New York

29 March 2021

Secretary-General's opening remarks at meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken [as delivered]

[Watch the video on webtv.un.org]

Mr. Secretary, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield,

I welcome the many initiatives the new United States administration has already taken to support multilateral responses to global challenges, and to strengthen cooperation between the US and the UN. To mention just three:     

Rejoining the Paris Agreement on climate change sends a message of hope to the world.

Re-committing to the World Health Organization is an important sign of solidarity with the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

And re-engaging with the Human Rights Council will amplify the crucial voice of the United States on the most urgent human rights issues.

So, dear friends, cooperation between the United Nations and the United States is indeed critical for our common work.

The commitment and contribution of the United States are essential to resolve the many serious global challenges we face – starting with the COVID-19 pandemic.

To end the pandemic everywhere, I have been insisting and I strongly believe we need a global vaccination plan, and I think the United States can play a very important role on this because, as you know, I have proposed that the G20 should establish an emergency task force to develop and coordinate such a plan but there is no way that this can work without an effective American leadership. 

On the other hand, the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow, COP26, will be really a make it or break it for our planet. 

We are working closely together to build a global coalition for net zero emissions by mid-century, which has been a top priority for us in the UN for 2021, and to mobilize an immediate quantum leap in adaptation, and in finance to support developing countries.  Adaptation cannot be the forgotten part of climate action and we very much count on US leadership in this regard.  In my last contacts with John Kerry, he was very keen on working very strongly on adaptation and financing. 

I also believe that both the UN and the US recognize the importance of investing in a sustainable, inclusive recovery from the pandemic, to reignite the Decade of Action for the Sustainable Development Goals.

As conflict and violence cause enormous global suffering, threatening famine in at least six countries, and I was very happy to see how the US in the Security Council has led the debate about the problems of hunger and it is clear that we need a surge in diplomacy for peace.

We will work to reach lasting agreements in Afghanistan and Yemen; to consolidate our efforts in Libya; to achieve tangible progress through the political dialogue in Syria that has not yet happened; and to restart the Middle East peace process.  

We need a new movement for peace, from war zones to people’s homes, where women and girls are facing an epidemic of gender-based violence.

On the other hand I am very keen that we can deliver on what I call my Call to Action on Human Rights.

People everywhere are demanding an end to systemic racism, discrimination and persecution, and protection for the rights of women, the marginalized, and minorities of all kinds.

The United Nations is I believe the place to tackle our joint challenges and reaffirm our common values.

And so, Secretary Blinken, you are always welcome here and this, I’m sure will be the first of many visits, most of them physically present in our Headquarters. 

Thank you very much and once again, welcome.