First Ladies High-Level Forum
at the #UNGA 73rd Session
SDG#16 | 21 SEPTEMBER 2018


I was privileged being a keynote speaker at the First Ladies High-Level Forum in correlation with the #UNGA73 First Ladies High-Level Forum along with the celebration of the International Day of Peace in New York City on Friday, September 21, 2018.
The presented title of my speech is: “WE HAVE A PROBLEM… AND, THE SOLUTION…”

BIRCAN ÜNVER, Founder-President, TV-Web Producer and Head
NGO Rep. to the United Nations Department of Public Information
The Light Millennium, A Charitable, Multi-Media & Culture Organization


Although my initial presentation time was shortened due to a large-list of speakers of the event, in which, I’ve mainly focused on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) #Article19, Freedom of Expression. A combination of the concept of SECULARISM along with the Article#19 at large is presented as the SOLUTION to the several decades over-due all global ongoing problems.

However, this one of the most important two elements is missing in the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda, more specifically, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Without including and implementing these as the backbone and integral part of the SDGS along with achieving PEACE & SECURITY for girls and women on the global level, in this context, we may not be able to achieve these noble goals by 2030 even by 2050!

These initial thoughts were in mind, I started off my formal presentation followed by greetings and thanking the two key organizers of the event, namely Dr. Ada Akaka and Dr. Monica Sanchez, with the following quote from the 1999 Manifesto, “A Thousands Year More” of The Light Millennium Organization:
“I believe that nature has an extraordinary power, but I don’t understand why this extraordinary power facilitates the darkness and permits its success… History and politics look like a contingency of conspiracies and intrigues. Why millions of peoples in this world worship to most violent leaders in every age? Is darkness the common energy of humans?”
Today’s unthinkable is tomorrow’s tradition.” Seth Shostak, American Astronomer

This was my way of introducing the core vision of The Light Millennium in connection with the International Day of Peace and in support of the Right to Peace theme.

Then moved to the next point that is, specifically, on the three articles out of thirty of the UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS (UDHR) | 10 December 1948 (General Assembly resolution 217 A)

Article 1
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 3
Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person.

Article 19
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Through these articles of the UDHR, also an emphasis to “Access to Information”, is underlined as the missing link in the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda. Because, there is nothing in it as a main goal or sub-targets to that of Article#19, in more generic terms, Freedom of Expression. This has not been included in the Sustainable Development Goals. Specifically, in connection with a set of HUMAN Development related GOALS such as SDG#1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and onward… Also, the Article#19 was not included in the Eight Millennium Development Goals during the 2000 – 2015 period.

Thus, can we really achieve the UN’s 2030 Agenda without freedom of expression (hate speeches and all forms of promotion of hate are excluded)?
Without freedom of information,
Without freedom of access to information,
Without the development of full human capacity,
Without removing prejudices on one to another,
Without SECULARISM as the backbone of the world’s political structure and governance?

Even including Article#19 in alone one of the SDGs as sub-target or let’s imagine it as Goal#18, even this won’t be sufficient towards the solution in today’s world problems unless SECULARISM also is its like a skin-and-bond. Clearly, both needs and must to be as an integral part of the each and all the SDGs, in particular, in its all “Global Security, Peace, and Human Development” related goals and sub-targets.

To take up this idea further, without including Article#19 as the backbone of the achieving the SDGs by 2030, and without given any sufficient attention and place in any discussion at the UN Premises on the Article#19 at large (not limited with World Press Freedom Day – May 3), and on the SECULARISM, which both rarely come up even as a question from the floor during the UN’s any given regular sessions.

This may be a strong indication that we may not be able to make a drastic progress towards the 2030 Agenda as long as we are leaving out these two key points. It is very obvious that ‘we do have a problem and the solution’ as long as we channel all our resources and energy and time on the global level towards the solution, only then we have a chance towards the Culture of Peace on the global level.

