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Fulfilling the UN dreams of Kale, a teenager battling cancer

A year ago, Kale, who lives in California, started to have blurred vision in his right eye. After taking medical tests, his family received the devastating news that he had a tumour located in his right optic nerve.

“This year has been a struggle for Kale,” says his father, William, explaining that, on top of battling cancer, his son is going through the usual upheavals faced by teenage high school students.

The oldest of two boys, Kale, whose parents are both history teachers, has an interest in foreign and international relations, and dreams of becoming a diplomat. “The UN is one of the biggest forces for international relations on the planet Earth,” he told UN News. “It interests me a lot. And since the headquarters is here in New York, a city that I also want to visit, I figured it would be a really cool place to experience”.

Improving the odds of recovery

The Make-A-Wish Foundation believes that granting wishes can change the odds for children fighting illnesses, helping them to look past their limitations; support families dealing with anxiety; and bring joy to entire communities.

The Foundation enables around 15,000 wishes to come true in the United States each year, guided by referrals from medical teams. “On average, it takes between six to 18 months to have your wish granted”, explains Coleen Lee from Make-A-Wish Foundation. “This is the first time a child has expressed a wish to come to the UN!”

“The United Nations is important for me to visit because of the integral work that is done there, from humanitarian missions to peacekeeping efforts all in the hopes of making the world a better place,” Kale wrote in the wish he sent to the Foundation. “That is why I think it would be important to see the place so I could better understand the work that goes on there, and how these decisions are made”.

Make- a-Wish Foundation granted  Kale, a 16-year-old boy from California, his wish to come to the UN because his dream is to become a diplomat. A memorable day. From left to right : Coleen Lee, from Make-a-Wish Foundation; Florence Westergard UN News; Ro…
United Nations/Helena Lorentzen

Kale Ilac with his family and UN staff during his visit to UN Headquarters

Creating a day to remember

When the UN received the request from the Foundation, they tried to put together a bespoke programme to ensure his visit would be memorable.

“To make it all worthwhile, we decided to organize not only a guided tour but also give Kale the opportunity to meet high level staff members and diplomats,” explains Rula Hinedi, Chief of the Guided tours Unit at the United Nations.

The day starts early with a guided tour. “It was awesome, I am in awe”, says Kale, smiling. “I really liked the General Assembly. I was able to stand at the podium and it was cool being in the same place as great people before me. That was very powerful”.

He was greeted by members of the Department of Safety and Security, including Paula Goncalvez, the highest female ranking officer, who has over 25 years’ experience. “We want you to enjoy the experience here”, she said. “It is a wonderful organization, and we are happy you chose us!”

In the Security Council consultation room, Kale met Officer Richard Norowski. Kale’s visit, and his Make-a-Wish badge, brought back emotional memories for Officer Norowski, who accompanied his sister on a Make-a-Wish trip to Disneyland, when was seven years old. “My sister had leukaemia. I will never forget that, and the badge means a lot to me”.

Maher Nasser, Director of the Outreach Division in the Department of Global Communications met with Kaloenic Ilac ''Kale'' who asked him what he should do to fulfill his dream.
United Nations/MHM

Kale receives career advice from Maher Nasser, head of the UN Outreach Division

High-level career advice

The next part of the visit involved a series of meetings that might help Kale to achieve this goal in the future.

Maher Nasser, Director of the Outreach Division in the Department of Global Communications, shared his personal experience of rising through the ranks at the UN, and suggested the kinds of academic studies that could help Kale to achieve a career either as a diplomat, or as an international civil servant at the UN.

“Follow your dream no matter what”, said Mr. Nasser, “and the stars will align to make your dream come true”, adding that he hoping to see Kale in the corridors of the UN in a few years.

The Ambassador of France to the United Nations, Nicolas de Rivière, and Diarra Dime-Labille, the Legal Counsellor at the Mission, and Head of the Human Rights, Humanitarian and Influence Affairs division also gave Kale advice, and shared their experiences.

“You have to be open-minded because a lot of time you have to work and negotiate with countries who have different goals, different visions than ours,” explained Ms. Dime-Labille. Our ultimate goal is to create a peaceful world, the goal that the countries had when they created the United Nations”.

