Category Archives: Secretary-General’s Messages and Activities

MESSAGE ON HUMAN RIGHTS DAY 

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

MESSAGE ON HUMAN RIGHTS DAY
10 December 2018

For 70 years, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been a global beacon – shining a light for dignity, equality and well-being … and bringing hope to dark places.

The rights proclaimed in the Declaration apply to everyone — no matter our race, belief, location or other distinction of any kind.

Human rights are universal and eternal.

They are also indivisible. One cannot pick and choose among civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.

Today we also honour the human rights defenders risking their lives to protect people in the face of rising hatred, racism, intolerance and repression.

Indeed, human rights are under siege around the world.

Universal values are being eroded. The rule of law is being undermined.

Now more than ever, our shared duty is clear:

Let us stand up for human rights — for everyone, everywhere.

Thank you.

MESSAGE ON THE INTERNATIONAL DAY  OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES 

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

MESSAGE ON THE INTERNATIONAL DAY
OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
3 December 2018

More than 1 billion people in the world live with some form of disability. In many societies, persons with disabilities often end up disconnected, living in isolation and facing discrimination.

In its pledge to leave no one behind, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development represents a commitment to reducing inequality and promoting the social, economic and political inclusion of all, including people with disabilities. That means implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in all contexts and in all countries. It also means integrating the voices and concerns of people with disabilities into national agendas and policies.

Today, the United Nations is issuing the UN Flagship Report on Disability and Development 2018 – Realizing the SDGs by, for and with persons with disabilities. The Report shows that people with disabilities are at a disadvantage regarding most Sustainable Development Goals, but also highlights the growing number of good practices that can create a more inclusive society in which they can live independently.

On this International Day, let us reaffirm our commitment to work together for a better world that is inclusive, equitable and sustainable for everyone, where the rights of people with disabilities are fully realized. 

MESSAGE ON THE INTERNATIONAL VOLUNTEER DAY  FOR ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT 

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

MESSAGE ON THE INTERNATIONAL VOLUNTEER DAY
FOR ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
5 December 2018

There are approximately 1 billion volunteers across the globe, who dedicate their time, skills and passion to make the world a better place. They are often the first to act in moments of crisis. They create social bonds and give a voice to marginalized and vulnerable groups. And as the theme of this year’s observance highlights, they help build resilient communities, equipping people against natural disasters, political instability, economic shocks and other pressures.

In Malawi, UN volunteers have worked as interpreters, connecting refugees to institutions that provide assistance. In Sri Lanka, they have helped develop a project to empower women and youth to participate in peacebuilding efforts. In Tuvalu, UN volunteers have collaborated with the Ministry of Health to strengthen community safeguards against tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.

The diverse and dynamic role of volunteerism in promoting the Sustainable Development Goals merits strong support from Governments and other stakeholders. On this International Day, I thank volunteers for their efforts to leave no one behind. 

MESSAGE ON THE 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE CONVENTION  ON THE PREVENTION AND PUNISHMENT OF THE CRIME OF GENOCIDE AND THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF COMMEMORATION AND DIGNITY  OF THE VICTIMS OF THE CRIME OF GENOCIDE  AND OF THE PREVENTION OF THIS CRIME 

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

MESSAGE ON THE 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE CONVENTION
ON THE PREVENTION AND PUNISHMENT OF THE CRIME OF GENOCIDE AND THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF COMMEMORATION AND DIGNITY
OF THE VICTIMS OF THE CRIME OF GENOCIDE
AND OF THE PREVENTION OF THIS CRIME
9 December 2018

In the aftermath of the Holocaust and Second World War, the world came together and adopted a convention to prevent genocide and punish those who commit this heinous crime.

Seventy years later, the prevention of genocide remains a cardinal task for our time.

That is why I launched an appeal for every country to ratify the Genocide Convention.

I urge the 45 remaining States to do so without delay.

And I call on all states to translate the Convention’s words into action to prevent massive human suffering and advance accountability.

At a time of rising anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim bigotry and other forms of hatred, racism and xenophobia, let us reaffirm our commitment to upholding the equality and dignity of all.

Thank you.

MESSAGE ON WORLD AIDS DAY 

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

MESSAGE ON WORLD AIDS DAY
1 December 2018

Thirty years after the first World AIDS Day, the response to HIV stands at a crossroads. Which way we turn may define the course of the epidemic—whether we will end AIDS by 2030, or whether future generations will carry on bearing the burden of this devastating disease.

More than 77 million people have become infected with HIV, and more than 35 million have died of an AIDS-related illness. Huge progress has been made in diagnosis and treatment, and prevention efforts have avoided millions of new infections.

Yet the pace of progress is not matching global ambition. New HIV infections are not falling rapidly enough. Some regions are lagging behind, and financial resources are insufficient. Stigma and discrimination are still holding people back, especially key populations— including gay men and other men who have sex with men, sex workers, transgenders, people who inject drugs, prisoners and migrants—and young women and adolescent girls. Moreover, one in four people living with HIV do not know that they have the virus, impeding them from making informed decisions on prevention, treatment and other care and support services.

There is still time — to scale-up testing for HIV; to enable more people to access treatment; to increase resources needed to prevent new infections; and to end the stigma. At this critical juncture, we need to take the right turn now.

