In Cuba, Ban spotlights sustainable development, human rights, gender-based violence

577974Cuba_Ban28 January 2014Peace and security, sustainable development and human rights are on the agenda at the second summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), which opens in Cuba today and where United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon delivered a wide-ranging address.
In his remarks, Mr. Ban said the Latin American and Caribbean region has undergone “turbulent times, but has come through stronger”. That progress is visible across the work of the United Nations. Indeed, over the last 20 years, extreme poverty in the region has been cut in half and differences are being resolved through peaceful dialogue. “Many of the world’s human rights conventions have been inspired by the Latin American experience,” he said.
“Of course, challenges remain in your region and far beyond: insecurity; inequality; and injustice,” the UN chief said, but stressed that in Latin America and the Caribbean, he sees countries that are determined to tackle such obstacles together and share their example with the world. “This summit is proof of just that. I pledge the support of the United Nations in all aspects of our shared agenda,” he said.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (centre) arrives at José Martí International Airport in Havana, Cuba on his first visit to the country. UN Photo/Mark Garten
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (centre) arrives at José Martí International Airport in Havana, Cuba on his first visit to the country. UN Photo/Mark Garten
Touching on the region’s efforts to close the severe inequality gap by, among others, boosting social protection and expanding health education, and in using its position as a “biodiversity superpower” to advance disaster preparedness, resilience and response, the Secretary-General also praised CELAC’s discussions on confronting the drug problem, in defending democracy and promoting the rights of migrants.
“I look to you for even greater engagement and support across the full range of the work of the United Nations around the world,” said the Secretary-General, adding that regional organizations are crucial to achieving shared goals with the UN. “In our increasingly interconnected world, this is ever more important. When CELAC is stronger, the United Nations is stronger.”
Following his arrival yesterday to Havana, Mr. Ban visited the Cuban National Centre for Sex Education (CENESEX) where he attended an event related to his campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women.
“Violence against women is the most pervasive human rights violation in the world,” Mr. Ban said.
“Our message is clear: Women and children have the right to feel safe and live with dignity – in all places, at all times – in war and peace, in poverty and prosperity, inside and outside their homes, schools and places of work,” he added.
Cuba is a leader on many development issues, including expanding opportunity for women and girls, Mr. Ban said. However, as in all countries, the challenge of violence against women and girls remains.
To solve any problem, we must recognize that there is a problem – not hide or minimize it,” he said, urging young men to not raise their hands in violence but instead to raise their voices to stop it.
“Thank you for sending the message: “El Valiente no es violento,” said Mr. Ban quoting in Spanish ‘The Brave is not violent.’
He called CENESEX’s work “magnificent” and said he was “touched and inspired” by the powerful stories he heard there.

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