New York

26 October 2020

Secretary-General's remarks at Informal Meeting of the Plenary of the General Assembly – Observance Ceremony in Commemoration of United Nations Day [as delivered]

[Watch the video on]

Seventy-five years ago, amid the rubble and ruin of the Second World War, world leaders did the audacious.

Many previous attempts to secure peace and progress through international cooperation had collapsed.  Yet they dared to try again.  And they succeeded. 

The drafters of our founding Charter placed new faith in shared values, collective security and the rule of law.

At its birth, the United Nations was a symbol of global unity.  Today it is the epicenter. 

Our mission is more important than ever. 

Preventing conflict and promoting sustainable and inclusive development…

Upholding human rights and advancing justice…

Improving living standards, protecting our planet and ensuring the equal rights of women and men…

That is what people across the globe are seeking from their leaders. 

We can fulfil these ambitions by working together.

International cooperation is the only way to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate emergency, rising inequality and the spreading of hatred.

At this time of such colossal challenge, I welcome the General Assembly’s declaration of commitment to reinvigorate multilateralism.  The Assembly has invited me to assess how to advance our common agenda, and I have already set in motion what will be an important process of reflection.

I look forward to an inclusive and insightful effort that will strengthen global governance and how the world responds to current and future challenges.

We will build on the achievements of the United Nations across its history.

And we can be inspired by the conversation we conducted this year to mark this milestone, and which took a revealing snapshot of our world in 2020 – and gave voice to the hopes and ideas of people across the globe.
We measure the success of the United Nations by the lives we save, the suffering we ease, the peace we build, the opportunities we create, and the rights we protect.

The women and men of the United Nations strive to bring that work to life around the clock and around the world.

I am inspired every day by the talent and dedication of UN personnel -- from headquarters to the field, as you Mr. President have just underlined.

Today we will hear directly from them.

They show the spirit of the United Nations – the spirit of service for the common good.

That spirit has fueled us for 75 years, and will guide us through the pandemic and beyond. 

We will never, ever give up in our mission and in our work to fulfil the enduring vision of the Charter.

Thank you very much.