Prevention, Resilience and Efficiency

It is our obligation to protect and to empower women, to end violence, including sexual violence, and to safeguard women's role in our societies. There can be no excuse for the appalling crimes of sexual violence. The UN has to show its strong commitment to ending impunity for violence against women and girls.
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In 1953, Trygve Lie, the first Secretary-General of the United Nations, greeted his successor by saying, "Welcome to the most impossible job on this earth!" Sixty-three years later, as a new Secretary-General is about to be appointed, this job has not become any easier.

The United Nations faces a new set of challenges that requires an extraordinary response. Our world is facing the striking brutality of terrorist groups like ISIS; the refugee crisis is of unprecedented scale since World War II; the accumulative effect of climate change is threatening the planet's eco-system and our lives; the declining global economic growth is challenging our responses to increasing inequalities and persistent extreme poverty.

I believe that more than ever, we need a strong UN to address these challenges. A UN that works in close collaboration with all Member States and with the civil society. A UN that acts in a principled way and is truly championing democracy and human rights. A UN that overcomes its own internal bureaucratic issues to focus on three clear priorities: prevention; resilience; and efficiency.


I share the High-Level Independent Panel on UN Peace Operations' opinion that the prevention of armed conflicts and violence is "perhaps the greatest responsibility of the international community." We must use every pillar of the United Nations system to bring mediation and prevention to the fore of all efforts. Should I be appointed, I would spare no effort in deploying the good offices of the Secretary-General and all relevant mechanisms to strengthen the Organization's preventive role.

This means investing in diplomacy and early-warning measures. This also means a fundamental review of our approach to peacekeeping, building on new security partnerships and more field-focused, people-centred and coherent approaches. In the face of a new generation of threats, we must redefine and revitalize UN peace operations.

As Director-General of UNESCO, I have worked extensively in conflict and post-conflict regions around the world, and I have learnt first-hand that the best way to prevent conflict is early engagement with inclusive dialogue. After the rebuilding of the historic mausoleums of Timbuktu in Mali, I witnessed the power of cross-community engagement in healing the wounds of the past and in discussing peaceful solutions to prevent further conflicts.


I consider that resilience is the cornerstone of any strong and lasting peace. We need to empower societies to strengthen their resilience in the face of violent extremism, intolerance, environmental risks and conflicts. Sustainable and inclusive development is the most powerful resilience-builder of all, and this has been at the center of my priorities at UNESCO for the last seven years.

I see the new Agenda 2030 as a global, comprehensive and transformative vision to advance human rights and dignity and to empower societies everywhere with specific tools for their own development.

Gender equality is a basic human right and after working with inspirational women around the world, I am convinced of the transformational power of gender equality to establish more peaceful, inclusive and sustainable societies. It all starts with ensuring women and children equal access to education and social life.

It is our obligation to protect and to empower women, to end violence, including sexual violence, and to safeguard women's role in our societies. There can be no excuse for the appalling crimes of sexual violence and I consider that the UN has to show its strong commitment to ending impunity for violence against women and girls. In times of growing intolerance, I strongly believe that the United Nations must be even more active at the forefront of the fight against hatred, racism and anti-Semitism, keeping the awareness of the tragic lessons of the past.

Environmental degradation and resource depletion are new drivers of migration and poverty in societies across the world. Unless action is taken quickly, the effects of climate change will become another serious cause of future conflicts and poverty. We must stand together to protect the Earth and to advance the implementation of the landmark Paris Climate Change Agreement -- a successful example of the world working together as one under the leadership of the UN.


I am convinced that in order to fulfill its role, the United Nations has to be fit for purpose and to become more efficient, effective and accountable. The efficiency has often been undermined by the divides within the system, and should I be appointed, I would take all the necessary steps to transcend them. I would not allow bureaucracy and red tape to undermine the protection of civilians and the lives of innocent people. Zero tolerance must be the watchword for addressing abuses.

As Chair of the UN High-level Committee on Management, and through my experience of reforming UNESCO, I am fully aware of the challenges ahead and I am committed to driving and leading changes. For people to believe in the United Nations, their trust must be well deserved. and I believe the cornerstone of trust is transparency, accountability and delivery of tangible results. That starts at the top, and I am fully supportive of and proud to be a part of the most open and transparent selection process that has ever taken place to appoint the next Secretary-General.

The world is looking to the UN to protect and deliver change at this crucial time. It is the duty of the United Nations and of the future Secretary-General to meet these expectations. More than ever, we need a more effective, credible and committed UN to ensure peace, prosperity and dignity for all. As the Ancient Greek fabulist Aesop said, in union there is strength. Only if we stand strong together we will be able to succeed.

This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post regarding the selection and appointment of the next Secretary-General of the United Nations. A new Secretary-General will take office on January 1, 2017, and each of the declared candidates for the position was invited to participate in this blog series. The President of the General Assembly noted that, this year, the selection process will have more transparency than ever before. The declared candidates for the position are listed by the UN here. To see all the posts in the series, visit here.