Category Archives: Secretary Generals Messages

SG’s messages as and when they are available. Usually posted on the day of the concerned observance or activity.

The Secretary General’s Written Message on International Womens Day- March 8 2017

Women’s rights are human rights. But in these troubled times, as our world becomes more unpredictable and chaotic, the rights of women and girls are being reduced, restricted and reversed.

The UN Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres

The UN Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres

Empowering women and girls is the only way to protect their rights and make sure they can realize their full potential.

Historic imbalances in power relations between men and women, exacerbated by growing inequalities within and between societies and countries, are leading to greater discrimination against women and girls. Around the world, tradition, cultural values and religion are being misused to curtail women’s rights, to entrench sexism and defend misogynistic practices.

Women’s legal rights, which have never been equal to men’s on any continent, are being eroded further. Women’s rights over their own bodies are questioned and undermined.  Women are routinely targeted for intimidation and harassment in cyberspace and in real life. In the worst cases, extremists and terrorists build their ideologies around the subjugation of women and girls and single them out for sexual and gender-based violence, forced marriage and virtual enslavement.

Despite some improvements, leadership positions across the board are still held by men, and the economic gender gap is widening, thanks to outdated attitudes and entrenched male chauvinism. We must change this, by empowering women at all levels, enabling their voices to be heard and giving them control over their own lives and over the future of our world.

Denying the rights of women and girls is not only wrong in itself; it has a serious social and economic impact that holds us all back. Gender equality has a transformative effect that is essential to fully functioning communities, societies and economies.

Women’s access to education and health services has benefits for their families and communities that extend to future generations. An extra year in school can add up to 25 per cent to a girl’s future income.

When women participate fully in the labour force, it creates opportunities and generates growth. Closing the gender gap in employment could add $12 trillion to global GDP by 2025. Increasing the proportion of women in public institutions makes them more representative, increases innovation, improves decision-making and benefits whole societies.

Gender equality is central to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the global plan agreed by leaders of all countries to meet the challenges we face. Sustainable Development Goal 5 calls specifically for gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, and this is central to the achievement of all the 17 SDGs.

I am committed to increasing women’s participation in our peace and security work. Women negotiators increase the chances of sustainable peace, and women peacekeepers decrease the chances of sexual exploitation and abuse.

Within the UN, I am establishing a clear road map with benchmarks to achieve gender parity across the system, so that our Organization truly represents the people we serve.  Previous targets have not been met. Now we must move from ambition to action.

On International Women’s Day, let us all pledge to do everything we can to overcome entrenched prejudice, support engagement and activism, and promote gender equality and women’s empowerment.

The UN Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres Appeal for Peace

January 1 2017

The UN Secretary-General  Mr. António Guterres

The UN Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres

On my first day as Secretary-General of the United Nations, one question weighs heavily on my heart.

How can we help the millions of people caught up in conflict, suffering massively in wars with no end in sight?

Civilians are pounded with deadly force. Women, children and men are killed and injured, forced from their homes, dispossessed and destitute. Even hospitals and aid convoys are targeted.

No one wins these wars; everyone loses. Trillions of dollars are spent destroying societies and economies, fueling cycles of mistrust and fear that can last for generations. Whole regions are destabilized and the new threat of global terrorism affects us all.

On this New Year’s Day, I ask all of you to join me in making one shared New Year’s resolution:

Let us resolve to put peace first.

Let us make 2017 a year in which we all – citizens, governments, leaders – strive to overcome our differences.

From solidarity and compassion in our daily lives, to dialogue and respect across political divides… From ceasefires on the battlefield, to compromise at the negotiating table to reach political solutions…

Peace must be our goal and our guide.

All that we strive for as a human family – dignity and hope, progress and prosperity – depends on peace.

But peace depends on us.

I appeal to you all to join me in committing to peace, today and every day.

Let us make 2017 a year for peace.

Thank you.

