New York

23 October 2015

Secretary-General's remarks at IPI Forum on the Future of Global Governance [as prepared for delivery]

Mr. Terje Rod-Larsen, President of the International Peace Institute, Your Excellency Mr. Mogens Lykketoft, President of the General Assembly,
Excellencies, Distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me begin by thanking IPI for organizing this timely discussion. 

There is perhaps no better way to celebrate UN Day than by focussing on the future – and committing to action.

As you know, the 70th anniversary milestone has coincided with a number of important reviews that will help shape the future of global governance. 

This includes three main peace and security reviews: the Peacebuilding Architecture Review; the Report of the High-Level Independent Panel on UN Peace Operations and my response; and the Global Study on the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325 along with my own report on the same issue.

We have also launched a major review of our humanitarian processes – through preparations for the World Humanitarian Summit and the High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing.

And, of course, we have adopted a transformative framework to guide our work for the well-being of people and planet: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

In addition, we have important conference outcomes:  the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on financing for development, and the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction.

To that list, we soon hope to add a universal climate accord.

Taken together, these efforts represent a roadmap towards a more peaceful and sustainable future for succeeding generations, supported by a multilateral architecture that is fit for purpose.

Member States are very busy considering how to take these many agendas forward.

They are procedurally, legally and chronologically distinct.

Some of the reviews were undertaken at my initiative.

Others are intergovernmental in nature.

Some speak to the responsibilities of all global actors. 

Others focus more specifically on the UN.

But they all share a sense that global governance is not keeping pace with the challenges of a more complex and interconnected world.

We need to tune all of our institutions to the times – times in which even the most local problems have a global dimension. 

A common narrative is emerging – one that recognizes that failure to more effectively prevent and address interconnected problems such as conflict or inequality or climate stress will have severe and costly consequences across all dimensions of our work.

The various reviews and initiatives recognize we cannot continue to address problems in separate, unrelated silos.

We need to find the linkages among the reviews – and in our work together – so that the recommendations will add up to more than the sum of their parts. 

Our shared goal is to ensure that the United Nations and its partners are “fit for purpose” to deliver on ambitious commitments.

With that understanding, allow me to briefly highlight four common themes emerging from the various reviews.

First, we need greater focus on prevention and resilience.

The work of the United Nations is animated by our Charter commitment to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.” 

Yet if budget priorities were a Christmas stocking, prevention efforts would receive a lump of coal.

They are chronically underfunded.  They are routinely under-prioritized.

The Sustainable Development Agenda calls on us to take a people-centred, planet-friendly approach.  It promises we will leave no one behind.

This will not happen by solely fighting fires, when evidence shows that they could have been prevented had we acted and invested early. 

That is why we must do much better in addressing the root causes of vulnerability, conflict and disaster.  We must do more to anticipate crises.  We must act to strengthen people’s ability to cope, adapt and recover from complex shocks. 

Weak institutions.  Inequality.  Human rights abuses.  These are among the drivers of conflict – and that understanding is the impetus behind my Human Rights Up Front initiative.
Early warning signs must trigger early action.

A second major area of convergence among the reviews is the need to strengthen partnerships.

No organization or country can do it alone.

The various reviews uniformly recognize that implementing ambitious goals cannot be done by the UN system alone. Or by Member States alone.

Achieving a peaceful, sustainable future is a collective effort, starting now. We need to strengthen and expand current partnerships.  And we need to reach out and build new ones to enhance delivery based on cost-effectiveness, comparative advantages and respect for national priorities.

We are widening the circle of partnership with civil society, academia, the private sector.

I am committed to deepen our interaction with regional organizations such as the African Union.  This is paying dividends in conflict prevention; preventive diplomacy, peacekeeping and peacebuilding and much more.

The various reviews call for all of these ties to be strengthened – and that is what we must do.


The reviews all acknowledge the importance of getting the financing right.

Achieving the SDGs will require major investments.  We are working to ensure $100 billion a year by 2020 for climate change mitigation and adaptation.  Our humanitarian appeals are at record levels.  And we have more peacekeepers than ever deployed around the world.

Many of the reviews call for more resources, improved flexibility in the use of funds, the creation of different funding facilities, and a greater share of public and private funding to meet shortfalls. 

For the UN, the need is for better interconnection and sequencing of financing requests.

We know investments in climate change, for example, will reduce the risk of instability and future funding needs for peacekeeping, peacebuilding and humanitarian support. 

Investments in conflict prevention and peacebuilding will increase stability and lower peacekeeping and humanitarian costs. 

We must take advantage of these resource synergies.

Fourth and fundamentally, the reviews highlight the critical need for greater participation of women and girls.

Excluding women from employment opportunities hinders sustainable development and economic growth.   Excluding women from peace processes hinders peace.  Excluding girls from schools holds societies back.

We need an all-of-society-approach that fully and equally incorporates  the  contributions of women in every aspect of our work.  The reviews rightly prioritize gender mainstreaming and the role of women as central to success.

I have highlighted women’s leadership in making, building and keeping peace.  I have appointed five  women who are now serving as my Special Representatives in peacekeeping missions.  I have also appointed the first-ever female Force Commander.

Some might call that a major achievement.  I call it a good start.

All of us must step up our efforts for women’s empowerment to achieve Planet 50/50. 

Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

These are just some of the common threads we see emerging from the various review processes.  We will continue to further explore the linkages among all the reviews and initiatives. 

We look forward to working with all of you to ensure consistency and coherence.  By making the most of the many major reviews and initiatives before us, we will truly shape global governance for the better for many years to come. 

Thank you.