Tag Archives: UN@75

Remarks by United Nations Zambia Resident Coordinator Dr Coumba Mar Gadio On the occasion of the 75th United Nations Day Commemoration in Zambia 29 October 2020

  • The Honourable Minister of Youth, Sport and Child Development, Mr. Emmanuel Mulenga, MP
  • All senior Government officials
  • Members of the UN Country Team
  • Other UN colleagues
  • The youth
  • Everyone that has joined us virtually including
  • Members of the Diplomatic Corps
  • Cooperating Partners
  • Implementing partners
  • The media
  • Ladies and gentlemen

I welcome you all to the official commemoration of the United Nations Day in Zambia. I am, on behalf of the United Nations Country Team and the entire UN family in Zambia, honoured to

Dr. Coumba Mar Gadio, UN Resident Coordinator Zambia

share a few remarks on this occasion when we celebrate the founding of the United Nations 75 years ago. The theme of this year’s celebration is “The future we want, the UN we need: Reaffirming our commitment to multilateralism.

Let me begin my remarks with a brief about the founding of the United Nations (UN). As you are aware, following the end of the Second World War, the world was in ruins and nations wanted peace. Countries came together and said; ‘Enough is Enough’. The name “United Nations”, coined by then United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was first used in the Declaration by the United Nations on 1 January 1942, during the Second World War, when representatives of 26 nations pledged their Governments to continue fighting together against the Axis Powers.

In 1945, representatives of 50 countries met in San Francisco at the UN Conference on International Organisation to draw up the UN Charter. The delegates deliberated on the basis of proposals worked out by the representatives of China, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States, at Dumbarton Oaks, United States, in August-October 1944.

On 26 June 1945, the Charter was signed by the representatives of the 50 countries. Poland, which was not represented at the Conference, signed it later and became one of the original 51 Member States.

The United Nations officially came into existence on 24 October 1945, when the Charter had been ratified by China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the United States and by most other signatories. As a result, United Nations Day is celebrated on 24 October each year. I am happy to note that this birthday is shared with Zambia’s Independence Day which we celebrated a few days ago.

The United Nations has, working through its 193 member States, over the last 75 years lived up to the purposes and principles contained in its founding Charter. Challenges have been met on the way and many still exist today but we continue to forge ahead and work to help resolve issues affecting humanity that include peace and security, climate change, sustainable development, human rights, disarmament, terrorism, humanitarian and health emergencies, gender equality, governance, and food production.

In doing this, the UN encourages collaboration because we need stronger cooperation among

Dr. Coumba Mar Gadio, UN Zambia Resident Coordinator and Hon. Emmanuel Mulenga, Minister of Youth Sport & Child Development toast to the UN@75. Photo Credit: UN Zambia

nations to resolve the challenges that threaten to undo the gains we have made this far. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that we are one global village and one people with one vision who wish to live in good health and enjoy what life has to offer.

The Coronavirus brought us all to a stop and its effects continue to be felt across the world. We have seen how nations, the private sector, philanthropists and individuals have come forward to offer support, showing the importance of working together in unity and solidarity. Now and post COVID-19, all UN member States need to work together and build back better. With greater multilateralism, we can emerge stronger and better face other challenges that may come.

 Guest of honour, ladies and gentlemen

We need trust and collaboration with never ending dialogue. With the Sustainable Development Goals at the centre of our work, we need to forge ahead as one human family and deliver a better future for all and the UN that we need.

As the UN Secretary General, His Excellency, Mr António Guterres said in his 2020 UN Day message: I QUOTE…

 “The Sustainable Development Goals give us an inspiring blueprint for recovering better. We face colossal challenges.  With global solidarity and cooperation, we can overcome them.”  END OF QUOTE.

I am happy to note that in Zambia, the UN is supporting Zambia’s development priorities through the United Nations Sustainable Development Partnership Framework that has been fully aligned to the Five Pillars of the Seventh National Development Plan or 7NDP, thereby making our support more efficient and effective.

