United Nations
United Nations 9 Oct 2020

World Mental Health Day (October 10) – António Guterres (UN Secretary-General)

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Around the world, nearly 1 billion people live with a mental disorder. Every 40 seconds, someone dies from suicide. And depression is now recognized as a leading cause of illness and disability among children and adolescents.

All of this was true, even before COVID-19. We are now seeing the consequences of the pandemic on people's mental well-being, and this is just the beginning. Many groups, including older adults, women, children and people with existing mental health conditions are at risk of considerable medium- and long-term ill-health if action is not taken.

Addressing mental health is central to achieving Universal Health Coverage. It deserves our commitment. Too few people have access to quality mental health services. In low- and middle-income countries, more than 75 per cent of people with mental health conditions receive no treatment at all. And, overall, governments spend on average less than 2 per cent of their health budgets on mental health. This cannot go on.

We can no longer ignore the need for a massive scale-up in investment in mental health. We must act together, now, to make quality mental health care available for all who need it to allow us to recover faster from the COVID-19 crisis.


The award of this year's Nobel Prize for Peace to the United Nations World Food Programme recognizes the right of all people to food, and our common quest to achieve zero hunger.

In a world of plenty, it is a grave affront that hundreds of millions go to bed hungry each night.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further intensified food insecurity to a level not seen in decades.

Some 130 million people risk being pushed to the brink of starvation by the end of this year.

This is on top of the 690 million people who already lack enough to eat.

At the same time, more than 3 billion people cannot afford a healthy diet.

As we mark the 75th anniversary of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, we need to intensify our efforts to achieve the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals.

That means a future where everyone, everywhere, has access to the nutrition they need.

Next year, I will convene a Food Systems Summit to inspire action towards this vision.

We need to make food systems more resistant to volatility and climate shocks.

We need to ensure sustainable and healthy diets for all, and to minimize food waste.

And we need food systems that provide decent, safe livelihoods for workers.

We have the know-how and the capacity to create a more resilient, equitable and sustainable world.

On this World Food Day, let us make a commitment to "Grow, Nourish, and Sustain. Together".
Each year World Habitat Day focuses attention on the state of the world's towns and cities. This year's observance highlights the centrality of housing as a driver for sustainable urban development.

Currently, 1 billion people live in overcrowded settlements with inadequate housing. By 2030, that number will rise to 1.6 billion. Action is needed now to provide low-income families and vulnerable populations with affordable housing with security of tenure and easy access to water, sanitation, transport and other basic services. To meet global demand, more than 96,000 housing units will need to be completed every day - and they must be part of the green transition.

The urgency of improving living conditions has been brought to the fore by COVID-19, which has devastated the lives of millions in cities. Access to clean water and sanitation, along with social distancing, are key responses to the pandemic. Yet in slums it has proved difficult to implement these measures. This means an increased risk of infection, not only within slums, but in whole cities, many of which are largely serviced by low-income informal sector workers living in informal settlements.

On World Habitat Day, in this crucial Decade of Action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, I call for heightened efforts to promote the partnerships, pro-poor policies, and regulations needed to improve housing in cities. As we strive to overcome the pandemic, address the fragilities and inequalities it has exposed, and combat climate change, now is the time to harness the transformative potential of urbanization for the benefit of people and planet.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought renewed attention to the importance of strengthening disaster risk reduction.

Many countries are facing multiple crises simultaneously.

We will see more of this.

Extreme weather events have risen dramatically over the past two decades.

Yet, we have seen little progress on reducing climate disruption and environmental degradation.

Bad situations only get worse without good disaster risk governance.

Disaster risk isn't the sole responsibility of local and national authorities.

COVID-19 has shown us that systemic risk requires international cooperation.

Good disaster risk governance means acting on science and evidence.

And that requires political commitment at the highest level to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

To eradicate poverty and reduce the impacts of climate change, we must place the public good above all other considerations.

For these reasons and more, this year's International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction is all about strengthening disaster risk governance to build a safer and more resilient world.
In marking the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, this International Day highlights the remarkable power of non-violence and peaceful protest. It also a timely reminder to strive to uphold values that Gandhi lived by: the promotion of dignity, equal protection for all, and communities living together in peace.

On this year's observance, we have a special duty: stop the fighting to focus on our common enemy: COVID-19. There is only one winner of conflict during a pandemic: the virus itself. As the pandemic took hold, I called for a global ceasefire. Today we need a new push by the international community to make this a reality by the end of this year. Cease-fires would ease immense suffering, help to lower the risk of famine, and create space for negotiations towards peace.

Deep mistrust stands in the way. Yet I see reasons for hope. In some places, we see a standstill in the violence. A great many Member States, religious leaders, civil society networks and others back my call. Now is the time to intensify our efforts. Let us be inspired by the spirit of Gandhi and the enduring principles of the UN Charter.
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The life and leadership of Mahatma Gandhi
Gandhi, who helped lead India to independence, has been the inspiration for non-violent movements for civil rights and social change across the world. Throughout his life, Gandhi remained committed to his belief in non-violence even under oppressive conditions and in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges.

The theory behind his actions, which included encouraging massive civil disobedience to British law as with the historic Salt March of 1930, was that "just means lead to just ends"; that is, it is irrational to try to use violence to achieve a peaceful society. He believed that Indians must not use violence or hatred in their fight for freedom from colonialism.



Definition of Non-Violence
The principle of non-violence — also known as non-violent resistance — rejects the use of physical violence in order to achieve social or political change. Often described as "the politics of ordinary people", this form of social struggle has been adopted by mass populations all over the world in campaigns for social justice.

Professor Gene Sharp, a leading scholar on non-violent resistance, uses the following definition in his publication, The Politics of Nonviolent Action:

"Nonviolent action is a technique by which people who reject passivity and submission, and who see struggle as essential, can wage their conflict without violence. Nonviolent action is not an attempt to avoid or ignore conflict. It is one response to the problem of how to act effectively in politics, especially how to wield powers effectively."

While non-violence is frequently used as a synonym for pacifism, since the mid-twentieth century the term non-violence has been adopted by many movements for social change which do not focus on opposition to war.

One key tenet of the theory of non-violence is that the power of rulers depends on the consent of the population, and non-violence therefore seeks to undermine such power through withdrawal of the consent and cooperation of the populace.

There are three main categories of non-violence action:

protest and persuasion, including marches and vigils;
non-cooperation; and
non-violent intervention, such as blockades and occupations.

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