Make-a-Wish recipient Kale tours the UN
UN Photo/Mark Garten

Kale is hopeful that he will beat cancer.

‘Do your best to be better’

Kale and his family are full of hope for the future. “We have about six to 12 months to go before we hit what they called the maintenance program”, says his mother, Robin.

“In the last two reports the tumour shrunk, and Kale has regained some eyesight in his right eye, says his father. “Hopefully, next month we will get more positive results”.

Rula Hinedi admits that she was moved by the experience of meeting Kale and his family. “It really touched me. It humbled me a lot”, she says. I think that a request from a 16-year-old boy to visit the United Nations is a strong message to all of us that the work that goes on here is still relevant, especially for the new generation. Things are not always easy, but the world is surely a better place because of the UN”.

Reflecting on the trip, Kale says that learning about the good that the UN does around the world, has inspired him to work in the service of others.

“Just do your best to be better,” he says, “because when you’re better, you can help others be better, and it’s just going to be a positive chain reaction. Be helpful and be kind. That’s my message”.

General Assembly President hosts children from around the world, on MLK Day

Swarming the office of President Csaba Kőrösi, the children – who ranged in age from toddler to high-school teen – pulled on the UN and Hungarian flags that flank a UN seal in the office and ran around to look at the skyline outside of the balcony. Meanwhile, parents tried to keep them from touching anything and nervously eyed a glass table that usually holds talking points for meetings with Heads of State and Government.

“Will there still be a world by the time we have kids,” one of the children asked the President.

“That’s what the work of the General Assembly tries to guarantee,” replied Mr. Kőrösi, who sometimes mentions his now adult daughter in speeches, recalling the motivation she has given him to keep pushing for a sustainable transformation in the world.

UN Tour Guide Jonathan Mishal explains the UN to a group of young children.
Paulina Kubiak

UN Tour Guide Jonathan Mishal explains the UN to a group of young children.

Inspiring the next generation

The next stop for the group was a tour of the United Nations, led by UN Tour Guide Jonathan Mishal who helps to lead the UN’s children’s tours twice a week.

Sitting the multilingual group in front of world flags pinned into a wooden tree, Mr. Mishal discussed the importance of the UN for global cooperation: “This is the one place in the world where countries that are at war sit right next to each other, go downstairs for coffee, and discuss why they disagree.”

The group then visited the General Assembly, where they sat in the Member States’ seats and posed for photos at the podium where world leaders and invited guests speak.

Mr. Mishal noted also the importance of young people’s involvement in the UN, referring to Malala and Greta Thunberg – both of whom addressed the chamber.

Bringing Dr. King’s dream to life

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The setting was known to the older children, whose parents work for the UN, and have grown up in international settings speaking Arabic, French, English, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Mandarin, Romanian, and Spanish.

Comfortable in their surroundings, the children made suggestions for improving world affairs on the local stage – “my parents don’t always listen to me” – to improving the actual General Assembly –
bigger translation ear pieces to accommodate big earrings.

Mr. Mishal continued the tour, with a nod to MLK Day, by discussing discrimination.

Martin Luther King Jr. visited the UN in 1967, meeting to discuss the situation of civil rights in the United States with senior UN official and also Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Ralph Bunche.

In a tweet for the Day, President Kőrösi said Dr. King’s vision aligns with UN ideals of human rights, economic and social justice, and peace around the world: “As we look to crisis management and transformation, the work of the General Assembly is inspired by his courage and conviction.”

Earlier in the day, President Kőrösi welcomed the second cohort of the Youth Fellows – six young women and men from developing countries who will work within his office through September.

Dr. King’s vision aligns with @UN ideals of human rights, economic and social justice, and peace around the world. As we look to crisis management and transformation – the work of the General Assembly is inspired by his courage and conviction. #MLKDay https://t.co/NlvGzb9nPX

UN chief ‘deeply saddened’ at deaths from South Africa gas tanker explosion

The blast in Boksburg severely damaged the roof of the emergency department at the Tambo Memorial hospital there, killing and injuring dozens while also reportedly destroying houses and cars.

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Initial reports estimated around 27 deaths, but that figure had risen to 34 by the past weekend, according to regional health authorities. A memorial service for the dead was held last Friday.

