Ladies and gentlemen of the media, thank you very much for your presence.
Good afternoon everyone and let me say again – happy new year.
As you know, on Wednesday I briefed the General Assembly on the challenges of 2019 – and recounted some of our progress in 2018 on many fronts, and in many cases against the odds.
I wanted to begin today with an observation about the discussion with Member States that followed.
The word I heard most from country after country was: “multilateralism”.
As we look to the challenges we face – from climate change to migration to terrorism to the downsides of globalization – there is no doubt in my mind that global challenges require global solutions.
No country can do it alone. We need today multilateralism more than ever.
But I am equally convinced that simply saying this will not make it happen.
And simply dismissing or vilifying the doubters of multilateralism will lead nowhere.
The truth is that many people around the world are not convinced of the power and purpose of international cooperation. We need to understand why – and act on that understanding.
When I served in government in Portugal in the 1990s, there was a sense – a naïve sense as it turned out – that globalization and technological progress would solve all our problems in the world and the benefits would ultimately reach all.
A generation later, we have seen indeed many benefits. A dramatic increase in global wealth. Infant mortality down. Life expectancy up. And significant reductions even in extreme poverty.
But inequalities have grown -- among countries, but even more so within them.
People, sectors, entire regions have been left behind.
And they have been left behind in an atmosphere of overall global prosperity -- adding to their hurt and sense of unfairness.
When people see a global economy that is out of whack, when they feel they have no chance, no hope, and no leader or institution tuned to their problems, instability and mistrust are sure to follow.
And today we see a huge deficit of trust in governments, political establishments and, indeed, international organizations.
At such times, explanations can sound like excuses – and people can become easy targets for nationalists, populists and all those who profit from fear.
The best-selling brand in our world today is indeed fear. It gets ratings. It wins votes. It generates clicks.
And so I believe the biggest challenge that governments and institutions face today is to show that we care -- and to mobilize solutions that respond to people’s fears and anxieties with answers, concrete answers
For the United Nations, this requires action in three areas.
First, we need to demonstrate through concrete solutions that the UN is standing up for people left behind and is connected to their needs, aspirations and everyday problems.
The key is a fair globalization – and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is our blueprint for that fair globalization.
We also need to ensure education, training and safety nets to support all those who are side-lined by change and help them regain opportunity and hope for their future.
This is all the more important because the pace of that change will only intensify with the technological revolution we are witnessing.
This will be the central message I will carry to Davos next week.
Second, we need to show the added value of the United Nations. I believe we have done so on many fronts.
Just looking at the last month alone, we worked to win approval of the work programme of the Paris Climate Agreement in Katowice, a vital tool for fighting climate change and against the expectations of many, we were successful.
The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration was adopted despite a huge misinformation campaign launched against it. This was combined with the adoption of the Global Compact in Refugees.
And building on the surge in diplomacy for peace, a UN-brokered cease-fire in Yemen has opened a window of hope to end the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe, even if we are all aware of the enormous difficulties of its implementation.
At the same time, many people still see the UN as cumbersome and bureaucratic. That is why we are reforming to become more nimble, flexible efficient and effective. When looking at results obtained last year with the very important decisions of the General Assembly and the programme of implementation that we are adopting in 2019, I believe we can say that we are doing exactly what we have promised in relation to reform.
Third, we need to enlist every segment of society in the battle for values that our world faces today – and, in particular, to tackle the rise of hate speech, xenophobia and intolerance.
We hear troubling, hateful echoes of eras long past. Poisonous views are penetrating political debates and polluting the mainstream.
Let’s never forget the lessons of the 1930s.
Hate speech and hate crimes are direct threats to human rights, to sustainable development and to peace and security.
That is why I have tasked my Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, to bring together a UN team to scale up our response, define a system-wide strategy and present a global plan of action against hate speech and hate crimes on a fast-track basis.
On all these fronts, the message is clear: words are not enough.
We need to be effective in both asserting our universal values and in addressing the root causes of fear, mistrust, anxiety and anger.
That is the key to bring people along in defence of those values that are under such grave threat today.
And that is why, when we look to the next year, to 2019, I am absolutely committed to making sure the United Nations is a platform for action to repair broken trust in a broken world and deliver for people. This is indeed my central priority for 2019 as I presented to the General Assembly two days ago.
Thank you very much for your attention.