Dear speech-fans and -friends, 

Happy New Year! 

That 2019 will be happy is by no means a foregone conclusion. Stakes are high (for our non-European readers, 2019 will see European elections resulting in a new European Parliament and a new European Commission; and one of our Member States will decide how to leave the Union) and challenges are huge, as this past month selection shows once again: populism and the defense of our fundamental values, climate change (with the COP 24 speeches), terrorism and sexual violence (with the Nobel peace prize lectures). All call for speeches that identify clearly the issue, show progress and give hope, and empower in strong calls for action. This selection of speeches and quotes shines a spotlight on a few such speeches.

So, to start well this new year, enjoy the reading below and, more than ever :

Best wishes,

Great speeches,



Call for action

(English below) Vos Majestés, Distingués membres du Comité Nobel, Mesdames et Messieurs, Amis de la paix,

Le défi est clair. Il est à notre portée.

Pour les Sarah, pour les femmes, les hommes et les enfants du Congo, je vous lance un appel urgent de ne pas seulement nous remettre le Prix Nobel de la Paix mais de vous mettre debout et de dire ensemble et à haute voix : « La violence en RDC, c’est assez ! Trop c’est trop ! La paix maintenant ! »

(In English)

Your Majesties, Distinguished Members of the Nobel Committee, Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends of peace,

The challenge is clear. It is within our reach.

For all Sarahs, for all women, for all men and children of Congo, I call upon you not only to award this Nobel Peace Prize to my country’s people, but to stand up and together say loudly: “The violence in the DRC, it’s enough! Enough is enough! Peace, now!”

Denis Mukwege, Nobel peace prize lecture, 10 December 2018


Thank you very much for this honour, but the fact remains that the only prize in the world that can restore our dignity is justice and the prosecution of criminals.

Nadia Murad, Nobel peace prize lecture, 10 December 2018



Today is a special day for me. 

It is the day when good has triumphed over evil, 

the day when humanity defeated terrorism, 

the day that the children and women who have suffered persecution have triumphed over the perpetrators of these crimes.

Nadia Murad, Nobel peace prize lecture, 10 December 2018


If credibility is of the essence, get ready to address the challenge raised by this teenager

You’re never too small to make a difference.

Greta Thunberg, Speech at COP 24, Katowice, December 2018


In politics, bridges are more important than walls, though we know how much easier and faster it is to raise a wall, than to build a bridge.

Donald Tusk, Award of the honorary doctorate from the technical university of Dortmund, 16 December 2018, 


Pathos to defend our fundamental values

As a young historian, I was dealing at the time with the role of myths and legends in the Polish politics of the 1930s, and already back then I had no doubt that emotions, symbols and simplifications motivate people much more than rational arguments and programmes. That they can be very useful, but also very dangerous, especially if mythologies begin to dominate in the public sphere (…)

Today we need leaders who understand that their role is not only having technocratic skill and the ability to stay in power. We need leaders who can use the potential of emotions to defend our fundamental values.

Donald Tusk, Award of the honorary doctorate from the technical university of Dortmund, 16 December 2018, 


You want to convey the idea that they are myriad? Use a litany!

So, today, I join you to express my admiration for the world’s human rights defenders who dedicate – and sometimes sacrifice – their lives demanding respect for economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights. 

They are a diverse set of individuals and groups. 

Indigenous peoples defending their lands, traditions and the environment. 

Citizens groups saving migrants from drowning and exploitation. 

Humanitarian workers delivering life-saving aid to civilians caught up in conflict. 

Women fighting for participation in boardrooms and at peace tables. 

Lawyers advocating for the independence of judiciary. 

Trade union leaders pushing for decent jobs and a living wage. 

Journalists investigating disappearances and corruption. 

Campaigners protesting pollution and climate change. 

People of African descent standing up against racism and discrimination. 

Health workers looking for ways to improve treatment for HIV patients. 

All are defending and advocating for the rights, principles and values on which our Organization is built.

Antonio Guterres, Remarks to General Assembly on human rights defenders, 18 December 2018


Reach out to our audience (here : political science students)

Enrico (Letta) asked me to talk to you about science and innovation, and I am very happy because I think it’s a subject that is extremely important for politicians. And for our future politicians, so all of you in this room today.

Carlos Moedas, Lecture at Sciences-Po, 6 December 2018


Get the atmosphere

We’re almost there.

Only 13 working days until the Christmas holiday period begins.

Across Europe, schools are preparing end-of-year shows, seasonal markets are in full swing, shops are opening their doors late, people are starting to fill their fridges and freezers.

For many, it is a season to celebrate. For others, it is a season of excess and for a third category of people it is just another cold season to survive.

Vytenis Andriukaitis, Prevention and reduction of food waste and food losses, 5 December 2018