News reports said the victims included nearly a dozen health workers, and almost two dozen members of the public, and due to serious injuries caused by burns, the death toll could rise still further. Children were reportedly among those who perished.

Condolences

“The Secretary-General expresses his condolences to the families of those who lost their lives from the explosion and to the people and the Government of South Africa”, said the statement issued by the office of the UN Spokesperson.

“The Secretary-General wishes a full and fast recovery for those injured and the quick reconstruction of the damaged health infrastructure.”

According to news reports, the gas tanker struck the underside of a low bridge, before exploding.

Many of the victims were admitted to the hospital’s casualty unit, before having to be evacuated, ahead of the roof collapsing.

Secretary-General @antonioguterres is deeply saddened by the death of dozens of civilians from the devastating gas tanker explosion in Boksburg, #SouthAfrica.
He expresses his condolences to the families of those who lost their lives.
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https://t.co/fkb8lVoqwj

@UNinSouthAfrica

Gender parity, the only path to gender equality: Guterres

Secretary-General António Guterres was speaking at a meeting of the UN Group of Friends on Gender Parity Marking the Fifth Anniversary of his Gender Parity Strategy – a key priority of his first term in office, that remains so now.

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He said it was “vital for the United Nations to represent the values it stands for – the values enshrined in the Charter – and to lead by example. Gender parity in our personnel is the only way to achieve gender equality in our work.”

Solid progress

He added that overall, “we have come a long way”, and achieved some notable firsts, such as reaching parity within the senior leadership group, for the first time in UN history, two years ago.

That’s also true now among heads and deputy heads of peace operations. Five years ago, the proportion of women in those roles was just 25 percent, he noted.

Parity was reached in 2018, among the 130 Resident Coordinators, and the representation of women at headquarters locations has now reached parity, while the number of UN entities with at least 50 percent women staff, has risen from five to 26.

‘Gaps remain’

“At the same time, gaps remain”, he cautioned.

Away from the main offices, in humanitarian and peacekeeping operations, he said “progress has been slow, and in some cases, we have gone backwards. We should be particularly concerned by a decrease in women recruited into entry-level Secretariat positions in the field. This could have a serious impact on prospects for parity in the future.”

Secretariat staff overall should be close to parity among “professional” grades, in 2025, which is three years before the deadline, but that figure disguises the fact that it will take until 2028 for there to be parity in the field.

That means that the overall Strategy, must now focus on sustaining progress in the field, he said.

Talent pipeline

“We will continue to support the Senior Women Talent Pipeline, which has led to the appointment of nearly 60 senior women, mostly in the field, since 2014”, and facilitate the transition of General Service staff and National Officers, to the Professional work categories. 

“And this is an area that requires the approval of the General Assembly and I count on this group of friends to be very active in that regard because it is a key instrument to get women in professional positions in the field”, said Mr. Guterres.

Workplace culture also needs to advance, he said. And if stereotypes and workplace bias is left unchecked, sexism and racism tolerated, “we will fail the people we serve.”

He said he was determined to move forward with steps to end all forms of discrimination, including sexual harassment.

Room for improvement

The UN chief outlined three areas for improvement. First, a focus on gender and geographical diversity as complementary goals. “Just 36 percent of professional staff from the Africa region in the Secretariat are women, and this must change.”

Second, we will strengthen efforts to recruit women to field missions, he said, and third, the UN must double down on our policies and tools, to make it a more attractive employer for women.

“We will continue to work closely with Member States and civil society, particularly from the Global South, to ensure that we reflect all countries and communities, at all levels of our Organization.”

He reiterated that gender parity was essential, “to meet the expectations of the people we serve, and to build a more sustainable, just, inclusive, peaceful and prosperous world for all.”

Achieving gender parity throughout the @UN is a personal priority for me and a strategic goal for the Organization.

We have come a long way, and I thank everyone involved in our efforts to meet the goal of parity at all levels by 2028. https://t.co/BavWXA9kkd

From the UN, with love: Golden couple mark 70 years of Guided Tours

Lawrence came to the United Nations for a guided tour with a group of disabled children from Bellevue Hospital. Ellen was known as a guide who was good with children, so she was assigned to lead their special visit.

