New York

01 October 2015

Secretary-General's remarks at High-Level Thematic Debate of the General Assembly marking the 70th Anniversary of the United Nations under the theme: "Maintenance of International Peace and Security"

I welcome this opportunity to reflect on the maintenance of international peace and security as we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the United Nations.

Our institution can look back on a proud record of achievement – and adaptation to an ever-changing global landscape.

Today we are an Organization with almost four times as many members than in 1945.

Today our world continues to be re-shaped by globalization, urbanization, migration, demographic shifts and other seismic trends.

New threats have emerged, from climate change to cyber-crime and pandemics.

In many respects, the world is shifting beneath our feet.  Yet the Charter remains a firm foundation for shared progress. 

As we recognize advances made possible by the United Nations, we know that too many people continue to suffer from war, political oppression and violations of their human rights.

Long-simmering disputes have escalated, armed hostilities are  more protracted, and violence has erupted in places long considered stable.  Non-state extremist and terrorist groups are expanding their reach.

United Nations peacekeeping operations and special political missions today deploy more than 128,000 people, more than ever before. 

Humanitarian personnel are trying to reach more people in need than ever before.

Our mechanisms for addressing instability and fragility are being stretched to the limit. 

Major reviews are under way encompassing United Nations peace operations, our peacebuilding architecture and the implementation of Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. 

In the months ahead, I will present to the General Assembly a  plan to strengthen our efforts to prevent violent extremism.  The World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May 2016 will be a critical opportunity to reinforce our common endeavour to save lives and ease suffering.

And the newly adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has strong links to peace and security, including through Goal 16 on building inclusive societies with accountable institutions and access to justice.

Certain threads run through all these efforts.

First, a greater emphasis on prevention, mediation, and the peaceful resolution of disputes and grievances.

Second, strengthening peacebuilding, so that we can sustain peace and  keep post-conflict societies from repeating cycles of disaster. 

Third, addressing the roots of conflict, including through heightened attention on violations of human rights – often the warning signs of worse to come.

And fourth, providing adequate and predictable resources.  A peacekeeping summit two days ago elicited much-needed contributions to build up capacities.  I call on the international community to show similarly strong commitment to prevention and to the Peacebuilding Fund.  Both are chronically under-resourced, yet a modest investment today can spare far more costly interventions tomorrow.

Taken together, this work presents an opportunity for comprehensive and specific reform.  I urge the General Assembly to take early action in response to my report on the future of UN peace operations.

Keeping pace with evolving peace and security challenges is a collective responsibility.

The Charter calls on us to unite our strength.  It also gives special responsibilities to the members of the Security Council, especially the permanent, veto-wielding members.

The Council and the General Assembly are both meant to overcome differences and find common ground, motivated not by narrow interests but the greater good. 

We must do better in meeting this noble standard. 

Let us take inspiration from the good news of the past week -- the adoption of an inspiring 2030 Agenda; tangible support for UN peace operations; momentum on climate change; high-level commitments to gender equality; and encouraging steps to address the refugee crisis. 

And we have seen Governments, business leaders, human rights activists and others continuing to come to these halls to forge coalitions for positive change under the umbrella of the United Nations.

Alongside despair in many corners, there remains great hope in the power of working together.  That is the founding spirit of the United Nations – and in this 70th anniversary year, in the face of grave and global challenges, it is the spirit we must summon today.

Thank you.