New York

23 October 2015

Secretary-General's remarks at UN Day Concert [As prepared for delivery]

Happy United Nations Day to all.

I am delighted to welcome all of you to this special 70th anniversary celebration.

We are honoured by the presence of so many talented performers.

I thank the KBS Traditional Music Orchestra, the K-pop duo Davichi, the world-famous Harlem Gospel Choir, and Lang Lang, my very dedicated UN Messenger of Peace.

Their performances can inspire the United Nations family as we ready ourselves for the enormous challenges ahead.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Wars and violence continue to devastate communities and countries.

The effects of climate change are real and worsening.

The gap between rich and poor is growing wider.

Violent extremists, human traffickers and other criminals are abusing human rights with impunity.

But even on this grim landscape, I see signs of change.
Governments have just come together to forge an inspiring vision for a life of dignity for all people – and a set of Sustainable Development Goals to achieve it.

We now have the largest youth population in history. The world’s 1.8 billion young people can help drive us to a new future.

And individuals everywhere are using the communications revolution to demand their rights and pressure their governments to deliver.

The United Nations is strongly committed to remaining at the forefront of this global wave of progress.

That is what we have done for 70 years – and it is what we will continue to do in serving “we the peoples”.

I know from my own life the difference the United Nations can make.  When war came to Korea, help came, bearing the United Nations flag.

Today, I am determined to see the United Nations bring help and hope to others.

Over the decades, we have helped to bring freedom to millions, dismantle colonialism, defeat apartheid and defend human rights for all, regardless of race, religion, nationality, gender or sexual orientation.

Today, our blue helmets and humanitarian workers work on the frontlines of conflict and disaster.  We fight poverty, hunger and disease.  We stand against corruption, impunity and injustice.

Our enterprise is not perfect.  But without the United Nations, our world would be a far bleaker place.

And now, with the adoption of the inspiring 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the United Nations has pointed the way towards progress for all humankind.

To achieve these goals, we need a strong United Nations – a strong UN for the well-being of people and planet alike.

Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Tonight, we light up our Headquarters in UN Blue.

Tomorrow night, more than 200 iconic landmarks in over 55 countries around the world will also shine under blue lights in honour of the UN’s 70th anniversary.

I thank all of those who have made this great project possible.

Above all, I pay tribute to UN staff and all those they serve to advance peace, development and human rights around the world.

United Nations Day, for me, will always be a day for “we the peoples”.

Let us dedicate all celebrations by recommitting ourselves to achieving the goal of a life of dignity and a better world for all.

Thank you for your leadership and your commitment.