One of the children, a boy called Herman, was in a motorized wheelchair, and when the elevator doors opened, he was so excited, that he set off in high speed down the corridor.

Ellen and Laurance in front of the auditorium of the Dag Hammarskjöld Library, where their love story started.

Ellen and Laurance in front of the auditorium of the Dag Hammarskjöld Library, where their love story started. | UN News/Heyi Zou

High speed chase

Ellen ran after him in her four-inch-high heels and this one little incident, broke the ice between Ellen and Lawrence.

Lawrence told UN News he remembers being captivated by Ellen’s appearance and her manner, but it was how she was with the children, how concerned she was for their welfare – and how she wanted them to feel comfortable – that really got him hooked.

He was also captivated by how good a tour guide she was for the group, bringing the history of the UN to life as they travelled through UN Headquarters.

Close encounter

After the tour, several coincidences led to a second meeting between the two. Instead of doing the last tour of the day, Ellen realized she could leave work early, and as she walked out with a colleague, who usually took another route out of the building, their paths crossed once again, outside of the Dag Hammarskjöld Library.

Amid the bustle of people leaving, Lawrence asked Ellen out on a date – and Ellen said yes immediately. The rest, as they say, is history.

They got married on 21 October 1972. Ellen ended up joining the United States global diplomacy team, and Lawrence went on to do a master’s degree in special education at New York University, and further devoted himself to helping disadvantaged children.

Ellen and Laurance's marriage in 1972 was celebrated with her UN tour guides colleagues.
Ellen Anderson

Ellen and Laurance’s marriage in 1972 was celebrated with her UN tour guides colleagues.

Golden Wedding

Fifty years passed by in a flash, and what would be more suited for their 50th Wedding anniversary, than to come back to the United Nations for a celebratory guided tour?  

Going on a tour with current guide Hajer Ait Grain from Morocco, impressed them both: “Compared to what we were talking about at the time, the information she gave was like a lecture in a university, but at the same time very accessible,” says Ellen.

Keeping it in the family

Learning about the children’s tours, the couple, who are now grandparents, are considering bringing their two granddaughters on a tour at the UN Headquarters, so that they can understand the role of the United Nations from an early age. 

As Ellen and Lawrence celebrate their 50th anniversary, the Guided Tours team at UN Headquarters, is celebrating its 70th anniversary.

The operation was opened to the public in November 1952. For seven decades, visitors from around the world have toured UN Headquarters, giving them the opportunity to see, hear, and feel diplomacy in action, while admiring the unique collection of artworks on display at UN Headquarters.

Ellen and Laurance are warmly welcomed by UN Guided Tours unit on the occasion of their 50th anniversary of marriage.
UN News/Heyi Zou

Ellen and Laurance are warmly welcomed by UN Guided Tours unit on the occasion of their 50th anniversary of marriage.

‘The face and voice’ of the UN

“Our multilingual tour guides have been the face and voice of the United Nations to over 42 million visitors from around the world,” said UN Secretary-General, António Guterres. “We celebrate their 70th anniversary and honour their vital ongoing mission to enhance understanding of the essential work of the United Nations.” 

The Guided Tour is currently conducted in 13 languages, by a team of tour guides from 17 countries. Through the decades, the guides have been clothed by leading designers, from Edith Head, Christian Dior and Benetton in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, to Elie Tahari from 2017 to the present.

The UN Guided Tours unit celebrates its 70th anniversary with a fashion show of different uniforms worn over seven decades, as well as traditional outfits showcasing the diverse nationalities and backgrounds.
UN Photo/Mark Garten

The UN Guided Tours unit celebrates its 70th anniversary with a fashion show of different uniforms worn over seven decades, as well as traditional outfits showcasing the diverse nationalities and backgrounds.

To celebrate the 70th Anniversary, Visitors Services, with the help of former guides, recently put together a fashion show displaying the uniforms worn during the seven decades, as well as an arrangement of traditional attire.

A round table discussion on the impact the experience of serving has had on their lives and careers was also held, with former guides from all seven decades. 

A roundtable discussion on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Guided Tours at UN Headquarters.
UN Photo/Loey Felipe

A roundtable discussion on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Guided Tours at UN Headquarters.