Through the Partnership Framework, the UN interventions have mainly focused on economic diversification and job creation, reducing poverty and vulnerability, reducing developmental inequalities, enhancing human development, and governance and human rights.

As we do our work, our principle is to ensure that no one is left behind while also helping ensure gender equality, disability inclusion and having a special focus on vulnerable groups.

While we are on track in meeting the targets set in the Partnership Framework by 2022, there is need to further strengthen our efforts in different areas that include reducing deaths driven by Non-Communicable Diseases, ending child marriages, increasing women empowerment and the participation of women in elected positions.

 Guest of Honour, ladies and gentlemen

Among the main UN achievements and contributions to the 7NDP, include progress in the Zambia Health System Strengthening Programme; the general improvement in school enrolment which places Zambia on track towards achieving the SDG target on education; the increased access to safe drinking water from 63% to 86% in urban areas and from 47% to 55%, in rural areas. By raising awareness on climate change and training the Government of Zambia extension staff and farmers in climate change adaptation, the UN has contributed to the increase in adoption of weather index insurance among smallholder farmers. UN support has also strengthened the capacity of young people to strategically advocate for youth priorities at national and sub-national levels.

I wish to commend the Government of the Republic of Zambia for its ownership of the UN interventions and for its commitment towards making the vision of Zambia a reality. On behalf of the UN family, I wish to reaffirm our continued support and partnership with the Government and people of Zambia and ensure a better Zambia in which no one is left behind.

Let me turn to the UN75 campaign which is an important activity on which we have dedicated a lot of efforts this year to mark, in a special way, the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. You have certainly seen UN75 visibility through our writings, videos and other materials.

In January this year, the UN Secretary General launched the UN75 campaign as the world’s largest listening exercise to hear from global citizens on the future we want and the UN we need. We have since January been working with partners to reach as many people as possible, to listen to their hopes and fears, learn from their experiences and empower them to think and act globally. This has been done through the UN75 Dialogues and one-minute survey.

In Zambia, close to 50,000 people have so far participated in the survey which is still open until 31 December 2020. Being third in the world in terms of the survey participation, Zambians have spoken, and their views were part of the UN75 Report released on 21 September 2020 during the UN General Assembly.

Guest of Honour, ladies and gentlemen

I am pleased to share with you what Zambians aspire to as they expressed themselves through the UN75 survey:

When asked on what the international community should prioritize to recover better from COVID-19, Zambians noted the following top priorities:

Some of the Youth Participants at the UN Day Youth Dialogue. Photo Credit: UN Zambia

-increase support to the hardest hit countries and communities;

-strengthen solidarity between people and nation;

-rethink the global economy and invest more in education and youth programmes.

On the question of the world they want in 25 years, Zambians aspire to:

-better access to healthcare;

-more employment opportunities and;

– more sustainable consumption and production.

In terms of the global trends that could affect most their futures, Zambians mentioned:

-risks related to health,

-Climate Change and Environmental issues; and rapid changes in our populations.

Further, over 25,000 of the respondents said that it is essential for countries to work together to manage these trends while about 22,000 said that COVID-19 had changed their views on cooperation between countries resulting in them now favouring more cooperation.

This morning, the survey findings I have outlined were discussed by youth with a view of making recommendations on how leaders can actualise the future we want. I wish to thank all the youth who participated in the Youth Dialogue both in person and virtually.

The youth are the leaders of tomorrow. They know what they pass through and their needs. Hearing their voice is, therefore, important. The resolutions made by the young people will help shape our shared future beginning with issues that affect Zambia.

To conclude, let me remind everyone that we only have 10 years to go before the year 2030 when we need to have made progress on the Sustainable Development Goals. We need all hands-on deck so that each of us can contribute and help in the attainment of the Global Goals. The task is huge but possible, if we work together, and stay the course with full commitment.

THANK YOU.

