Secretary-General

children in door frame

UN Secretary-General António Guterres addressed the opening of the High-level segment of the 46th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, with a call to do even more to bring to life the Call to Action for Human Rights. The Call to Action is the Secretary-General’s transformative vision for human rights. Underpinning the work of the entire UN system, human rights are essential to addressing the broad causes and impacts of all complex crises, and to building sustainable, safe, and peaceful societies.

Chun Jie Kuai Le! [春节快乐!Happy Lunar New Year!] I send my best wishes to everyone celebrating the Lunar New Year. This year is the Year of the Ox – the same sign as the year of my birth. The ox symbolizes energy, strength, and courage.

With a year full of ‘trials, tragedies and tears’ behind us, UN Secretary-General António Guterres reflects on our common struggle and achievements. In his New Year’s message, he says the past year also brought forth ‘rays of hope’ in the form of people and countries working together to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic and to prevent a climate catastrophe. The Secretary-General sets a lofty target for the United Nations to build a global coalition to achieve carbon neutrality, or zero net emissions, by 2050. He calls for 2021 to be a year of healing: “Healing from the impact of a deadly virus. Healing broken economies and societies. Healing divisions. And starting to heal the planet.” 

A healthworker helps tie a girl’s facemask.

Since March, the United Nations system has focused on helping countries avoid the worst impacts of the pandemic, while working for a strong recovery. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has repeatedly emphasized that the pandemic has hit the poorest and most vulnerable in our societies the hardest. He has called for a COVID-19 vaccine to be a global public good available to everyone, everywhere. As this difficult year draws to a close, Mr. Guterres encourages governments to meet the expectations of those we serve with unity, solidarity and coordinated multilateral global action.

Many doves on the ground start to take flight.

On March 23rd, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued an urgent appeal for a global ceasefire to all corners of the world to focus together on defeating COVID-19. He repeated the call at the start of the 75th UN General Assembly session in September, to achieve the ceasefire by the end of the year. Since March, some 180 countries, the Security Council, regional organizations, civil society groups, peace advocates and millions of global citizens have endorsed the Secretary-General’s call. The clock is ticking and there is no time to waste.  Get involved and sign the urgent call to support!

knotted gun sculpture

On 23 March, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued an urgent appeal for a global ceasefire in all corners of the world to focus together on the true fight – defeating COVID-19. He repeated the call at the start of the 75th UN General Assembly session in September. He called for the global ceasefire to become a reality by the end of the year. Silencing the guns can not only support the fight against COVID-19, but also create opportunities for life-saving aid, open windows for diplomacy and bring hope to people suffering in conflict zones who are particularly vulnerable to the pandemic. 

girls cheering

"In 2020, as the United Nations celebrates 75 years since the Charter’s signing, we have an opportunity to reflect on our shared progress, as well as our common future."

woman accessing health care resources on tablet

The world is shifting from analog to digital faster than ever before, further exposing us to the vast promise and peril of new technologies. While the digital era has brought society many incredible benefits, we also face many challenges such as growing digital divides, cyber threats, and human rights violations online. This report lays out a roadmap in which all stakeholders play a role in advancing a safer, more equitable digital world, one which will lead to a brighter and more prosperous future for all.

Secretary-General António Guterres

Secretary-General António Gutteres has renewed his call for an immediate global cease-fire of 23 March to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic. He provided an update on the broad international support with which this appeal has been greeted, the response by conflict parties in a number of situations of armed conflict and the efforts on the ground by United Nations representatives and other actors to press forward and try to consolidate fragile advances towards laying down weapons. The UN Messengers of Peace have added their support. "We need to do everything possible to find the peace and unity our world so desperately needs to battle COVID-19," Mr. Guterres emphasized in his renewed appeal.

Secretary-General António Guterres has called for a global ceasefire, so that the world can concentrate its efforts on the response against the COVID-19 pandemic. “It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives,” he said in a live virtual briefing on 23 March. He called on all warring parties to create safe corridors for life-saving aid to reach the most vulnerable, including refugees.

Javier Pérez de Cuéllar served as the fifth UN Secretary-General from 1982 to 1991. Mr. Pérez de Cuéllar was born in Lima, Peru in 1920, and was the first and only Secretary-General from Latin America so far. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has paid tribute to his predecessor - "an accomplished statesman, a committed diplomat and a personal inspiration who left a profound impact on the United Nations and our world." He said, "Mr. Pérez de Cuéllar played a crucial role in a number of diplomatic successes — including the independence of Namibia, an end to the Iran-Iraq War, the release of American hostages held in Lebanon, the peace accord in Cambodia and, in his very last days in office, a historic peace agreement in El Salvador."  

Secretary-General António Guterres speaks with Eleonore Pauwels during a UN75 Dialogue with youth

To mark its 75th anniversary in 2020, the United Nations has launched the biggest-ever global conversation - UN75 - on the role of global cooperation in building the future we want. The campaign has initiated dialogues on issues such as the climate crisis, inequalities, demographic changes, cyber criminality and health epidemics that require cooperation across borders, sectors and generations. Join us for a discussion on these and other global challenges and possible solutions with UN Secretary-General António Guterres on 25 February (10 – 11 am CET).

The Secretary-General stands next to a colorful Tuk Tuk and talks to the driver while onlookers stand by.

Pakistan-India Crossing is a ‘Corridor of Hope,’ UN Chief Says

United Nations chief António Guterres says the World Health Organization's characterization of the COVID-19 health emergency as a pandemic “is a call for action – for everyone, everywhere” adding that as we fight the virus “we cannot let fear go viral.” The United Nations is actively addressing the global COVID-19 outbreak on several fronts - from situation reports and technical guidelines, through funding and partnerships, to advice for the public. You can find information and guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations. WHO is working closely with global experts, governments and partners to rapidly expand scientific knowledge on this new virus, to track the spread and virulence of the virus, and to provide advice to countries and individuals on measures to protect health and prevent the spread of this outbreak.

Trygve Lie addresses the General Assembly

Trygve Lie led the Norwegian delegation to the United Nations Conference on International Organization in San Francisco, April 1945, and was Chairman of the commission for drafting the Security Council provisions of the Charter. He was also Chairman of the Norwegian delegation to the United Nations General Assembly in London in January 1946. On 1 February 1946, Mr. Lie was elected the first Secretary-General of the United Nations. He was formally installed by the General Assembly at its 22nd meeting on 2 February 1946. The General Assembly on 1 November 1950, continued Mr. Lie in office for a further three years from 1 February 1951. He resigned as Secretary-General in November 1952.