Your Excellency Mr. Osman Saleh, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Eritrea;
Excellencies Ministers of Government and officials of the Peoples’ Front For Democracy and Justice;
Your Excellencies Ambassadors, Heads of Missions and Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Members of the UN Country Team in Eritrea and all UN Colleagues,
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Thank you, on behalf of the United Nations Family in Eritrea, for joining us this evening as we mark UN Day 2021. We are deeply honoured that you could all come.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As often happens, annual observances can become an automatic ritual and, over time, they lose their sharp messages and purpose. We must therefore always remind ourselves of the purpose of Our United Nations.
The UN was founded 76 years ago, in pursuit of the ideals of global peace and security; good relations and cooperation among nations to solve political, economic, social, cultural, 3 problems; and (I quote) in defense of human rights and freedoms with a shared belief for the dignity and worth of every human being, the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom (end of quote).
The preamble of the United Nations charter which came into force on the 24th October 1945 has a powerful beginning. It starts with “we the people of the United Nations”. We must never forget that, while the UN is an assembly of Member States, at core, it is Our United Nations, We the People………
I would bring to the room again the words of the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, whose recorded message we have just watched: “The values that have powered the UN Charter for the last 76 years — peace, development, human rights, and opportunity for all are values that have no expiry date.”
Thus, despite the imperfections of the international system and the challenges we face, we must never give up on the ideals for which the UN was established.
We must never give up on global peace and security and developing fruitful relations and cooperation among nations.
We must never give up on greater freedom, dignity and rights for all.
We must never give up on cooperation between nations in order to solve economic, social, cultural, environmental or humanitarian international problems.
We must never give up on our hopes and dreams for education and health for every child and every mother; food on the proverbial table of every family; opportunity for our young people to pursue and find their dreams; respect and prosperity for all, big or small; safety and succor for those in distress including those needing our care and protection, wherever they may be. This is why we are the United Nations!
And we must never give up on the multilateralism which the UN stands for. If anything, there can be no better platform than the UN to collectively work on our pressing challenges – climate change, our common desire for peace, security, shared prosperity and human dignity for all. These, more than ever, demand that Member States work better together and provide the leadership and the political will necessary for the more fundamental reforms required to upgrade Our United Nations to a mature and robust institution, fit for the 21st century and beyond. We need more commitment to multilateralism, not less!
Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,
I wish to commend Eritrea for its commitment to protect multilateralism. Its desire to take up leadership roles in the United Nations (be it in New York, in Geneva or in Nairobi) and it’s active participation in UN processes is strong evidence that Eritrea takes its role as a member state of the United Nations seriously.
A week from now, the world will gather in Glasgow, Scotland for the 26th United Nations Climate Change conference, or COP26, seen by many as a last-ditch effort to build international consensus on saving the planet.
Eritrea made a very early commitment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), going back to 1995. I commend Eritrea for submitting its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the COP21 in Paris in 2015. Eritrea is doing excellent work towards mitigating the effects of climate change. From national tree planting to the protection of terrestrial and marine resources, the Government is walking the talk. I urge Eritrea to stay the course and push on with its commitment to the UNFCCC process.
Your excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen
I am honoured and privileged to be here to celebrate my first UN Day since my arrival in Eritrea about 4 months ago. Please allow me to claim all the privileges and allowances accorded to a newcomer, and to reflect for a minute on those first 4 months as the leader of the UN here in Eritrea.
First, I feel extremely honoured to be in this role of supporting the development vision of Eritrea as a Member State of the UN. Thank you for receiving me so warmly. I am still learning and understanding the unique historical and development context of Eritrea. Already, I have come to admire the pride in identity of the Eritrean people and their singular determination to cut a unique path to development and to uplift the lives and national dignity of Eritreans. The country has achieved so much, amidst great and growing challenges. And now, COVID-19 has had untold impacts on the socio-economic fabric and we are faced with even more challenges with the present regional geo-politics after a glimmer of hope for a different path in 2018.
It is perhaps for this reason that, every day I wake up and head to the office, and every evening as I return home, my mind wanders to questions of how my dedicated team and I, can be ever more useful, in support of Eritrea’s development aspirations. To put it a little more directly, I have wondered whether we, as a team, are doing even a quarter of what we could do together with you. This message is not new. I believe it was also shared by my predecessor. The UN in Eritrea can do much more than it is currently doing to support the government and people of Eritrea. We have a devoted family of national and international colleagues, skilled and experienced in various fields, committed and idealistic, who wake up every day to deliver less than they should. That can’t be right.
We are here, we are ready to serve and make real the vision of the United Nations in its obligations to its member states.
Please put us to work!
As we move together to the period of a new Cooperation Framework from 2022, it is my hope that we will see an increasingly robust movement in the programmes we have developed jointly with you. Eritrea prides itself, and rightly so, for its achievements in the MDG era. We can do much more together to focus forward, in this “decade of action” to address the integrated agenda of the SDGs. The times are challenging, I know, but our collective will can deliver more for the people we serve.
As we prepare for the work ahead, I reaffirm the commitment of the United Nations in Eritrea to work in partnership with the Government of the State of Eritrea to achieve its development goals and as we do so, to ensure no one is left behind on the country’s path to prosperity.
I thank the GoSE and our development partners for the continued collaboration and cooperation to deliver for the people of Eritrea.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I conclude by, once again, echoing the words of the SG:
“As we mark UN Day, let’s unite, and live up to the full promise, potential and hope of the United Nations.”
Long live the UN-Eritrea cooperation. Long live the Ideals of the UN Charter. Happy UN Day!
Asmara, 22 October 2021