United Nations Day 2020 – UN chief

The 75th anniversary of the United Nations falls in the middle of a global pandemic. Our founding mission is more critical than ever.
To promote human dignity.
Protect human rights.
Respect international law.
And save humanity from war.
When the pandemic hit, I called for a global ceasefire.
In our world today, we have one common enemy: COVID-19.
Now is the time for a stepped-up push for peace to achieve a global ceasefire. The clock is ticking.
We must also make peace with our planet.
The climate emergency threatens life itself.
We must mobilize the whole world to reach carbon neutrality — net zero emissions of greenhouse gasses by 2050.
A growing number of countries and companies have already pledged to meet this goal.
Around the world, we must do more to end human suffering from poverty, inequality, hunger and hatred — and fight discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender or any other distinction. The months of pandemic have seen a horrific rise in violence against women and girls.

UN Day: https://www.un.org/en/observances/un-day

 

Secretary-General’s statement on the awarding of the 2020 Nobel Prize for Peace to the World Food Programme

I am delighted by the decision of the Nobel Committee to award this year’s Prize for Peace to the United Nations World Food Programme

The World Food Programme is the world’s first responder on the frontlines of food insecurity.

In a world of plenty, it is unconscionable that hundreds of millions go to bed each night hungry.

Millions more are now on the precipice of famine due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The women and men of the WFP brave danger and distance to deliver life-saving sustenance to those devastated by conflict, to people suffering because of disaster, to children and families uncertain about their next meal.

There is also a hunger in our world for international cooperation.  The World Food Programme feeds that need, too.  WFP operates above the realm of politics, with humanitarian need driving its operations.  The organization itself survives on voluntary contributions from UN Member States and the public at large.

Such solidarity is precisely needed now to address not only the pandemic, but other global tests of our time.  We know that existential threats such as the climate change will make the hunger crisis even worse.

I warmly congratulate David Beasley, WFP Executive Director, and the entire staff of the World Food Programme, for advancing the values of the United Nations every day and serving the cause of “we the peoples” as the Organization marks its 75th anniversary year.

Note: Statement first appeared on the UNSG webpage.

As UN marks 75 years, let us work together to realize the opportunities in African unity

Ms. Fatima Kyari Mohammed is the Permanent Observer and Head of Mission of the African Union to the United Nations. She spoke to Africa Renewal about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, marking a milestone year in the fight for women’s rights and reflections on the African Union’s relationship with the UN in its 75th year. Here are the excerpts:

Ms. Fatima Kyari Mohammed is the Permanent Observer and Head of Mission of the African Union to the United Nations

Ms. Fatima Kyari Mohammed is the Permanent Observer and Head of Mission of the African Union to the United Nations

How is COVID-19 affecting Africa’s priorities such as the Sustainable Development Goals and Africa’s Agenda 2063?

As you are aware, Agendas 2030 and 2063 are very much aligned. Priority areas such as ending poverty and hunger, achieving food security and addressing some of the broader socio-economic challenges in health, education and employment, particularly for the most vulnerable, have been greatly impacted in ways that were not foreseen even a year ago. The pandemic has forced us to refocus our attention in some areas and re-allocate resources. COVID-19 has shown us how interconnected the world is. No individual, country or region is immune to this reality.

How has it impacted your work?

Just like everyone else, we have had to reorganize to ensure we are able to deliver on our commitments and our mandate. We shifted some priorities. It was important to understand the pandemic and its implications and try to overcome the hurdles that come with it.

Africa’s continent-wide response slowed the spread of the pandemic earlier this year. How can the countries better deal with this challenge?   

The advantage for Africa with the pandemic has been two-fold. First, drawing lessons from the Ebola outbreak, many African countries quickly put in place measures for curbing the spread of COVID-19 well ahead of time. Second, in terms of timing, the pandemic hit the continent at a time when many other regions were already going through the worst of it. So, we had ample time to learn from the experiences of others.

