward to working together to promote and encourage respect for human rights for “we the peoples”, everyone and everywhere. Thank you very much.
The Secretary-General’s REMARKS AT CLOSING OF HIGH-LEVEL POLITICAL FORUM ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, NEW YORK, 18 JULY 2018
The eight days of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development have been a time to recommit to the transformative vision of the 2030 Agenda and to assess where we are. I believe your discussions – along with the Voluntary National Reviews of 46 countries – have helped show the resolve to implementing the Agenda. They demonstrated also the commitment at other levels of your governments, namely at local and regional authorities. They reflect the growing and increasingly crucial efforts of civil society, the private sector, academia and others. And, indeed, we see important progress in a number of areas around the world – reducing maternal and child mortality, expanding basic education, improving access to electricity and much more. But your discussions have also made clear that we are lagging or even backtracking in other areas that are fundamental to our shared pledge to leave no one behind. For the first time in a decade, the number of people who are undernourished has increased, mainly due to conflict, drought and disasters linked to climate change. Gender inequality continues to hold women back and deprive them of basic rights and opportunities. And investment in critical sustainable infrastructure remains entirely inadequate. At the same time, we face mounting challenges. Runaway climate change. A growing number of conflicts and inequality. An erosion of human rights. An unprecedented global humanitarian crisis and persistent pockets of poverty and hunger. The 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals are our collective response to building a fair globalization. They are a recognition of the need to address the gaps in the extraordinary expansion of the global economy over the last decades. We need to embed the essence of the 2030 Agenda into everything that we do. How do we get there? Let me point to several essential pathways. First, we must mobilize the transformative power of the world’s young people. In September, we will launch the UN’s strategy to support and engage young people. Education is essential – as a critical tool for empowerment, for advancing gender equality and decent work for all, and for changing the way we produce, consume and live. Second, we need to get greenhouse gas emissions under control. Climate change is moving faster than we are. Yet we see insufficient political will to meet commitments. The foundation for climate action is the Paris Agreement on climate change. Its main goal is to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and as close as possible to 1.5 degrees. But we must acknowledge that Paris is not enough. The economic and social transformation needed to stay well below 2 degrees, requires nothing short of an industrial and energy revolution and we are not yet there. In September 2019, I will convene a Climate Summit to galvanize greater climate ambition. I count on you to pave the way for bold climate leadership and innovative action. Third, funding gaps for SDG investments are vast and urgent. We must unlock the large levels of financing necessary to implement the 2030 Agenda, particularly in vulnerable countries. Countries must do everything to mobilize internal resources. But the international community must do all it can to make sure they support countries in this effort by fighting illicit flows of capital. money laundering and tax evasion. In September, I will convene a High-level Meeting on Financing the 2030 Agenda. Fourth, technology has great potential to help deliver the SDGs. But it can also be at the root of exclusion and inequality. We need to harness the benefits of advanced technologies for all. Last week I announced a new High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation that will focus on this challenge. Finally, we must further strengthen institutions. This was apparent both in the Goals reviewed this year, and in the Voluntary National Reviews. For peaceful and inclusive societies, we need justice, effectiveness, transparency, accountability, and participation – principles that institutions should follow to deliver the 2030 Agenda, to realize all human rights and to strengthen the trust on which social cohesion is built. In today’s globalized world, we cannot look at development simply as a conflict prevention tool. Development also plays a very important role in creating the conditions for resilient societies and a peaceful world. But development is an end in itself and it must be a central objective of the action of the UN. We must address the drivers of conflict and support the long-term capacities and institutions that are required for sustaining peace and sustainable development. Multilateralism is the only way to tackle the complex, inter-connected and long-term challenges we are facing. The recent conclusion of consultations on the Global Compact for Migration and the Global Compact on Refugees is extremely encouraging – addressing issues that are central to realizing the Sustainable Development Goals, where comprehensive and robust international cooperation is essential. I am also pleased that Member States have embraced reform of the UN Development System so that we are better equipped to help Governments respond to the 2030 Agenda. Operationalizing the Resident Coordinator system is an essential next step and I am grateful to those countries that have already indicated their willingness to help fund that system during the transition in 2019. Every government, every human being can rally behind the 2030 Agenda as an agenda for prosperity and peace on a healthy planet. Let us leave this Forum with a fresh commitment to work together, to share innovative solutions and live up to the Agenda we set for ourselves. Let us demonstrate through decisive actions that the transformation demanded by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is well and truly underway. Thank you very much for your commitment.
THE SECRETARY-GENERAL’S REMARKS AT EVENT TO CELEBRATE NELSON MANDELA’S CENTENARY, NEW YORK, 18 JULY 2018
I am very pleased to be with you to celebrate the life and achievements of one of the greatest leaders of our time. Nelson Mandela would have been 100 years old today. I was fortunate to meet him several times, and I will never forget my first meeting in Johannesburg even before he was elected President. I was tremendously impressed by his vision, his wisdom, his determination and his compassion. Very few people in history have captured the imagination of the world as he did. Even fewer have been able to provide such inspiration. He stands today as a beacon for universal values — peace, forgiveness, humility, integrity, passion, respect and service. Madiba showed us that these are not just words or vague ideals, but concrete actions that we can all take. We can all be humble and respectful, we can all forgive, we can all work to make the world more peaceful. Each year, on this day, we focus on Madiba’s legacy, especially his call for solidarity and service. It was this sense of duty to others that made Nelson Mandela willing to risk his life for justice. He faced his oppressors in court, knowing they had the power of life and death, and he refused to back down. His commitment to equality saw him jailed. But it sustained him in his imprisonment. And it brought him freedom and made him the legitimate democratically elected President of his country and of his people. And it enabled him to embody for people across the world the principles and values on which a peaceful world is based. Today, as in every Mandela Day, we honour Madiba’s memory by calling on people around the world to make a difference, as he did. He understood that we each have in our hands the ability to create a better world. A world where people are treated equally and fairly, regardless of race, faith or gender. Creating that better world is the job – indeed the duty – of our organization. The United Nations was founded on a promise to end the scourge of war and build a world based on fundamental human rights where people can enjoy social progress in larger freedom. That is why our organization worked to end apartheid, and why we promote peace, human rights and development for all people everywhere. We have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. Fortunately, we have now a roadmap – the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. At its heart is a promise to end all forms of poverty and leave no one behind. To quote Nelson Mandela: “Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life. While poverty persists, there is no true freedom.” Today, on Nelson Mandela’s centenary, let us act on Madiba’s words. Let us recall all the promises we have made – in the Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 2030 Agenda – and let us commit to honour our pledges. Let us work for the better world we know can exist. How can we know such a thing? Because Nelson Mandela showed us. He demonstrated by his life’s work that no obstacle is insurmountable. What was once thought impossible can indeed be possible if we persevere with commitment and conviction. So, on this day – on every day – let us be inspired by Nelson Mandela – a true symbol of human greatness. Thank you.