 

 

MESSAGE ON THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF ZERO TOLERANCE OF FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION 6 February 2015

On this International Day of Zero Tolerance of Female Genital Mutilation, I join my United Nations colleagues in calling upon health workers around the world to eliminate this deeply harmful practice.

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UN Secretary General, Ban Kimoon

The medical community’s active support for the rights of girls and women to be protected from FGM has been critical in achieving the renewed commitments of Member States as reflected in the recent United Nations General Assembly Resolution on this issue.

Health systems and health professionals are essential to the wellbeing of societies. They provide credible, scientific and unbiased information that can help people protect themselves from violations of their rights.

I am truly inspired by actions already being taken by health professionals, such as the Mauritanian Association of Midwives, which refuses to practice female genital mutilation and actively promotes the abandonment of the practice as the result of support from the UNFPA-UNICEF joint programme on female genital mutilation/cutting.

We must also ensure that parents do not seek to bypass health workers in finding alternative methods of subjecting their daughters to FGM.

If everyone is mobilized, women, men and young people, it is possible, in this generation, to end a practice that currently affects some 130 million girls and women in the 29 countries where we have data.

Change is coming from within the communities. Breaking the silence and disproving the myths around FGM are the first steps along the way to eliminating it altogether.

On this International Day, I call for all people and partners to end FGM and create the future we want where every girl can grow up free of violence and discrimination, with full dignity, human rights and equality.

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL — MESSAGE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DAY 10 December 2014

 

On Human Rights Day we speak out.

We d365 Human Rights_logo_final_CMYK_ENenounce authorities who deny the rights of any person or group.

We declare that human rights are for all of us, all the time: whoever we are and wherever we are from; no matter our class, our opinions, our sexual orientation.

This is a matter of individual justice, social stability and global progress.

The United Nations protects human rights because that is our proud mission – and because when people enjoy their rights, economies flourish and countries are at peace.

Violations of human rights are more than personal tragedies. They are alarm bells that may warn of a much bigger crisis.

The UN’s Human Rights Up Front initiative aims to heed those alarms. We are rallying in response to violations – before they degenerate into mass atrocities or war crimes.

Everyone can advance the struggle against injustice, intolerance and extremism.

I call on States to honour their obligation to protect human rights every day of the year. I call on people to hold their governments to account. And I call for special protections for the human rights defenders who courageously serve our collective cause.

Let us respond to the cries of the exploited, and uphold the right to human dignity for all.

THE SECRETARY- GENERAL — MESSAGE ON INTERNATIONAL ANTI-CORRUPTION DAY 9 December 2014

 

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Corruption is a global phenomenon that strikes hardest at the poor, hinders inclusive economic growth and robs essential services of badly needed funds. From cradle to grave, millions are touched by corruption’s shadow.

On this year’s observance of the International Anti-Corruption Day, we call again on people everywhere to get involved in “Breaking the Corruption Chain”.

Next year the world will agree a new post-2015 sustainable development agenda. Our aim is to empower individuals and catalyse governments, the private sector and civil society to help lift millions out of poverty, protect the planet and achieve shared prosperity and dignity for all. Eliminating corruption and its harmful impacts will be crucial to our future well-being.

To dismantle corruption’s high walls, I urge every nation to ratify and implement the UN Convention against Corruption. Its ground breaking measures in the areas of prevention, criminalization, international cooperation and asset recovery have made important inroads, but there is much more to do. Public services must uphold the highest standards of integrity and ensure that appointments are driven by merit. Public servants, as well as elected officials, must be guided by ethics, transparency and accountability.

The private sector also has a crucial role. Good behaviour is good business. Business groups can convert anti-corruption action into firm support for sustainable development.

I call on everyone to help end corruption, and come together for global fairness and equity. The world and its people can no longer afford, nor tolerate, corruption.

MESSAGE ON INTERNATIONAL VOLUNTEER DAY 5 December 2014

An ambulance rushes a wounded child to a hospital. A hungry family receives a warm meal. A battered woman finds free shelter. In scenes of human suffering around the world, hope comes thanks to volunteers who give their time, skills and resources to others in need.

