UNITED NATIONS, MALDIVES, 23 October 2004 – Tomorrow, on 24 October 2003, the United Nations Family in the Maldives will proudly celebrate the 58th Anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. For the Maldives there is a special reason for celebration as the year 2003 also marks a quarter century’s presence of UNDP and UNICEF in the country. 25 years ago the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) set up offices in Male’.

Today is therefore an opportune time to reflect on the accomplishments of the UN. Today is also the time to reflect on how best to address the challenges it continues to face- both at the local and international levels. At the international level no institution better represents the global community than the United Nations.

In less than a century, the UN and its agencies have helped improve the health of millions, acted as a key player in the decolonization movement, played a major role in defusing international crises and resolving protracted conflict situations. Futhermore, the United Nations is the premier partner for furthering development in poorer countries.

At the same time, the United Nations still struggles with the difficulties inherent in achieving cooperation between 191 countries characterized by vastly different social, cultural, religious and economic realities. However, it does not negate the crucial role that the UN has as a collective mechanism to deal with threats to international peace and security and humanitarian crises. We believe patience, perseverance and the support and engagement of citizens around the globe are needed to ensure an effective United Nations. The UN is only as strong as its member states allow it to be, and the voices of citizens can play a significant role in bolstering the governmental support for the organization.

Today, in the midst of so much uncertainty, is the ideal time to demonstrate our support for the best hope for a peaceful future, the United Nations.In the Maldives, UNDP and UNICEF during 25 years have both had leading roles in the fields of education, health and nutrition, human resources development, fisheries and tourism, civil aviation and children’s rights. In close cooperation with our partners in the Government and civil society we have helped accomplished much in the efforts to improve conditions for the Maldivian population, making a difference through targeted interventions, capacity building and development cooperation in general.

Together, we have addressed concerns such as the graduation from the list of Least Developed Countries.Today is the first day of the continuation of our technical and other assistance in areas that most need the United Nations’ support. UNDP is focusing on poverty alleviation, environment regeneration, gender mainstreaming, sustainable development and training of human resources. UNICEF’s priorities in line with its mandate concentrates on improving conditions for child survival, development, protection and participation with special focus on fighting malnutrition and child abuse.

Together with the other UN agencies represented in the country, UNDP and UNICEF will continue to work closely with the Government of Maldives, NGOs and private-sector partners. Together we will help pave the way for a better future for Maldivian children and adolescents, who are the future of the Nation.

In the Maldives the 58th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations and the 25th anniversary of UNDP and UNICEF will be celebrated with a number of activities to mark United Nations Day on 24 October 2003. The celebrations will begin with an afternoon of sports from 1600-1800hrs at the Social Centre.

The programme includes a mixed net ball match between UN and Government staff, tug-of-war, children’s activities and a traditional Maldivian Maahefun. This will be followed by the broadcasting of the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s message, read by the UN Resident Coordinator in Maldives Mr. Minh H. Pham.

The same evening will see the launching of the UN agencies’ “infomercials” on TV Maldives. The celebrations will continue with the publication of UN success stories in the local newspapers. It will end 29 October, when at 21h30 the Minister of Communications, Science and Technology is scheduled to officially launch the Common Country Website of the United Nations in the Maldives.

Heads of UN agencies, members of the diplomatic corps, dignitaries and senior Government officials as well as UN staff members will take part in this event.  The United Nations’ Family in the Maldives is happy to celebrate close to three decades of its presence in Maldives and looks forward to continue the successful and effective cooperation.

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