UN Secretary-General’s Closing Remarks at High-Level Conference on Counter-Terrorism
New York, 29 June 2018
Thank you for these productive two days. There will not be a negotiated outcome, so I will set out my own conclusions for the way forward, based on your discussions. First, this conference has helped to strengthen multilateral collaboration, break down silos and build new partnerships. Over 1,000 participants from around the world have been present – security, intelligence and law enforcement officials, diplomats and policy-makers, civil society, women and youth associations, and international and regional organizations. This is the first time we have held a conference of this kind as part of a United Nations Counter-Terrorism Week. The 25 side events organized by Member States, United Nations entities and civil society throughout the week have demonstrated the benefits of adopting an inclusive approach. Numerous bilateral meetings have also helped to build trust and to exchange expertise. We should engage with all who can help us achieve our goals. We must promote an all-of-government, all-of-society and all-of-UN approach to preventing and countering terrorism, involving a broad range of partners at national, regional and global levels. This must, above all, include young people. We need them to help counter the manipulative messages of terrorists and to reintegrate the radicalized. And we need to empower them through education, jobs and vocational training. We need to uphold the rights of victims and ensure they have a voice. And we must also engage women in counter-terrorism. They have an absolutely vital role to play. They are often the first to spot early signs of radicalization in young or vulnerable people. We have heard today from a number of civil society organizations. Their experience is extremely valuable. We must listen and learn from them. That is why we are considering establishing a new unit in the Office of Counter-Terrorism to ensure that the views of civil society are fully reflected in counter-terrorism policies and programmes. I welcome the establishment of the “Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism” and other similar partnerships to prevent the spread of extremist content online. Let us do more to identify and remove terrorist content before it is accessible to all. Second, there are many examples of Member States lawfully sharing critical information consistent with human rights standards. We need to make better use of existing networks and expand them to include more Member States. Of course, not all information can be shared. You need to protect sensitive sources, prevent the erosion of civil liberties and ensure the presumption of innocence. But more can be done. For example, we need to be better at sharing information on the identities of returning and relocating foreign terrorist fighters. Security Council resolution 2396, adopted last December, calls on Member States to notify other countries of the travel, arrival, deportation or detention of individuals they believe to be terrorists. It urges Member States to use Passenger Name Record data and Advance Passenger Information to prevent the transit of terrorists. We must prioritize the implementation of this resolution and ensure that Member States most affected by terrorism have the capacities and resources to do so. That is why we are considering establishing a Global Network of Counter-Terrorism Coordinators to share expertise and best practices. We must learn from each other about what works and about what does not. Third, we need to do more to address the conditions that are conducive to terrorism and violent extremism – lack of opportunity, exclusion, inequality, discrimination and serious violations of human rights. The United Nations remains committed to working closely with all of you to develop and implement national and regional action plans. Fourth, we must work more closely together to anticipate and prevent the terrorist threats of tomorrow. Terrorists remain determined to find a weakness in our defences. We know they are researching cyber-attacks and the use of drones for chemical, biological or radiological attacks. To stay ahead of the terrorists, I call on the international community, the private sector and academia to share knowledge, expertise and resources to prevent new technologies becoming lethal terrorist weapons. Fifth, the United Nations needs to do more to support you. We need to ensure our joint capacity building activities are delivering impact on the ground. Member States have, of course, the primary responsibility for countering terrorism. But the United Nations has a key role to play in supporting the implementation of Security Council and General Assembly resolutions. As a former Prime Minister, I understand the challenges of keeping your citizens safe. I am committed to helping. We must fight terrorism together, with methods that do not compromise the rule of law and human rights. And we must mainstream our counter-terrorism efforts into our broader work to prevent conflicts, build durable peace and promote sustainable economic development. The week began with the sixth review of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and the adoption of a consensus resolution. It has concluded with practical discussions of some of the key challenges. New solutions have been proposed in this room. New partnerships have been established inside and [outside] the room. There has been broad support for this conference. It has provided the United Nations with a clear roadmap for our work on countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism. We will now liaise with Member States to organize regional events on key thematic issues to keep the momentum and support your collective efforts until the next conference. I look forward to continuing to work with all of you to help build a more secure and prosperous future. Thank you very much.
