Knut Ostby: Opening Remarks at the Nauru Joint Presence launch

09 Sep 2010

Rt. Honourable President Marcus Stephen 
Honourable Ministers and Members of Parliament
Excellencies
Distinguished senior government officials
Ladies and Gentlemen

The Government of Nauru has been an active player in the international community since becoming a member of the United Nations in September 1999. Your representatives have taken part in many important UN fora and have not been afraid of letting their voice be heard, in favor of specific issues for the Pacific and also on global issues. One of the issues that your representatives have raised on many occasions is the need for a stronger representation of the UN agencies in countries across the Pacific, including Nauru. And we are very pleased that today, on Thursday, the 9th of September 2010, the United Nations is formally launching its Joint Presence in Nauru.  With the opening of this office today, Nauru is part of a network of eight Joint Presences in countries across the Pacific, operated by UNDP, UNICEF and UNFPA.  We see this as a beginning and hope to bring more UN agencies and activities to assist Nauru with her needs and priorities in future. 

Through the Joint Presence UNDP, UNICEF and UNFPA and also other agencies will closely collaborate to assist the Government of Nauru in encouraging economic growth and attainment of MDGs, strengthening institutions of democratic governance, promoting gender equality and empower women.  The UN Joint Presence in Nauru will be a gateway for the Nauruan Government, connecting the country to the UN’s resources for technical assistance and policy advice.  We will work with the Joint Presence in this way to achieve the national development objectives (NSDS) through connecting the country to the vast network of knowledge and expertise.

On this historic occasion, let me express our deep appreciation to the Government and people of Nauru for your continuous support of the idea of establishing a Joint UN presence in Nauru.  I would like to acknowledge guidance and leadership by the Right Honorable President Mr. Marcus Stephen as well as Dr. Kieren Keke, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, in the process leading up to this event today.  I would like also to thank our sister agencies in the UN system for embracing and joining the initiative of a Joint UN Presence in Nauru.

The journey to reach where we are today has been a long one. Together with a number of other Pacific countries, Nauru has raised the need for a stronger representation of the UN at the highest levels, and on a number of occasions.  On our side, we have continued to look for feasible solutions that could work within today’s resource constrained environment. After extensive consultations and preparations, United Nations will now have a home in Nauru.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In the Pacific, the work of the United Nations is covered by the UN Development Assistance Framework, which was developed in consultation with national and regional stakeholders throughout 14 countries in the Pacific, aligning it with the Pacific Plan and your own National Sustainable Development Strategy. The Framework (or UNDAF) guides our work for the 5-year period from 2008 to 2012 and envisages 4 key areas of partnership, which constitute both our objectives and, we believe, points of comparative advantage for the UN:

  1. Equitable Economic Growth and Millennium Development Goals.
  2. Democratic Governance and Human Rights.
  3. Equitable Social Services.
  4. Environment and Sustainable Development.
  5. In addition, we work in several cross-cutting areas, such as Gender, Human Rights, HIV/AIDS and Disaster Preparedness and Response.

The Millennium Development Goals, which was agreed by 189 countries made at the Millennium Summit in the year 2000, represent a focus for the majority of our activities, both in Nauru and globally. They represent the right to development for all, and have measurable indicators to be reached by 2015. But the most important feature of the MDGs is that they are owned by all countries. Here in Nauru they are reflected in an Annex to your National Sustainable Development Strategy, and at the recent Pacific Forum in Vanuatu, the Leaders agreed to a special two page Annex to emphasize the need to redouble our efforts to reach the goals during the next five years until 2015.  Together with many other Pacific countries, Nauru will participate in the MDG Summit at UN in New York later this month, and we hope that this Summit will create agreement on ways to accelerate efforts to reach the MDGs, in the Pacific and globally.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Joint Presence will help us to strengthen the partnership between Nauru and the UN in three critical ways:

First, through the “presence” itself, we are hoping to be able to maintain policy and programme dialogue with counterparts on a daily basis. This will help us to understand local developments better and improve our programme responsiveness.

Secondly, because this is the “joint” presence, UNDP, UNFPA and UNICEF will be in a better position to offer to the Government and other partners more integrated, more effective solutions.

Last, but not least we expect that the UN Joint Presence in Nauru will be a useful gateway for the Nauruan Government, connecting the country to the UN’s global resources for technical assistance and policy advice. We will work with the Joint Presence in this way to achieve the objectives of the National Sustainable Development Strategy through connecting the country to our world wide network of knowledge and expertise.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The United Nations looks forward to continuing to work with you to generate tangible improvements in the Millennium Development Goals for the people of the Nauru, and to meet the national development goals. The launch today is not an end, but a beginning. We hope the Joint Presence will grow and will become a major pillar in development work in Nauru in the future.

Thank you very much!