Secretary-General, at Regional Summit, Praises Efforts of Latin American and Caribbean States in Tackling Social Justice Issues

28 January 2014
SG/SM/15620

Secretary-General, at Regional Summit, Praises Efforts of Latin American and Caribbean States in Tackling Social Justice Issues

28 January 2014
Secretary-General
SG/SM/15620
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Secretary-General, at Regional Summit, Praises Efforts of Latin American

and Caribbean States in Tackling Social Justice Issues

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks as prepared for delivery to the Second Community of Caribbean and Latin American States (CELAC) Summit in Havana today:

Gracias por su invitación.  Es un honor estar con ustedes.  Agradezco especialmente al Gobierno de Cuba la excelente organización de esta Segunda Cumbre de la Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y Caribeños.

I am confident that under the leadership of President Raúl Castro Ruz, the CELAC Summit will contribute to furthering the peace, development and human rights in your region.

I have just returned from the Geneva Conference on Syria.  From here, I go back to Europe for the Munich Security Conference.  But I felt it vital to cross the ocean especially for this Summit.  I could not miss this opportunity to be with you for this historic gathering.

It is especially meaningful to be here on the anniversary of the birth of the great José Marti.  He was an inspiration not only for this country’s independence, but for shaping the Latin American identity.  You are here to carry his aspirations into the twenty-first century.  I am here to pay tribute and learn from what you are building.

Your region has undergone turbulent times.  You have come through stronger.  That progress is visible across the work of the United Nations.  Over the last 20 years, extreme poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean has been cut in half.  You are peacefully resolving differences through dialogue.  Many of the world’s human rights conventions have been inspired by the Latin American experience.

Of course, challenges remain in your region and far beyond.  Insecurity.  Inequality.  Injustice.  But I see a region determined to tackle these obstacles together and share your example with the world.  This Summit is proof of just that.  I pledge the support of the United Nations in all aspects of our shared agenda.

Let me start with the social justice challenge.  We see much unease, fear and frustration around the world.  Economies are growing, but incomes and decent jobs are not.  Instead of hope, people — especially young women and men — see obstacles to opportunity.  No region is immune.  I commend you for working to close the severe inequality gap and urge even stronger efforts.

We face two major opportunities this year:  accelerating progress to meet the Millennium Development Goals by next year’s deadline; and crafting a common post-2015 development agenda to eradicate extreme poverty and advance sustainable development.  I thank you for your leadership in shaping this debate.  Let me congratulate this year’s chair of the “Group of 77” [developing countries] and China, the Government of Bolivia, as well as the active role of all your Governments.

You have a record of ambitious, proven policies on social protection, health, education.  As a middle-income region, I applaud your growing efforts to share those lessons with the world.  South-South cooperation is fundamental to meeting our common global development goals.  We also stand ready to continue supporting your efforts for greater inclusive development through the work of the entire United Nations family, including the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Social justice also means climate justice — and again your leadership and example are essential.  You are on the frontlines of the climate change challenge.  You are a biodiversity superpower.  The region — particularly Central America and the Caribbean — is among the most vulnerable to climate disasters.  I salute the extraordinary efforts of our host country, Cuba, and others to advance disaster preparedness, resilience and response.

The climate challenge will take much more regional and global cooperation.  On 23 September, I will host a climate summit to engage world leaders and advance climate action.  It will be a solutions summit.  I invite each of you to come and bring bold pledges.

Of course, when it comes to climate action this year, all roads lead to Lima.  In December, the Government of Peru will host the twentieth Climate Change Conference.  This will be a vital stepping stone to a global agreement in 2015, which States parties have promised and which the world so urgently needs.

I also thank CELAC for your growing engagement on peace and security challenges.  Conflicts in the region have passed, and the last one will hopefully soon be ended.  I welcome progress on Colombia’s peace talks that have been supported by the Government of Cuba.  I thank you for your generous contributions to United Nations peacekeeping around the globe, including your dedication to Haiti and to the mission there, MINUSTAH.  I salute the efforts of so many of your countries in helping the people and Government of Haiti address its challenges, including cholera.  Important progress is being made to defeat this preventable disease.  Now is the time to intensify work and support.

The region led the way in establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone with the Tlatelolco Treaty, and inspired others to follow.  While your region has made landmark progress in overcoming conflict, the day-to-day safety of citizens in the streets remains a major challenge.  There is no magic formula or one-size solution to tackle crime and violence.  Iron-fisted policies backfire.  The most effective approaches put the protection of people’s rights at the centre.  I welcome your discussion to create a regional forum to exchange experiences on citizen security.

Our work must also stretch across regions — for example, sub-Saharan Africa, where illicit drug trafficking is fuelling and funding violent extremist movements.  I welcome your important discussions on confronting the drug problem.  You bring a unique point of view and set of experiences to the debate.  Others may have different perspectives.  My aim is to work with you and others to find common ground with creativity and respect for global conventions.  I count on your engagement in the upcoming 2016 Special Session of the General Assembly on the world drug problem.  Let us work together for its success.

The interlinked goals of peace and development are underpinned by human rights and the rule of law.  For decades, Latin American and Caribbean nations have been instrumental in defending and promoting democracy and human rights, which has been crucial for regional stability.  Your region is one of great diversity.  This diversity is a strength that should be respected and nurtured.  I encourage CELAC leaders to continue reinforcing the regional human rights system that is recognized as an example for the world.

I also welcome your strong emphasis on the rights of migrants and persons with disabilities, as well as the fight against discrimination against Afro-descendants and indigenous peoples in your region.  The United Nations will host the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples this September.  And let us continue our efforts to unite to end violence against women and girls.  Here today, I underscore my call for the fullest compliance with all international treaties and obligations to safeguard human rights and deepen fundamental freedoms.

The crises and flashpoints of the world often take me to other regions.  Precisely because of your progress, we do not often meet in this context.  But it is for the same reason that I look to you for even greater engagement and support across the full range of the work of the United Nations around the world.

The architects of the United Nations understood that regional organizations were crucial to achieving our shared goals.  In our increasingly interconnected world, this is ever more important.  When CELAC is stronger, the United Nations is stronger.  I welcome your drive and determination.

José Marti wrote, “Day and night I always dream with open eyes.”  Let us move forward with our eyes open to the realities of our globe — and our hearts full of the knowledge that by working and dreaming together, we can build a world of peace, development and human rights for all.

Muchas gracias.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.