Category Archives: UN Observance

2018 World Refugee Day commemorated in Cameroon

The 2018 commemoration of the World Refugee Day in Cameroon took place at a time when the dire crisis in the Central African Republic continues to trigger massive forced displacement, increasing pressure on resources and living conditions in Eastern region of Cameroon. According to OCHA, CAR remains the country with the highest humanitarian needs per capita, with 50 per cent of the population having to rely on humanitarian assistance to survive, while 25 per cent is displaced either internally or in a neighbouring country.

Northern Nigeria’s conflict with Boko Haram spilled over to the Lake Chad Basin region, where Nigerian refugees are hosted since 2014, causing large scale forced displacement and an unprecedented humanitarian emergency in Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

The event in Yaounde took place in 2 phases:

  1. Official ceremony

A Commemorative event for the 2018 World Refugee Day organized by the UNHCR in collaboration with the Ministry of External Relations, (MINREX) took place at the Refugees Community Centre in Yaounde on Wednesday 20 June 2018.

The President of the “Collectif de Yaounde” expressed her gratitude to the Cameroon government for the legendary hospitality and support given to Refugees, while UNHCR was also appreciated for the strong and sustained assistance they continue to give them.

The Secretary at the Permanent Technique Secretariat for Refugees representing the Minister of External Relations, outlined measures taken by Government to tackle refugees’ request, emphasizing that Refugees are actors of development, and promised more assistance to refugees. Suffice to add that Cameroon is the 13th refugee receiving country in the world and 7th in Africa

Mrs. Roseline Okoro, UNHCR; deputy Resident Representative read the message of the UN High Commissioner for Refugee at the ceremony, in which increased solidarity to Refugees was promised.

These speeches were interspersed by folkloric dances exhibited by the different Refugee communities such as Rwanda, Chad, etc.

 

  1. Panel discussion on the: “Rights and duties of Refugees in Cameroun”

Panelists included students from the Institute of International Relations of Cameroon-IRIC, Secretary of the permanent Technique Secretariat for Refugees at MINREX and UNHCR.

Remy; student of IRIC explained the genesis and the context on the World Refugee Day, relating it to the 1959 Geneva conference.

Miss Ngah Gaëlle, equally of IRIC stressed the Right of Refugees in Cameroon, as spelt out in the Geneva Convention. She thus stated that refugees in Cameroon have all the rights, as human beings, to include; housing, traffic, social assistance, freedom of religion, etc.M. Keppi Eric harped on the duties of Refugees in Cameroon, reminding them that all refugees in Cameroon must obey the laws of the country as highlighted in article 12 of the 2005 law governing the rights and duties of refugees in Cameroon.

UNIC Yaoundé prepared information kits comprised of the UNSG message, UNGA A/RES/55/76 12 February 2001 which proclaimed 20 June as World Refugee Day, background documents on the genesis of the day and various distinctive definitions on terms such as refugees, Asylum seekers, internally displaced persons, Stateless Persons, and returnees. This was distributed to the over 150 participants at the event.

World Environment Day, 5 June 2018

“On World Environment Day, the message is simple: reject single-use plastic. Refuse what you can’t re-use. Together, we can chart a path to a cleaner, greener world.” — Secretary-General, António Guterres
https://s3.amazonaws.com/downloads2.unmultimedia.org/public/video/ondemand/2165260_MSG%20SG%20WORLD%20ENVIRONMENT%20DAY%2021%20MAY%2018%20EN.mov

Humans are both creatures and moulders of their environment, which gives them physical sustenance and affords them the opportunity for intellectual, moral, social and spiritual growth. In the long and tortuous evolution of the human race on this planet a stage has been reached when, through the rapid acceleration of science and technology, humans have acquired the power to transform their environment in countless ways and on an unprecedented scale.

The United Nations, aware that the protection and improvement of the human environment is a major issue, which affects the well-being of peoples and economic development throughout the world, designated 5 June as World Environment Day. The celebration of this day provides us with an opportunity to broaden the basis for an enlightened opinion and responsible conduct by individuals, enterprises and communities in preserving and enhancing the environment. Since it began in 1974, it has grown to become a global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated in more than 100 countries.