Currently, through the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the African Union (AU) is supporting public health institutions across the continent through innovation and strategic partnerships.

We are coordinating and providing integrated solutions to our public health systems particularly where there is weak or inadequate infrastructure by offering training and equipment so that countries are better prepared to respond to future health emergencies and disasters.

How can Africa recover better from the pandemic?

The biggest blow for most African countries is that socio-economic gains have been hindered. The impact on economic development is devastating. Beyond the impact on health and education, economic stress on people is of major concern.

Countries should use this experience as an opportunity to rebuild better and stronger. The impact on jobs, businesses, and family incomes means that responses and strategies we put in place must focus on ways and means to support those hardest hit. We need smart investments and policies that can eradicate extreme poverty and provide access and equal opportunities for all.

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is making a case for the bridging of inequality in a post-COVID-19 development order. How could the AU, including your office, help actualize the SG’s vision for the benefit of the continent?

Partnership between the AU and the UN is a top priority for us. The Chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, strongly supports the UN Secretary-General’s appeal for collective action against this scourge and for a global ceasefire. We can only contain the pandemic if we work together. The AU Observer Mission to the UN will continue to support the vision and the priorities of both institutions.

Several studies show that women are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. What is the role of women in the recovery process?

It is true that even before the pandemic hit, we advocated for women’s full participation in decision making. Economies are stronger and peace processes more successful with women’s active participation. Women can achieve success, from the lowest community level and up. I would encourage women to continue to speak up against injustices and for one another. This pandemic has increased incidences of gender-based violence, which should not be tolerated. If we truly want to make a change, we, men and women, must keep advocating, educating and exposing perpetrators of gender-based violence.

2020 is a milestone year for women—with Beijng+25, UNSC Resolution 1325+20, and 15 years since the Maputo Protocol entered into force—all of which challenge old stereotypes about the role of women in society. To what extent have African countries achieved progress in gender equality?

The progress made by Africa since the Beijing 4th Conference on Women in 1995 is commendable, but we still have a long way to go. We have strong, progressive, global and continental policies, strategies and action plans on women, peace and security. Yet women and girls continue to bear the brunt of conflicts in Africa. They are the victims of sexual violence and other forms of abuse and they are underrepresented in peace processes at the local, national and continental levels. The AU’s strategy on gender equality is aligned with the UNSC Resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security agenda.

However, implementation still remains a challenge, including the meaningful participation of women in peace and security activities. This milestone should revitalize the need for women’s voices to be heard in the peace and security agenda. There is no doubt that the AU’s partnership with women’s organizations across the continent is the vehicle for concrete actions.

The African Union’s Peace and Security Council recently adopted the Continental Framework on Youth, Peace and Security. How do you envisage the role of young people in the attainment of peace and security in Africa?

Despite the adoption of the framework you referred to, we are still at the very beginning of this journey. Today’s youth—the largest generation of young people in history—are marginalized, excluded, exploited and easily drawn into conflict. Many young people, especially young women, lack resources and opportunities to realize their potential and participate in political, peace and security processes. Instead, they are vulnerable, especially during conflicts.

The framework itself reinforces the call for action on youth, peace and security in Africa. Its adoption is a recognition that young people are Africa’s greatest asset. It helps expand possibilities for active youth involvement in decision-making processes as well as planning and programming.

The UN is supporting the AU’s campaign on ‘Silencing the Guns in Africa by 2020.’ What does it mean for Africa when the guns are silent and how is your office working with the international community to achieve this goal?

Let me put the question into context: The Silencing the Guns (STGs) in Africa initiative was a pledge by African leaders in May 2013 to end all wars on the continent by 2020. As you know, STGs is a critical element of Africa’s Agenda 2063, and the AU Peace and Security Council later adopted a Master Roadmap of Practical Steps to silence the guns by 2020. The roadmap emphasizes structural interventions in several areas such as socio-economic development, youth and women’s empowerment, employment, education, climate change and governance.