THE SECRETARY-GENERAL’S REMARKS TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL ON THE MAINTENANCE OF INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY: COMPREHENSIVE REVIEW OF THE SITUATION IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA, New York, 25 June 2018
Mr. President, Members of the Security Council, I thank the Russian Federation Presidency for convening this debate at a crucial juncture for the people of the Middle East and North Africa. The region faces profound divisions, troubling currents and a tragic shredding of its diverse religious, ethnic and cultural fabric. Decades-old conflicts, together with new ones, as well as deep-rooted social grievances, a shrinking of democratic space and the emergence of terrorism and new forms of violent extremism, are undermining peace, sustainable development and human rights. The territorial integrity of countries like Syria, Yemen and Libya is under threat. Millions of people have been forcibly displaced from their homes. The impacts of this instability have spread to neighbors and beyond. In addressing these challenges, we would all do well to recall the series of Arab Human Development Reports issued by the UN Development Programme starting in 2002. Those studies identified significant deficits in education, basic freedoms and empowerment, especially of the region’s women and young people. Among the findings of the first report, in 2002, was, and I quote: “Political participation in Arab countries remains weak, as manifested in the lack of genuine representative democracy and restrictions on liberties. At the same time, people’s aspirations for more freedom and greater participation in decision-making have grown, fueled by rising incomes, education, and information flows. The mismatch between aspirations and their fulfilment has in some cases led to alienation and its offspring – apathy and discontent. Remedying this state of affairs must be a priority for national leaderships.” Many such shortfalls continue to bedevil societies across the region. Let us also recognize that many of today’s problems are being compounded by the legacy of the past, including the colonial era and the consequences of the First World War, notably the dissolution of the Ottoman empire. The well-known “peace to end all peace” did unfortunately achieve that aim. It was in this broad context that the Arab Spring reverberated widely as a call for inclusion, opportunity and the opening of political space. Here I would like to pay tribute to the people of Tunisia, where the call began. They have achieved considerable progress in consolidating their young democracy, including through a new constitution and a peaceful transition of power. But the Tunisia promise did not materialize everywhere in the region. Today, in a region once home to one of history’s greatest flowerings of culture and coexistence, we see many fault-lines at work, old and new, crossing each other and generating enormous volatility. These include the Israeli-Palestinian wound, resurgent Cold War-like rivalries, the Sunni-Shia divide, ethnic schisms and other political confrontations. Economic and social opportunities are clearly insufficient. As such difficulties rise, trust in institutions declines. Societies fracture along ethnic or religious lines, which are being manipulated for political advantage. At times, foreign interference has exacerbated this disunity, with destabilizing effects. And the risk of further downward spirals is sky high. Excellencies, Our most pressing peace and security challenges in the Middle East are a clear reflection of the rifts, pressures, neglect and long-term trends that have brought us to today’s crossroads. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains central to the Middle Eastern quagmire. Achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting two-state solution that allows Palestinians and Israelis to live side-by-side in peace, within secure and recognized borders, is essential for security and stability in the entire region. The recent tensions and violence in Gaza are a reminder of the fragility of the situation. International support is critical to create an environment conducive to launching meaningful direct negotiations between the two parties. I remain deeply committed to supporting efforts towards this end. Later today, I will preside over a pledging conference to address severe funding gaps facing the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees. In Syria, civilians have borne a litany of atrocities for more than seven years of conflict: sieges, starvation, indiscriminate attacks, the use of chemical weapons, exile and forced displacement, sexual violence, torture, detention and enforced disappearances. Syria has also become a battleground for proxy wars by regional and international actors. Violence is entrenched, amid a fractured political landscape and a multiplicity of armed groups. In the absence of trusted state institutions, many Syrians have fallen back on religious and tribal identities. I continue to call on the parties to the conflict to engage meaningfully with my Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura in the UN-facilitated political process in Geneva. I urge progress in the establishment of the constitutional committee. Security Council resolution 2254 remains the only internationally agreed avenue for a credible and sustainable end to this conflict. More than ever our aim is to see a united and democratic Syria, to avoid irreparable sectarianism, to ensure full respect for Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to enable the Syrian people to freely decide on the country’s future. Yemen is suffering a prolonged and devastating conflict with clear regional dimensions. My Special Envoy Martin Griffiths has been actively engaged in order to avoid an escalation that could have dramatic humanitarian consequences at the present moment. One week ago, he presented to this Council elements of a negotiation framework that he has been discussing with various interlocutors inside Yemen and in the region. Our hope is that this framework would allow for a resumption of badly needed political negotiations to put an end to the conflict. In Gaza, Syria and Yemen, the international community must remain mobilized in order to ensure a strong humanitarian response to millions of people in dire need. In Libya, the United Nations is committed to supporting national actors to find a peaceful resolution to the crisis. The national conference process organized as part of the UN Action Plan is delivering a clear message: Libyans are longing for an end to the conflict and an end to the transition period. All stakeholders must continue lending their support to my Special Representative Ghassan Salamé, as he leads the political process. Political success in Libya will also hopefully allow the country to play its role in addressing the dramatic plight of migrants and refugees who have been suffering so much in attempting to cross the Mediterranean. Excellencies, In the past few years, we have witnessed numerous examples of Iraq’s resilience, including overcoming the risk of fragmentation and achieving victory over ISIL. Iraq’s endurance as a stable, federal state is a testament to the enormous sacrifices of the Iraqi people, from all communities. I strongly hope that the Iraqi institutions will be able to ensure an adequate conclusion of the electoral process in a way that fully respects the will of the Iraqi people. In this context, the reconstruction of areas destroyed in the retaking of territory from ISIL is a priority, as is the safe, dignified and voluntary return of Iraq’s displaced people to their homes, including those from religious minorities. It is also important to complement such efforts by ensuring that those who committed atrocity crimes are held accountable for their actions, in accordance with international standards. Excellencies, Let us remember that what look like religious conflicts are normally the product of political or geo-strategic manipulation, or proxies for other antagonisms. There are endless examples of different religious groups living together peacefully for centuries, despite their differences. Today’s artificial divides therefore can and must be overcome, based on respect for the independence and territorial integrity of the countries concerned. In this context, it is important to value the experience of respect for diversity that Lebanon today represents. In Lebanon, parliamentary elections — the first since 2009 — were held peacefully in May, underscoring the country’s democratic tradition. We look forward to the formation of the new Government, to further strengthen state institutions, promote structural reforms and to implement the dissociation policy. Heightened regional tensions could threaten Lebanon’s stability, including at the Blue Line. Steadfast international effort remains critical in supporting Lebanon to consolidate state authority, safeguard the country from regional tensions and host refugees until durable solutions are found, in accordance with relevant Security Council resolutions. Excellencies, I remain particularly concerned with the risks of destabilization around the Gulf. That is why I have always supported the efforts of the Kuwaiti mediation to overcome divisions among Arab states in the area. On the other hand, it is important to preserve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which should remain a valuable element of peace and security, independently of the wider discussion about the role of Iran in the region. During the Cold War, ideological rivals still found ways to talk and cooperate despite their deep divides, for example through the Helsinki process. I do not see why countries of the region cannot find a similar platform to come together, drawing experience from one another and enhancing opportunities for possible political, environmental, socio-economic or security cooperation. Regional and sub-regional organizations also have a key role to play in supporting preventive diplomacy, mediation and confidence-building. The region needs to ensure the integrity of the state, its governance systems and the equal application of the rule of law that protects all individuals. Majorities should not feel the existential threat of fragmentation, and minorities should not feel the threat of oppression and exile. And everyone, everywhere, should enjoy their right to live in dignity, freedom and peace. I call on the members of the Security Council to find much-needed consensus and to act with one strong voice. Thank you.
