United Nations officials are marking Human Solidarity Day today by calling for joint action to reach the globally agreed goals of reducing extreme poverty, hunger, disease and other social and environmental ills by 2015, and to create a more sustainable future for all.
"We all have a role in overcoming today's economic, political, environmental and social challenges, and we must all share the costs and benefits of sustainable development according to needs and ability," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message for the Day, observed annually on 20 December.
"This is the essence of justice, fairness and equity. It is the meaning of solidarity."
The UN General Assembly proclaimed Human Solidarity Day convinced that the promotion of the culture of solidarity and the spirit of sharing is important for combating poverty. This year's theme is "Bridging the gaps to achieve international development goals by 2015 and beyond."
Mr. Ban recalled that, in elaborating the global anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - which were agreed 2000 and have a 2015 deadline - world leaders recognized that these objectives demanded that everyone practice mutual respect and accept shared responsibility.
"I urge people from all nations, faiths, cultures and traditions to work together in common cause to keep the promise made at the turn of the Millennium and leave a legacy of peace, prosperity and sustainable progress for generations to come," stated Mr. Ban.
The President of the General Assembly, John Ashe, highlighted the fact that solidarity will be as crucial as ever as UN Member States shape the development agenda that will follow 2015.
"The post-2015 development agenda will represent a significant global evolution in our thinking insofar as it envisions an interdependent, planetary community regardless of disparities in development," he said in his message for the Day.
"I believe that our success at building solidarity, equity and social justice depends on the extent to which our differences are celebrated rather than treated as a justification for hatred and violence," he added. We can no longer allow mothers and children to perish from preventable diseases. Conflict and environmental degradation must cease to threaten our existence as a human family.
"Our children and young people must receive the education and skills that will guide them toward a path of entrepreneurship and access to decent jobs. And finally, we must continue to strive to develop sustainable global partnerships," he stated.
In her statement to mark the Day, the UN Independent Expert on Human Rights and International Solidarity, Virginia Dandan, said that many global challenges and mass human rights violations, including global poverty, have persisted because of the pervasive gaps that exist - gaps in communities, between countries, and in international policy frameworks - which allow the world's most vulnerable people to fall through the cracks.
"International solidarity is the bridge across these gaps in understanding, action and accountability. It is an imperative that can propel positive collective action among our communities, governments and international policy-makers, to ensure that the world moves forward together as one," said Ms. Dandan.
In designing the next global development agenda, it is vital to not only recognize what has been achieved but to take stock of the gaps that remain and to learn from them, she noted.
"The post-2015 development agenda is an opportunity to close the gaps that persist, and to create a global development framework based on a genuine global partnership between States with human rights at its heart.
"International solidarity must be our rallying cry to ensure that our governments come through on their commitments to meet the most basic development needs of our poorest communities."