7 December 2011

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Celebrating Life-Saving Treaties on Refugees, Statelessness,


Secretary-General Seeks Support, Solidarity for Refugees


Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s video message, aired on 7 December, for the sixtieth anniversary of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the fiftieth anniversary of the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, held in Geneva, 6-7 December:

Distinguished Heads of State and Government, esteemed ministers, High Commissioner António Guterres, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen:

Today, we celebrate two treaties that have helped millions of people around the world — people forced to flee disasters, war and persecution; people struggling to survive and rescue their children; people who crossed borders with nothing, except the dream of a safer future.

These life-saving treaties are based on a simple principle, which is as true today as ever — the principle that people should never be forced into harm’s way.

Today, you have a chance to help us reduce statelessness, and assist refugees.  Today, you can pledge your support for UNHCR [Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees].  Your contributions will help people far from their home countries, struggling against injustice, marginalization and fear.  You can also pledge more than funds.  You can commit your solidarity for all refugees in our world.

Earlier this year, I was in Oslo to celebrate the life of Fridtjof Nansen. He was the father of international refugee relief, the first High Commissioner of Refugees at the League of Nations.  Nansen once said that helping people return home is more important for peace than many political moves.  I have seen the truth of these words.  Help refugees.  Contribute to peace.  Thank you.

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For information media • not an official record