THE SECRETARY-GENERAL’S OPENING REMARKS AT PRESS ENCOUNTER WITH FOREIGN MINISTER OF NORWAY INE MARIE ERIKSEN SØREIDE AND PRIME MINISTER OF SOMALIA HASSAN ALI KHAIRE ON THE MARGINS OF THE OSLO FORUM, OSLO, 19 JUNE 2018
Ladies and gentlemen of the press, it’s a pleasure to be with all of you today. Indeed, we live in a dangerous world where we see a multiplication of new conflicts, old conflicts that seem never to die, and conflicts becoming more and more interlinked and more linked to what is now a new threat of global terrorism. There was always terrorism in the world, but this form of global terrorism is indeed new, and terrorism can strike anywhere at any time. There are very strong reasons for us to do everything to prevent conflict and to do everything to solve conflict. As a matter of fact the number of countries with violent conflicts is the highest in the last 30 years. If we compare with 2007 and consider the number of violent situations that can be qualified as war according to the number of casualties, they have tripled. If we consider low intensity conflicts since 2007, they have increased by 60 per cent. At the same time, taking as a reference 2005, when we had the lowest number of people being killed in battle, we have now tenfold that level, which means that the situation is indeed deteriorating in the world. That means that prevention is more necessary than ever, and the more difficult conflict resolution is the more important prevention becomes. But to prevent is not enough because conflicts are there, they need to be solved, and so mediation becomes an absolutely fundamental instrument in our action. Formal mediation but also backdoor mediation that helps bring together parties and especially the mediation that goes down, that trickles down, that involves communities, that involves societies, that manages to guarantee reconciliation, stability, cohesion and inclusivity in today’s world. During this period, Oslo will be the world capital of mediation, which means the world capital of peace. This is well deserved because Norway always has had a very strong commitment to support all UN activities in mediation but beyond that, Norway has always been directly involved in mediation activities around the world helping to solve several of the conflicts that we have heard about. Fortunately, thanks to Norway’s commitment they were possible to be resolved in the past. Norway is extremely active in helping the grassroots, allowing for bottom-up initiatives to be more widespread in the world, and that is reason for us to be extremely grateful for the action of the Norwegian government and the Norwegian people, and a reason for me to be extremely happy to be with you today.
The Secretary-General’s Remarks at the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal Ceremony, United Nations Headquarters, New York, 1 June 2018
Excellencies, Colleagues, Ladies and gentlemen, It is a great honour to be here today to present the Dag Hammarskjöld medal to the 128 men and women who lost their lives while serving under the UN flag. These brave men and women made the ultimate sacrifice for the cause of peace. On behalf of the entire United Nations family, I offer my heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of our fallen colleagues. We also pay tribute to Michael Sharp and Zaida Catalan, members of the Group of Experts for the Sanctions Committee, who were killed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Excellencies, Peacekeeping has become increasingly dangerous and our peacekeepers are being targeted more and more frequently. Last year, 61 peacekeepers were killed in attacks — the highest number in a quarter century. Many more perished in accidents or from sickness. Those who died served as military, police and civilian personnel. Collectively and individually they had a profound impact on the communities they served. Most were deployed far from home, while others served in their own conflict-affected countries as national staff. Every one of them made our world a better place. Some peacekeeping missions bore a disproportionate share of the fatalities. In Mali, we lost 42 peacekeepers; 33 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and 27 in the Central African Republic. Some of the countries that generously contribute peacekeepers also bore a disproportionate burden. Tanzania suffered 20 losses, including 15 during one single horrific attack in the Democratic Republic of the Congo last December. I have just returned from Mali, where Chadian peacekeepers suffered 11 fatalities. I offer my deepest condolences to all the affected countries, communities and families. I express my profound appreciation for your continued contributions to United Nations Peacekeeping, despite the inherent risks. To the families of the fallen, there are no words that can adequately express our sympathies. But I assure you that the United Nations will forever remember and honour your loved ones. I also assure you that we are working hard to make peacekeeping stronger, safer and more effective, through the Action for Peacekeeping initiative launched this year. I am committed to working together in strong partnership with Member States, to meet the scale of this challenge. Coming from Mali, seeing the number of terrorist groups and criminal organisations operating in the territory where our peacekeepers are, it is clear for me that we need peacekeepers that are well-trained, well-prepared, well-equipped, well-supported, and at the same time with the right mindset to face the extremely challenging environments in which they will operate today. Peacekeepers with the strongest support from the whole of the international community – starting with the Security Council, with clear and focused mandates, as it is sometimes impossible for peacekeepers to do everything they are asked or expected to do. As we remember those we have lost, we also reflect on what they have achieved for peace and stability around the world over the past seventy years. Thanks to their service and sacrifice, peacekeeping remains a defining activity for the United Nations and one of the strongest expressions of international solidarity and multilateralism. There is no better-known symbol of the UN than a blue helmet. Excellencies, Dag Hammarskjöld paid the ultimate price for peace while he served as Secretary-General. He exemplifies the commitment we ask of all who serve under the United Nations flag. That is why each medal bears his name, together with the name of a fallen peacekeeper. I now ask you to stand and join me in a moment of silence in honour of the fallen.
