UN Secretary-General's address to the General Assembly

Mr. President of the General Assembly, Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,  


Just nine days ago, many of the world’s challenges coalesced in an awful hellscape.  


Thousands of people in Derna, Libya lost their lives in epic, unprecedented flooding.   


They were victims many times over.  


Victims of years of conflict.  


Victims of climate chaos.   


Victims of leaders – near and far – who failed to find a way to peace.  


The people of Derna lived and died in the epicentre of that indifference – as the skies unleashed 100 times the monthly rainfall in 24 hours … as dams broke after years of war and neglect … as everything they knew was wiped off the map.  


Even now, as we speak, bodies are washing ashore from the same Mediterranean Sea where billionaires sunbathe on their super yachts.   


Derna is a sad snapshot of the state of our world – the flood of inequity, of injustice, of inability to confront the challenges in our midst.   




Our world is becoming unhinged. 


Geopolitical tensions are rising. 


Global challenges are mounting. 


And we seem incapable of coming together to respond. 


We confront a host of existential threats – from the climate crisis to disruptive technologies – and we do so at a time of chaotic transition.   


For much of the Cold War, international relations were largely seen through the prism of two superpowers. 


Then came a short period of unipolarity.  


Now we are rapidly moving towards a multipolar world.  


This is, in many ways, positive.  It brings new opportunities for justice and balance in international relations. 


But multipolarity alone cannot guarantee peace.  


At the beginning of the 20th century, Europe had numerous powers. It was truly multipolar. But it lacked robust multilateral institutions and the result was World War I.  


A multipolar world needs strong and effective multilateral institutions. 


Yet global governance is stuck in time. 


Look no further than the United Nations Security Council and the Bretton Woods system. 


They reflect the political and economic realities of 1945, when many countries in this Assembly Hall were still under colonial domination.   


The world has changed.   


Our institutions have not. 


We cannot effectively address problems as they are if institutions do not reflect the world as it is.   


Instead of solving problems, they risk becoming part of the problem. 


And, indeed, divides are deepening.   


Divides among economic and military powers.  


Divides between North and South, East and West.  


We are inching ever closer to a Great Fracture in economic and financial systems and trade relations; one that threatens a single, open internet; with diverging strategies on technology and artificial intelligence; and potentially clashing security frameworks. 


It is high time to renew multilateral institutions based on 21st century economic and political realities – rooted in equity, solidarity and universality and anchored in the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law.   


That means reforming the Security Council in line with the world of today.   


It means redesigning the international financial architecture so that it becomes truly universal and serves as a global safety net for developing countries in trouble. 


I have no illusions.  Reforms are a question of power.  


I know there are many competing interests and agendas. 


But the alternative to reform is not the status quo.   


The alternative to reform is further fragmentation.   


It is reform or rupture. 


At the same time, divides are also widening within countries. 


Democracy is under threat.  Authoritarianism is on the march.  Inequalities are growing.  And hate speech is on the rise. 


In the face of all these challenges and more, compromise has become a dirty word. 


Our world needs statesmanship, not gamesmanship and gridlock.  


As I told the G20, it is time for a global compromise.  


Politics is compromise.  


Diplomacy is compromise.  


Effective leadership is compromise.  


Leaders have a [special] responsibility to achieve compromise in building a common future of peace and prosperity for our common good. 




Over the past year, we have shown the promise of multilateral action. 


With important new agreements on safeguarding biodiversity … on protecting the high seas … on climate loss and damage … on the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.   


We have all the tools and resources to solve our shared challenges.  


What we need is determination.   


Determination is in the DNA of our United Nations – summoning us with the first words of the Charter: 


“We the peoples of the United Nations…determined”: 


Determined to end the scourge of war.  


Determined to reaffirm faith in human rights.  


Determined to uphold justice and respect international law.  


And determined to promote social progress and better lives for all people.  


It falls to us -- through our actions – to apply that determination to the challenges of today being faithful to the Charter of the United Nations. 




It starts with determination to uphold the Charter’s pledge for peace. 


Yet instead of ending the scourge of war, we are seeing a surge of conflicts, coups and chaos.   


If every country fulfilled its obligations under the Charter, the right to peace would be guaranteed.  


When countries break those pledges, they create a world of insecurity for everyone.  


Exhibit A:  Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 


The war, in violation of the United Nations Charter and international law, has unleashed a nexus of horror:  lives destroyed; human rights abused; families torn apart; children traumatized; hopes and dreams shattered. 