“Beat Plastic Pollution”

Each World Environment Day is organized around a theme that focuses attention on a particularly pressing environmental concern. The theme for 2018, “Beat Plastic Pollution,” is a call to action for all of us to come together to combat one of the great environmental challenges of our time. The theme invites us all to consider how we can make changes in our everyday lives to reduce the heavy burden of plastic pollution on our natural places, our wildlife – and our own health. While plastic has many valuable uses, we have become over-reliant on single-use or disposable plastic – with severe environmental consequences.

 

Message du Secrétaire général: Journée internationale des Casques bleus de l’ONU, 29 mai 2018 (Scroll down for English)

Le 29 mai 1948, le Conseil de sécurité de l’Organisation des Nations Unies autorisait la première opération de maintien de la paix des Nations Unies : l’Organisme des Nations Unies chargé de la surveillance de la trêve au Moyen-Orient.

En ce soixante-dixième anniversaire, nous exprimons notre reconnaissance au plus d’un million de femmes et d’hommes qui ont servi sous la bannière des Nations Unies et sauvé ainsi d’innombrables vies.

Nous rendons hommage aux plus de 3 700 Casques bleus qui ont fait le sacrifice ultime.

Nous saluons enfin les 14 missions qui, aujourd’hui, œuvrent 24 heures sur 24 à protéger les populations et à faire avancer la cause de la paix.

Cette année, je célébrerai la Journée internationale des Casques bleus des Nations Unies au Mali afin de témoigner ma solidarité à ceux de nos collègues qui font face à de lourdes pertes et à une instabilité extrême.

Tout en saluant l’héritage laissé par ceux qui, dans le monde entier, ont placé leur vie sous le signe du service et du sacrifice, je tiens à dire combien je suis déterminé à prendre des mesures en faveur du maintien de la paix, des mesures qui visent à rendre nos opérations plus sûres et plus efficaces dans les conditions difficiles qui prévalent aujourd’hui.

Nous sommes également déterminés à renforcer le rôle que nos forces ont à jouer dans la promotion des droits de l’homme et la lutte contre l’exploitation et les atteintes sexuelles.

Les opérations de maintien de la paix des Nations Unies constituent un investissement efficace en faveur de la paix, de la sécurité et de la prospérité mondiales.

Ensemble, engageons-nous à faire tout notre possible pour que cette mission soit couronnée de succès.

Je vous remercie.

Secretary-General’s Message for 2018 International Day of UN Peacekeepers

On May 29th, 1948, the United Nations Security Council authorized the first United Nations peacekeeping operation – the UN Truce Supervision Organization in the Middle East.

On this 70th anniversary, we express our gratitude to the more than one million men and women who have served under the UN flag, saving countless lives.

We honour the more than 3,700 blue helmets who paid the ultimate price.

And we pay tribute to the fourteen missions working around the clock today to protect people and advance the cause of peace.

This year, I will spend International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers in Mali to express my solidarity with colleagues facing high casualties and enormous volatility.

As we recognize a legacy of service and sacrifice around the world, I am also committed to taking action for peacekeeping — action to make our operations safer and more effective in today’s challenging environments.

We also are committed to reinforcing the important role our forces must play in promoting human rights and addressing sexual exploitation and abuse.

United Nations peacekeeping is a proven investment in global peace, security and prosperity.

Together, let us pledge to do all we can to enable that mission to succeed.

Thank you.

The Secretary – General’s message on Africa Day

In March this year, Africa’s leaders launched the African Continental Free Trade Area.  Representing one of the largest markets in the world, with 1.2 billion consumers, the Free Trade Area can boost regional integration, drive economic growth, generate jobs for young Africans, alleviate poverty and lead to more stable and peaceful societies.