THE SECRETARY-GENERAL’S REMARKS AT THE WREATH-LAYING CEREMONY, UNITED NATIONS HEADQUARTERS, 1 June 2018
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, It is a great honour to be here with you today to remember the brave women and men who lost their lives while serving United Nations Peacekeeping. Since UN Peacekeeping opened its first mission 70 years ago, more than 3,700 military, police and civilian peacekeepers have lost their lives. They include 132 from 37 countries last year. These peacekeepers gave their lives to protect the lives of others. We are forever in their debt, and they are always in our hearts. Please join me in a moment of silence as we remember them, and more than 3,700 peacekeepers who have paid the ultimate price over the past 70 years. Last year saw the highest number of fatalities in our operations as a result of malicious acts, the highest in many years. Unfortunately, the United Nations flag no longer offers protection to peacekeepers, and defining activity of multilateralism is more and more dangerous for the brave women and men who serve as peacekeepers. But the past year has also demonstrated the value of our peacekeeping missions. The closure of two of them in Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia, is a landmark on the road to peace and stability in a region that was once in chaos. When the right strategies, resources and political support are in place, United Nations peacekeeping saves and improves lives for millions of people. Earlier this week, I visited our Blue Helmets serving with the UN Mission in Mali, MINUSMA. I was deeply impressed by the important work they are doing, and the many challenges they face. Threatened by terrorists, criminals and armed groups of all kinds, they are helping to build peace, to protect civilians and guarantee the political process. They are demonstrating the same courage, dedication, service and sacrifice as their comrades in the other 13 UN peacekeeping missions. Peacekeeping losses have risen dramatically in recent years. In response, we are now implementing new measures to improve the safety and security of peacekeepers. We are already seeing a positive impact on the ground. While attacks continue in Mali and the Central African Republic, our ability to defend ourselves and doing that, to defend our mandates and the people we care for, have improved. I hope to see further improvements in safety. Protecting United Nations Peacekeepers enables them to protect the civilians they serve. I am committed to improving security for all United Nations personnel, and particularly our military on the front lines. We are also working with Member States to provide better equipment and training for the women and men sent by the international community into harm’s way. Excellencies, Over the past 70 years, more than 1 million men and women have served under the United Nations flag. We acknowledge the sacrifice made by the families and friends of all our peacekeepers, but especially of those who did not return home. Today, as we honour the memory of our fallen peacekeepers, we recommit to carrying forward their mission for a better future. May they rest in peace. Thank you.
The Secretary-General’s Remarks at High-level Debate Marking 15th Anniversary of Adoption of United Nations Convention Against Corruption, New York, 23 May 2018
Ladies and gentlemen, I am very pleased to be with all you to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption. As Member States and partners, our common objectives include preventing violent conflict, building peace and security, protecting human rights and charting a path to sustainable development. If we are to make progress towards these priorities we need a solid foundation of trust and accountability. As the President of the General Assembly just said, Sustainable Development Goal 16 calls for reducing corruption and bribery, strengthening the recovery and return of stolen assets and developing effective, inclusive and transparent institutions. This is a global appeal for fairness, a collective demand for justice. This event today is a timely opportunity to reflect on how the international community can make good on these commitments. Corruption affects developed and developing countries alike, and complicity knows no borders. Those who can least afford corruption suffer the most. It cripples economic development, stifles entrepreneurship and deters investment. Society cannot function equitably and efficiently when public officials – from doctors to police, judges and politicians – enrich themselves rather than perform their duties with integrity. Corruption robs funds from schools, hospitals, infrastructure and other vital services. Human trafficking and migrant smuggling, illicit financial flows and illegal trade in natural resources, weapons, drugs and cultural heritage are all made possible because of corruption. It fuels conflict, and when a hard-won peace is achieved, corruption undermines recovery. Corruption and impunity are corrosive, breeding frustration and fostering further corruption when people see no other way of achieving their goals. A sense of desperation before the real and perceived lack of opportunities also fuels the large movements of people seeking better prospects. And the lack of opportunities for young women and men, often exacerbated in corrupt societies, can feed into the cynical narratives of terrorists and violent extremists. The answer is to root out and eradicate corruption at all levels and restore trust where it has been lost. The role of the United Nations is crucial. There are several ways the Organization can support Member States to combat corruption, from sharing good practices to supporting the capacity of national anti-corruption institutions. The International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala is a case in point. Excellencies, The UN Convention Against Corruption represents the fundamental recognition that corruption is neither an acceptable cost of doing business nor a necessary evil. It is a serious crime, and simply unacceptable. Since its adoption, the Convention has achieved near-global acceptance with 184 Parties. For 15 years, it has served as an international framework for cooperation to strengthen prevention and mitigate corruption risks. It helps disrupt money laundering and stop the illicit outflow of funds. It contributes to the return of stolen proceeds from foreign banks. And it enrols in civil society and the private sector as essential partners. Full implementation is needed to put an end to the threat that corruption poses to development. To achieve this, Member States have come together to review each other’s efforts. Such responses are critical to provide fair opportunities and facilitate investment, tackle transnational organized crime, prevent the unfair influence of powerful interests on governance and safeguard civil and human rights. Yet, we will not achieve a lasting impact without the full engagement and support of the business and financial communities. And we need civil society, a free press, and young people, to continue doing their valuable work in bringing to light corrupt practices and holding individuals, businesses and governments to account. Ladies and gentlemen, On this 15th anniversary, I urge you to use the Convention as a platform to mobilize political and popular support for the fight against corruption. It is the world’s most agile instrument in the hands of the international community to achieve our common goals of good governance, stability and prosperity. African countries have taken a leading role in moving this agenda forward in the last AU Summit and with measures as for example through anti-money laundering efforts in Nigeria and Tunisia, which have seen funds returned. If governments are serious about doing the best for their citizens, then pledges to promote integrity and clamp down on corruption must be more than campaign promises and words on paper. Millions will go to the polls this year with corruption high on their agenda. I make an urgent call to our global leadership to take a moral stand and install a culture of integrity from the top down. It all begins with setting an example. By tackling corruption, governments can show they mean business. We must all do more. The United Nations will continue to support Member States every step of the way, from helping to engage and empower citizens in this fight, to helping build and enhance institutions that can deliver on their promise. Thank you.
