On my first day as Secretary-General of the United Nations, one question weighs heavily on my heart.
How can we help the millions of people caught up in conflict, suffering massively in wars with no end in sight?
Civilians are pounded with deadly force. Women, children and men are killed and injured, forced from their homes, dispossessed and destitute. Even hospitals and aid convoys are targeted.
No one wins these wars; everyone loses. Trillions of dollars are spent destroying societies and economies, fueling cycles of mistrust and fear that can last for generations. Whole regions are destabilized and the new threat of global terrorism affects us all.
On this New Year’s Day, I ask all of you to join me in making one shared New Year’s resolution:
Let us resolve to put peace first.
Let us make 2017 a year in which we all – citizens, governments, leaders – strive to overcome our differences.
From solidarity and compassion in our daily lives, to dialogue and respect across political divides… From ceasefires on the battlefield, to compromise at the negotiating table to reach political solutions…
Peace must be our goal and our guide.
All that we strive for as a human family – dignity and hope, progress and prosperity – depends on peace.
But peace depends on us.
I appeal to you all to join me in committing to peace, today and every day.
Let us make 2017 a year for peace.
Georgia celebrated Human Rights Day 2016 with a series of events on December 10.
The day saw a street rally on Rustaveli Avenue – the main street of the capital city, Tbilisi, where the Public Defender of Georgia, Ucha Nanuashvili, responded to the questions of the citizens about the key human rights issues related in the country.
Later the same day, the Government of Georgia hosted a Human Rights Day reception which brought together top government officials, senior diplomats, representatives of civil society, international organizations and the media.
Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia; Irakli Kobakhidze, Chairperson of the Parliament of Georgia; Janos Herman, Ambassador of the European Union to Georgia; Niels Scott, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in Georgia, Christian Urse, Head of the Council of Europe Office in Georgia, and Ucha Nanuashvili, Public Defender of Georgia, opened the event.
"Today and every day, the European Union stands up for human rights worldwide, working with all who do the same. Also in Georgia, human rights are at the heart of our cooperation. By the Human Rights for All Programme, we actively promote the protection and enforcement of human rights for everyone in Georgia, in particular the more vulnerable groups, including women, children, minorities and people with disabilities," said Janos Herman, Ambassador of the European Union to Georgia.
UN Women and the EU Delegation to Georgia launched the joint action “Unite to Fight Violence against Women” – a three-year initiative aimed at preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls (VAWG) and domestic violence (DV) in Georgia.
The launch event was attended by the representatives of the legislative and executive branches of the Government of Georgia, the diplomatic corps, the UN Country Team, international and local NGOs and the media.
The UN Joint Programme for Gender Equality (funded by the Government of Sweden) hosted a high-level meeting in Tbilisi on ending violence against women and girls within the framework of the 16 Days of Activism.
Members of the Parliament, the Government of Georgia, ambassadors and representatives of international organizations and civil society organizations took stock of the progress made in achieving gender equality and preventing and combating violence against women and girls.
At a conference in Tbilisi, five private businesses shared their future plans for promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women, formalized in action plans based on the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs).
The conference, organized by UN Women and the Civil Development Agency (secretariat of the UN Global Compact Network in Georgia), was the culmination of a process during which five small, medium and large Georgian companies assessed their policies and operations from a gender perspective, identified gaps, set goals and developed action plans for their realization, all with UN Women support.
The Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Ms. Ketevan Bochorishvili, applauded the initiative, stating that “Women’s participation in the private sector is high in Georgia, but gender stereotypes often prevent women from fully realizing their potential. The leadership that the companies here today are showing is also a recognition that gender equality is increasingly seen as an important factor for business success.”
The companies – Adjara Group Hospitality, the microfinance organization Crystal, the PR and marketing firm GEPRA, the real estate company m2 and the Georgian American University– presented their action plans. These include internal efforts such as encouraging men to take time off for parental leave, promoting women’s participation in male-dominated professions and establishing complaints mechanisms for cases of discrimination as well as external efforts such as targeting women-owned businesses in procurement and creating employment opportunities for marginalized groups of women.
Valeri Chekheria, CEO of Adjara Group Hospitality and Head of the Board of the UN Global Compact Network, specified some of the challenges that his hotel business faces in a mountainous region of Georgia: “Certain professions are not seen as appropriate for women, and women find it difficult to take on a paid job because they are expected to primarily manage the household. Awareness-raising on women’s rights is essential for changing these attitudes.”
Erika Kvapilova, UN Women Representative, underlined that achievement of the ambitious development plans of the Government of Georgia, including the nationalized Sustainable Development Goals, is impossible without active involvement of businesses: “Mainstreaming gender in companies’ operations helps not only to increase their profits but also prevents gender-based discrimination and improves the overall performance of society.”
The CEOs of the five companies signed the Letter of Support for the WEPs, while an additional three – KPMG, CREDO and Georgian Business Zone – committed to endorsing the WEPs, making a total of 10 WEPs signatories in Georgia.
António Guterres, the ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations, took office on 1st January 2017.
Having witnessed the suffering of the most vulnerable people on earth, in refugee camps and in war zones, the Secretary-General is determined to make human dignity the core of his work, and to serve as a peace broker, a bridge-builder and a promoter of reform and innovation.
Prior to his election as Secretary-General, Mr. Guterres served as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015, heading one of the world’s foremost humanitarian organizations during some of the most serious displacement crises in decades. The conflicts in Syria and Iraq, and the crises in South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Yemen, led to a huge rise in UNHCR’s activities as the number of people displaced by conflict and persecution rose from 38 million in 2005 to over 60 million in 2015.