MESSAGE ON THE OCCASION OF THE  INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SOLIDARITY WITH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE 

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

MESSAGE ON THE OCCASION OF THE
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SOLIDARITY WITH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
New York, 29 November 2018

This year’s International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People takes place at a time of turmoil, trouble and torment.
The decades-long Palestinian struggle for self-determination, independence and a life of dignity faces numerous obstacles, including: continued military occupation of Palestinian territory; ongoing violence and incitement; continued settlement construction and expansion; deep uncertainties about the peace process; and deteriorating humanitarian and economic conditions, particularly in Gaza.
The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is providing indispensable services and needs our full support.
I urge Israel, Palestine and all others with influence to restore the promise and viability of the two-state solution premised on two states living side by side in peace, harmony and within secure and recognised borders, with Jerusalem as the capital of both.
Let us reaffirm our commitment to upholding the rights of the Palestinian people and to building a future of peace, justice, security and dignity for Palestinians and Israelis alike. 

THE ELIMINATION OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN 

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

MESSAGE ON INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR
THE ELIMINATION OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
25 November 2018

Violence against women and girls is a global pandemic. It is a moral affront to all women and girls, 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 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.

Violence can take many forms — from domestic attacks to trafficking, from sexual violence in conflict to child marriage, genital mutilation and femicide. It harms the individual and has far-reaching consequences for families and society. 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 society. Women are made vulnerable to violence through the multiple ways in which we keep them unequal.

In the past year we have seen growing attention to one manifestation of this violence. Sexual harassment is experienced by most women at some point in their lives. Increasing public disclosure by women from all regions and all walks of life is bringing the magnitude of the problem to light and demonstrating 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 #HearMeToohashtag is designed to send a clear message: violence against women and girls must end now, and we all have a role to play.

The same message resonates through the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative. This 500-million-euro programme will empower survivors and advocates to become agents of change in their homes, communities and countries. But while this initial investment is significant, it is small given the scale of need. It should be seen as seed funding for a global movement. Not until the half of our population represented by women and girls can live free from fear, violence and everyday insecurity, can we truly say we live in a fair and equal world.

MESSAGE FOR WORLD TSUNAMI AWARENESS DAY

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

MESSAGE FOR WORLD TSUNAMI AWARENESS DAY

5 November 2018

Tsunamis are rare but devastating.  I saw this first-hand during my recent visit to Sulawesi, Indonesia, shortly after the earthquake and tsunami of 1 October.  More than 2,000 people died and thousands more were harmed or displaced.

As well as struggling to deal with the losses and trauma, the people of Sulawesi will need to recover from the economic losses caused by this disaster.  Reducing economic losses is a key target of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and is vital for eradicating extreme poverty.

Over the past two decades, tsunamis have accounted for almost 10 per cent of economic losses from disasters, setting back development gains, especially in countries that border the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

World Tsunami Awareness Day is an opportunity to emphasize again the importance of disaster prevention and preparedness, including early warning, public education, science to better understand and predict tsunamis, and development that takes account of risk in seismic zones and exposed coastal areas.

MESSAGE ON WORLD CITIES DAY

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

MESSAGE ON WORLD CITIES DAY

31 October 2018

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement on climate change, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the New Urban Agenda together provide a roadmap for a more sustainable and resilient world.  How our cities develop will have significant implications for realizing the future we want.

This year’s World Cities Day focuses on resilience and sustainability.  Every week, 1.4 million people move to cities.  Such rapid urbanization can strain local capacities, contributing to increased risk from natural and human made disasters.  But hazards do not need to become disasters.  The answer is to build resilience — to storms, floods, earthquakes, fires, pandemics and economic crises.

Cities around the world are already acting to increase resilience and sustainability.  Bangkok has built vast underground water storage facilities to cope with increased flood risk and save water for drier periods.  In Quito, the local government has reclaimed or protected more than 200,000 hectares of land to boost flood protection, reduce erosion and safeguard the city’s freshwater supply and biodiversity.  And in Johannesburg, the city is involving residents in efforts to improve public spaces so they can be safely used for recreation, sports, community events and services such as free medical care.

On World Cities Day, let us be inspired by these examples.  Let us work together to build sustainable and resilient cities that provide safety and opportunities for all.

MESSAGE ON THE INTERNATIONAL DAY TO END IMPUNITY FOR CRIMES AGAINST JOURNALISTS

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

MESSAGE ON THE INTERNATIONAL DAY TO END IMPUNITY

FOR CRIMES AGAINST JOURNALISTS

2 November 2018

In just over a decade, more than a thousand journalists have been killed while carrying out their indispensable work. Nine out of ten cases are unresolved, with no one held accountable.

Female journalists are often at greater risk of being targeted not only for their reporting but also because of their gender, including through the threat of sexual violence.

This year alone, at least 88 journalists have been 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.

I am deeply troubled by the growing number of attacks and the culture of impunity.

I call on Governments and the international community to protect journalists and create the conditions they need to do their work.

On this day, I pay tribute to journalists who do their jobs every day despite intimidation and threats. Their work – and that of their fallen colleagues — reminds us that truth never dies. Neither must our commitment to the fundamental right to freedom of expression.

Reporting is not a crime.

Together, let us stand up for journalists, for truth and for justice.