This is just the latest example of achievement under the umbrella of the African Union – formerly the Organisation of African Unity – which marks its 55th anniversary this year.  Across Africa, entrepreneurship is up, access to education has increased and child mortality has declined.  More women are serving in parliaments, and economic growth in several countries is greater than in other parts of the world.

Africa is increasingly driving its own future.  The guiding vision for Africa’s development is the African Union’s Agenda 2063.  Fully complementary to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Agenda 2063 provides a foundation for resilience and social and economic progress for the entire continent.  The United Nations is fully committed to supporting Africa’s efforts.  To that end, the two organizations have in the past year signed frameworks on peace and security and on the coherent implementation of Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda.

Peace and sustainable development are two sides of the same coin – one cannot be achieved without the other.  To promote peace, the United Nations will continue to support prevention.  We must collectively strengthen our ability to detect and defuse crises before they escalate and sharpen our tools for addressing their causes.  The United Nations will also work to support the African Union’s commitment to “Silence the Guns” by 2020 and promote the indispensable role of women and youth in conflict prevention and peace building.

On this Africa Day, I urge all nations to support a peaceful, prosperous Africa.  What is good for Africa is good for the world.

Colloquium on the 2018 World Press Freedom Day in Cameroon

“..the emergence of online media is advantageous but constitutes a danger when ethical norms are neglected…with the internet, anyone can become a journalist because it is open to all, with little or no control” was echoed by Mr. Ngankak Kizito, Director of Private Media Development at the Ministry of Communication (MINCOM), representing his Minister at the 2018 World Press Freedom Day commemorated in Cameroon through a colloquium organized by UNESCO, UNIC Yaounde and the Advanced school of Mass Communication (ASMAC) Yaounde. Event which held on “Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice And The Rule Law” took place at ASMAC on 3 May 2018.

During the opening ceremony, Mr. Mputu Hilaire read the message of the Director General of UNESCO, followed by a video projection of the UNSG’s message by UNIC. In the message, Mr. Guterres called on “…governments to strengthen press freedom, and to protect journalist”.

 

The crux of the observance was the panel talk with the over 200 Journalism students and media professionals on the following sub-themes:

  • ·Press freedom, access to information and elections·
  • A judicial system in favor of free and assured journalism;·
  • Freedom of expression online: improve self-regulation.

UNIC’s NIO Jean Njita emphasized that the commemoration fell within the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, mostly Goal 16:  whereby “people everywhere need to be free of fear from all forms of violence and feel safe as they go about their lives whatever their ethnicity, faith or sexual orientation”. Mr Njita further stated that the 2018 WPFD will offer a renewed opportunity to address critical issues affecting online press freedom and further promote SDG16 (target16.10) on public access to information and protection of fundamental freedoms.

The Director of the Advanced School of Mass Communication (ASMAC) Yaounde; Professor Laurent-Charles Boyomo Assala harped that journalist are first to understand and follow the ethical deontology of the profession and that for press freedom to be effective, a clear sociological distinction must be made between a person of the press (professional) and the individual. To him, press freedom applies only to those with a professional qualification as journalist and not the individual. Professor Boyomo thus called on journalists to be conscious of their ethical limits, as defined by the law, when reporting, for information must be treated within the social norms of the profession without distorting facts.

Professor Claude-Bernard Assira, Senior Lecturer at the Catholic University of Central Africa disclosed that; a journalist is anyone who, based on his intellectual abilities, trained or untrained can collect and treat information destined for social communication, according to article 46 of the 1990 freedom law in Cameroon. To him, this law gives room for just anyone to get into the profession, as he further state that there is no press freedom in Cameroon, pointing out some cases of journalist who were wrongly prosecuted. He alarmed at the fact that “the judiciary system in Cameroon has been politicized, government authorities who in most cases are the complainant, use their positions in power to influence judges to pass judgment in their favor”. He thus called for an amendment of the laws, with new code of ethics elaborated and adopted for the journalism profession, as he once more reiterated the need for genuine freedom and security of journalist, as well as calling for a responsible journalism to avoid judicial issues.

