New York

26 October 2016

Secretary-General's remarks to UNA-NY Humanitarian Awards Dinner [as prepared for delivery]

It is an honour to join you once again for this very special event.
 
New York has shown its warmest hospitality to the United Nations.
 
From your mayors and civil servants…
 
…to the many New Yorkers who work for our Organization…
 
…to the taxi drivers, local businesses, schools, landlords, restaurants…
 
…to your great universities, your mosques, churches, synagogues and temples, and your sports teams –
 
New York’s outstanding organizations and institutions play a part in making the United Nations welcome in this rich, diverse, global city.
 
The United Nations Association of New York stands out for its support for the three pillars of our work: peace and security, sustainable development, and human rights. 
 
Your readings, movie screenings, panel discussions, intern programmes and other creative initiatives bring the work of the United Nations closer to the people of our host city.
 
Thank you, on behalf of the entire United Nations system.
 
Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,
 
We meet at time of transition, for the world, for the United Nations, and for me personally.
 
We have 17 Sustainable Development Goals to propel us towards a better future for all on a healthy planet.
 
And at a time of record heat, Member States have ratified the Paris Agreement on climate change in record time. 
 
The New York Declaration on Global Movement of Refugees and Migrants, agreed last month, is a landmark expression of solidarity and which will lead to a global compact. This is a fitting tribute to this diverse city where so many people fleeing oppression and war have found safety.
 
The Sendai framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the World Humanitarian Summit, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development and the New Urban Agenda just agreed in Quito are all important achievements.
 
Now we must implement all these global agreement, which will depend on empowering women, engaging young people and promoting human rights for all.
 
But we continue to face grave challenges. Devastating conflicts are destroying hundreds of thousands of lives and causing human suffering on a vast scale, in Syria, Yemen and South Sudan.
 
I am confident that my successor, Secretary-General-designate Antonio Guterres, will do everything in his power to reduce and end the violence, and help the vulnerable. 
 
His background at the top of the UN’s refugee agency, his deep political experience, and his recognition of the critical importance of women’s empowerment, are important qualifications for this job.
 
I am sure you will give him your full support.
 
Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,
 
I will close by paying tribute to tonight’s honourees.
 
Mr. Jean Todt and Ms. Michelle Yeoh have mobilized sustained commitment towards road safety. Accidents on the roads kill more than one million people and affect tens of millions more each year.
 
As a former racing champion, Mr. Todt is a competitor to his core. Now he is competing to save lives.
 
Michelle Yeoh is a powerful advocate for road safety through the Safe Steps and the Make Roads Safe campaigns.
 
Road safety is no accident. Most deaths are preventable and take place in developing countries. Mr. Todt and Ms. Yeoh are creating awareness that road safety is not a privilege, but a basic human right.
 
I thank them for their work.
 
And I thank everyone here tonight for your commitment to creating a safer, more sustainable and peaceful world for all.
 
It has been an enormous privilege to serve the United Nations and the people of the world for the past ten years.
 
There is no let-up in the challenges we face. The number of crises has multiplied and they are more devastating and intense than ever before.
 
But I believe that together, we have laid stable foundations for the future. Our problems were created by people. They will be solved by people, working together in global solidarity.
 
Change takes time, but every journey begins with a single step. We have made many steps, and I am confident that we are on the right path.
 
With your continued support and engagement, I am sure we will reach our goal of a safer, cleaner, more stable and more prosperous world.
 
Thank you.