02 April 2013

Secretary-General's address to Parliament of Andorra [as prepared for delivery]

I thank the Government and people of Andorra for your warm welcome. If you will permit me, allow me to begin with a few words in your beautiful Catalan.

És un privilegi per a mi ser el primer Secretari General de les Nacions Unides que visita Andorra.

Andorra’s history as an independent country stretches back a remarkable 735 years – and this is one of the world’s oldest parliaments.  I was honoured to just receive a copy of the 1278 Pariatge -- a gift that I will proudly take back to the United Nations. 

Through the centuries, you have continued to renew and build on your history.  I congratulate you on the 20th Anniversary of the Constitution of Andorra, which you celebrated just two weeks ago.

The adoption of your constitution consolidated the international legal status and framework of your country.

I am pleased that with this action, Andorra chose to join the United Nations right away.  I am delighted to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of your UN Membership here today.

The remarkable history of Andorra has been written without blood or violence.

Your country’s long-lasting culture of peace is an inspiration.  It is a story of cooperation and respect.

In the process, you have shown that the commitment to openness towards others can deliver social cohesion, peace and prosperity.

Distinguished Parliamentarians,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

You, your country’s legislators and representatives are the cornerstone of democracy. Parliamentarians have a sacred responsibility to advance the will of the people and give voice to their concerns.

As lawmakers, you can shape the development of your society at home and the influence of your country on the international stage.

That is why I make a point of visiting with legislators at every opportunity.  I have had the privilege of addressing many Parliaments in all corners of the world. 

In virtually all those visits, I am compelled to encourage those bodies to do more to open doors for women. 

Today, with you in Andorra, I carry a different message. 

A message of gratitude, support and inspiration. 

As you may know, the Beijing Platform for Action on women’s empowerment adopted at the landmark conference in 1995 recommended that every parliament in the world should have at least 30 per cent women.

You have not only surpassed that goal – Andorra is one of only two countries that have reached 50 per cent of women in parliament.

The equal participation of women and men in political decision-making is fundamental for genuine democracy and gender empowerment.

I thank you for your leadership and encourage Andorra to continue to promote women’s political participation not just in your country but, through your example, around the world.

Sustainable development and peace cannot be achieved without the engagement of all members of society.

Yet still, in too many places, violence, poverty, and lack of access to education, health care and employment prevent women from participating in all areas and at all levels of political life.

We must change this.

The world will never reach 100 per cent of its potential if we exclude 50 per cent of its people.

Ladies and gentlemen,
As we scan the global landscape, we see many challenges and tests. 

I have outlined five imperatives for action in my second term as United Nations Secretary-General:  sustainable development, prevention, building a more secure world, helping countries manage transitions and empowering women and young people. 

At the same time, there are many immediate peace and security challenges: for example, the crisis in Syria – where almost 70,000 people have been killed – and the troubles in Mali and across the Sahel where a toxic brew of poverty, extremism, chronic drought and governance challenges have caused terrible suffering.

There is also hopeful news.  Later this week, we will mark 1,000 days to the deadline of the Millennium Development Goals.  Global poverty has been cut in half.

But we must do much more to accelerate action.  This is crucial for achieving the MDGs and adding momentum as we look to the next generation of sustainable development goals.

I am grateful for Andorra’s dedication to sustainable development, democracy, human rights and the rule of law on the international stage.

Your example demonstrates how small states like Andorra can meaningfully contribute to global peace and development.

You are well-placed to serve as ‘bridge-builders’ and mediators.  You can also help to magnify important issues that affect nations, both big and small.

I want to recognize your early ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in 2001.

As the 30th country to ratify the Statute, Andorra confirmed its own commitment to end impunity for the worst crimes known to humanity.  At the same time, your action also encouraged other countries to follow suit.

I also appreciate your active participation in the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Council of Europe, organizations which greatly support the work of the United Nations.

Andorra is currently serving in the vital role of chair of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.

The Council is critical to safeguarding and promoting human rights, democracy and the rule of law across Europe.

During Andorra’s tenure as chair, you have chosen to focus on youth and education for democratic citizenship and human rights.  I commend your initiative to launch a debate on education as an instrument for promoting democratic values, tolerance and intercultural dialogue.

I also welcome Andorra’s efforts to promote the visibility and ensure the effectiveness of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Distinguished Parliamentarians,

Allow me to turn to the challenging economic issues we face.

I commend Andorra on its recent efforts to open up its economy, making it more transparent and accessible for international interactions.

This shows your commitment to open up to the world.

As parliamentarians, you have helped make this happen.

I am confident that the people of Andorra will benefit from their international contacts in your pursuit of competition, innovation and general progress.

As you open further, I understand that you are also committed to improving the rights of workers.

I hope that your actions will bring you closer to signing, and ratifying, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This would reaffirm your commitment to the work and values of the United Nations. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our world is becoming ever more connected.

The issues we face are global and not restricted by the borders of any country. Challenges such as climate change and fighting international crime require full global cooperation.

You, as Parliamentarians, are in a key position to craft effective responses to these and other global issues.

I trust that we can continue to rely on you and your country’s valuable support in addressing these priorities to advance peace, development and human rights around the world.

For more than seven centuries, Andorrans have been guided by your defining national principle:  “Unity makes us strong”.

Let the call guide us still – as you open up further to the world as we, together, tackle shared global challenges:   
“La Unitat fa la Força”.

Gràcies, i

Visca Andorra!