UN Secretary-General New Year’s Message

The world welcomes 2022 with our hopes for the future being tested. By deepening poverty and worsening inequality. By an unequal distribution of COVID vaccines. By climate commitments that fall short. And by ongoing conflict, division, and misinformation.

These are not just policy tests. These are moral and real-life tests. And they are tests that humanity can pass — if we commit to making 2022 a year of recovery for everyone. Recovery from the pandemic — with a bold plan to vaccinate every person, everywhere. Recovery for our economies — with wealthier countries supporting the developing world with financing, investment and debt relief.

Recovery from mistrust and division — with a new emphasis on science, facts and reason. Recovery from conflicts — with a renewed spirit of dialogue, compromise and reconciliation. And recovery for our planet — with climate commitments that match the scale and urgency of the crisis. Moments of great difficulty are also moments of great opportunity. To come together in solidarity. To unite behind solutions that can benefit all people. And to move forward — together — with hope in what our human family can accomplish. Together, let’s make recovery our resolution for 2022. For people, planet and prosperity. I wish you all a happy and peaceful New Year.

(Ends)

WFP Donate Responsibly campaign in the pacific returns to promote better ways of giving

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today announced the return of the Donate Responsibly campaign to raise awareness about responsible ways of donating to help disaster-affected communities recover better and faster.

“The public are incredibly generous following cyclones in the Pacific, but we want to be sure that their generosity is as effective as possible. The campaign aims to educate people about the issues with sending unrequested goods after a cyclone – and give them other avenues to explore so that their generous support can make a difference,” said Jo Pilgrim, Country Director of WFP’s Pacific Multi-Country Office.

The campaign will coincide with the ongoing South Pacific cyclone season. Through the campaign website, DonateResponsibly.org, visitors can take an interactive journey to learn how donations assumed to be useful may be the opposite. Visitors can also read about the inappropriate things sent to a disaster zone, as well as calculate their impact; comparing what emergency supplies can be bought for the same price as sending goods. More

In a world of choices, ‘let us choose peace’, urges UN chief

Secretary-General António Guterres received the Lamp of Peace award on Saturday, a major honour from the Catholic Church, which he said recognizes the work of UN personnel “striving for peace around the world”.

Reminding that after the horrors of World War in the 20th Century, “the UN was created in the name of peace”, he affirmed that “we are united here today in our pursuit of peace”.

Peace remains our guiding star and most precious goal”, Mr. Guterres said, accepting the accolade bestowed upondovethose seeking the peaceful coexistence of peoples.

The Franciscan Lamp of Peace is a replica of a glass oil lamp that glows at the monastic grave of Saint Francis of Assisi, who, throughout his lifetime, inspired environmental ethics. The award was first presented in 1981 and past recipients included Pope John Paul II, the Dalai Lama, Saint Teresa of Calcutta and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

“As a person of faith with a deep appreciation and respect for the mission of St Francis, this award and ceremony are especially meaningful”, said the UN chief.

Quoting Pope Francis’ encyclical Fratelli Tutti, the Secretary-General reiterated that only by walking the path of peace, in solidarity, can we build a better future for all, “because peace can achieve wonders that war never will”. More

Secretary-General’s message on International Migrants Day

On this International Migrants Day, we recognize the contributions of migrants across the world in the face of many struggles including the COVID-19 pandemic.

Migrants continue to face widespread stigmatization, inequalities, xenophobia, and racism. Migrant women and girls face heightened risk of gender-based violence and have fewer options to seek support. With borders closed, many migrants are stranded without income or shelter, unable to return home, separated from their families, and with uncertain futures.

Yet throughout the pandemic, migrants have enriched societies everywhere and are often on the frontlines of the pandemic response as scientists, health care professionals and essential workers.

The International Migration Review Forum next year will take stock of progress in implementing the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. It is an opportunity to advance efforts to ensure the full inclusion of migrants as we seek to build more resilient, just and sustainable societies. I welcome the pledging campaign launched by the United Nations Migration Network to strengthen the Compact and encourage Member States and others to get involved. Continue reading

COVID-19 cases and deaths in the Americas triple in 2021

Compared to the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 was “undoubtedly worse” for the Americas, where infections and deaths tripled, the top UN health official there reported on Wednesday. 

Dr. Carissa Etienne, Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), delivered her final briefing of the year, providing a regional update and reflections on the crisis.

