Category Archives: Secretary-General’s Messages

THE SECRETARY GENERAL’S MESSAGE FOR WORLD DAY FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE

20 February 2015

World Day for Social Justice comes at a pivotal moment for people and our planet. Around the world, there is a rising call to secure a life of dignity for all with equal rights and respect for the diverse voices of the world’s peoples. At the core of this movement lies the need for social justice.

This year’s commemoration focuses on the scourge of human trafficking and the plight of approximately 21 million women, men and children in various forms of modern slavery. New instruments such as the ILO Protocol and Recommendation on forced labour and human trafficking are helping to strengthen global efforts to punish perpetrators and end impunity. We must continue to do more. We simply cannot achieve development for all if we leave behind those who are socially and economically exploited.

In this crucial year for global development, as Member States work to craft a post-2015 agenda and a new set of sustainable development goals, let us do our utmost to eradicate all forms of human exploitation. Let us strive to build a world of social justice where all people can live and work in freedom, dignity and equality.

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THE SECRETARY GENERAL’S MESSAGE ON WORLD RADIO DAY

13 February 2015

On World Radio Day, we celebrate a medium that captures the imagination and brings people together.

Every year, United Nations Radio broadcasts over 1,200 documentaries, news items andeditorials over the airwaves.

This year’s observance of World Radio Day highlights the importance of radio to the world’s 1.8 billion young women and men.

Radio matters for youth across the world.

As the international community shapes new sustainable development goals and a new global agreement on climate change, we need to hear the voices young women and men, loudly, strongly and urgently.

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THE SECRETARY-GENERAL’S MESSAGE ON THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF COMMEMORATION IN MEMORY OF THE VICTIMS OF THE HOLOCAUST

27 January 2015

Seventy years ago today, allied forces liberated Auschwitz Birkenau, the German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp.

More than a million inmates, primarily Jews, were brutally and systematically killed in the place where the Nazis introduced the monstrous concept of “industrialized murder”. Among the other victims were non-Jewish Poles, political prisoners, Soviet prisoners of war, Sinti and Roma, homosexuals, disabled persons and Jehovah’s witnesses.

Unprecedented in human history, this mass killing was motivated by the perverse, race-based ideology of the Nazis, who sought to track down and kill every last Jew and any others they considered to be inferior.

Humankind united to overcome the Nazi menace. Today, we are being tested again. Minorities everywhere often face bigotry. Sectarian tensions and other forms of intolerance are on the rise. Anti-Semitic attacks continue, with Jews being killed solely because they are Jews. Vulnerable communities around the world continue to bury their dead while living in fear of further violence.

The mission of the United Nations was shaped by the tragedy of the Second World War and the Holocaust. We are committed to protect the vulnerable, promote fundamental human rights and uphold the freedom, dignity and worth of every person.

For the past decade, the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme has mobilized students and educators around the world to help us achieve these goals. We are grateful to our many partners – including Holocaust survivors — who have contributed to this work, which spanned 42 countries in the past year alone.

The violence and bias we see every day are stark reminders of the distance still to travel in upholding human rights, preventing genocide and defending our common humanity. We must redouble our efforts to eradicate the deep roots of hatred and intolerance. People everywhere must unite to stop the cycles of discord and build a world of inclusion and mutual respect.

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THE SECRETARY GENERAL’S MESSAGE ON INTERNATIONAL MIGRANTS DAY

18 December 2014

On International Migrants Day, we call for the fulfilment and protection of the human rights of the world’s 232 million migrants.

Far too many migrants live and work in precarious and unjust conditions. Many risk their lives at sea, attempting to seek sanctuary. They and their children are extremely vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. Many are deprived of their liberty, rather than met with empathy and necessary protection. Persistent discrimination against migrants generates sharp inequalities, threatens the social fabric and, all too often, leads to violent and deadly attacks.

The post-2015 development agenda offers an opportunity to ensure that the needs of the poorest and most marginalized are made a priority. To meet the new framework’s core objective of ‘leaving no one behind’, we must devote greater attention to the precarious situation of the world’s migrants.

I call on all States 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, as well as relevant instruments of international labour law. I also urge States to adopt comprehensive and human rights- based migration policies that promote legal migration channels.

Accurate data is essential if States are to include migrants in their development strategies and enable them to contribute their skills and experiences to the advancement of their societies. Migration policies must be evidence-based, rather than rooted in xenophobia and misperceptions.

On International Migrants Day, let us reaffirm our commitment to shape diverse and open societies that provide opportunities and lives of dignity for all migrants.

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THE SECRETARY GENERAL’S MESSAGE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DAY

10 December 2014

On Human Rights Day we speak out.

We denounce 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.

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THE SECRETARY GENERAL’S 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.

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.

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THE SECRETARY GENERAL’S MESSAGE ON UNIVERSAL CHILDREN’S DAY

20 November 2014

The one thing all children have in common is their rights. Every child has the right to survive and thrive, to be educated, to be free from violence and abuse, to participate and to be heard.