We are working with partners to shift the narrative and ensure sustainable peace on the continent. But we still have a lot of work to do in carrying the international community along. Silencing the guns in Africa means being able to develop and move forward and build a peaceful and prosperous continent for our people.

As the UN turns 75, how critical has the organization been to Africa’s peace, security and development?

The partnership between the AU and UN in peace and security is very relevant.  The two organizations work together in many areas. We have annual consultations, a joint taskforce, we go on joint field visits and carry out mediation efforts. We also cooperate on electoral matters and governance, as well as the protection of human rights, among others.

Africa continues to make a case for more representation on the UN Security Council (UNSC). What is the strongest argument for such a case?

As you are aware, Africa has a common position on the UNSC reform. Africa has consistently made the case for representation in the “Permanent” category of the Council. Also, there is a need for more African representation in the “non-Permanent” category in order to achieve true and meaningful reform of the UN Security Council. Equitable geographical representation in line with the principles, objectives and ideals of the UN Charter can only lead to a fairer and more equitable world.

At any one time, there are three African states holding non-Permanent seats in the UN Security Council, the so-called A3. What would you say are the three top achievements of the A3 in recent times in advancing Africa’s agenda?

First, there has been stronger coordination among the members, particularly in the last couple of years. This has helped in championing Africa’s common positions, interests and concerns on issues of peace and security that are on the UN Security Council’s agenda.

Second, we have now established annual meetings between AUPSC [African Union Peace and Security Council] and the UNSC. It demonstrates a commitment by the two councils to work together on matters of peace and security in Africa. The A3 ensures effective consultations.

Third, the A3 has helped create opportunities for alliances with other member of the UNSC, ensuring that they support our global cause for world peace.

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is touted as Africa’s next big thing. Why should Africans be hopeful?

The objective of the AfCFTA is to leverage the opportunity of a huge population of approximately 1.3 billion people and an estimated combined GDP of $3.4 trillion by creating a single market for goods and services, facilitating free movement of goods and people, accelerating investments and potentially establishing a Customs Union.

The AfCFTA could lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty by 2035. So, why should African not be hopeful? The AfCFTA is our ambition for collective progress and development. Of course, there are policies and regulatory measures that need to be in place, but some of these are already being put in place in countries and the sub-regions.

What message of hope do you have for Africans during this trying period?

As we mark the 75th year of the UN, we must reflect on the COVID-19 pandemic and work together in combating it and cooperating for sustainable recovery. As I said earlier, the pandemic has exposed many gaps, but it has also reinforced the fact that we live in an interconnected world. As Africans, we must recognize the potential and opportunities in African unity and work together.

We are all part of humankind. We cannot ignore the fact that the world is hurting. Collective action, mutual respect, and regard for international rules and norms are crucial if we must achieve our common objectives.  In short, multilateralism matters.

Article first appeared in Africa Renewal on 29 September 2020.

2020 Report of the Secretary-General on the Work of the Organization

Introduction

by António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations

In 1945, world leaders gathered in San Francisco to sign the Charter of the United Nations,

UNSG Antonio Guterres

which gave birth to an organization that represented new hope for a world emerging from the horrors of the Second World War. Our founders were in no doubt about the kind of world that they wished to banish to the past.

In 2020, as the United Nations celebrates 75 years since the Charter’s signing, we have an opportunity to reflect on our shared progress, as well as our common future. Our vision and values – based on equality, mutual respect and international cooperation – helped us to avoid a Third World War, which would have had catastrophic consequences for life on our planet.

Get the full report here

 

UN General Assembly 2020 Teaser

11 Sep 2020 –  The 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly opens this September, marking three quarters of a century of the Organization’s existence.
Against the backdrop of a global pandemic, climate crisis and rising inequality, world leaders convene to tackle the most pressing issues of the day.
The 75h General Assembly session will be like none before it as countries aim to rise to unprecedented challenges and forge lasting solutions.