“And when we compare 2020 to 2021, this year was undoubtedly worse. We saw triple the number of COVID infections and deaths in this second year of the pandemic than we did in 2020,” Dr. Etienne told journalists.

She said hospitals were stretched thin, stocks of vital medicines and supplies ran low, and health systems “were put to the test like never before.”

“Each time we worked together, we had breakthroughs. But when countries worked in isolation, when innovations and resources were not shared, we created space for the pandemic to thrive. Sharing is central to defeating this pandemic,” she said. More

38℃ record Arctic temperature confirmed, others likely to follow: WMO

A new and disturbing high temperature record for the Arctic of 38 degrees Celsius, or just over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, was confirmed by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on Tuesday.

“The World Meteorological Organization has this morning recognized a temperature of 38C which is a staggering 100.4F in the Russian town of Verkhoyansk,” WMO spokesperson Clare Nullis told journalists in Geneva. “It was recorded last year (on) 20 June 2020 and we have recognized it as a new Arctic record.”

Describing the temperature as “more befitting the Mediterranean than the Arctic”, WMO explained in a statement that average temperatures over Arctic Siberia reached 10C above normal for much of last summer.

“The WMO Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes has never had so many ongoing simultaneous investigations,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri  Taalas, in a statement. More

Secretary-General’s message for Human Rights Day

Our world is at a crossroads.

The COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis and the expansion of digital technology into all areas of our lives have created new threats to human rights.

Exclusion and discrimination are rampant.

Public space is shrinking.

Poverty and hunger are rising for the first time in decades.

Millions of children are missing out on their right to education.

Inequality is deepening.

But we can choose a different path.

Seventy-three years ago today, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The principles set out in this simple Declaration remain the key to realizing all human rights – civil, economic, cultural, social, and political – for all people, everywhere.

Recovery from the pandemic must be an opportunity to expand human rights and freedoms, and to rebuild trust.

Trust in the justice and impartiality of laws and institutions.

Confidence that a life of dignity is within reach.

Faith that people can get a fair hearing and resolve their grievances peacefully.

The United Nations stands for the rights of every member of our human family.

Today and every day, we will continue to work for justice, equality, dignity and human rights for all.

Happy Human Rights Day.

New York

10 December 2021

Women sweep UN’s 2021 ‘Champions of the Earth’ awards

A Caribbean-based prime minister, a scientist, a group of indigenous women, and an entrepreneur were announced on Tuesday as this year’s winners of the United Nations’ Champions of the Earth awards.

According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the all-female Champions were chosen for their impact and leadership in advancing bold action on behalf of people and the planet.

“These Champions of the Earth inspire, defend, mobilise and act to tackle the greatest environmental challenges of our time, including ecosystem protection and restoration”, the agency said in a statement.

The Champions of the Earth award is UN’s highest environmental honour. This year’s award recognises laureates in four categories: Inspiration and Action, Policy Leadership, Entrepreneurial Vision, and Science and Innovation. More

At Seoul meeting, Guterres urges greater support for peacekeeping amid mounting threats

With the world now facing the highest number of violent conflicts since 1945, Secretary-General António Guterres on Tuesday urged countries to step up support for UN peacekeeping operations across the globe, and the thousands who serve within them. 

Mr. Guterres made the appeal in remarks to the opening ceremony of the 2021 Seoul UN Peacekeeping Ministerial, hosted by the Republic of Korea.

The two-day event is the latest in a series of meetings held since 2014 aimed at improving UN field operations, stretching from the Western Sahara, to India and Pakistan. More

Myanmar: UN deplores conviction and sentencing of Aung San Suu Kyi

The UN’s top human rights official on Monday condemned the imprisonment of Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi by a military-controlled court, and called for her release. She also faces additional charges of corruption and electoral fraud.

In a statement on Monday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet maintained that Ms. Suu Kyi’s guilty verdict was the result of a “sham trial”.

“The conviction of the State Counsellor following a sham trial in secretive proceedings before a military-controlled court is nothing but politically-motivated,” she said.  “It is not only about arbitrary denial of her freedom – it closes yet another door to political dialogue,” the UN rights chief said in a statement.

The verdict had been “politically-motivated”, said Ms. Bachelet, who warned that the State Counsellor’s detention had closed “yet another door to political dialogue”. More