These are innate human rights, as inalienable as those held by adults. But until 1989, these rights were not formally articulated in a legally binding instrument, nor were governments fully accountable to advance these rights for every child.

This all changed 25 years ago, on Universal Children’s Day, when the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It rapidly became the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history.

To date, almost every nation in the world has ratified the Convention. In every region of the world, it has inspired changes in laws, changes in policies, and changes in the way we perceive children as holders of their own rights and in the way we work to promote those rights.

It is fitting that we celebrate a quarter century of the Convention. But we must do more than celebrate. We must recommit ourselves to advancing the rights of every child, especially those who have been left behind — those who have the least and need us the most.

We cannot say that the rights of all children are fulfilled when, despite our progress, some 6.3 million children under 5 years of age died in 2013, mostly from preventable causes; when 168 million children aged 5 to 17 were engaged in child labour in 2012; when 11 per cent of girls are married before they turn 15.

To make the vision of the Convention a reality for every child will require innovative solutions, a major increase in resources, and political will to invest in children and put their wellbeing at the centre of the political, economic and social agenda.

While accountability for the rights enshrined in the Convention lies with governments, we all have a common responsibility to uphold and protect those rights, which are fundamental to the strength of our societies. Together, let us stand up for the rights of children everywhere, for a more just and equitable world, and for a brighter future for all.

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THE SECRETARY GENERAL’S MESSAGE ON THE OCCASION OF THE FIRST INTERNATIONAL DAY TO END IMPUNITY FOR CRIMES AGAINST JOURNALISTS

New York, 2 November 2014

A free and open press is part of the bedrock of democracy and development.

Yet in the last ten years, more than 700 journalists have been killed for simply doing their job.

 Some cases have received international attention – others less so.

In the last year alone, for example, at least 17 Iraqi journalists have been executed.

Many more journalists and media workers around the world suffer from intimidation, death threats and violence.

Nine out of ten cases go unpunished.

As a result, criminals are emboldened.

People are scared to speak out about corruption, political repression or other violations of human rights.

This must stop.

That is why the United Nations declared November 2nd as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.

We have a UN Action Plan to help create a safe environment for journalists and media workers everywhere.

By ending impunity, we deepen freedom of expression and bolster dialogue.

We advance human rights and strengthen societies.

No journalist anywhere should have to risk their life to report the news.

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

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THE SECRETARY GENERAL’S MESSAGE ON WORLD CITIES DAY

31 October 2014

With the decision by the United Nations General Assembly to establish World Cities Day, we now have an annual date on which to celebrate one of humankind’s greatest and most complex creations.

This new day is one of the legacies of Expo 2010 Shanghai, at which the international community explored urban best practices and concepts from all over the world. So it is fitting that Shanghai is hosting the main inaugural event of this new UN observance.

The theme of this first World Cities Day — “Leading Urban Transformations” — highlights the pioneering power of cities. In a world where already over half the population lives in urban areas, the human future is largely an urban future. We must get urbanization right, which means reducing greenhouse emissions, strengthening resilience, ensuring basic services such as water and sanitation and designing safe public streets and spaces for all to share. Liveable cities are crucial not only for city-dwellers but also for providing solutions to some of the key aspects of sustainable development.

Today is also a moment to recognize the contributions of mayors and other city leaders. Urban transformations require political will and the capacity to coordinate many actors and stakeholders. Mayors give voice to their citizens and play a central role in building well-planned cities and making them engines of prosperity, innovation and inclusiveness.

In 2016, the international community will come together for the third United Nations Conference of Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III). As we reflect on our urban future, let us seize all the opportunities cities offer to create a new and transformative urban agenda.

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THE SECRETARY GENERAL’S MESSAGE ON UNITED NATIONS DAY

24 October 2014

The United Nations is needed more than ever at this time of multiple crises. Poverty, disease, terrorism, discrimination and climate change are exacting a heavy toll. Millions of people continue to suffer deplorable exploitation through bonded labour, human trafficking, sexual slavery or unsafe conditions in factories, fields and mines. The global economy remains an uneven playing field.

The founding of the United Nations was a solemn pledge to the world’s people to end such assaults on human dignity, and lead the way to a better future. There have been painful setbacks, and there is much work ahead to realize the Charter’s vision. But we can take heart from our achievements.

The UN Millennium Development Goals have inspired the most successful anti-
poverty campaign ever. United Nations treaties addressing inequality, torture and racism have protected people, while other agreements have safeguarded the environment. UN peacekeepers have separated hostile forces, our mediators have settled disputes and our humanitarian workers have delivered life-saving aid.

At this critical moment, let us reaffirm our commitment to empowering the marginalized and vulnerable. On United Nations Day, I call on Governments and individuals to work in common cause for the common good.

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