International Volunteer Day is a chance to thank the many individuals who act with this spirit ofIVD 2014 giving, and to encourage others to follow their example. When an earthquake destroys homes, volunteers prove that human solidarity is shatterproof. When looters aim for cultural property, volunteers safeguard community treasures. When development is lagging, volunteers help enable people to lift themselves out of poverty.

The humane impulse to assist and empower others that motivates volunteers rebounds back to them in the form of an enriched life. Volunteers offer life skills while expanding their own know-how; they empower communities while earning a sense of personal fulfilment at having made a difference in our world.

This year’s International Volunteer Day takes on special significance as the United Nations prepares to shape a new vision for sustainable development and a new universal climate agreement, both to be adopted next year. I thank the more than 6,300 UN Volunteers and 11,000 UN Online Volunteers who helped millions of people to make change happen by giving them a voice in sustainable development and peace efforts across the globe.

I also pay special tribute to the many volunteers responding to the Ebola crisis. UN volunteers and their counterparts are helping to address the outbreak through prevention, awareness-raising and treatment activities. Their assistance is particularly important as we battle misconceptions about the disease and strive to show compassion for all those who are affected.

On this International Volunteer Day, let us be inspired by the many individuals who selflessly serve others, and let us resolve to do our part to contribute, freely and proactively, to change conditions now towards a better future for all.

 

 

MESSAGE ON THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES 3 December 2014

This year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities focuses on the theme, “sustainable development: the promise of technology”.

Technology has changed the world, bringing knowledge within reach and expanding a range of opportunities. Persons with disabilities can benefit enormously from such advances, yet too many lack access to these essential tools.IDPWD 2014

As the international community works to develop an ambitious and inspiring post-2015 development agenda that leaves no-one behind, we must harness the power of technology for development for all.

Through adaptive, assistive and inclusive technology, persons with disabilities can make the most of their potential in their communities and in the workplace.  Employers can harness technology to create an enabling environment for persons with disabilities to find productive employment and fully use their skills and capacities.

 

Technology can also help persons with disabilities caught up in natural disasters by making sure that critical information reaches them.  Equally important, technology can help us include the particular needs of persons with disabilities in disaster preparedness and response.

 

Let us spare no effort to ensure that policies, programmes, guidelines and 21st century technologies are accessible to persons with disabilities, and sensitive to their perspectives and experiences.  Together, let us work for a better future that is inclusive, equitable and sustainable for all.

 

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL — MESSAGE ON WORLD AIDS DAY 1 December 2014

 

On this World AIDS Day, I welcome the tremendous progress the world is making in responding to the AIDS epidemic. This year, world leaders made a commitment to end AIDS by 2030. The Fast Track approach launched last week will enable us to reach this goal.

Almost 14 million people worldwide are now accessing HIV treatment. We have reduced new HIV infections by 38 per cent since 2001. We have prevented 1.16 million infections among newborn babies by providing essential antiretroviral medicines. We are on track to provide antiretroviral therapy to 15 million people by 2015 and to eliminate mother-to-child transmissions within the next few years. Thanks to the dedication and energy of many partners including those in civil society, we continue to tackle and remove laws that stigmatise and discriminate. Progress is accelerating.

WAD 2014

But the gains remain fragile. There are 35 million people living with HIV today, and some 19 million of them do not know they have the virus. There are important gaps in our response to key groups of people. Two out of three children who need treatment do not get it. Young women are particularly vulnerable in many countries with high HIV prevalence. The AIDS epidemic is increasing in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East, fuelled by stigma, discrimination and punitive laws. And the essential work of community systems and support organisations often lacks support.  We must leave no one behind.

I am pleased and proud to see that we are moving forwards. The legacy of the AIDS response is already apparent as we confront Ebola in West Africa. We know that medical systems alone are not enough to provide robust healthcare. Social justice, the democratization of science, shared responsibility for financing, human rights and gender equity, and a people-centred approach to health are all lessons we have learned in the AIDS response that are being applied across the board, including in our discussions on the post-2015 development agenda.

