21 September 2020
The ideals of the United Nations – peace, justice, equality and dignity — are beacons to a better world.
But the Organization we celebrate today emerged only after immense suffering.
It took two world wars, millions of deaths and the horrors of the Holocaust for world leaders to commit to international cooperation and the rule of law.
That commitment produced results.
A Third World War – which so many had feared — has been avoided.
Never in modern history have we gone so many years without a military confrontation between the major powers.
This is a great achievement of which Member States can be proud – and which we must all strive to preserve.
Down the decades, there have been other historic accomplishments, including:
Peace treaties and peacekeeping
Human rights standards – and mechanisms to uphold them
The triumph over apartheid
Life-saving humanitarian aid for millions of victims of conflict and disaster
The eradication of diseases
The steady reduction of hunger
The progressive development of international law
Landmark pacts to protect the environment and our planet
Most recently, unanimous support for the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change provided an inspiring vision for the 21st century.
Yet there is still so much to be done.
Of the 850 delegates to the San Francisco Conference, just 8 were women.
Twenty-five years since the Beijing Platform for Action, gender inequality remains the greatest single challenge to human rights around the world.
Climate calamity looms.
Biodiversity is collapsing.
Poverty is again rising.
Hatred is spreading.
Geopolitical tensions are escalating.
Nuclear weapons remain on hair-trigger alert.
Transformative technologies have opened up new opportunities but also exposed new threats.