Secretary-General Says UN Ready to Make 2010 Year of ‘Progress, Prosperity and Peace’, as He Outlines Strategic Priorities in General Assembly Remarks

11 January 2010

Secretary-General Says UN Ready to Make 2010 Year of ‘Progress, Prosperity and Peace’, as He Outlines Strategic Priorities in General Assembly Remarks

11 January 2010
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Secretary-General Says UN Ready to Make 2010 Year of ‘Progress, Prosperity and Peace’,


as He Outlines Strategic Priorities in General Assembly Remarks


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the informal session of the General Assembly, “Agenda 2010”, in New York today:

Let me begin by offering you my warmest greetings for a most productive and happy new year.

I particularly welcome this chance to join you in discussing our common agenda for the year ahead.

Today, we mark a new beginning.

The start of a new year, the move to our new North Lawn Building, the opening of a new chapter in the Capital Master Plan, a new biennium budget.

With your support, we can make this a year of action and results.

I have seven strategic priorities for 2010 ‑‑ opportunities to be realized not over decades but within the next 12 months.

Taken together, they can make the world safer, fairer and more prosperous today and in the future.

First: in 2010, let us renew our focus on sustainable development.

A decade ago, the world joined together in a 15‑year effort to combat poverty, hunger and disease.

We are now entering our tenth year with a clear vision for success.

Just as we have mobilized to fight climate change, let us this year mobilize to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

Only a year ago, it seemed as though this noble cause would have to wait.

The world economy was in free fall.

Today, the picture is very different.  Markets have rebounded.  Economic growth is on the upswing, especially in the developing world.

And yet, we cannot celebrate.  Far from it.

A true and sustained recovery demands solutions to our deepest problems ‑‑ extreme poverty, the food crisis, the need for reliable, clean, green energy.

Everywhere, people are still hurting.

Even in the wealthiest countries, they fear losing jobs and livelihoods.  As for the world’s poor, and especially in the least developed countries, they live in fear of putting food on their tables, even of having a roof over their heads.

Escaping the poverty trap, escaping the boom-and-bust cycles of the past, offering the world’s poorest people a prospect of hope rather than vistas of despair ‑‑ all these call for lasting economic solutions.

We at the UN cannot stand by.

Prosperity for all requires global cooperation ‑‑ cooperation on poverty, hunger, gender empowerment and decent work for all.

And that is why, here today, I ask that we join together to make 2010 a year of sustainable development ‑‑ to meet the MDGs, address climate change, promote global health and take the necessary steps for lasting and robust economic recovery.

As you know, we will convene a special MDG summit alongside the general debate in September.

For this summit to succeed, we must prepare the ground, well in advance.

We must mobilize our UN family, and more.  As with climate change, we must build a global consensus for action ‑‑ practical, targeted, dynamic change.

In March, I will present my own assessment to the membership, setting forth our sense of gaps and needs.  I look forward to working closely with you to put our shared intentions into a clear, concrete globally agreed plan.

Also early this year, I will launch a high-level panel on climate change and sustainable development, which will deliver its own recommendations on the way ahead.

In June, I hope to introduce a prototype of the Global Impact and Vulnerability Alert System, giving us real-time data on socio-economic conditions around the world.

We must keep food security and job creation high on our agenda, with a particular focus on small farmers.

We must break new ground on global health.  A good place to start would be to robustly replenish the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria which has proven its ability to deliver results and save lives.

We must devote special, concerted attention to maternal and child health, applying our know-how to save millions of lives each year.

We must also give special attention to the least developed and landlocked countries of sub-Saharan Africa and other regions facing particular challenges in meeting the MDGs.

We have only six years left on the clock.

Let us begin 2010 with a strong and decisive push, the United Nations and all its Members working together as one.

Our second strategic priority in 2010:  to negotiate a binding agreement on climate change, as well as to deliver on commitments made to date.

Copenhagen marked an important step forward.  But there is tremendous work to do in 2010.

First, we must proceed expeditiously in negotiating a legally binding agreement.  I will work with world leaders, and trust that they will lend their strongest support to Mexico as it assumes leadership of the UNFCCC negotiating process.

Second, we must be more ambitious.  The commitments made so far on mitigation, while important, do not yet meet the scientific bottom line ‑‑ keeping the global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius.

For that reason, I ask all countries to make ‑‑ and record ‑‑ the most robust mitigation commitments possible, and as soon as possible in this new year.  Even in advance of a binding agreement, countries should implement their commitments to cut emissions and scale up low-emission growth.

Third:  we must make sure that important financial commitments made in Copenhagen are realized as soon as possible.  A high-level panel on Climate Financing will be established and should help concretize these plans and proposals.  In addition, one important outcome of Copenhagen, the proposed new Copenhagen Green Climate Fund, should advance expeditiously and begin moving resources to those in need.

The United Nations stands ready to assist in every way.

Our third strategic priority:  let us make 2010 the year in which we empower women as never before.

Last year, you agreed to establish a new gender entity.

Now we need to build it up.

Later this month, we will submit our proposals for doing so.

I hope we can move quickly and that we will soon appoint a strong and dynamic leader to make the entity all that it should be.

Preventing violence against women is a cause for our time.

That is why, two years ago, we launched our campaign, “UNiTE to End Violence against Women”.

Last year, we expanded the campaign to Latin America.  Later this month, we will launch the Africa-wide regional campaign.  Our recently established Network of Men Leaders will continue to use their influence to end violence against women and girls.