But beyond Ukraine, the war has serious implications for us all.  


Nuclear threats put us all at risk.  


Ignoring global treaties and conventions makes us all less safe.  


And the poisoning of global diplomacy obstructs progress across the board.    


We must not relent in working for peace – a just peace in line with the UN Charter and international law.  


And even while fighting rages, we must pursue every avenue to ease the suffering of civilians in Ukraine and beyond. 


The Black Sea Initiative was one such avenue. 


The world badly needs Ukrainian food and Russian food and fertilizers to stabilize markets and guarantee food security and I will not give up on my efforts to make it happen.   




Around the globe, old tensions fester while new risks emerge.  


Nuclear disarmament is at a standstill while countries develop new weapons and make new threats.   


Across the Sahel, a series of coups is further destabilizing the region as terrorism is gaining ground.  


Sudan is descending into full-scale civil war, millions have fled and the country risks splitting apart.  


In eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, millions are displaced and gender-based violence is a horrific daily reality. 


In Haiti, a country that suffered centuries of colonial exploitation is today overwhelmed by gang violence – and still awaits international support.  


In Afghanistan, a staggering 70 per cent of the population needs humanitarian assistance with the rights of women and girls systematically denied.  


In Myanmar, brutal violence, worsening poverty, and repression are crushing hopes for a return to democracy. 


In the Middle East, escalating violence and bloodshed in the Occupied Palestinian Territory is taking a terrible toll on civilians.  


Unilateral actions are intensifying and undermining the possibility of a two-State solution -- the only pathway to lasting peace and security for Palestinians and Israelis. 


Syria remains in ruins while peace remains remote.   


Meanwhile, natural disasters are worsening the man-made disaster of conflict.  


In the face of these mounting crises, the global humanitarian system is on the verge of collapse.  


Needs are rising.  


And funding is drying up. 


Our humanitarian operations are being forced to make massive cuts.   


But if we don’t feed the hungry, we are feeding conflict.  


I urge all countries to step up and to fund fully the Global Humanitarian Appeal.  




The peace and security architecture is under unprecedented strain. 


That is why -- in the context of the preparations for the Summit of the Future – we put forward ideas for the consideration of Member States for a New Agenda for Peace, based on the Charter and international law. 


It provides a unifying vision to address existing and new threats for a world in transition.   


Calling on States to recommit to a world free from nuclear weapons, and to end the erosion of the nuclear disarmament and arms control regime. 


Bolstering prevention at the global level by maximizing the capacity and convening power of the UN and our good offices to bridge geo-political divides.  


Bolstering prevention at the national level by linking actions for peace with progress on the Sustainable Development Goals. 


Putting women’s leadership and participation at the centre of decision-making, and committing to the eradication of all forms of violence against women.  


Calling for a broad-based reflection on peacekeeping and make it nimbler and more adaptable, with forward-looking transition and exit strategies from the start.  


And supporting peace enforcement action by regional organizations – notably the African Union -- with Security Council clear mandates and predictable funding. 


Determination for peace also requires new governance frameworks for emerging threats – from artificial intelligence to lethal autonomous weapons [systems] that function without human control.  




Peace is inextricably linked to sustainable development.   


We see a familiar pattern around the world:  the closer a country is to conflict, the farther it is from the Sustainable Development Goals.   


The Charter calls on us to be determined in promoting social progress.  In 21st century terms, that means achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.   


Yet inequality defines our time.  


From cities where skyscrapers tower over slums; 


To countries that are forced to choose between serving their people, or servicing their debts.  


Today, Africa spends more on debt interest than on healthcare.  


Yesterday’s SDG Summit was about a global rescue plan to scale up support from billions to trillions.  




The international financial architecture remains dysfunctional, outdated and unjust. 


The deep reforms that are needed won’t happen overnight.   


But we can take determined steps now to help countries weather crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic [which were] dramatically impacted. 


By urgently advancing the SDG Stimulus of 500 billion dollars per year and relieving the financial burden on developing and emerging economies. 


By scaling up development and climate finance -- increasing the capital base and changing the business model of Multilateral Development Banks. 


By ensuring effective debt relief mechanisms and channelling emergency financial support towards those in greatest need. 




We must be determined to tackle the most immediate threat to our future: our overheating planet.   


Climate change is not just a change in the weather.   


Climate change is changing life on our planet.   


It is affecting every aspect of our work. 


It is killing people and devastating communities.  


Around the world, we see not only accelerating temperatures, we see an acceleration in sea levels rising – glaciers receding – deadly diseases spreading – the extinction of species –– and cities under threat.   