An exhibit on the history and the role of the tour guides as “Ambassadors to the Public” is currently on view in the Visitors Lobby at the UN Headquarters to mark the anniversary. It is also available in digital format.

The UN Postal Administration has also issued a special commemorative stamp for purchase at the stamp shop. 

‘Credibility and relevance’ of UN on the line over Security Council reform, warns Assembly President

That’s according to the President of the General Assembly Csaba Kőrösi, who told a plenary meeting on Thursday on expanding the Security Council and making it more equitable, that “interlocking crises” this year, chiefly Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, had exposed the Council’s inability to “fully carry out its mandate.”

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Veto power

The veto power held by permanent members, China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, means that any resolution can be blocked if just one of them decides to use the veto. Ten other countries sit on Council, and are elected to serve two-year terms, on a regional rotating basis.

The Council operates on the basis of one member one vote, and in deciding on “procedural matters”, nine members need to vote in favour for a decision to be adopted. On all other matters an affirmative vote of nine members “including the concurring votes of the permanent members” is necessary.

For a rundown of the Security Council’s powers and ability to stop a war, see our explainer here, published in April.

Growing call for change

“Growing numbers are now demanding its reform”, said Mr. Kőrösi.

“During High-Level Week, one-third of world leaders underscored the urgent need to reform the Council – more than double the number in 2021. They are looking to the General Assembly to lead on change.

We should admit that this is about the credibility and the relevance of the United Nations.”

He told ambassadors that the Assembly needed to decide to go either go through the motions, or “swing into action”.

You simply must answer this call. The General Assembly is, quite literally, the only UN body with a mandate to seek a solution to the question of Security Council reform. I count on you, the Member States, to drive the transformation now urgently needed.”

Security Council renews the sanctions regime on Somalia.
UN Photo/Mark Garten

Security Council renews the sanctions regime on Somalia.

Collective step

The Assembly President called for the 193-member body – the most representative in the entire UN system – to take a “collective step”, and support the on-going intergovernmental negotiation process launched 13 years ago, to finally deliver meaningful reform.

The objective is to find solutions. In a transparent manner. Along a well-designed process”, he told the meeting, saying that he and the co-chairs would provide all support necessary, “in an impartial, objective and open-minded manner.”

Quoting the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, who described perseverance as a sign of willpower, he said, “let us persevere.”

Let’s break free of entrenched positions. Let’s go beyond the calculations of distrust and rivalry. Let’s focus on the common good.”

This year, we approach #SecurityCouncil reform at a time when the world is facing a set of interlocking crises that have placed the entire multilateral system under pressure.

We should admit that this is about the credibility & the relevance of the UN.

https://t.co/QSk29rLeya https://t.co/WyNtAU1OFn

UN Resident Coordinators a key link in achieving development goals

Ambassadors and UN leaders recently reaffirmed their support for the Organization’s Resident Coordinators, who lead teams servicing more than 160 countries and territories.

These 130 senior officials are the Secretary-General’s designated representatives in the field and coordinate UN operational activities for development.

They are critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), agreed by the UN’s 193 Member States seven years ago, which promise a more just, equitable and “green” world by 2030.

A force for solutions

Resident Coordinators were at UN Headquarters this month for a series of interactive sessions with the Secretary-General, the Deputy Secretary-General, UN Sustainable Development Group principals and Member State representatives, to review progress and challenges, four years into UN development system reforms.

This marked their first in-person gathering since the onset of the pandemic.

During his meeting with them, Secretary-General António Guterres called on Resident Coordinators to keep ambitions high, as they are the “UN development system’s biggest convening force to forge solutions” in countries at a time of myriad challenges.

He also warned of yet another difficult year ahead, and the need for UN support with greater scale than ever before.

‘Long road ahead’

That message echoed throughout the interactive dialogue between the Resident Coordinators and Member States, hosted by UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed.

She said the reforms of the UN development system are delivering results, noting that 95 per cent of host Governments confirm that the reinvigorated Resident Coordinator system and the new generation of UN country teams are more integrated and more collaborative.

“At the same time, we are aware that there is still a long road ahead of us and that the global crisis we face has raised the bar even higher,” she added.