Dr Baba Wame; a Cyber Journalist and lecturer in ASMAC reiterated that the internet has little or no control over contents published by individuals. He added that online information is mostly produced by the authors themselves which may not necessarily be credible. Dr Baba Wame said the unreliable and unsecured publication of social media content led to 3 historical events in the month of April 2018 amongst which was the summon of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg by the American Senate for his failure to protect users’ data. He thus added that only a proper application of internet self-regulatory measures can give credibility and security to social media content and users, this by setting up of online ethical codes by social media communities.

During the question and answer session, questions asked with satisfactory answers from panelists included:

  •  It is possible for a journalist to faithfully carry out his professional duties given our political and economic context?
  •  Can we talk of press freedom in a profession where anyone can get into without training?
  •  Will the issue of auto regulation not hinder press freedom online?

High-Level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace, 24 – 25 April 2018

The President of the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajčák identified peacebuilding and sustaining peace as a key priority. Therefore he will convene a High-Level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace on 24 and 25 April 2018 to assess efforts undertaken and opportunities to strengthen the United Nations’ work on peacebuilding and sustaining peace.

2018 Remember Slavery Commemorated in Yaounde

The 2018 International Day in Memory of Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade was commemorated in Cameroon on 26 March through an event organized by UNIC Yaounde, UNESCO and the UN Centre for Human Rights and Democracy on“Remember Slavery: Triumphs and Struggles for Freedom and Equality”, at the National Museum in Yaounde. Key highlights of the event included;

  1. Panel Discussion

This talk harped on the genesis, context, struggles for freedom/equality and human right violations during slavery era. The main objective was to exchange information on Slavery and UN’s actions and conventions to completely eradicate discrimination, prejudice and racism today with mostly History students from Secondary schools and Universities in Yaounde, the NGO; ‘Pan-African Youth network for a Culture of Peace’ working on Bimbia Slavery cultural heritage site and Human Rights.

Mr. Christian NDOMBI; Cultural Affairs Officer at UNESCO pointed that the history of slavery and Transatlantic slave trade is that of silence, by the perpetrators of the act and the victims, due to shame. He added that UNESCO launched the “slave route” Project in 1980 to break the silence, with in-depth studies undertaken on the practice of slavery, to let the world know the ills of the transatlantic slave trade in a bid to wipe out modern forms of slavery. Mr Ndombi further emphasized that youths are targeted to let them know and remember what transpired during the slave trade not for revenge but for quality education so as to prevent a recurrence of such heinous and inhumane acts.

UNICs Jean NJITA said the United Nations is committed to help young people learn from the history of slavery and transatlantic slave trade in order to help fight racism and prejudice, for countless stories of enslaved children, women and men (such as the recent story of black migrants sold as slaves in Libya) still remains untold. “On this Day, the United Nations urges us to reflect on the inhumane and humane capacity that lies within us” he added, further calling on all to take the commitments spelt out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Charter of the United Nations as a guide for the present and the future so that a more just and equitable world can be bequeathed to future generations.

Mrs. Dorothée Onguene; National Programme Officer at the UN Centre for Human Rights and Democracy presented a synopsis of the different UN Conventions such as the one on slavery adopted in 1926, the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights which stipulates that no one is to be enslaved or held in servitude. She reiterated that slavery has not completely disappeared, as it is still being practiced through force child labour; forced use of arms by children; sexual exploitation of girls and pornography; with girls being forced to work to settle parents’ debt, domestic slavery. Mrs Onguene stressed that the UN has appointed a special rapporteur on slavery, to report regularly on issues related to slavery and bring help to victims.

Professor Raymond Asombang; Director of the National Museum lauded UN’s continued strives to completely eradicate Slavery. As a way to support this UN initiative, the national museum has also setup an exhibition stand on slavery and the transatlantic slave trade to showcase what really happened during the transatlantic slave trade, with light thrown on the phenomenon in Cameroon such as Bimbia, Bangou and Bapa slave markets.

