Author Archives: Julia Dean

Note to Correspondents – on Afghanistan

The Secretary-General is following with deep concern the rapidly evolving situation in Afghanistan. He urges the Taliban and all other parties to exercise utmost restraint in order to protect lives and ensure that humanitarian needs can be addressed.

Conflict is forcing hundreds of thousands to flee their homes. There continue to be reports of serious human rights abuses and violations in the communities most affected by the fighting. The Secretary-General is particularly concerned about the future of women and girls, whose hard-won rights must be protected. All abuses must stop. He calls on the Taliban and all other parties to ensure that international humanitarian law and the rights and freedoms of all people are respected and protected.

The need for assistance is surging while the operating environment becomes more restricted due to the escalation of the conflict. The Secretary-General calls on all parties to ensure that humanitarian actors have unimpeded access to deliver timely and life-saving services and assistance.

The United Nations remains determined to contribute to a peaceful settlement, promote the human rights of all Afghans, notably women and girls, and provide life-saving humanitarian assistance and critical support to civilians in need.

On Monday, the Secretary-General will address the Security Council’s open meeting on Afghanistan.

IPCC Report: ‘Code red’ For Human Driven Global Heating, Warns UN Chief

Human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe. Scientists are also observing changes across the whole of Earth’s climate system; in the atmosphere, in the oceans, ice floes, and on land.

Many of these changes are unprecedented, and some of the shifts are in motion now, while some – such as continued sea level rise – are already ‘irreversible’ for centuries to millennia, ahead, the report warns.

But there is still time to limit climate change, IPCC experts say. Strong and sustained reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases, could quickly make air quality better, and in 20 to 30 years global temperatures could stabilise. More

Photo: A 16-year-old child swims in the flooded area of Aberao village in Kiribati. The Pacific island is one of the countries worst affected by sea-level rise.

Secretary-General’s Statement On The IPCC Working Group 1 Report On The Physical Science Basis Of The Sixth Assessment

Today’s IPCC Working Group 1 Report is a code red for humanity.  The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable:  greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk. Global heating is affecting every region on Earth, with many of the changes becoming irreversible.

The internationally agreed threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius is perilously close.

We are at imminent risk of hitting 1.5 degrees in the near term. The only way to prevent exceeding this threshold is by urgently stepping up our efforts, and pursuing the most ambitious path.

We must act decisively now to keep 1.5 alive.

We are already at 1.2 degrees and rising. Warming has accelerated in recent decades. Every fraction of a degree counts.  Greenhouse gas concentrations are at record levels. Extreme weather and climate disasters are increasing in frequency and intensity. That is why this year’s United Nations climate conference in Glasgow is so important.

The viability of our societies depends on leaders from government, business        and civil society uniting behind policies, actions and investments that will limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.  We owe this to the entire human family, especially the poorest and most vulnerable communities and nations that are the hardest hit despite being least responsible for today’s climate emergency.

The solutions are clear.  Inclusive and green economies, prosperity, cleaner air and better health are possible for all if we respond to this crisis with solidarity and courage.  All nations, especially the G20 and other major emitters, need to join the net zero emissions coalition and reinforce their commitments with credible, concrete and enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions and policies before COP26 in Glasgow.

We need immediate action on energy. Without deep carbon pollution cuts now, the 1.5-degree goal will fall quickly out of reach. This report must sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels, before they destroy our planet.  There must be no new coal plants built after 2021.  OECD countries must phase out existing coal by 2030, with all others following suit by 2040.  Countries should also end all new fossil fuel exploration and production, and shift fossil    fuel subsidies into renewable energy.  By 2030, solar and wind capacity should quadruple and renewable energy investments should triple to maintain a net zero trajectory by mid-century.

Climate impacts will undoubtedly worsen.  There is a clear moral and economic imperative to protect the lives and livelihoods of those on the front lines of the climate crisis.  Adaptation and resilience finance must cease being the neglected half of the climate equation.  Only 21 per cent of climate support is directed towards adaptation.  I again call on donors and the multilateral development   banks to allocate at least 50 per cent of all public climate finance to protecting people, especially women and vulnerable groups.  COVID-19 recovery spending must be aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement.  And the decade-old promise to mobilize $100 billion annually to support mitigation and adaptation in developing countries must be met.

The climate crisis poses enormous financial risk to investment managers, asset owners, and businesses.  These risks should be measured, disclosed and mitigated.  I am asking corporate leaders to support a minimum international carbon price and align their portfolios with the Paris Agreement.  The public and private sector must work together to ensure a just and rapid transformation to a net zero global economy.

If we combine forces now, we can avert climate catastrophe.  But, as today’s report makes clear, there is no time for delay and no room for excuses. I count on government leaders and all stakeholders to ensure COP26 is a success.

09 August 2021



International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples
UN Secretary-General Message

9 August 2021

Indigenous peoples around the world continue to face overwhelming marginalisation, discrimination and exclusion. Rooted in colonialism and patriarchy, these profound disparities are sustained by a deeply held resistance to recognising and respecting the rights, dignity, and freedoms of indigenous peoples.

Throughout modern history, indigenous peoples have been robbed of their lands and territories, of their political and economic autonomy, and even of their own children. Their cultures and languages have been denigrated and extinguished.

In recent months, the world has again been exposed to just some of the horror faced by indigenous communities at the hands of colonisers. Some nations have begun to address this heinous legacy through apologies, truth and reconciliation efforts, and legislative and constitutional reforms. But much more needs to be done.