THE SECRETARY-GENERAL’S REMARKS ON RECEIPT OF PETITION FOR A NEW INTERNATIONAL FINANCE FACILITY FOR EDUCATION, NEW YORK, 11 MAY 2018
I want to thank you very much, my old friend Gordon Brown and thank the distinguished representatives of the world’s youth for your initiative. I have to say, when I was in Government, and I believe we have the same experience, education was the passion of my Government. And I believe education should be the passion of any government in the world. But it should also be the passion of the international community. We need to recognize that a lot of progress has been made, but we are still very far from being happy with the results. I think 264 million children are out of school today and there are many children in schools without the level of poverty that is desirable. So, there is a huge investment that is needed. But what always puzzled me it is the fact that I have not seen enough priority today given to education in the humanitarian work, where I lived for ten years, as the High Commissioner for Refugees and in development cooperation. I remember that in emergencies there is this mentality of “move the trucks, pitch the tents, find the water, distribute the food, find the vaccines”, but the question of putting the schools to work, finding teachers comes later. The amount of funding, humanitarian funding dedicated to education was, and I believe it still is extremely reduced. On the other end, in development cooperation it is clear we are far from reaching the needed amount of funding to support especially those countries that have more difficulties or to address a situation where we have conflicts or emergencies where the governments are not even able to provide the immediate capacity. I have to recognize that we need to make sure that we have a very strong advocacy for decisionmakers all over the world to fully understand this priority. And I know – we have been working together on this- it’s important to start early, to give priority not to those that are already relatively well, but to those that are marginalized and to care for the quality of education, not enough to have education, but quality is essential. If we look at the future, 1 billion young people will enter the labour market in the next decade. They will do work that is not necessarily always similar to the work that we do today, technology is changing and again, education has to be able to address the needs of today, but education needs to prepare us for the future, and future is changing very rapidly, so the investment in education is absolutely crucial. Now, the international finance facility comes to fill the gap. A gap that exists, it is of course something that we’ll be adding to efforts in different other initiatives, it is not something to replace anything or is not competing [with other initiatives], on the contrary it is part of a number of initiatives, but it tries to fill a gap and my strong appeal is for the international community to fully bet in this new instrument. I know the World Bank and the regional development banks are involved, I think that all the international community should be involved and I am very grateful for this testimony because it proves that is not just an idea of some of us that have been around and think about these things, but that this really comes from the will of the people, the young people that want to have the chance to build a future for themselves, for the international community knowing that education is the basis for not only development, but for peace and it is a fantastic instrument for us to be able to face all the challenges that we are facing today. Thank you very much for this initiative of yours, we will do our best to make sure – and Gordon Brown will be the first line of the international financing facility – will indeed become a very important instrument in our common struggle for education for all, and education of quality for all, making the impossible, possible. Thank you very much. Questions and Answers: Q: I have a question for you: I am a feminist, and recently you have declared that you are a feminist. So what is the message that you want to send to young people to stand for girls’ education? SG: The gap is huge, but the gap is especially about girls and many, many girls are deprived from their education. It is not only that, it is early marriage, it is different forms of inequalities and sometimes oppression that undermine their chances for the rest of their lives, so education for girls is not only a question of giving them adequate preparation for the future, it is a question of protecting them in a relation to a number of practices that are still discriminatory, and that will undermine their chances for the future. This is for us an absolute priority. It’s a question of power in societies. That is why here in the UN we are now fighting hard for parity. We have already parity in the Senior Management Group, and yesterday, with the appointments I made – some still need confirmation by Governments – we reached parity in our Resident Coordinators around the world. This means the heads of the UN country teams around the world are [now] 50.4% women and 49.6% men. This is something that is a big achievement and it is proof that we are clearly pushing for a world in which power relationships are such that girls have the same opportunities as boys. Q: Mr. Secretary-General, can I ask you about your important trip to Washington next week. What will be your message to President Trump about the JCPOA? Will you ask him…. SG: My message today is about Education for All, and if I now start talking about other things, it is obvious that everybody will forget education, and everybody will start discussing what I am going to discuss with the President of the United States. So here it is Education for All and Education Equality for all, and I will also convey that message to all governments, including the U.S. Government.
