Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you very much for your presence. It is very good to see all of you and let me start by wishing you all a very happy and healthy new year.
I have just spoken to the Member States about the year ahead.
Last year, on my first day as Secretary-General, I issued an appeal for peace and called for a surge in diplomacy to end the crises that were causing so much suffering.
On the first day of this year, I issued a red alert.
At the beginning of 2018, we must recognize the many ways in which the international community is [failing] and falling short.
It is my duty as Secretary-General to tell the Member States where this is happening -- and to suggest ways out of our predicament.
I am sounding an alarm about protracted conflicts and the spread of terrorism.
We face a Gordian knot in the Middle East and potential nuclear catastrophe on the Korean Peninsula.
Climate change is moving faster than we are.
Inequality and nationalism are on the rise, while trust and solidarity are on the decline.
In the face of today’s challenges, the world needs bold leadership.
We need less hatred, more dialogue and deeper international cooperation.
With unity in 2018, we can make this a pivotal year that sets the world on a better course.
Later this month, I will join African leaders for the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa.
One of my main goals as Secretary-General has been to strengthen ties with the AU, a key strategic partner across our agenda. Our relationship with the African Union is one of shared interests and mutual respect.
This year, I will continue to advocate for strong international support for Africa’s Agenda 2063 and for Africa’s peace and security efforts, including through clear mandates and adequate, predictable financing. Africans are changing the narrative on their continent, and this represents a gain for the entire world. Last year, we signed a new platform of cooperation for peace and security and I will be very happy to sign, during the summit in Addis Ababa, our new joint platform for cooperation in relation to development, including the alignment of the Agenda 2030 with the Agenda 2063 of the African Union.
In February, I will visit the Republic of Korea for the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang. I hope the Olympic spirit of friendship among nations will spread across the region and beyond.
Finally, let me share some news about our efforts to ensure gender equality at the United Nations. With yesterday’s announcement of a new Special Adviser on Africa, we have achieved a milestone. For the first time in history, we have full parity in the top leadership of the United Nations, the 44-member
Senior Management Group. We will continue to do more to empower women and uphold our core commitment to equality and gender parity.
I look to seeing you many times in the year ahead in this room, at the stakeout and in other settings, probably not as much as you would wish but I will do my best. And at a time of troubling crackdowns on the independence of the media, I want to express that I will continue to defend freedom and safety of the press both in public and through diplomatic engagement.
Thank you again for the work you do to illuminate ours, and I will be of course very happy to answer your questions.