And this is only the beginning.  


We have just survived the hottest days, the hottest months, and the hottest summer on the books.  


Behind every broken record are broken economies, broken lives and whole nations at the breaking point.  


Every continent, every region and every country is feeling the heat. 


But I’m not sure all leaders are feeling that heat.  


Actions are falling abysmally short.   


There is still time to keep rising temperatures within the 1.5 degree limits of the Paris [Climate] Agreement. 


But that requires drastic steps now – to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and to ensure climate justice for those who did least to cause the crisis but are paying the highest price.   


We have the receipts.  


G20 countries are responsible for 80 per cent of greenhouse emissions.  They must lead.  


They must break their addiction to fossil fuels, stop new coal, and heed the International Energy Agency’s findings that new oil and gas licensing by them is incompatible with keeping the 1.5 degree limit alive. 


To stand a fighting chance of limiting global temperature rise, we must phase out coal, oil and gas in a fair and equitable way – and massively boost renewables.   


This is the only path to affordable renewable energy for all and importantly many in Africa still lack electricity. 


So, the fossil fuel age has failed. 


If fossil fuel companies want to be part of the solution, they must lead the transition to renewable energy.   


No more dirty production.  No more fake solutions.  No more bankrolling climate denial.   


I have laid out a Climate Solidarity Pact, in which all big emitters and are asked to make extra efforts to cut emissions; and wealthier countries support emerging economies with finance and technology to do so.  


For example, Africa has 60 per cent of the world’s solar capacity – but just 2 per cent of renewable investments. 


I have also put forward an Acceleration Agenda to supercharge these efforts. 


Developed countries must reach net zero as close as possible to 2040, and emerging economies as close as possible to 2050 in line with common but differentiated responsibilities. 


Immediate steps include:   


An end to coal – by 2030 for OECD countries and 2040 for the rest of the world. 


An end to fossil fuel subsidies.   


And a price on carbon.   


Developed countries must also finally deliver the $100 billion for developing country climate action, as promised;  


Double adaptation finance by 2025, as promised; 


And replenish the Green Climate Fund, as promised.  


All countries must work to operationalize the loss and damage fund this year.   


And ensure universal Early Warning coverage by 2027. 


Tomorrow, I will welcome credible first movers and doers to our Climate Ambition Summit. 


COP28 is around the corner. 


Climate chaos is breaking new records, but we cannot afford the same old broken record of scapegoating and waiting for others to move first.   


And to all those working, marching and championing real climate action, I want you to know that you are on the right side of history and that I am with you.  I won’t give up this fight of our lives. 




Nous devons également être déterminés à honorer l'engagement en faveur de la Charte en faveur des droits humains fondamentaux. 


Seules quatre femmes ont signé notre document fondateur. Un coup d'œil dans cette salle permet de voir que les choses n'ont pas suffisamment changé.  


« Nous, les peuples » ne signifie pas « Nous, les hommes ». 


Les femmes attendent toujours l'égalité des chances et des salaires ; l'égalité devant la loi ; la pleine valorisation de leur travail et la prise en compte de leurs opinions.   


À travers le monde, les droits des femmes – y compris les droits sexuels et reproductifs – sont réduits voire supprimés ; leurs libertés, restreintes.  


Dans certains pays, les femmes et les filles sont punies parce qu'elles portent trop de vêtements ; dans d'autres, parce qu'elles n'en portent pas assez.  


Grâce aux générations de militantes des droits de femmes, les temps changent.   


Des terrains de sport aux écoles en passant par les places publiques, les filles et les femmes défient le patriarcat – et triomphent.  


Je suis à leurs côtés.  


J'ai pris mes fonctions en m'engageant à garantir la parité hommes-femmes au sein des Nations unies.   


Nous y sommes parvenus aux échelons supérieurs et sommes en bonne voie pour le faire à travers l'ensemble du système des Nations unies.   


Car l'égalité des genres n'est pas un problème. L'égalité des genres est la solution.   


L’égalité, ce n’est pas une faveur faite aux femmes, mais une condition fondamentale pour assurer un meilleur avenir pour tous.  




Nous devons être déterminés à répondre à l'Appel à l'action pour placer les droits humains au cœur de notre travail. 


Soixante-quinze ans après la Déclaration universelle des droits de l'homme, d'énormes progrès ont été accomplis sur certains sujets – qu'il s'agisse de mettre fin à la colonisation et à la ségrégation ou de garantir le droit de vote des femmes.  