THE SECRETARY-GENERAL’S REMARKS AT LAUNCH OF INTERNATIONAL DECADE FOR ACTION “WATER FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT” 2018-2028, New York, 22 March 2018
I am pleased to be with you on World Water Day to launch the International Decade for Action on Water for Sustainable Development. I commend President Rahmon of Tajikstan for spearheading this effort at the General Assembly. I recall my trip to Tajikistan last year, when I had the opportunity to see the impact of receding glaciers in the Pamir mountains. During my visit, I also had the chance to attend the forum on the Sustainable Development Goals. And it is clear these 17 global Goals are inter-related, interdependent and mutually reinforcing. Safe water and adequate sanitation for all – the object of Sustainable Development Goal 6 — are indispensable to achieve many other goals. Safe water and adequate sanitation underpin poverty reduction, economic growth and healthy ecosystems. They contribute to social well-being, inclusive growth and sustainable livelihoods. But, growing demands for water, coupled with poor water management, have increased water stress in many parts of the world. Climate change is adding to the pressure – and it is running faster than we are. With demand for freshwater projected to grow by more than 40 per cent by the middle of the century, and with climate change having a growing impact, water scarcity is an enormous concern. By 2050 at least one in four people will live in a country where the lack of fresh water will be chronic or recurrent. Without effective management of our water resources, we risk intensified disputes between communities and sectors and even increased tensions among nations. So far, water has historically proven to be a catalyst for cooperation not for conflict. From my own experience, the Albufeira Convention, agreed during my time as Prime Minister of Portugal, continues to promote good relations on water management between Spain and Portugal. And, there are many more examples of cooperation on water – between India and Pakistan, Bolivia and Peru, and several others. But we cannot take peace – or our precious and fragile water resources — for granted. Quite simply, water is a matter of life and death. Our bodies are 60 per cent water. Our cities, our industries and our agriculture all depend on it. Yet, today, 40 per cent of the world’s people are affected by water scarcity; 80 per cent of wastewater is discharged untreated into the environment, and more than 90 per cent of disasters are water-related. More than 2 billion people lack access to safe water, and more than 4.5 billion people lack adequate sanitation services. What these numbers mean is a harsh daily reality for people in rural communities and urban slums in all regions of the world. Many of the most serious diseases in the developing world are directly related to unsafe drinking water, poor sanitation, and insufficient hygiene practices. Today, I am using the launch of the Water Action Decade to make a global call to action for water, sanitation and hygiene – or WASH — in all health care facilities. A recent survey of 100,000 facilities found that more than half lack simple necessities, such as running water and soap – and they are supposed to be healthcare facilities. The result is more infections, prolonged hospital stays and sometimes death.
We must work to prevent the spread of disease.
Improved water, sanitation and hygiene in health facilities is critical to this effort. Ladies and gentlemen, We cannot continue to take water for granted and expect to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Solutions exist and new technologies are in the pipeline to improve how we manage water for nations, communities and households. But often these solutions are inaccessible for those who need them most, perpetuating inequity within and among countries. As with most development challenges, women and girls suffer disproportionately. For example, women and girls in low-income countries spend some 40 billion hours a year collecting water. That is equivalent to the annual effort of the entire workforce of a country like France. The time spent could be much better invested in earning a livelihood or – in the case of girls – attending school. It is time to change how we value and manage water. Last week, the High-Level Panel on Water delivered its outcome report, “Making every drop count: An agenda for water action”. Their work is deep, serious and inspiring for us all. The United Nations stands ready to help countries to implement the Panel’s recommendations, including by promoting policy dialogue, exchanging best practices, raising awareness and forging partnerships. Member States have also asked me to prepare an Action Plan for the Water Decade, with the support of UN-Water – which I am determined to strengthen. My plan sets forth three core objectives. First, to transform our silo-based approach to water supply, sanitation, water management and disaster risk reduction to better tackle water stress, combat climate change and enhance resilience. Second, to align existing water and sanitation programmes and projects with the 2030 Agenda. Third, to generate the political will for strengthened cooperation and partnerships. I look forward to implementing this plan. The growing water crisis should be much higher on the world’s radar. Let us work collectively towards a more sustainable world, and an action-packed Decade of “Water for Sustainable Development”. Thank you.
THE SECRETARY-GENERAL’S REMARKS ON INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION, 20 March 2018
The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination commemorates the Sharpeville massacre — the horrific killing of 69 people peacefully demonstrating against apartheid in South Africa. The apartheid regime was based on institutionalized racial discrimination. It was ultimately – and thankfully – consigned to history on the release from prison and accession to the presidency of Nelson Mandela, whose centennial we mark this year. The memory of Sharpeville lives on in this annual UN observance, when we reaffirm our unequivocal rejection of all forms of racism, xenophobia and intolerance. Sadly, these attitudes persist in countries and among communities around the world. A stark and tragic example lies in the egregious treatment of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. It is time all nations and all people live up to the words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognizes the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human race. This year marks the 70th anniversary of that landmark document. We have made considerable progress since it was adopted. People around the world have gained greater freedoms and equality. Conditions of profound economic misery and exploitation have been improved. Women’s rights have advanced, along with the rights of children, victims of racial and religious discrimination, indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities. And perpetrators of horrific human rights violations have been prosecuted by international criminal tribunals. But it is also plain that the words of the Universal Declaration are not yet matched by facts on the ground. In practice, people all over the world still endure constraints on — or even total denial — of their human rights. Gender inequality remains a pressing issue – with untold women and girls facing daily insecurity, violence and violation of their rights. We are also seeing an alarming rise in xenophobia, racism and intolerance, including anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hatred. Far-right political parties and neo-Nazi viewpoints are seeing a resurgence. Refugees and migrants are systematically denied their rights and unjustly and falsely vilified as threats to the societies they seek to join, despite the proven benefits they bring. We still have a long way to go before we end the discriminatory attitudes, actions and practices that blight our world. So, on this international Day, let us all consider how we can better promote tolerance, inclusion and respect for diversity in all nations and among all communities. Let us work to eliminate messages of hatred – the concept of “us” and “them”; the false attitude that we can accept some and reject and exclude others simply for how they look, where they worship or who they love. And let us keep in mind the grave consequences of racist thinking – discrimination, slavery and genocide. We must always stand up to leaders who spread their toxic vison of racial superiority – especially when they couch it in sanitized language to denigrate migrants and foreigners. We have to protect our youth from these forces of intolerance and division. We cannot allow extremist ideologies to become normalized and legitimized in our societies. The answer is to preach and practice tolerance, inclusion and respect for diversity. This is achieved through greater debate and openness, and the exchange of different views, experiences and perspectives. And it is achieved through leadership – the kind of leadership admirably shown by Nelson Mandela. Leadership that is courageous enough and principled enough to counter intolerance, racism and discrimination in all its forms. And that is what this Organization stands for. Thank you.