UN75- Zambia a Call to Action

“Together we can learn from peoples across the world how we can improve in tackling the global challenges of our time.” Secretary-General António Guterres

To mark its 75th anniversary in 2020, the United Nations is igniting a people’s debate: UN75. Launched by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, it promises to be the largest and furthest-reaching global conversation ever on building the future we want.

In a world of dramatic changes and complex challenges, from the climate crisis to population shifts to the unknown course of technology, we need collective action more than ever before. Through UN75, the United Nations will encourage people to put their heads together to define how enhanced international cooperation can help realize a better world by 2045, the UN’s 100th birthday.

While UN75 seeks to drive conversation in all segments of society – from classrooms to boardrooms, parliaments to village halls – it will place special emphasis on youth and those whose voices are too often marginalized. The aim is to reach people from all communities and walks of life.

The views and ideas that are generated will be presented to world leaders and senior UN officials at a high-profile event during the 75th Session of the General Assembly in September 2020, and disseminated online and through partners continuously.

Have your say and join the conversation at un.org/un75.

 

Global Wake-Up Call

by António Guterres

From COVID-19 to climate disruption, from racial injustice to rising inequalities, we are a world in turmoil.

Antonio Guterres

At the same time, we are an international community with an enduring vision – embodied in the United Nations Charter, which marks its 75th anniversary this year. That vision of a better future — based on the values of equality, mutual respect and international cooperation — has helped us to avoid a Third World War that would have had catastrophic consequences for life on our planet.

Our shared challenge is to channel that collective spirit and rise to this moment of trial and test.

The pandemic has laid bare severe and systemic inequalities both within and between countries and communities. More broadly, it has underscored the world’s fragilities – not just in the face of another health emergency, but in our faltering response to the climate crisis, lawlessness in cyberspace, and the risks of nuclear proliferation. People everywhere are losing trust in political establishments and institutions.

The emergency is compounded by many other profound humanitarian crises: conflicts that are continuing or even intensifying; record numbers of people forced to flee their homes; swarms of locusts in Africa and South Asia; looming droughts in southern Africa and Central America; all amid a context of rising geopolitical tensions.

In the face of these fragilities, world leaders need to be humble and recognize the vital importance of unity and solidarity.

No one can predict what comes next, but I see two possible scenarios.

First, the “optimistic” possibility.

In this case, the world would muddle through. Countries in the global North would engineer a successful exit strategy. Developing countries would receive enough support and their demographic characteristics – namely, the youth of their people – would help contain the impact.

And then perhaps a vaccine would appear in the next nine months or so, and would be distributed as a global public good, a “people’s vaccine” available and accessible to all.

If this happens, and if the economy starts up progressively, we might move towards some kind of normality in two or three years.

But there is also a second, bleaker scenario in which countries fail to coordinate their actions. New waves of the virus keep occurring. The situation in the developing world explodes. Work on the vaccine lags — or even if there is a vaccine relatively soon — it becomes the subject of fierce competition and countries with greater economic power gain access to it first, leaving others behind.

In this scenario, we could also see greater movement toward fragmentation, populism and xenophobia. Each country could go it alone or in so-called coalitions of the willing to address some specific challenges. In the end, the world would fail to mobilize the kind of governance needed to address our shared challenges.

The result may well be a global depression that could last at least five or seven years before a new normal emerges, the nature of which is impossible to predict.

It is very difficult to know if we are moving in one direction or the other. We must work for the best and prepare for the worst.

The pandemic, as horrible as it is, must be a wake-up call that prompts all political leaders to understand that our assumptions and approaches have to change, and that division is a danger to everyone.

This understanding could lead people to recognize that the only way to address global fragilities is through much more robust mechanisms of global governance with international cooperation.

After all, we cannot simply return to the systems that gave rise to the current crisis. We need to build back better with more sustainable, inclusive, gender-equal societies and economies.

