International Day calls for “Climate Action for Peace”

On Friday, United Nations Headquarters marked the International Day of Peace, which is celebrated on 21 September. In the annual Peace Bell ceremony, the Secretary-General stressed that “peace is the goal that unites the United Nations. And each year on this day, we come together to renew our commitment to peace and a world free of violence and strife.” Noting that peace is “more than just the absence of war”, he highlighted the theme of this year’s observance “Climate Action for Peace”. The Secretary-General warned we are in a race against time. “Urgent climate action is needed if we are to win that race, and we must,” he said. UN Messengers of Peace Midori Goto and Yo-Yo Ma attended the ceremony. The Secretary-General also attended an observance event with students and underscored the need to “make peace with nature”.


Peace Bell ceremony at UN Headquarters in observance of International Day of Peace. UN Photo/Kim Haughton

Remarks at Peace Bell:

Remarks at student observance:

“I’ve never seen such a level of systematic devastation”, Secretary-General on areas impacted by Hurricane “Hell” in the Bahamas

On Saturday, the Secretary-General visited some of the areas worst affected by Hurricane Dorian in Abaco and Grand Bahama Islands, in the Bahamas. “Hurricane Dorian has been classified as category five. I think it’s category hell,” he told reporters after his visit. The Secretary-General stressed that while “we have always had many hurricanes, they are now more intense, more frequent, and more powered by climate change.” He stressed that the international community should learn two things from this disaster: “First, is that we need to stop climate change”; and “second, that countries like the Bahamas that do not contribute to climate change, but are in the first line of the devastating impacts of climate change, deserve international support, to be able to fully respond to the humanitarian emergency but also for the reconstruction and the building of resilience of their communities and their islands.”

Aerial view of Marsh Harbor, Great Abaco Island, Bahamas devastated by Hurricane Dorian. UN Photo/OCHA/Mark Garten

Remarks to the press after visit to Abaco island:

General Assembly high-level week will be about “ambition and action” 

On Wednesday, the Secretary-General held his annual press conference ahead of the General Assembly’s General Debate and high-level week. “I see the high-level week as an excellent opportunity to showcase the United Nations as a centre for solutions and a driver for meaningful, positive change in people’s lives,” he said. “There will be dozens of summits, meetings and side events. But I can distil the significance of all these discussions into two words: ambition and action.” Among other topics, the Secretary-General highlighted the climate emergency, “which threatens everyone and everything”, the Sustainable Development Goals and the five high-level summits taking place next week on climate action, the Sustainable Development Goals, financing for development, universal health coverage and on Small Island Developing States. On Thursday, the Secretary-General answered questions from his followers on Twitter, who used #AskTheSG.

The Secretary-General speaks to the press ahead of the General Assembly’s high-level week. UN Photo/Cia Park.


Transcript of press conference:

General Assembly opens new session

On Tuesday, the Secretary-General spoke at the opening of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly and congratulated the new President of the body, Professor Tijjani Muhammad-Bande of Nigeria, for his election. The Secretary-General stressed that the “General Assembly is a unique and indispensable forum where the world can come together to advance on sensitive and important issues.” The day before, he attended the closing of the 73rd session, which was presided over by María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés of Ecuador, the fourth woman to serve in this role. “From the climate crisis to migration flows and rising inequality, from waves of intolerance to harnessing technology for good, one thing is certain: global issues require global solutions. The United Nations General Assembly is our universal platform to build consensus for the common good”, the Secretary-General stated.

Remarks at the opening of the 74th session:

Remarks at the closing of the 73rd session:

“Precious moment of reflection and humility” at International Prayer Breakfast

On Tuesday, the Secretary-General attended the annual International Prayer Breakfast service. “We represent many faiths, communities and cultures, but this gathering shows that we are one. One family of diverse nations, sharing common values and common goals,” he said, adding that “this diversity is a strength.” Stressing the “many and diverse” challenges ahead, the Secretary-General prayed that “together, in a spirit of solidarity and cooperation, we can continue to build a better world today and for generations to come.”

Remarks at prayer breakfast:

Dag Hammarskjöld embodied “values of tolerance, dialogue and mutual respect”

On Tuesday, the Secretary-General attended a wreath-laying ceremony to commemorate the 58th anniversary of the death of former Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld. The Secretary-General said that Mr. Hammarskjöld is “rightly revered for his achievements, his dedication and his values” and that “he shaped the United Nations into an active force in making and keeping peace.” He mentioned that the General Assembly will soon consider a report examining the circumstances of Dag Hammarskjöld’s death. “I reiterate my personal commitment and recall our shared responsibility to pursue the truth, for Dag Hammarskjöld and those who died with him, their loved ones, the United Nations and the people we serve,” stated the Secretary-General.

Remarks at wreath-laying ceremony:

Statements and Messages 

On International Day of Democracy:
On attacks on Aramco oil facilities in Saudi Arabia:
On the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer:
To Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ Women, Equity, and Global Development Symposium (video):
On Afghanistan:

Next Week

The General Assembly high-level week will take place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, gathering world leaders, businesses, civil society and youth. In addition to the General Debate, which begins on Tuesday, and many side events, five high-level summits will take place during the week on: climate action, the Sustainable Development Goals, financing for development, universal health coverage and on the Small Island Developing States Accelerated Modalities of Action – or SAMOA Pathway. He will also meet with Heads of State and Government from around the world.