The Secretary-General’s Remarks to General Assembly Meeting on the Secretary-General’s Report on Peace-building and Sustaining Peace, New York, 5 March, 2018
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen Thank you, Mr. President, for organizing this briefing on my report on Peace-building and Sustaining Peace. Two years ago, the General Assembly and the Security Council came together to send a clear joint message: Member States have primary responsibility for building and maintaining peace but we can all do more to strengthen the foundations of stability, wellbeing and cohesion. The United Nations must offer coherent, comprehensive and integrated support, working with Member States and other partners, before, during, and after conflict. My report sets out how the United Nations is putting these messages into practice. I look forward to hearing from you about how we can advance these ideas together. Monsieur le Président, Mesdames et Messieurs les représentants, J’aimerais maintenant mettre en lumière certains points importants du rapport. Premièrement, nous avons considérablement amélioré la cohérence du système des Nations Unies pour ce qui est de la consolidation et de la pérennisation de la paix, mais il reste encore beaucoup à faire. Il faudra tout d’abord parvenir à une vision commune sur la manière dont nous pouvons soutenir l’action des États Membres pour mieux prévenir ces risques. Deuxièmement, les mesures nationales de consolidation et de pérennisation de la paix sont plus efficaces si elles associent toutes les parties. La pérennisation de la paix est à la fois un objectif et un processus qui repose sur la définition d’un projet de société commun qui tient compte des besoins de tous. Comme je l’ai déjà dit, le développement durable et inclusif est une fin en soi. Mais il est aussi vrai qu’il joue un rôle majeur dans la prévention des conflits. Le Programme de développement durable à l’horizon 2030 est notre solution pour faire de ce monde un monde plus sûr, plus pérenne et plus résilient. La thématique de la pérennisation de la paix ne se substituera pas au développement et n’entraînera pas une réduction des ressources qui lui sont allouées, ressources auxquelles on ne saurait toucher. Troisièmement, les questions d’égalité des sexes doivent rester au centre de tous nos efforts de pérennisation de la paix. Il ne fait aucun doute que les femmes jouent un rôle moteur dans la consolidation de la paix et dans la prévention et le règlement des conflits, et que leur participation est essentielle. Il faut accroître la représentation des femmes, et ce, non pas de façon purement symbolique, mais systématiquement et effectivement. Les femmes doivent occuper des postes de décision à tous les niveaux dans les institutions et mécanismes nationaux, régionaux et internationaux de prévention et de règlement des conflits. Mr. President, Excellencies, Fourth and finally, the report shows that failure to make progress on financing peacebuilding will undermine our other efforts to save lives, stabilize countries in crisis, alleviate suffering and protect the vulnerable. We are witnessing unnecessary human suffering on a scale that is hard to comprehend. In the past ten years, the international community spent $233 billion on humanitarian response, peacekeeping and hosting refugees. And if the financial cost is unsustainable, the human cost is unbearable. Instead of responding to crises, we need to invest far more in prevention. Prevention works, saves lives and is cost-effective. Our recent study with the World Bank estimates that better funded, more focused preventive action could have saved between $5 billion and $70 billion per year for the affected country and the international community combined. The Peacebuilding Fund is a critical tool in our efforts to achieve this. It is nimble and can respond quickly when crises loom. It has a catalytic effect and can unlock funding from other sources. It provides resources for projects that are too risky for others to invest in. Many of its programmes support women and young people. And the Peacebuilding Fund has a proven track record of supporting national partners; helping transitions to peace and stability; building coherence by spreading resources through more than 25 UN agencies and partners, including governments; and aligning its goals with international financial institutions and others. I urge all those with the power to do so, to allow us to increase the Fund’s resources to $500 million annually. My report sets out several options on increasing, restructuring and prioritizing the financing of peacebuilding activities. These include different combinations of voluntary and assessed funds, linked to the peace continuum. This would provide greater predictability and sustainability of funding and reduce the costs of mobilizing voluntary resources. It would also send a powerful signal of Member States’ commitment. In addition to these sources, we are exploring the possibility of innovative financing solutions. These might include contributions by individuals, foundations and faith-based organizations, corporate partnerships, web-based mechanisms and crowdfunding. Let me repeat: these proposals should be seen firmly in the context of peace and security, and should not impact on funds for sustainable development in any way. The Peacebuilding Fund is complementary to other financing streams and provides support directly to UN Country Teams, governments and regional organizations that are making a difference on the ground. I hope you will give the proposals contained in the report serious consideration, particularly at the High-Level Meeting in April. I urge you to focus not only on the event itself, but on meaningful ways to follow up on the decisions that are taken. Excellencies, The High-Level Meeting next month will be an important opportunity to take stock of progress, of the proposals and recommendations I have made, and of the path ahead. I hope to see continued strong support for our efforts to overcome fragmentation and make the UN system work together more effectively. We must do more to address the imbalance between spending on conflict, and spending on peace. We must rally Member States, the General Assembly, the Security Council, regional organizations and all partners for our efforts across the peace continuum – from prevention, conflict resolution and peacekeeping to peacebuilding and sustainable long-term development. I look forward to working with you to achieve success and to serve the most vulnerable: people in countries affected by conflict. Thank you.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.