In doing so, we must reimagine the way nations cooperate. Today’s multilateralism lacks scale, ambition and teeth — and some of the instruments that do have teeth show little or no appetite to bite, as we have seen in the difficulties faced by the Security Council.

We need a networked multilateralism, in which the United Nations and its agencies, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, regional organizations such as the African Union and European Union, trade organizations and others work together more closely and effectively.

We also need a more inclusive multilateralism. Governments today are far from the only players in terms of politics and power. Civil society, the business community, local authorities, cities and regional governments are assuming more and more leadership roles in today’s world.

This, in turn, will help lead to an effective multilateralism with the mechanisms it needs to make global governance work where it is needed.

A new, networked, inclusive, effective multilateralism, based on the enduring values of the United Nations Charter, could snap us out of our sleepwalking state and stop the slide towards ever greater danger.

Political leaders around the world need to heed this wake-up call and come together to address the world’s fragilities, strengthen our capacity for global governance, give teeth to multilateral institutions, and draw from the power of unity and solidarity to overcome the biggest test of our times.

António Guterres is the Secretary-General of the United Nations

UN Charter 1945

Marking 75 Years of the Charter of the United Nations

UN Charter Day – 26 June 2020

The Charter of the United Nations has been a constant presence in my life. My awareness of it started with the usual brief introduction to the basics of the United Nations as an organization that many young people receive in school. Later, as my political awareness took shape against the backdrop of military rule in Portugal and my country’s status as a colonial power, the Charter’s calls for self-determination and other freedoms registered with urgency. During the time I spent as a volunteer in the poor neighbourhoods of Lisbon, the Charter’s vision of social justice was equally resonant. In subsequent service as a parliamentarian and then as Prime Minister, I was privileged to have an opportunity to advance not only national progress but one of the Charter’s other main objectives: international cooperation. Across a decade as High Commissioner for Refugees and now in my current role, the Charter’s power inspires me onward every day in serving “we the peoples”, including the most vulnerable members of the human family, who have a special claim on that landmark document’s provisions and protections.

View of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, United States, the city in which the Charter of the United Nations was signed on 26 June 1945. ©Kishan Rana

The adoption of the Charter of the United Nations was a pivotal and historic moment. The document enshrined a determination to establish a new international order built with the purpose of avoiding a third world war following two such cataclysms that took place within the space of a single generation. Over the past seventy-five years, the Charter has proven to be a solid yet flexible framework. Its ideals have endured, and its legal foundation has progressively adjusted to new situations and needs. Amidst crisis and complexity, the Charter has remained the touchstone we all refer to and rely upon to uphold our shared responsibilities and achieve our global commitments.

In an era of spreading hatred and impunity, the Charter reminds us of the primacy of human dignity and the rule of law. And in a time of rapid transformation and technological change, the Charter’s values and objectives endure: the peaceful settlement of disputes; the equal rights of men and women; non-intervention, self-determination and the sovereign equality of Member States; and clear rules governing the use of force, as set out in Article 2, paragraph 4, and Chapter VII of the Charter.

These principles are not favours or concessions. They form the bedrock of international relations and are central to peace. They have saved lives, advanced economic and social progress and inspired the further elaboration of international law, encompassing key areas such as human rights, the environment and international criminal justice.

When these principles have been flouted, put aside or applied selectively, the results have been catastrophic: conflict, chaos, death, disillusion and mistrust. Our shared challenge is to do far better in upholding the Charter’s values. One of the most effective ways to fulfil our commitments is to invest in prevention, as envisaged in the Charter’s Chapter VI. Another is by working more closely with regional organizations, as foreseen in Chapter VIII. And while peacekeeping is not mentioned in the Charter, it epitomizes the kind of collective action for peace that the Charter envisions and is an indispensable tool that merits strong international support.

Resilient and visionary, the Charter of the United Nations speaks to all people; it belongs to everyone, everywhere. At a time when the world is wrestling with the COVID-19 pandemic, rising geopolitical tensions and growing climate disruption, the Charter points the way to the solidarity we need today and across generations. As we strive to maintain international peace and security, protect human rights, achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and strengthen multilateralism, we must return to fundamental principles; we must return to the framework that has kept us together; we must come home to our Charter.