On this World AIDS Day, I call on world leaders to unite in our common cause. We have started to turn the tide. We have set a bold target. Let us end AIDS together by 2030.

 

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL — MESSAGE ON INTERNATIONAL MIGRANTS DAY 18 December 2013

International migration is a powerful tool for reducing poverty and enhancing opportunity.  That is why there are now some 232 million international migrants bringing consistent benefits to countries of destination and origin through their essential labour and remittances.  Secretary General PicYet, this important population remains largely invisible and unheard in society.  Too many live and work in the worst conditions with the least access to basic services and fundamental rights, making them disproportionately vulnerable to extortion, violence, discrimination and marginalization.

Almost half of migrants are women; one in ten is under the age of 15; forty per cent live in developing countries.  Poor and low-skilled migrants face the highest barriers to social mobility.  The United Nations is acting to safeguard the rights of migrants, lower the social and economic costs of migration, and promote policies that maximize the benefits of mobility.  Migrants should not be forced to risk lives and dignity seeking better lives.  Earlier this year, the Convention Concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers, many of whom are migrants, came into force.  And, in October, United Nations Member States called for the post-2015 UN development agenda to take full account of the positive impact of international migration.  They also committed to develop a framework for protecting migrants affected by humanitarian crises and recognized the need to facilitate international cooperation to address the challenges of migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner, with full respect for human rights.

On this International Migrants Day, I urge Governments to ratify and implement all core international human rights instruments, including the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families.  And I call on people and Governments everywhere to reject xenophobia and embrace migration as a key enabler for equitable, inclusive and sustainable social and economic development.  Migration is a reality of the 21st century.  It is essential that we conduct an open debate on this important subject.  Let us make migration work for the benefit of migrants and countries alike.  We owe this to the millions of migrants who, through their courage, vitality and dreams, help make our societies more prosperous, resilient and diverse.

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL — PUBLIC LECTURE AT TALLINN UNIVERSITY

Tallinn, 16 November 2013

Good morning

I am delighted to be here.

Secretary General PicWhat a wonderful group of young people. Thank you so much for coming here on a weekend. I understand there are many members of the United Nations Association Club. Thank you for your engagement as part of a rising generation of global citizens.

I have only been here a short time but I am already inspired. Estonia is truly a valued United Nations partner. In just over two decades, Estonia has made a successful transition to a vibrant, prosperous and democratic society.

I congratulate you on Estonia’s election to the UN Human Rights Council this year.

I count on Estonia to continue to promote respect for human rights worldwide.

I also count on you to help advance the global sustainable development agenda.

That will be the theme of my speech today.

I am excited about the future, and I want to share my excitement with all of you, especially the students here today.

This morning I visited the Robotex technology exhibition.

I saw how young people from around the world are being encouraged to take up science and engineering.

I was reminded, yet again, that we live in a fast-moving momentous era — a time of profound global transition – an age of promise and opportunity.

Estonians understand this.

You regained your independence in 1991 after a peaceful singing revolution.

You are emerging invigorated from the global economic downturn.

You are a global leader in a new wave of technology that is changing the face of the world.

Today I will discuss our changing world, the role of technology and why I am so excited about the future.

Let me start by telling you something about my past.

I grew up poor in a country destroyed by war.

When I was young, I studied by candlelight, or kerosene lamp.

We had no indoor plumbing.

We did our farming by hand.

But science helped to change that.

Science, education and hard work.

The Republic of Korea is now a donor country. A member of the G20.

Some of our companies like Samsung, LG and Hyundai are household names, just like your Skype is known everywhere.

Just like you, I am proud of my country.

But I am not here to blow a trumpet or bang a drum.

I wanted to become Secretary-General to serve the world.

I believe in humanity.

When I go to developing countries, I don’t see poverty. I see potential.

I don’t see despair. I see dedication.