I intend to appoint a Special Representative on the prevention of sexual violence in armed conflict, pretty soon.

We can also be proud of the number of women now serving in the senior ranks of the United Nations.  Now is the time to deepen that success by hiring more women for middle-management, with a special focus on recruiting women for leadership posts in peacekeeping and political missions.

Increasing the number of women in key decision-making roles is good for the Organization, and it is good for our wider work.

Our fourth strategic opportunity:  a nuclear-free world.

Recent months have brought encouraging progress:  a renewed commitment by the leaders of the Russian Federation and the United States; a breakthrough in the Conference on Disarmament; the historic Security Council summit in September.  Now, the NPT Review Conference is just a few months away.

As with the MDG summit, we must prepare the ground for success.

That is why, in late 2008, I issued my five-point plan for reinvigorating the disarmament and non-proliferation movement.

Like all of you today, I was concerned that thousands of nuclear weapons remain on firing alert, that more States were seeking to acquire such weapons, including terrorist groups.

Later this month, I will attend the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.  Next month, I will attend the Global Zero Summit in Paris.  And in April, I will attend the Summit on Nuclear Security in Washington.

If all goes well, we can generate real momentum for a successful NPT review conference this May in New York.

The fifth strategic opportunity lies in preventing and resolving deadly conflicts around the world.

As ever, our goal is building a safer and more secure world.  This means continuing to sharpen our tools for responding to crises.

Our strengthened capacities for mediation and preventive diplomacy put us in a better position to broker political solutions to conflicts before they escalate.  We will have more success in winding down frozen conflicts and avoiding expensive field operations.

In the realm of peacekeeping, we will continue to implement our New Horizon initiative.  We will soon submit a precise and sharply targeted field support strategy, and I will seek your approval by June.

Side by side, let us also work to strengthen our cooperation with regional organizations, as we are doing with the African Union in Sudan and Somalia.

That is why we have organized a retreat with the heads of many of these organizations tonight and tomorrow in Manhasset.  This week’s meeting with the Security Council is also designed to promote essential collaboration.

No doubt 2010 will bring unforeseen political and humanitarian crises.  Yet many of the challenges can already be seen on the horizon.

There will be critical elections in Iraq, Sudan, Côte d’Ivoire and Myanmar.

Afghanistan and Pakistan will continue to demand our full and determined efforts, as will the situations in Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Guinea.

Issues of nuclear proliferation remain of great concern in Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

We must pursue with vigour the opportunity in Cyprus.

In the Middle East, we must generate new momentum in the search for a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.  One year after the Gaza conflict, a fundamentally different approach is required to address the major humanitarian and reconstruction challenges still facing its people.

The sixth strategic priority is to advance on issues at the heart of who we are ‑‑ human rights and the rule of law.

In the coming weeks, the General Assembly will begin its review of the Human Rights Council.  Now four years old, the Council has established a sufficient track-record for us to judge both its strengths and its flaws.

Here in New York, and in Geneva, I urge you to conduct a thorough and clear-eyed review, understanding how closely the Human Rights Council’s credibility is linked to that of the United Nations as a whole.

In May, we will gather in Kampala for the Review Conference for the International Criminal Court.

This conference provides us with a clear opportunity to advance the cause of accountability for genocide and other serious crimes of concern for the international community.  In my capacity as Convenor, I will travel to Uganda to open the conference and urge all of your Governments to be represented at the highest possible level.

We must show our resolve and determination in the fight against impunity.  Let us take this opportunity and strengthen the International Criminal Court, the centrepiece of our system of international criminal justice.

I wish to join the General Assembly in calling upon all nations, in all regions of the world, becoming parties to the International Criminal Court convention.

Last year, the General Assembly also endorsed the Responsibility to Protect.  This year, we must operationalize the concept.

As Secretary-General, I assure you that the United Nations will continue to speak out strongly against racism, discrimination and political repression.

We will give voice to those who otherwise would not be heard.

We will promote respect for international law.

We will continue to be a champion of justice, true to the principles of the Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Let me close on the seventh strategic opportunity ‑‑ strengthening the UN system, building a stronger UN for a better world.

You have heard me say before:  this is a new multilateral moment, where all nations recognize that a new generation of global challenges are best solved cooperatively, all working together.

Our United Nations is the only genuinely universal organization capable of meeting today’s global challenges ‑‑ the only world body capable of channelling our common efforts.

We must be fully equipped to do the job.

In the last years, we have made important progress in realigning the United Nations with new global realities.  But more has to be done.  Our change management initiatives must continue.  As an Organization, we have to commit to continuously improve the way we are doing business.  Changing with changing times and evolving needs has to become a way of life at the United Nations.

We must rejuvenate our management and develop the emerging leaders of the future more systematically and more strategically.

We must continue to build a flexible workforce for the twenty-first century.  The Organization’s increasingly complex mandates require a multi-skilled and versatile workforce that is able to function across disciplines with a variety of partners.

We must invest in our staff and strengthen our capacity for career management and development in partnership with our staff.  Building our human capital is a discipline that should be practised and owned by everyone in the Organization.

We must make better use of modern technologies like ICT [information and communications technology] and invest adequate resources to implement our global ICT strategy.

We need greater flexibility in resource management.

All this will enable the United Nations to react faster, more efficiently and more effectively on the mandates entrusted to us.

I count on your support.

The United Nations is ready ‑‑ ready to deliver for nations and peoples in need, ready to make 2010 a year of progress, prosperity and peace.

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