During the question and answer session, questions asked with satisfactory answers from panelists included:

  • What is the real contribution of the UN towards eradicating aspects of slavery that still exist in Cameroon?
  • What were the sanctions taken by the UN in relation to what happened in Libya?
  • What has African states or Individuals done to eradicate this practice?
  • Does the commemoration of slavery and transatlantic slave trade not instead open up old wounds?

UNIC Yaounde provided information kits to the over 105 participants at the event containing: the UNSG’s message, brief presentation of slavery and slave trade, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, notebooks, storyline of the movie, etc… UNIC equally mobilized journalist to cover the event such as Ariane TV, Cameron Radio and Television, The Post Newspaper, Cameroon Tribune, Canal2 Television, Camer.be.

2. Poster Exhibition on the «A Legacy of Black Achievers»

Participants were led on a guided tour of the 25 posters exhibited at the entrance of the National museum in both English and French on the theme “A Legacy of Black Achievers”. UNIC’s Jean Njita presented a summary of the exhibition before delving into a poster by poster presentation, highlighting the achievements of each of the 23 notable personalities, and called on participants to emulate these models by working hard and excelling in their education, for they could achieve these things, then they also can.

Panel Discussion on the 2018 International Women’s Day in Cameroon

    
UNIC Yaounde on behalf of the United Nations System in Cameroon organized a panel discussion on “Intensify the fight against discrimination on women: Strengthen partnership to speed up sustainable development” on Tuesday 6 February 2018 at the UNIC Conference Room. This talk had as main objective, the exchange of information with university students in development studies, and civil societies on concrete actions carried out by the UN system in Cameroon, towards empowering women and girls. 

Adama Moussa, Resident Representative of UNWOMEN emphasized the normative framework for the protection of women’s right, stating the four resolutions adopted by the UN to protect women such as: Violence against women, peace and security, Economic autonomy and political participation. Mr. Adama further harps on the fact that women representation should be specific, temporal and corrective in government positions and elections in order to attain UN’s gender parity policy. “The aim now is to have 30% of women integrated in each sector in Cameroon for operation gender 50/50 is a gradual process” he said. He insisted that the economic autonomy of women can be achieved only by promoting women to become economically and giving them equal opportunities and access to land and production.

Daniela Luciana, Head of Child Protection at UNICEF focusing on early marriages and other forms of traditional constraints on women, states that UNICEF mobilizes tools not only to work with the community on violence against women, but also to challenge norms and taboos against certain forms of violence practiced in the society. The more girls are educated, the less child marriage is experienced. Thus, UNICEF is working to improve girls’ education, so that they do not drop from school after primary education to get marry. She further added that according to the 2011 survey, statistics revealed that 50% of girls got married before the age of 18 in the Eastern and Adamawa regions, and 1 out of 3 at the national level and 80% of women and girls have been victims of sexual violence in which most cases happen at home and the perpetrators are always very close people that the victims know.

Abdoulaye Balde; Representative and Country Director of WFP, highlighted actions taken by WFP to economically empower the rural women; who are the backbone of food production, with skills to transform local produce into semi-finished or finished product.  Queuing with UNICEF’s policy of sending girls to school, Mr. Baldé added that WFP provides food to students in some areas of the northern part of Cameroon as an incentive for them to remain in school.

UNIC’s Jean Njita; who moderated the talks, called on participants to be ambassadors of change.  Quoting Memory Banda the 18-year-old Malawian, on child marriage, Mr. Njita stated that “Marriage is often the end for girls like me. But if our leaders invest in us and give us the chance to be educated, we will become women who create a better society for everyone.”