25 June 2020

About the author
António Guterres is the ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Feature Photo Credit: António Guterres, laying his left hand on the Charter of the United Nations, takes the oath of office as Secretary-General of the United Nations for a five-year term that began on 1 January 2017. Peter Thomson, then President of the General Assembly, administers the oath. 12 December 2016. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

The  UN Chronicle is not an official record. The views expressed by individual authors, as well as the boundaries and names shown and the designations used in maps or articles, do not necessarily imply official endorsement or acceptance by the United Nations.

The Secretary General- Video Message Marking The 75th Anniversary of The Adoption Of The Charter Of The United Nations

Opening remarks by António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, on the commemoration of the signing of the Charter of the United Nations – General Assembly.

“I send my warmest greetings to “we the peoples”.

Those first three words of our founding Charter, adopted 75 years ago today, give the United Nations its vision and its mission.

We exist to serve people — and we work as one for the benefit of all.

The Charter was adopted as the Second World War was in its final months and winding down.

We mark the anniversary of that milestone as global pressures are spiraling up.

The Charter brought rules and hope to a world in ruins.

It remains our touchstone for a world mired in a pandemic, torn by discrimination, endangered by climate change and scarred by poverty, inequality and war.

Agreement on the Charter closed one era and opened another.

Gone were the genocidal Nazi regime and their allies; in came the prospect of human rights.

Out went the rampant nationalism and precarious balance of power that produced two catastrophic world wars; in came the promise of collective security and the peaceful resolution of disputes.

And where an earlier attempt at international organization dissolved, the new United Nations started life on firmer ground built on norms and the lessons of hard experience.

The post-war multilateral arrangements have compiled a solid record of service – saving millions of lives, advancing the human condition and fulfilling its cardinal task of preventing World War Three.

But there have been painful setbacks.

And today’s realities are as forbidding as ever.

COVID-19 has touched everyone, everywhere – precisely the kind of global challenge for which the United Nations was founded.

At the same time, people continue to lose trust in political establishments. Today’s marches against racism were preceded by widespread protests against inequality, discrimination, corruption and lack of opportunities all over the world – grievances that still need to be addressed, including with a renewed social contract.

Meanwhile, other fundamental fragilities have only grown: the climate crisis, environmental degradation, cyberattacks, nuclear proliferation, a pushback on human rights and the risk of another pandemic. It is not difficult to imagine a new virus transmitted as easily as COVID-19 but as deadly as Ebola.

The delegates in San Francisco in 1945, having themselves lived through a global pandemic, depression and war, seized their opportunity to plant the seeds of something better and new.

Today, we must do the same.

To achieve that watershed moment, we need to reimagine multilateralism, give it teeth to function as the founders intended, and ensure that effective global governance is a reality when it is needed.

We must also bring others to the table in an inclusive and networked multilateralism, since governments are only part of today’s political realities. Civil society, cities, the private sector and young people are essential voices in shaping the world we want.

Like those who drafted the Charter, we must look without illusion at today’s injustices, their roots and the suffering they engender.

Yet there is also much to encourage us and drive us onward:

The heroism and solidarity of the pandemic response;

The global embrace of the Sustainable Development Goals;

The millions of young activists and global citizens pushing to advance equality, climate action, a green economy — and to take control of their destiny.

I am inspired by so much that has been built and achieved across 75 years.

I pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of thousands of United Nations peacekeepers, staff and others who, across the world and across the years, gave their lives while advancing the causes and values of the United Nations.

The Charter’s vision stands the test of time and its values will continue to carry us forward.

Now is the time to persevere, press ahead, pursue our goals, show responsibility for our world, and take care of each other.

It is up to us to rise to the test of this pivotal moment for our future.

Thank you”