I see mothers working tirelessly to feed and educate their children.

I see young women and men with a thirst for knowledge and success.

And every day I wake excited knowing that their dreams can become reality, just as mine did.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Ours is the first generation with the knowledge and tools to eradicate extreme poverty in all its forms.

This is not a pipe dream. It is a fact.

It is also a responsibility.

We have a historic opportunity to transform our societies – to promote economic dynamism, social progress, and environmental sustainability.

These are the three interdependent dimensions of sustainable development.

Sustainable development is the path to the future we want for all people everywhere.

To get there we have to do three things: accelerate progress on the Millennium Development Goals; establish a post-2015 development agenda; and finalize a new climate change agreement.

The deadline for all these objectives is the end of 2015.

First, we must fulfil the MDG promise made by world leaders at the turn of the century.

The MDGs have made a profound difference in reducing poverty, tackling disease, empowering women and putting young children in school.

But progress has been uneven and insufficient within and among countries.

More than one billion people are still extremely poor. More than 840 million are hungry.

Two and a half billion people lack adequate sanitation. Too many mothers and infants die needlessly for want of basic care.

Unemployment and inequality remain high, especially for young people.

The environment is under threat. Greenhouse gas emissions are at a record high. Biodiversity is at a record low.

The natural resources of our planet are being depleted at an alarming rate

We have just over two years to the MDG deadline. We must spare no effort to deliver on our commitments.

Second, we must build on the MDGs and expand our ambition.

Progress must be inclusive. Eradicating poverty must be our priority, sustainable development our guide and principle.

The only way to make poverty eradication irreversible is by putting the world on a sustainable development path.

The General Assembly is working on sustainable development goals and targets.

Many leaders from politics, business and civil society have contributed ideas.

The UN system has listened to people around the world.

I have submitted a report called “A Life of Dignity for All” to reflect these perspectives.

I am also establishing a Scientific Advisory Board administered by UNESCO to help strengthen the link between science and policy.

We are planning to convene the first meeting early next year.

Our sustainable development goals must be informed by the best science.

They must be bold in ambition yet simple in design.

They must be universal yet responsive to the complexities and needs of individual countries.

They must be rights-based, with special emphasis on women, young people and marginalized groups.

And they must protect the planet’s resources and support action to tackle climate change.

This is my third point.

Addressing the threat of climate change is essential to all our efforts.

We need to finalize an ambitious, legal climate agreement in 2015.

To add momentum to this process, I will convene a Climate Summit in September next year.

I am inviting leaders from government, business, finance, civil society and the science and knowledge community. I am encouraged that yesterday President Ilves quickly accepted my invitation to attend.

This will not be a negotiating summit – it will be an action summit.

The goal is to generate actions and political commitment to keep global temperature rise below 2-degree Celsius from pre-industrial levels.

Science tells us we are in a race against time, and time is winning.

Ladies and gentlemen,

To achieve the MDGs, advance the post-2015 development agenda and combat climate change we need innovation.

Wherever I look, I see how technology is transforming our world for the better.

Here in Estonia, your Tiger Leap policy has brought computers into schools.

Your broadband is among the fastest in the world.

You have practiced e-government for more than a decade.

You vote and pay taxes online.

Advances such as these are spreading rapidly in all regions. Estonia is contributing to this progress by sharing its experience with countries in this region and beyond.

Information and communication technologies are having a profound impact on the pace and scale of development.

Broadband means cities can create efficient smart grids for electricity, schools can enhance education for children and doctors can treat patients from hundreds of miles away.

Young people, especially, are using the opportunities of broadband and mobile telephones.

They are using these new technologies to support free and fair elections, send money to friends and relatives and generate new business opportunities.

Increased connectivity is creating a world of opportunity.

There are now almost as many mobile phone subscriptions as there are people on the planet.

Africa alone has over 650 million – more than in the United States.

Mobile phone technology means pregnant women and front-line health workers can receive life-saving health information.

