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Celebrating Our Shared Humanity: A Global Dignity Gathering

Actualités News

Celebrating Our Shared Humanity: A Global Dignity Gathering

Philippe Duhamel

Address by The Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean

New York City
Monday, September 23, 2019

Check Against Delivery

These were very kind words, your Royal Highness, Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, and what a pleasure to see you again, especially to have another opportunity to join our efforts for a cause that is so dear to our hearts. 

It’s been a real privilege, on several occasions, to listen to you and to share thoughts with you about the fundamental right to live in full dignity. 

Rien ne devrait enfreindre le droit des femmes, des hommes et des enfants à vivre dans la pleine reconnaissance et le plein respect de leur dignité. 

Rien ne devrait mettre cette dimension intrinsèque, cette condition première de l’humanisme en péril. 

Et pourtant, nous voyons chaque jour combien partout la dignité est mise à mal, autour de nous et dans le monde. 

When His Royal Highness, Crown Prince Haakon of Norway and John Osborn asked me to join the efforts of Global Dignity as a member of the Honorary Board, a few months ago, I immediately felt a community of spirit and, of course, I said yes. 

The universal right of every human being to lead a dignified life. 

The fact that our lives are inextricably tied to each other. 

How as we recognize and uplift the dignity of others, we elevate our own. 

With every heartbeat, I feel these truths pulsating in my bloodstream.

The work Global Dignity carries out in over 80 countries around the world, and counting—from Niger to Mongolia, from France to Bangladesh, from Portugal to India, to Canada …—truly is a matter of life and death. 

I am here committed to help expand our action to 100 countries over the next few months, including Haiti, my native land. I just spent a week there, once again, working on a regional project with rural communities of peasants, supporting their efforts towards making their agricultural and agroforestry activities sustainable, strengthening their cooperatives, reinforcing their capacities, fostering new synergies, securing meaningful investments for a social, inclusive, responsible economic ecosystem that nurtures partnerships, integrity, an ethic of solidarity, new strengths, equity, justice, fair trade, and fairness. 

L’espoir et la dignité en Haïti, mon pays natal, sont tangibles dans ces collectivités rurales si laborieuses, déterminées et soucieuses de sauvegarder leur environnement. C’est grâce à ces communautés qu’Haïti produit un cacao de très grande qualité, l’un des meilleurs au monde. Et c’est un vrai bonheur de soutenir les efforts structurants de coopératives locales qui contribuent à l’amélioration des conditions de vie de la population et à la revitalisation du territoire. 

What is really striking to me is how the populations with whom I engage do not want to be assisted. They want to be able to design their own future. They want to be part of a regional, hopefully national and—why not—global plan that is fully inclusive of their perspectives, experiences, knowledge, know-how, solutions, and creative options. They want to co-design a plan that can bring about the change they want to see, for the sake of their children. 

Better living conditions… de meilleures conditions de vie… accessible schools and dispensaries… des écoles et des dispensaires accessibles… good infrastructures… des infrastrutures de qualité… stability, security… stabilité et sécurité… safe spaces for dialogue… More social cohesion, equal opportunities … Plus d’opportunités de dialogue, pour une plus grande harmonie et cohésion sociales… 

And again, it all boils down to one central goal: “living a life of dignity.”  

What they are saying is “Our lives and our children’s lives matter.” 

« Nos vies et celles de nos enfants comptent. »

“Our rights and freedoms matter.” 

« Nos droits et nos libertés comptent. »

“Our well-being matters.” 

« Vivre mieux nous importe. Nous connaissons la nature des défis qu’il nous faut affronter ensemble et nous savons parfaitement ce que nous voulons. »

“We know the nature of the challenges, the struggles we must overcome together, and we definitely know what we want.”

It’s all about dignity. 

Of course, each and everyone must be part of how that comes about. The process must also involve the children, the youth. 

That is why I appreciate how Global Dignity makes a durable impact on hearts and minds, community after community, all around the world, in countless classrooms and schools, with community-based youth groups, children living at times in the most difficult circumstances: refugee camps, disenfranchised, marginalized communities, in large cities as in small villages and remote areas.

I totally share Global Dignity’s vision of “a world where empathy, compassion, understanding, and love triumph over hate and intolerance, injustice and inequality.” 

« Un monde où l’empathie, la compassion, la compréhension et l’amour l’emportent contre la haine, la discrimination, l’injustice et les inégalités qui nous menacent de plus en plus. »

This, I believe, is the true lifesaving antidote to the hate, discrimination and xenophobia we see rising around the globe. 

In Canada, I co-chair together with my husband, philosopher and filmmaker Jean-Daniel Lafond, a national foundation with a similar aim. We serve the same human principles, working with underprivileged youth across the country who put their artistic talents and creative energies towards social engagement, finding solutions, addressing social issues that affect their lives and their communities, tackling the shared problems of humanity.

So here is a family of values. A family united in purpose. Going global.

J’aime que nous partagions avec vigueur ces valeurs, ces principes fondamentaux qui fondent un idéal que nous voulons voir se propager en ces temps où d’accablantes incertitudes et polarisations font rage, provoquant les pires dérives, l’extrémisme violent et le rejet de l’autre.

The value-based propositions Global Dignity has developed over the years dig out the very ground upon which hate, fear, xenophobia grow. 

Global Dignity’s actions snuff out the fire and fury that feed discrimination, violence and extremism that we see erupting around the world.

Here at the UN General Assembly, it is easy to see how the 5 Principles of Global Dignity are in fact the main pillars that undergird the goals of the 5 UN Summits being held during this High-Level Week.

As a fresh member of the Honorary Board, I am eager to meet you all: Country Chairs, members of the Global Dignity Board, Partner Organizations, members of the International Council of Advisors, new friends and supporters. 

Dignity enjoys such a vast and noble family! I’m looking forward to connecting with all of you. 

Merci pour cela. 

Thank you for taking a stand, in the name of our shared humanity. 

Je suis sincèrement heureuse de me joindre à vous.

It is a privilege to stand and be counted amongst you, amongst people who care deeply about the values that connect us as human beings, and lift us to fulfill our highest purpose in life.

Thank you for being friends and family, thank you for your generosity and lifesaving support for Global Dignity.

Merci d’apporter votre concours à la cause de la dignité universelle, en faveur d’un humanisme universel.

J’aimerais maintenant vous présenter Kader (Kad) Kaneye qui préside le programme déployé au Niger, un pays que je connais bien, que j’ai parcouru de Niamey à Goubé, jusqu’à Zinder et Bandé. J’ai beaucoup aimé travailler avec les populations du Niger, alors que j’étais Secrétaire générale de la Francophonie, cette organisation internationale qui rassemble 88 États et gouvernements sur les 5 continents. Kader Kaneye, un jeune homme remarquable, est à New York pour participer à l’Assemblée générale de l’ONU. Il s’est beaucoup investi dans son rêve qui est la mise en place d’une nouvelle institution d’enseignement supérieur pour le plus grand bénéfice de son pays, des jeunes Nigériennes et Nigériens : l’Université africaine du Développement installée sur le site du Village de la Francophonie à Niamey.

Please greet Kader (KAD) Kaneye, our Country Chair from NIGER, who is also in town this week for the UN General Assembly.  

Kad Kaneye is an impressive young leader. Kad pretty much single-handedly gathered the impetus to build a new institution of higher learning for his country and his people, the African Development University on the grounds of Village de la Francophonie in Niamey.

We are lucky to have him with us.

Kader, à toi la parole… 

— Michaëlle Jean