Ms. Mohammed highlighted key priorities for the coming year, which the Secretary-General had outlined in his meeting with the Resident Coordinators.

They are mitigating the impact of the global cost-of-living crisis, advancing climate action, and accelerating just economic transitions across energy, digital and food systems that both empower people and protect the planet.

Accelerate the transition

The UN deputy chief also listed the actions required to support these priorities, such as financing. 

“Transformative change and a just transition cannot happen without financial investments at speed and at scale — and without significant reforms to our global financing architecture,” she said.

Ms. Mohammed stressed that 2023 must be the year countries accelerate the transitions that will reshape and power economies to deliver the SDGs.

“Together, we must raise the ambition and urgency needed to leapfrog from the multiple crises we face and, together, achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Praise for reform

Several Member State representatives at the meeting commended Resident Coordinators for their role in ensuring the implementation of crucial action plans that support sustainable development in some of the world’s most vulnerable countries.

The Ambassador of Barbados, François Jackman, also said the reform is “unqualifiedly a success”, adding that Small Island Developing States are benefitting, including through integrated responses to natural disasters.

Munir Akram, Pakistan’s Ambassador and chair of the Group of 77 and China developing country coalition, said his government sees that the UN development system reform “has been a successful exercise.”

While in New York, Resident Coordinators from different regions also told UN News how country teams are making a difference at a critical time for the international community.

The view from Brazil

Silvia Rucks arrived in Brazil roughly a year-and-a-half ago, at the height of the pandemic.  The situation was difficult, but she was impressed with how well the 25 UN agencies, funds and programmes in the country were uniting in the face of the crisis.

“When we think about UN reform, Brazil is a good example of how these agencies work together,” she said.

Teams mobilized resources, supplies, and medicines, particularly to support the most affected populations, such as indigenous communities.

Ms. Rucks added that the UN system in Brazil works in other key areas, such as humanitarian assistance and human rights, in addition to promoting sustainable development
 

UN values and principles needed ‘now more than ever’, Guterres says in UN Day message

The UN was born from the ashes of the Second World War and the day marks the anniversary of the entry into force in 1945 of the UN Charter, its founding document. 

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Mr. Guterres described the UN as “the product of hope” because it embodies the hope and resolve to move beyond global conflict, to a new era of global cooperation.

‘Tested like never before’ 

“Today, our organization is being tested like never before. But the United Nations was made for moments like this,” he said. 

“Now, more than ever, we need to bring to life the values and principles of the UN Charter in every corner of the world.”  

The Secretary-General emphasized why the UN is so essential today, as it is “giving peace a chance and ending conflicts that jeopardize lives, futures and global progress.” 

Making the difference 

The UN is also working to end extreme poverty, reduce inequalities, and rescue the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), agreed by all 193 UN Member States in 2015. 

Mr. Guterres pointed to the UN’s role in safeguarding the planet, including by breaking global addiction to fossil fuels and kickstarting the renewable energy revolution

He also highlighted how the UN is “balancing the scales of opportunity and freedom” for women and girls, while also ensuring human rights for all. 

“As we mark UN Day, let us renew our hope and conviction in what humanity can achieve when we work as one, in global solidarity,” his message concluded.

Restore trust among nations

Multiplying and interconnected global crises, including increasingly serious natural disasters, make it clear “that we have no time to lose” and must achieve sustainable development, said the President of the UN General Assembly, Csaba Kőrösi.

His message for UN Day focused on how the global body has two urgent parallel tasks: managing crises and promoting transformation.

“The UN can do this in its own house, but the most important thing is what the Member States themselves do at home on the basis of common knowledge,” said Mr. Kőrösi.

“The Organization works on practical solutions, based on the results of science and the principle of solidarity.  However, in order to achieve a breakthrough, mutual trust must also be restored between the Member States,” he added.
 

Fourth-grade students attend class at their new school, which was rebuilt after it was destroyed by fighting in the Kasai-Oriental province of DR Congo.
© UNICEF/Josue Mulala

Fourth-grade students attend class at their new school, which was rebuilt after it was destroyed by fighting in the Kasai-Oriental province of DR Congo.

Education cannot wait 

The head of a UN educational fund is urging donors to step up support so that the 222 million children and adolescents worldwide caught in emergencies and protracted crises can continue to learn. 