Farmers can get real-time prices for their produce and vital information on when best to plant, irrigate and harvest.

And it means that disaster survivors can communicate with responders – and most importantly, their relatives and friends. That is why restoring communications must be a high priority in the aftermath of catastrophic events such as we have just seen in the Philippines.

The United Nations is working using ICT in many countries in many ways.

The Food and Agricultural Organisation has created a GPS mobile phone application to inform farmers about animal vaccination and help disease outbreaks.

Initiatives such as Global Pulse are helping to provide early warning of disease or food shortages and target assistance during and after disasters.

In Niger, the UN Development Programme has helped develop the country’s ICT Plan for MDG Acceleration.

And in Madagascar, a programme called “the Wisdom of the Crowds” used the reach of mobile technologies to collect the views of young people, giving them a voice in policies and development strategies.

UNDP also helped fund Estonia’s E-Governance Academy that is working around the globe to promote the advantages of ICTs for governance and citizen engagement.

There are so many examples.

But technology and innovation does not always mean hi-tech.

Fuel-efficient cookstoves can cut respiratory disease and save the environment.

Solar-powered fans can dry fish, meat and fruit, extending their shelf-life and reducing waste dramatically.

Water purification systems based on nanotechnology being tested in India could prevent countless deaths from diarrheal diseases for as little as $2.5 per family per year.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is clear that science and technology are central to promoting progress – from climate change to public health; from food security to sanitation; from good governance to disaster preparedness.

That is why governments at last year’s Rio+20 sustainable development conference asked me to move forward on creating a technology facilitation mechanism. The goal is to promote clean and environmentally sound technologies.

Too often policy-makers are not aware of the solutions that modern science and technology can bring to today’s challenges.

And too much of the world remains cut off from scientific advances.

Now is the time to harness the power of science for the greater good everywhere.

To do that, we have to close the technology gap.

Countries like Estonia have an important role to play – as donors and innovators.

We have to bridge the digital divide.

We have to promote “pro-poor” research that addresses the needs of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, such as small-scale farmers.

Other imperatives include closing the digital divide in access to information technology and expanding education.

In particular we have to close the gender gap in technology.

Women in low- and middle-income countries are much less likely to own a cell phone than men.

And we have to provide science education to all students, especially girls, so they can train for jobs in the fields of science, technology and engineering.

That way we can raise a new generation of engineers, entrepreneurs and visionaries.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to close with another story.

This time it is not my own.

It is about a man from Brazil called Alfredo Moser.

He is an inventor — and an inspiration to all of us.

A decade ago he devised a way to light his house during the day without using power or dirty fuel.

More than 1 billion people in the world lack access to electricity.

That is why I have launched a Sustainable Energy for All Initiative to provide universal access to modern energy, double energy efficiency and double the use of renewables.

Many solutions will be hi-tech.

But, as I said, innovation can come in many forms.

Alfredo Moser’s solution to lighting his house was simple.

He filled plastic bottles with water and some bleach to stop algae from growing and fixed them in holes he had made in his thin iron roof.

The sun streams in and each bottle creates the same light as a 40 or 60 watt bulb.

Simple and brilliant.

In the Philippines, the lamps are now in 140,000 homes.

You can find them India and Bangladesh, Argentina, Fiji and Tanzania.

Where electricity is expensive or unavailable, the lamps mean people can have indoor light in daytime without the expense and health effects of kerosene.

Some people use the lamps to grow food on small hydroponic farms.

Mr. Moser hasn’t grown rich from his invention. He has given it away.

But he sounds like one of the richest men I know. He is rich in wisdom and compassion.

He is a true global citizen.

As we look ahead to the future we want, let us all think how we can be global citizens.

That might mean working on solutions for sustainable development.

It might mean being a wise policy maker or diplomat.

Perhaps it means joining the United Nations or a humanitarian organization.

Or it might be as little as recycling your waste and switching off the lights when you leave the room.

We all have a role to play, and I count on everyone here to think how you can be a true global citizen.

Thank you.