In reference to the presentation’s full title, and as in an abstract form to ongoing wars, conflicts, hunger, inequality in education on the global level, in health, diseases, gender inequality, child marriage, equal right to quality education, clean water, energy, life on land, life underwater, and each of them is interconnected, in particular, with the human development related Goals and SDG#16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions.

Most of us aware of to some of the persistent issues both on the national, regional and global levels that, I put all in an abstract definition as: “We Have A Problem!…”


Below quotes are presented in support of the SECULARISM vision as the SOLUTION to all the world’s ongoing and persistent problems in conjunction to the Article 19:

The belief that religion should not play a role in government, education, or other public parts of society” (

The separation of religion and state is the foundation of secularism. It ensures religious groups don’t interfere in affairs of state, and the state doesn’t interfere in religious affairs.” (

Article 20 of Japan’s constitution, written in 1946, states the following: “Freedom of religion is guaranteed to all. No religious organization shall receive any privileges from the State, nor exercise any political authority.
No person shall be compelled to take part in any religious act, celebration, rite or practice. The State and its organs shall refrain from religious education or any other religious activity
.” (

“Secularists are not against the right of individuals to have a religious faith. What they oppose is special treatment for religious beliefs and organizations.” (

Bircan Ünver with Ambassador Tete Antonio, Secretary of State for External Relations of Angola; Former Permanent Observer of the African Union to the United Nations

As it is introduced in the beginning, the event dedicated to the RIGHT TO PEACE: Women & Youth through Culture and the International Day of Peace (September 21) themes along with in support of the SDG#16.
Although it was in so much rush, I was able to briefly touch on the concept of “secularism” as a response to my title’s second portion, “…And, the Solution!”
In reference to Women & Youth, and also on “What We Do” on behalf of The Light Millennium Organization, the full presentation is available by clicking on this link>

The event was organized by Africana Women Working Group at the UN and Miss Caricom International Foundation and convened by Dr. Ada Okika and Dr. Monica Sanchez.

The Profile of the Organizers

Africana Women Working Group at the UN has since its inception in 2011 focused on the UNGA Agenda for women and girls. The working group is a networking of women and women-focused organizations. It has addressed pertinent concerns on women and girls along the UN agenda for women.

Africana Women Working Group at the UN has attracted many first ladies to its High-Level Forum at the UN General Assembly each including the wife of the former Secretary General of the United Nations, Mrs. Ban Ki Moon. Africana Women Working Group launched the My Sisters’ Health Watch at the UN with the support of the President of UNGA70 Session, UN Missions, UNFPA, UN Women, Every Woman Every Child, WHO and African Union Observer Mission to the UN.

Miss Caricom International Foundation was established in 2004 with the mission to give Girls & Boys the confidence, and Self Esteem they need in life while learning about the different cultures, the heritage of people all over the world. Miss Caricom International Foundation is a Nonprofit public charity with a focus on educating & promoting young people to develop outstanding character & sustainable goals through culture. Source: Brochure of the Program

_ . _

Full Presentation (pdf): “We Have A Problem… And, The Solution!…”

Special Thanks to Nusret Ozgül, for his support for the initial research on Turkey.

Tagged with: #GlobalPeace #CultureOfPeace #bircanunver #keynote #peace
#sustainabledevelopment #unitednations #FirstLadiesHLF #InternatioalDayOfPeace #Unescocforge #DrAdaOkika #AfricanaWorkingGroupUN #MissCaricom #DrMonicaSanchez #UniversalDeclarationOfHumanRights #UDHR #lightmillennium #UNDPINGO

Social Media: @Bircan.Unver #bircanunver
@lightmillennium  #lightmillennium @The Light Millennium @TurkishLibraryMuseum #TurkishLibraryMuseum

– Posted on September 24, 2018.

Turkish Library Museum is under the umbrella of  The Light Millennium Organization, which is officially formed based in New York in 2001.
NGO Associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information since 2005. |

"The U.S. Turkish Library & Museum For Friendship and Peace" project joined, and has been produced under the umbrealla of The Light Millennium Organization effective on October 15, 2015.