During the question and answer session, questions were asked such as:

  • With legal framework stated by UNWOMEN put in place in Cameroon, is there hope for women in Cameroon?
  • What actions have been taken by UNWomen against the rape cases by UN peacekeepers in the Central African Republic?
  • What is UNICEF doing to prevent early marriages?
  • Why are men the ones talking on women’s day etc.,

UNIC Yaounde provided information kits to the over 40 participants at the event containing: the UNSG’s message on IWD2018, brief history of the IWD, Africa Renewal on keeping girls in school, notebooks, etc… UNIC equally mobilized journalist who covered the panel discussions organized at UNIC conference room. Media organs represented included; Ariane TV, CRTV, Equinoxe Television, Cameroon Tribune, Vision4 Television, Le Messager etc…

UN Secretary-General Message on International Women’s Day (Scroll down for French Version)

New York, 8 March 2018

We are at a pivotal moment for women’s rights. The historical and structural inequalities that have allowed oppression and discrimination to flourish are being exposed like never before. From Latin America to Europe to Asia, on social media, on film sets, on the factory floor and in the streets, women are calling for lasting change and zero tolerance for sexual assault, harassment, and discrimination of all kinds.

Achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls is the unfinished business of our time, and the greatest human rights challenge in our world. The activism and advocacy of generations of women has borne fruit. There are more girls in school than ever before; more women are doing paid work and in senior roles in the private sector, academia, politics and in international organizations, including the United Nations. Gender equality is enshrined in countless laws, and harmful practices like female genital mutilation and child marriage have been outlawed in many countries.

But serious obstacles remain if we are to address the historic power imbalances that underpin discrimination and exploitation. More than a billion women around the world lack legal protection against domestic sexual violence. The global gender pay gap is 23 per cent, rising to 40 per cent in rural areas, and the unpaid work done by many women goes unrecognized. Women’s representation in national parliaments stands, on average, at less than one quarter, and in boardrooms it is even lower. Without concerted action, millions more girls will be subjected to genital mutilation over the next decade.

Where laws exist, they are often ignored, and women who pursue legal redress are doubted, denigrated and dismissed. We now know that sexual harassment and abuse have been thriving in workplaces, public spaces and private homes, in countries that pride themselves on their record of gender equality.

The United Nations should set an example for the world. I recognize that this has not always been the case. Since the start of my tenure last year, I have set change in motion at UN headquarters, in our peacekeeping missions and in all our offices worldwide.

We have now reached gender parity for the first time in my senior management team, and I am determined to achieve this throughout the organization. I am totally committed to zero tolerance of sexual harassment and have set out plans to improve reporting and accountability. We are working closely with countries around the world to prevent and address sexual exploitation and abuse by staff in peacekeeping missions, and to support victims.

We at the United Nations stand with women around the world as they fight to overcome the injustices they face – whether they are rural women dealing with wage discrimination, urban women organizing for change, women refugees at risk of exploitation and abuse, or women who experience intersecting forms of discrimination: widows, indigenous women, women with disabilities and women who do not conform to gender norms.

Women’s empowerment is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals means progress for all women, everywhere. The Spotlight initiative launched jointly with the European Union will focus resources on eliminating violence against women and girls, a prerequisite for equality and empowerment. Let me be clear: this is not a favour to women. Gender equality is a human rights issue, but it is also in all our interests: men and boys, women and girls. Gender inequality and discrimination against women harms us all.

There is ample evidence that investing in women is the most effective way to lift communities, companies, and even countries. Women’s participation makes peace agreements stronger, societies more resilient and economies more vigorous. Where women face discrimination, we often find practices and beliefs that are detrimental to all. Paternity leave, laws against domestic violence and equal pay legislation benefit everyone. At this crucial moment for women’s rights, it is time for men to stand with women, listen to them and learn from them. Transparency and accountability are essential if women are to reach their full potential and lift all of us, in our communities, societies and economies.

I am proud to be part of this movement, and I hope it continues to resonate within the United Nations and around the world.

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Nous vivons actuellement un moment décisif pour les droits des femmes. Les inégalités historiques et structurelles qui ont fait le lit de l’oppression et des discriminations n’ont jamais été dénoncées si unanimement. De l’Amérique latine à l’Europe en passant par l’Asie, sur les réseaux sociaux, les plateaux de cinéma, dans les usines et dans la rue, les femmes appellent à un changement durable et réclament la tolérance zéro à l’égard des agressions, de la discrimination et du harcèlement sexuels sous toutes leurs formes.

