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19 September 2017 Address to the General Assembly António Guterres

Published on September 19, 2017 here :

Thank you Your Excellency for these words.

Please spread the word. Connect with people around you. Be an actor of change. Spread hope and show up for the challenges of today. Break the walls of misunderstanding and stereotypes.

I myself am the daughter of immigrants, and I could not be more proud of having being raised in a multi-cultural family. It has pushed me to define who I was and who I wanted to be. I have integrated different cultures and religions to be my true self : a unique individual with a unique background – as all of us.

We are all beautifully unique and yet so diverse.

We must stand for the utopia of the United Nations and a world at peace.

Virginie Martins de Nobrega.

Hereafter some extracts of the speech of the UN Secretary General at the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly. [Trilingual, as delivered]

“ I am here in a spirit of gratitude and humility for the trust you have placed in me to serve the world’s peoples.

Our world is in trouble. People are hurting and angry. They see insecurity rising, inequality growing, conflict spreading and climate changing. 

The global economy is increasingly integrated, but our sense of global community may be disintegrating.

Societies are fragmented. Political discourse is polarized. Trust within and among countries is being driven down by those who demonize and divide.

We are a world in pieces. We need to be a world at peace.


When tensions rise, so does the chance of miscalculation. Fiery talk can lead to fatal misunderstandings. 

The solution must be political. This is a time for statesmanship


Political, religious and community leaders have a duty to stand up against hatred and serve as models of tolerance and moderation. 

Together, we need to make full use of UN instruments, and expand our efforts to support survivors.

Experience has also shown that harsh crackdowns and heavy-handed approaches are counterproductive.

As soon as we believe that violations of human rights and democratic freedoms are necessary to win the fight, we might have lost the war.

I have seen in my country, and in my years at the United Nations, that it is possible to move from war to peace, and from dictatorship to democracy. Let us push ahead with a surge in diplomacy today and a leap in conflict prevention for tomorrow.


L’intégration des économies mondiales, l’expansion du commerce et les avancées technologiques spectaculaires ont apporté des bienfaits remarquables.

Plus de personnes se sont extirpées de la pauvreté extrême que jamais auparavant. La classe moyenne mondiale est aussi plus importante que jamais. Davantage de personnes vivent plus longtemps et en meilleure santé. 

Mais les progrès ne sont pas équitables.

Nous voyons des disparités criantes dans les revenus, l’égalité des chances et l’accès aux résultats de la recherche et de l’innovation.

Huit hommes représentent autant de richesse mondiale que la moitié de l’ensemble de l’humanité. 

Des régions, des pays et des communautés entiers restent loin des vagues de progrès et de croissance, livrés à eux-mêmes dans les « Rust Belts » de notre monde.


Nous savons qu’avec une richesse et des actifs mondiaux équivalent à des milliards, nous ne sommes pas en manque de financements.

Trouvons la sagesse d’utiliser les outils, les plans et les ressources déjà entre nos mains pour parvenir à un développement durable et bénéfique à tous – un objectif en soi mais aussi notre meilleur instrument de prévention des conflits.


Finally, I want to talk about human mobility, which I do not perceive as a threat even if some do. I see it as a challenge that, if properly managed, can help bring the world together.

Let us be clear: we do not only face a refugee crisis; we also face a crisis of solidarity. 

Every country has the right to control its own borders. But that must be done in a way that protects the rights of people on the move.  

Instead of closed doors and open hostility, we need to re-establish the integrity of the refugee protection regime and the simple decency of human compassion. With a truly global sharing of responsibility, the number of refugees we face can be managed.

But too many states have not risen to the moment.

I commend those countries that have shown admirable hospitality to millions of forcibly displaced people. We need to do more to support them.

We also need to do more to face the challenges of migration. The truth is that the majority of migrants move in a well-ordered fashion, making positive contributions to their host countries and homelands.

It is when migrants move in unregulated ways that the risks become clear – risks for states but most especially risks for migrants themselves exposed to perilous journeys. 

Migration has always been with us.


From my experience, I can assure you that most people prefer to realize their aspirations at home. 

We must work together; development cooperation must be oriented in such a way to make sure that they can do so. 

Migration should be an option, not a necessity.


Safe migration cannot be limited to the global elite.

Refugees, internally displaced persons and migrants are not the problem; the problem lies in conflict, persecution and hopeless poverty. 

I have been pained to see the way refugees and migrants have been stereotyped and scapegoated – and to see political figures stoke resentment in search of electoral gain.

In today’s world, all societies are becoming multicultural, multiethnic and multi-religious. 

This diversity must be seen as a richness, not as a threat. But to make diversity a success, we need to invest in social cohesion, so that all people feel that their identities are respected and that they have a stake in the community as a whole.


Our cultures, religions and traditions vary widely – and, I would say, wonderfully.

At times, there are competing interests among us.

At others, there is even open conflict.

That is exactly why we need the United Nations.

That is exactly why multilateralism is more important than ever.

We call ourselves the international community. We must act as one, because only together, as united nations, can we fulfil the promise of the Charter and advance human dignity for all.

Thank you. Shokran. Xie Xie. Merci. Spasibo. Gracias. Obrigado”

Full speech available at

Photo credit : United Nations

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