New York

16 September 2014

Secretary-General's Remarks at the Opening Session of the General Assembly

It is an honour to join with you in the official opening of the 69th Session of the General Assembly.

Here in New York, autumn is in the air.  But at United Nations headquarters, it feels like spring.

We meet in a newly renovated General Assembly Hall – to resolve anew our work to advance the values, principles and aspirations of the United Nations Charter. 

Whether autumn or spring – we come together to make this a season of progress. 

Mr. President, I congratulate you once again on taking up your duties as this important sessions.

I have no doubt that with your experience, wisdom and distinguished service as Foreign Minister of Uganda, you will lead this crucially important session of the General Assembly to great success -- and I very much look forward to working closely with you throughout the coming years as we have been working together.

I also want to pay tribute to His Excellency Mr. John Ashe for his stewardship over the last tumultuous 12 months as president of the 68th Sessions.

I am convinced that this 69th session of the General Assembly could be the most consequential in a generation – and for a generation. 

The coming year must be a time for action. A time for results.

We have important tests before us – and high expectations across the range of peace, development and human rights challenges. 

And we begin in earnest this month – with vital high-level meetings and gatherings – to stem the existential threat of climate change, to advance the rights and opportunities of the world’s indigenous peoples… to rally together to improve the health of women and girls, take on ebola and address the many peace and security challenges that now plague our world.

There is plenty of reason to be uneasy over the state of the world. 

But there is also plenty of reason for hope. 

That hope starts here -- in this one-of-a-kind and wondrous Chamber where the world unites to solve challenges and improve the lives of those who sent us here – “we the peoples”.

Let us resolve to act together to accelerate progress as the Millennium Development Goals enter their final stretch.

Let us join forces to establish a set of sustainable development goals and a development agenda that can wipe out extreme poverty over the next 15 years.

Let us commit to take on the climate change challenge and leave a cleaner and greener planet for posterity.

Let us spare no effort to place Human Rights up Front and promote peace and security everywhere and for everyone. 

Our eyes must be open to the world – and all its challenges. 

We see a rising tide of intolerance – of societies closing in on themselves – of groups eager to exploit differences and wage campaigns of hate.

This General Assembly stands as the ultimate rebuke to that distorted and venomous view of the world.

Here we stand – nations united – to demonstrate that in our interconnected, ever smaller interdependent world – the best way to solve problems is by working together in a more determined way than ever before. 

By being here, you have shown your commitment to that 21st century truth and command. 

Now let us prove it through principled and effective action. 

Thank you.