At United Nations Headquarters on Tuesday, the Secretary-General joined Holocaust survivors and others for the opening of an exhibit marking the 75th anniversary of liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, and called on the international community to stand firm against hatred of all kinds. He declared that the “past few years have seen a frightening upsurge in antisemitic attacks both in Europe and the United States”, and that “remembrance and education are an essential part of our prevention efforts, because ignorance creates fertile ground for false narratives and lies.”
Following the Berlin International Conference on Libya on Sunday, the Secretary-General briefed the Security Council and the press on Tuesday. He underlined that the Berlin Conference represented a major step, since it brought key players around the peace table at a critical moment, committing to “refraining from interference in the armed conflict or in the internal affairs of Libya” and urging “all international actors to do the same”. But, the Secretary-General added, “this is just the beginning”, and there is now a need to “move to a ceasefire, and from the ceasefire, we need to move a real political process and we are not yet there”, adding that the role of the Security Council and the pressure of the international community would be essential.
Remarks to press following Security Council Consultations: https://bit.ly/2uwl4qG
Remarks at International Conference on Libya: https://bit.ly/37os0EV
Remarks at press encounter with German Chancellor Angela Merkel: https://bit.ly/2RrAWnI
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday, the Secretary-General told business leaders that the world would be “doomed” in the face of climate change unless major industrial nations reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. He declared that while many smaller developing countries and the European Union have committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, “the big emitters” have yet to act. He declared that he was encouraged by private sector commitment to the environment, as evidenced by increasing numbers of financial institutions and asset managers making carbon neutrality and sustainability a priority in their investments. The Secretary-General also met with a group of young people from the Global Shapers programme about the future of multilateralism and the United Nations.
Video of “special session”: https://bit.ly/2RpxlGA
Video of meeting with Global Shapers: https://bit.ly/2RpPiol
On Wednesday, at the traditional January briefing on the year ahead, the Secretary-General expressed concern about four looming threats: surging geopolitical tensions, the climate crisis, global mistrust and the downsides of technology. The Secretary-General outlined strategies to address what he called the “four horsemen in our midst”, including ambitious climate action and a Decade of Action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals. Noting that 2020 is a milestone year for the United Nations, he stressed that “commemorating the 75th anniversary with nice speeches won’t do. We must address these four 21st-century challenges with four 21st-century solutions.”
When the International Day of Education, observed on 24 January, was proclaimed in 2018, many questioned why it had taken so long for such a defining part of our lives to find a place on the United Nations calendar. The delay can be seen as a metaphor for education itself, given that the positive outcomes of education are not immediately apparent. Instead, the benefits become discernible over a generation and sometimes longer; they are seen in the development of countries, the well-being of people and a society’s capacity for innovation.
Taking a step back, there has been nothing short of a revolution in education since the founding of the United Nations and the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights more than 70 years ago. Never have there been so many children and youth in school and university. For many newly independent countries, education has continued to be the backbone of nation-building. Today, nothing is valued more by families and communities in the most difficult circumstances than access to education, which serves as a way out of poverty and a stepping stone to opportunity, to a more dignified and better life.
Before the Syrian revolution began, and the subsequent descent into conflict that followed, my childhood was one of hope and peace. I had dreams and a clear sense of how to bring those dreams to life. I grew up in Daraa with my parents and siblings. My father worked as a teacher. We were happy. My aunts, uncles and cousins lived close to us. Sometimes I would pass by their home after school and we would talk about our day, play games and do homework together. I was surrounded by people I knew.
School was the biggest part of my childhood. It was where I learned about myself, my ideas and my dreams. As I gained knowledge about the world, I started to contemplate what my role in it would be. I loved to write and thought that one day I would become a journalist, travelling to places where my stories would shine a light on people’s lives, on their successes and their times of suffering. Never in those moments did I think I would soon be embroiled in the suffering I had once thought I would be reporting on.
Meet our 5 #youth panelists! They’ll be sitting down with Secretary-General António Guterres for the first #UN75 dialogue at United Nations HQ to discuss hopes, fears, strategies and solutions for #ShapingOurFuture. And, we’d like YOU to join.
RSVP required @ http://bit.ly/UN75LaunchEvent by Friday January 24.
The challenge of inequality in a rapidly changing world
The World Social Report 2020 examines the impact of four such megatrends on inequality: technological innovation, climate change, urbanization and international migration. Technological change can be an engine of economic growth, offering new possibilities in health care, education, communication and productivity. But it can also exacerbate wage inequality and displace workers. The accelerating winds of climate change are being unleashed around the world, but the poorest countries and groups are suffering most, especially those trying to eke out a living in rural areas. Urbanization offers unmatched opportunities, yet cities find abject poverty and opulent wealth in close proximity, making gaping and increasing levels of inequality all the more glaring. International migration allows millions of people to seek new opportunities and can help reduce global disparities, but only if it occurs under orderly and safe conditions.
Whether these mega-trends are harnessed to encourage a more equitable and sustainable world, or allowed to exacerbate disparities and divisions, will largely determine the shape of our common future.