Education is “the very foundation” of the global vision for sustainable development, respect for human rights, and maintenance of peace and security, said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait. 

“Without education – especially for those suffering in wars, climate disasters and as forcibly displaced – how can we ever achieve the vision of the United Nations? It is logically and humanely impossible,” she said in her message for UN Day. 

High price to pay 

Ms. Sherif noted that 77 years after the proclamation of the UN Charter, the world is facing unprecedented insecurity, and new and ongoing armed conflicts, as well as record displacement. 

Boys and girls surviving in these brutal contexts, who cannot access continued and quality education, are the ones paying the price. 

“In the senseless war in Ukraine, we see first-hand deliberate attacks on schools and other civilian targets,” she said.  “All attacks on schools and schoolchildren contravene the UN Charter, international humanitarian law and the Safe Schools Declaration.”  

Ms. Sherif said that by delivering education to every child and adolescent in emergencies and protracted crises, “we can close the gap between the powerful vision of the United Nations and the cruel realities on the ground.” 

Last year, @UN country teams:

helped deliver 1.4 billion doses of #COVID19 vaccines

facilitated education for nearly 50 million out-of-school children

extended water access to almost 50 million people.

On #UNDay, let’s renew our hope in what humanity can achieve together. https://t.co/D1OBZPJzSy

In visit to Viet Nam, UN chief stresses critical need for solidarity to overcome climate crisis

Mr. Guterres was in the country to take part in a ceremony to commemorate the 45th anniversary of its membership in the UN.

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He held meetings with the President, Nguyen Xuan Phuc; Prime Minister, Pham Minh Chinh, and other senior officials, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bui Thanh Son, and Environment Minister, Tran Hong Ha.

Protection against tragedy

On Saturday, the UN chief spoke at Viet Nam’s Meteorological and Hydrological Administration in the capital, Hanoi, where he highlighted the critical role of disaster preparedness for all governments.

The goal is to have early warning systems in all countries within five years, “to end the tragedy of people dying, livelihoods being destroyed, because people did not know that tragedy was unfolding,” he said.

“When we have an early warning system, and we know that something terrible is coming, we have time to relocate people, we have time to protect property,” he added.

Mr. Guterres will launch an action plan at the COP27 UN climate conference in Egypt next month to make the five-year deadline a reality.

The Secretary-General also commended Viet Nam’s work to protect the Mekong Delta.

The country’s agricultural and industrial heartland is among the most vulnerable places in the world, as it is exposed to rising sea levels, saltwater intrusion, flooding and changing rainfall intensity. 

He said efforts to protect the Mekong Delta were not only important for Viet Nam but could be shared with other nations around the world.

In dialogue with the youth in Viet Nam, Secretary-General António Guterres tells them they are not only the owners of the future but are now also the owners of the present, driving the world in the fight against climate change.
UN

In dialogue with the youth in Viet Nam, Secretary-General António Guterres tells them they are not only the owners of the future but are now also the owners of the present, driving the world in the fight against climate change.

Dialogue with youth

The Secretary-General also participated in a dialogue with Vietnamese youth representatives and UN peacekeepers from the country, held at the Academy of Diplomacy under the theme of ‘Innovation and Participation for an Inclusive and Sustainable Future.’

He stressed that solidarity is the only way to overcome the climate crisis and other current or emerging global challenges.

“We face the risk of new pandemics.  We face climate change and inequality in the world. There is only one way to be able not to be defeated by these challenges, and that is if we join efforts, if we come together. And for that we need to feel true solidarity.”

Later that day, the Secretary-General also posted a message on Twitter to all young people worldwide, urging them not to give up hope.

“You can count on me to amplify your ideas (and) support your efforts to build a better, fairer, more sustainable world for all,” he wrote.

While at the Academy, Mr. Guterres also planted trees alongside Viet Nam’s Foreign Minister, Bui Thanh Son.

UN-Viet Nam partnership

The Secretary-General arrived in Viet Nam on Friday and participated in the ceremony celebrating its 45 years as a UN Member State.

He praised the country’s strong partnership with the UN, and its “remarkable journey” during this period, which he described as a story of transformation and hope, written by the Vietnamese people.