L’égalité des sexes et l’autonomisation des femmes et des filles sont les véritables gageures de notre époque et le plus grand défi que le monde ait à relever en matière de droits fondamentaux. Le militantisme et la persévérance de générations de femmes ont porté leurs fruits. Le nombre de filles scolarisées, de femmes ayant un emploi rémunéré et de femmes occupant des postes à haute responsabilité dans le secteur privé, les milieux universitaires, la sphère politique et les organisations internationales, y compris l’ONU, n’a jamais été aussi élevé. L’égalité des sexes est inscrite dans d’innombrables textes de loi, et les pratiques traditionnelles néfastes comme les mutilations génitales féminines et le mariage des enfants sont maintenant illégales dans de nombreux pays. Il nous reste toutefois de nombreux obstacles à franchir pour remédier aux inégalités ancestrales qui sont le creuset des discriminations et de l’exploitation.

À l’heure actuelle, dans le monde, plus d’un milliard de femmes ne sont pas protégées par la loi si elles venaient à subir des violences sexuelles dans leur foyer. L’écart de rémunération entre hommes et femmes est de 23 % à l’échelle mondiale. Il peut aller jusqu’à 40 % dans les zones rurales, et le travail non rémunéré que font de nombreuses femmes n’est pas reconnu. Les femmes occupent en moyenne moins d’un quart des sièges dans les parlements nationaux, et sont encore moins nombreuses dans les conseils d’administration. Si nous n’agissons pas ensemble, des millions de filles subiront des mutilations génitales dans les dix années à venir.

Là où des lois existent, elles sont souvent ignorées, et les femmes qui portent plainte sont discréditées, dénigrées et méprisées. Nous le savons désormais : le harcèlement et les atteintes sexuels sont monnaie courante sur les lieux de travail, dans l’espace public et dans les foyers, et ce, dans des pays qui se félicitent de leur bilan en matière d’égalité des sexes. L’Organisation des Nations Unies doit être un exemple pour le monde entier. Je reconnais que cela n’a pas toujours été le cas. Depuis que j’ai pris mes fonctions, l’an dernier, j’ai à cœur d’introduire le changement au Siège de l’Organisation des Nations Unies, dans nos missions de maintien de la paix et dans nos bureaux partout dans le monde.

Pour la première fois dans l’histoire de l’ONU, nous avons atteint la parité dans mon équipe dirigeante, et je suis résolu à faire appliquer cette parité à tous les niveaux de l’Organisation. Je soutiens sans réserve la politique de tolérance zéro à l’égard du harcèlement sexuel et j’ai lancé des initiatives visant à améliorer la procédure de signalement des cas et l’application du principe de responsabilité dans ce domaine. Nous travaillons en étroite collaboration avec les pays du monde entier pour prévenir et combattre l’exploitation et les atteintes sexuelles commises par des membres du personnel des missions de maintien de la paix et pour venir en aide aux victimes.

L’Organisation des Nations Unies soutient les femmes du monde entier dans leur combat contre les injustices qu’elles subissent, qu’il s’agisse de femmes du monde rural victimes de discrimination salariale, de citadines qui se mobilisent pour faire changer les choses, de femmes réfugiées exposées à l’exploitation et aux violences, ou de femmes qui doivent faire face à des formes conjuguées de discrimination : je pense ici aux veuves, aux femmes autochtones, aux femmes handicapées et à celles qui ne se conforment pas aux normes de genre.

L’autonomisation des femmes est au cœur du Programme de développement durable à l’horizon 2030. Tout progrès dans la réalisation des objectifs de développement durable est un progrès pour toutes les femmes, partout dans le monde. L’Initiative Spotlight, lancée en partenariat avec l’Union européenne, vise à allouer des ressources à l’élimination de la violence à l’égard des femmes et des filles, condition sine qua none de l’égalité des sexes et de l’autonomisation des femmes.