Mais nous n'avons pas atteint les droits fondamentaux pour tous, quand 1,2 milliards de personnes vivent encore dans l’extrême pauvreté et que la faim atteint des niveaux inégalés depuis 2005.  


Quand la discrimination fondée sur la couleur de peau et l'origine ethnique est parfaitement légale dans bien des pays.  


Quand des personnes doivent risquer la mort pour chercher une vie meilleure.  


Quand les réfugiés, les migrants et les minorités sont régulièrement traqués et diabolisés.  


Quand déclarer son identité de genre ou simplement qui l'on aime peut conduire à l'emprisonnement, voire à l’exécution. 


Quand le fait même de s'exprimer peut avoir des conséquences dangereuses.  


Les droits humains – politiques, civils, économiques, sociaux et culturels – sont la clé de voute pour résoudre de nombreux problèmes mondiaux interdépendants.  


Il faut que des lois visant à protéger les personnes vulnérables soient adoptées et appliquées ; il faut cesser de cibler les minorités et il faut placer les droits et la dignité humaine au cœur des politiques sociales, économiques et migratoires. 


Il faut que tous les gouvernements respectent les engagements qu’ils ont pris dans la Déclaration universelle des droits de l'homme. 




También debemos hacer frente a las amenazas inminentes que plantean las nuevas tecnologías a los derechos humanos. 


La inteligencia artificial generativa es muy prometedora – pero también puede llevarnos a cruzar el Rubicón y a un peligro mayor del que podemos controlar.  


Cuando mencioné la Inteligencia Artificial en mi discurso ante la Asamblea General de 2017, solo otros dos líderes mencionaron el término. 


Ahora, la IA está en boca de todos: un tema que provoca tanto asombro como miedo. 


Incluso algunos de los que desarrollaron la IA generativa están pidiendo una mayor regulación.  


Pero muchos de los peligros de la tecnología digital no están en el horizonte.  


Ya están aquí.   


La brecha digital está exacerbando las desigualdades


El discurso de odio, la desinformación y las teorías de la conspiración en las redes sociales se propagan y amplifican mediante IA, socavando la democracia y alimentando la violencia y los conflictos en la vida real.    


La vigilancia en la red y la recolección de datos están facilitando abusos de los derechos humanos a gran escala.  


Y las empresas tecnológicas y los gobiernos están lejos de encontrar soluciones.  




We must move fast and mend things. 


New technologies require new and innovative forms of governance – with input from experts building this technology and from those monitoring its abuses. 


And we urgently need a Global Digital Compact -- between governments, regional organizations, the private sector and civil society -- to mitigate the risks of digital technologies, and identify ways to harness their benefits for the good of humanity.  


Some have called for consideration of a new global entity on AI that could provide a source of information and expertise for Member States.  


There are many different models -- inspired by such examples as the International Atomic Energy Agency, the International Civil Aviation Organization or the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. 


The UN stands ready to host the global and inclusive discussions that are needed, depending on the decisions of Member States. 


To help advance the search for concrete governance solutions, I will appoint this month a High-Level Advisory Body on Artificial Intelligence – which will provide recommendations by the end of this year.  


Next year’s Summit of the Future is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for progress to deal with these new threats, in line with the vision of the UN Charter.  


Member States will decide how to move forward on the New Agenda for Peace, the Global Digital Compact, reforms to the international financial architecture, and many other proposals to address challenges and bring greater justice and equity to global governance.  




The United Nations was created precisely for moments like this – moments of maximum danger and minimum agreement.  


We can and must use our tools in flexible and creative ways.   


Last month, we saw the dividends of determination off the coast of Yemen.  


Carrying one million barrels of oil, the decaying FSO Safer supertanker was a ticking time bomb -- a looming ecological disaster in the Red Sea.  


But no one offered to solve the problem.   


So, the United Nations stepped in and brought the world together. 


We mobilized resources, assembled the experts, navigated difficult negotiations and built trust. 


We have more work ahead – and more resources are needed.   


But last month, the oil was successfully transferred from the Safer.  


This UN-led action saved the Red Sea.  


When no one else could or would, UN determination got the job done.  


Despite our long list of global challenges, that same spirit of determination can guide us forward. 


Let us be determined to heal divisions and forge peace.   


Determined to uphold the dignity and worth of every person. 


Determined to realize the Sustainable Development Goals and effectively leave no one behind. 


Determined to reform multilateralism for the 21st century and come together for the common good. 


Thank you.