“Little more than a generation ago, United Nations staff were in Viet Nam delivering food aid to a country ravaged by war, isolated, and on the brink of famine,” he recalled.

“Today, it is Vietnamese peacekeepers coming to the aid of people in some of the most desperate parts of the world.”

Secretary-General António Guterres (second from right) and Nguyen Xuan Phuc (right), State President of Viet Nam meets with Vietnamese Peacekeepers during a ceremony commemorating the 45th anniversary of Viet Nam’s membership in the United Nations.
UN Photo/Minh Hoang

Secretary-General António Guterres (second from right) and Nguyen Xuan Phuc (right), State President of Viet Nam meets with Vietnamese Peacekeepers during a ceremony commemorating the 45th anniversary of Viet Nam’s membership in the United Nations.

Service and sacrifice

Vietnamese “blue helmets” are serving in countries such as the Central African Republic, he said, risking their lives to bring peace and hope to people there, as well as the chance for a better life.

The country also provides double the global average of women peacekeepers serving under the UN flag.

The Secretary-General also saluted Viet Nam’s full commitment to achieving sustainable development. 

Solidarity and cooperation

With the world in peril due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the impacts of the war in Ukraine, Mr. Guterres also addressed the need for justice, as well as greater solidarity and cooperation.

“And nowhere do we need it more – and more urgently – than in our fight against the climate crisis,” he said.

The UN chief emphasized that action on loss and damage is a moral imperative that must be front and centre at COP27.

Mr. Guterres was in the region for five days.

Prior to Viet Nam, he visited India, where he participated in a ceremony to mark the country’s 75th anniversary of independence, among other events.

He also travelled to the country’s first solar-powered village and saw how green energy is changing the lives of residents.

45 years since joining the @UN, Viet Nam has undergone a remarkable journey: from conflict to peace, from aid to self-sufficiency, from poverty to development.

A powerful testament to the hard work of the Vietnamese people & policies that place people at the heart of progress. https://t.co/w0hvEpAkUf

Guterres highlights UN partnership with India, as powerhouse for the SDGs

Afterwards, he went to the Indian Institute of Technology in India’s business capital, where he delivered a lecture, hailing the partnership between the country and the UN, in celebration of India’s 75th anniversary.

He said India’s upcoming presidency of the G20 – the group of major industrialized nations – will be an important opportunity to bring the values and vision of the developing world to the top table of the global economy, and highlight the Global South overall.

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The UN chief also counted on India’s support in mobilizing G20 countries around debt relief.

Biggest contributor

The Secretary-General noted that India is the biggest provider of military and police personnel to UN missions, including the first all-women UN police contingent to be posted to a UN peacekeeping mission.

He said that more than 200,000 Indian men and women had served in 49 peacekeeping missions, since they began in 1948.

The Secretary-General also pointed out that as the home of one-sixth of humanity and the world’s largest generation of young people, India can “make or break” the 2030 Agenda.

‘High impact’ development

‘India’s recent development journey is characterized by high impact programmes delivered at scale. This includes the world’s largest food-based social protection scheme and the massive expansion of access to clean water and sanitation services.”

He encouraged India’s engagement in deep reform of the global financial architecture, which currently favours the richest countries at the expense of the rest. 

He also urged India to become a global superpower in renewables technology, and a manufacturing hub to fuel this revolution around the world.

He added that India’s voice on the global stage can only gain in authority and credibility from a strong commitment to inclusivity and respect for human rights at home.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres pays tribute to the victims of the 26/11 terror attacks at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Mumbai on Wednesday during his visit to India.
UN Photo/Vinay Panjwani

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres pays tribute to the victims of the 26/11 terror attacks at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Mumbai on Wednesday during his visit to India.

Modi meeting

On Thursday, he plans to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and he will also visit a model project site, which has recently been declared India’s first solar-powered village.       

After leaving India he travels to Viet Nam, where he will participate in a ceremony to commemorate the country’s 45th anniversary as a UN Member State.

Today in Mumbai I commended the strong partnership between the @UN and India.

India has an unprecedented opportunity to speak up for the Global South and to lead by example, as a model of resilience and an advocate for sustainable development & climate justice. https://t.co/PVUxedlj5A

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