Speech of UN Resident Coordinator in Maldives for UN Day 2018
Distinguished guests from the Government and State Institutions,
Your Excellencies and Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Partners from the Civil Society and Private Sector,
Friends of the UN,
My dear UN colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
And a very warm welcome to the 2018 UN Day celebration.
Today we are together here in our national attires. We are celebrating the beauty in our diversity. Yet, there is also a unifier in this room. It brings us together and makes us all the citizens of the world – the UN flag.
We celebrate the United Nations Day on 24th October. As our Secretary-General said, it is the birthday of the UN Charter, which was signed 73 years ago by 51 countries.
At its heart, the UN Charter affirms to stand for the poorest and most vulnerable in the name of social justice and global peace.
You may recall how it starts: ‘We the Peoples…’
I think this opening line is very special. It emphasizes the shared aspirations and responsibilities of every citizen in the world, including all of you, all of us here.
In the Maldives, UN has been present since February 1965 when WHO opened its Country Office. This is even seven months before the Maldives became the 116th UN member state in September that year. Since then, we have sailed along with you in the very impressive development journey. For us, the journey has been exciting, rewarding, and sometimes choppy!
For the past 53 years, we have worked together to;
- Feed the hungry,
- Vaccinate children, and
- Provide quality education and health services.
We have been committed to;
- Defend human rights for all,
- Protect children against violence, and
- Empower women, young people and others.
We have also been at the forefront to;
- Support tsunami victims, and
- Accelerate climate action and
- Care for the environment.
Some of our work is visible, such as improving water access and waste management for communities. Some might not be as visible. Such as closed-door diplomacy, strategic policy support and capacity development.
So, it made me very happy when I was walking to my office, a random person on a motorbike stopped and said, “Thank you for all the good work of the UN”, and he just left. I was surprised and at the same time found it rewarding to hear that we are making a difference.
I also felt rewarded to witness Maldivian’s firm commitment to democracy. The voter turnout of 89% was extraordinary. It was impressive that the voters in and outside the country patiently waited to exercise their fundamental right to vote. And it all went so peacefully. It was truly Democracy in Action!
From the UN side for the past decade, the UN Department of Political Affairs has been promoting social cohesion and dialogue. We have been encouraging all the stakeholders to remain engaged and keep the faith in democratic principles. We, at the UN, will continue to support the country on its path towards a mature democracy.
This year also marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It ensures fundamental rights for all people. From our end at the UN, the protection of human rights is always the foundation of our work.
We also continue to focus on responding to the Maldives’ evolving development needs and priorities. On the occasion of UN Day, we, the United Nations in the Maldives, renew our commitment to work with all of you to advance the Sustainable Development Goals. Together, let’s make sure that the benefits of development are shared among all, and that “no one is left behind”.
Of course, the core of the United Nations lies in the contribution of the 193 UN Member States. This includes all of you here today.
It is not possible to summarize the immense contributions of the Member States, but allow me to do my humble best to acknowledge your contributions in just a few words.
Bangladesh: Bangladesh has been one of the largest supporters to the UN Peacekeeping missions. You are also now hosting the largest refugee camp in the world. Dhan’ya bada, Bangladesh!
China was one of the first members of the UN and is one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, contributing immensely to South-South Cooperation. Shei Shei, China!
As a founding member of the UN, India has made significant contributions to implementing the goals of the Charter. The ideals of non-violence by Gandhi deeply influenced the UN at the time of inception, and it continues to do so. Dhanyavaad, India!
Japan has always been an active member of the UN – having strong engagements in humanitarian and development activities, and is one of the leading donors currently. Arigatou gozaimasu, Japan!
Pakistan is also one of the leading contributors to the UN Peacekeeping Operation. When I was working for the peace keeping mission in Congo, I personally witnessed Pakistani peacekeepers in action. Shukria, Pakistan!
Since the 1970s, Saudi Arabia has provided foreign assistance to many countries and organizations. You have become one of the top donors in the world. Shukraan, Saudi Arabia!
Sri Lanka has contributed to the UN System in multiple ways, including its norm and policy setting process. Sri Lanka has produced important UN professionals, including three Under-Secretary Generals. Obata stutiyi, Sri Lanka!
Last, but not least, the Maldives. Maldives is a development success story. It was one of the poorest countries in the world at its independence in 1965. Today, it is an upper middle-income country, and has one of the highest human development indicators in this region. The country has a nearly universal literacy rate, universal immunization, the lowest infant-mortality and maternal-mortality rates. The Maldives has eliminated diseases, such as polio, measles, and malaria.
All these achievements give hope to other member states, who aspire to climb up a similar development trajectory. All this makes Maldives a true leader for the Small Island Developing States. It is not surprising that the Maldives was elected as a chair of the AOSIS to advocate for the rights of SIDS for the past four years. Congratulations and Shukriya, Maldives!
Very importantly, please join me to thank all the UN colleagues. Along with the Member States, it is the diverse and talented colleagues, who help bring the UN Charter to life. It is with your hard work and dedication that United Nations is recognized as a trusted development partner in this country. All UN colleagues, present and past, should be proud that our contributions are making a difference in the quality of life for all Maldivians.
While we celebrate the UN Day, the world is shifting beneath our feet, and we face many crises. No single country or organization can address today’s challenges alone. The timeless values of the UN Charter must remain our guiding light. Let us, we the peoples, reaffirm our shared duty to unite our strengths, just as we are united here today.
Once again thank you very much for being part of today’s celebration, and being part of the beautiful United Nations! Shukriya.
UN Resident Coordinator in Maldives
Date: 29 Oct, 2018