Je veux être très clair : il ne s’agit pas de privilégier les femmes ou de leur faire une faveur. L’égalité des sexes est non seulement une question de respect des droits fondamentaux, mais un progrès pour nous tous, femmes et hommes, filles et garçons. Les inégalités et la discrimination dont sont victimes les femmes nous sont néfastes à tous. Il est prouvé depuis longtemps qu’investir dans les femmes est le moyen le plus efficace de dynamiser les communautés, les entreprises et même les pays. La participation des femmes rend les accords de paix plus solides, les sociétés plus résilientes, la croissance économique plus vigoureuse. À l’inverse, là où les femmes sont victimes de discrimination, c’est souvent à cause de pratiques et de croyances qui nous nuisent à tous. Le congé de paternité, les lois contre la violence familiale et celles qui promeuvent l’égalité salariale sont un progrès pour l’humanité toute entière.

En ce moment décisif pour les droits des femmes, il est grand temps que les hommes se battent à leurs côtés, les écoutent et apprennent d’elles. Si l’on veut que les femmes puissent réaliser pleinement leur potentiel et tirer nos communautés, nos sociétés et nos économies vers le haut, il nous faut impérativement appliquer deux principes : celui de la transparence et celui de la responsabilité.

Je suis fier de participer à ce mouvement, et j’espère que le vent du changement continuera de souffler dans notre Organisation, et partout dans le monde.

International Mother Language Day – 21 February

Languages, with their complex implications for identity, communication, social integration, education and development, are of strategic importance for people and planet. Yet, due to globalization processes, they are increasingly under threat, or disappearing altogether. When languages fade, so does the world’s rich tapestry of cultural diversity. Opportunities, traditions, memory, unique modes of thinking and expression — valuable resources for ensuring a better future — are also lost.
More than 50 per cent of the approximately 7,000 languages spoken in the world are likely to die out within a few generations, and 96 per cent of these languages are spoken by a mere 4 per cent of the world’s population. Only a few hundred languages have genuinely been given pride of place in education systems and the public domain, and less than a hundred are used in the digital world.
International Mother Language Day has been observed every year since February 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.
Languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage. All moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education but also to develop fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.

2018 Theme: Linguistic diversity and multilingualism count for sustainable development

To foster sustainable development, learners must have access to education in their mother tongue and in other languages. It is through the mastery of the first language or mother tongue that the basic skills of reading, writing and numeracy are acquired. Local languages, especially minority and indigenous, transmit cultures, values and traditional knowledge, thus play an important role in promoting sustainable futures.
International Mother Language Day also supports target 6 of Goal 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): “Ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy.”
Background
International Mother Language Day was proclaimed by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in November 1999 (30C/62). The date, 21 February, was selected to coincide with the Language Movement Day in Bangladesh, one of the co-sponsors of the resolution. The UN General Assembly welcomed the proclamation of the day in its resolution A/RES/56/262 of 2002.
On 16 May 2007 the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution A/RES/61/266 called upon Member States “to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world”. By the same resolution, the General Assembly proclaimed 2008 as the International Year of Languages, to promote unity in diversity and international understanding, through multilingualism and multiculturalism and named the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to serve as the lead agency for the Year.
This initiative not only increased awareness of language issues, but also mobilized partners and resources for supporting the implementation of strategies and policies in favour of language diversity and multilingualism in all parts of the world
The International Year of Languages came at a time when linguistic diversity was increasingly threatened. Language is fundamental to communication of all kinds, and it is communication that makes change and development possible in human society. Using — or not using — certain languages today can open a door, or close it, for large segments of society in many parts of the world.
Today there is growing awareness that languages play a vital role in development, in ensuring cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue, but also in strengthening co-operation and attaining quality education for all, in building inclusive knowledge societies and preserving cultural heritage, and in mobilizing political will for applying the benefits of science and technology to sustainable development.