We need a new social contract – one that restores and honours the rights, dignity and freedoms of those who have been deprived of so much for so long. Central to this must be genuine dialogue, interaction and willingness to listen. We already have the tools we need to this, including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the outcome document of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.

There is no excuse for denying the world’s 476 million indigenous peoples self-determination and meaningful participation in all decision-making. Free, prior and informed consent is central for indigenous peoples to exercise their own vision of development.

And while recognition of the importance of indigenous knowledge grows, in particular in solving the climate and biodiversity crises and preventing the emergence of contagious diseases, we must ensure that indigenous knowledge is owned and shared by indigenous communities themselves.

The United Nations system has a key role to play. On this International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, let us show true solidarity by working to end the grievous inequalities of indigenous peoples worldwide, to fully recognise the abuse they have endured, and to celebrate their knowledge and wisdom.

August 9, 2021

The UN Secretary-General Message to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial

It is an honour to send this message to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, and to pay tribute to the victims and survivors of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

On this day seventy-six years ago, a single nuclear weapon brought unimaginable suffering to the people of this city, killing tens of thousands of people instantly, tens of thousands in its aftermath, and many more in the following years.

Hiroshima is defined not only by the tragedy unleashed on it. The unparalleled advocacy of its survivors, the hibakusha, is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. They have dedicated their lives to sharing their experiences and campaigning to make sure no-one else suffers their fate.

The United Nations shares the hibakusha’s vision of a world without nuclear weapons. This was the subject of the first-ever General Assembly resolution – passed just five months after the bombing of Hiroshima – and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which entered into force on 22 January this year.

I am deeply concerned by the lack of progress towards the goal of a nuclear-free world. States in possession of nuclear weapons have been modernising their arsenals in recent years, sparking a new arms race. But the decisions by the Russian Federation and the United States to extend the New START treaty, and engage in a dialogue on arms control, are welcome first steps towards reducing the risk of nuclear catastrophe.

I call on all States that possess nuclear weapons to adopt risk reduction measures, individually and jointly. We can never take the norm against the use of nuclear weapons for granted. I also urge governments to use the Tenth Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to strengthen their commitment to a nuclear-weapon-free world.

The only guarantee against the use of nuclear weapons is their total elimination.

The United Nations and I personally continue to be fully committed to the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world.

Hiroshima Japan, 2021

Pegasus: Human rights-compliant laws needed to regulate spyware

The UN human rights chief on Monday said the apparent widespread use of Pegasus spy software to illegally undermine the rights of those under surveillance, including journalists and politicians, was “extremely alarming” and confirmed “some of the worst fears” surrounding the potential misuse of such technology. 

“Various parts of the UN Human Rights system, including my own Office, have repeatedly raised serious concerns about the dangers of authorities using surveillance tools from a variety of sources supposed to promote public safety in order to hack the phones and computers of people conducting legitimate journalistic activities, monitoring human rights or expressing dissent or political opposition”, said High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet in a statement. More

‘Tremendously off track’ to meet 2030 SDGs: UN Chief

Between 720 and 811 million people in the world faced hunger in 2020 – some 161 million more than for 2019 – the UN Secretary-General said on Monday; “new, tragic data”, which indicates the world is “tremendously off track” to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

“High costs, coupled with persistently high levels of poverty and income inequality, continue to keep healthy diets out of reach for around three billion people, in every region of the world”, added António Guterres, in a statement highlighting the importance of the global Food Systems Summit, due to take place in September. More

UN Human Rights Council Adopts Universal Periodic Review Outcomes of Australia, Saint Lucia, and Nepal

The Human Rights Council in a midday meeting adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcomes of Australia, Saint Lucia, and Nepal.

Speaking on the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Australia were Malawi, Marshall Islands, Morocco, Namibia, Nepal, New Zealand, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Singapore, China, Syria, and Tunisia.

The following civil society organizations also took the floor on the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Australia: Save the Children International, World Jewish Congress, World Evangelical Alliance, Edmund Rice International, Earthjustice, Fondazione Marista per la Solidarietà Internazionale ONLUS, CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Charitable Institute for Protecting Social Victims, and International Lesbian and Gay Association. More

Time running out for countries on climate crisis front line

The world’s running out of time to limit global temperature rise to below two degrees Celsius, a matter of life or death for climate vulnerable countries on the front line of the crisis, the UN Secretary General reiterated on Thursday.

Speaking to the first Climate Vulnerable Finance Summit of 48 nations systemically exposed to climate related disasters, António Guterres said they needed reassurance that financial and technical support will be forthcoming.

“To rebuild trust, developed countries must clarify now, how they will effectively deliver $100 billion dollars in climate finance annually to the developing world, as was promised over a decade ago”, he said.

The UN chief said that to get the “world back on its feet”, restore cooperation between governments and recover from the pandemic in a climate resilient way, the most vulnerable countries had to be properly supported. More

COVID death toll passes 4 million: Global Vaccine Plan Essential

The global death toll due to COVID-19 officially passed four million late on Wednesday, marking yet another “grim milestone” and underlining the urgent need for the world to put a Global Vaccine Plan in place to get the pandemic under control, said the UN chief in a statement.

“Many of us know this loss directly and feel its pain”, said Secretary-General António Guterres. “We mourn mothers and fathers who gave guidance, sons and daughters who inspired us, grandmothers and grandfathers who shared wisdom, colleagues and friends who lifted our lives.” More