Knut Ostby: Speech at UN Day celebrations

25 Oct 2010

Your Excellencies, Heads of Diplomatic Missions,
Senior Government Officials
Representatives of the Civil Society
Private Sector Partners here present,
Distinguished Guests,
Children and Young People,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Ni sa bula vinaka and greetings from the United Nations team in the Pacific. It is indeed a great pleasure to welcome you all here, on this special day.

First, I would like to take this opportunity to read to you the message by the UN Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, and I quote:

“On United Nations Day, I express my great appreciation to the millions of people throughout the world who believe deeply in our work for peace, development and human rights, and who uphold our ideals and help us achieve our goals.  To all of you, friends and fellow citizens of the world, I say:  thank you.

Sixty-five years ago on this date, the founding Charter of the United Nations entered into force.  Every year on UN Day, we reaffirm our global mission.  We reassert the universal values of tolerance, mutual respect and human dignity.  And we recognize the progress we have made together:  gains in literacy and life expectancy; the spread of knowledge and technology; advances in democracy and the rule of law.

But above all, United Nations Day is a day on which we resolve to do more.  More to protect those caught up in armed conflict, to fight climate change and avert nuclear catastrophe; more to expand opportunities for women and girls, and to combat injustice and impunity; more to meet the Millennium Development Goals.

Last month’s Millennium Development Goals Summit at the United Nations generated political momentum as well as financial commitments that are especially significant in these difficult economic times.  I am determined to press ahead as the 2015 deadline approaches.

Despite our problems, despite polarization and distrust, our interconnected world has opened up vast new possibilities for common progress.  Let us commit to do even more to realize the great vision set out in the United Nations Charter.”

Today’s UN Day celebration marks a key milestone in the UN presence thus far in the Pacific. Today we are launching the UN Pacific website – www.pacific.one.un.org and it is indeed a proud moment for the UN family.

The launching of the UN website signifies unity and delivery as ONE by all UN agencies based in the Pacific. In the Pacific the UN continues to do its utmost to respond to peace and development, human rights and progress for the peoples of the Pacific. The former UN Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, once said that: We cannot have peace without development; we cannot have development without peace; and without human rights, we cannot enjoy either peace or development.

In the Pacific, we have developed a United Nation Development Assistance Framework, (UNDAF) 2008-2012, that is aligned to the Pacific Plan. It is unique compared to other UNDAF around the globe because it covers 14 countries and two United Nation Country Teams (Fiji & Samoa).

In this document we have four main pillars that are drawn from the 14 Pacific Islands development plans. The pillars are: 1) Equitable Economic Growth, 2) Good Governance and Human Rights, 3) Equitable Social Protection Services, and 4) Sustainable Environmental Management.

In our third year of implementation, we are working for a more cohesive approach of our efforts in countries across the Pacific. This is done through our Joint Presence Offices. Currently as I speak there are eight (8) Joint Presence Offices – Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Republic of Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, each equipped with a Country Development Manager. The Country Development Managers are the UN voices across the vast oceans of the Pacific.

As Pacific Islanders look to the UN to fight poverty, keep peace, expand education, strive for good governance, combat climate change and protect human rights, our Joint Presence Offices enables our efforts towards these goals, at the service of the people and Nations of the Pacific.

Ladies and Gentlemen, in these times when we have been hit by a combination of crisis, the global food, fuel and financial crises as well as the ever increasing threat of climate change, the Pacific is directly affected by these global crises. This comes on top of already existing challenges and one of the most important ways we can take action is to work towards the Millennium Development Goals. The urgency of addressing these issues was recognized by world leaders at the recent UN MDG Summit in September 2010, where a global action plan to achieve the eight Millennium Development Goals was adopted. The outcome document sets out a concrete action agenda that spells out specific steps such as targeted investments, greater investment in women and girls, effective use of trade and investment opportunities and country led development efforts backed by enabling international environments.

To achieve this requires focused and specific action.  It requires that we identify specific bottlenecks, and specific areas that have high impact, and focus our work on them.

The UNDP Administrator, Helen Clark, has proposed the following eight action points to eradicate poverty through the accelerated achievements of the MDGs over the next five years: (i) Support country level  development;  (ii) Foster inclusive economic growth; (iii) Improve opportunities for women and girls; (iv) Continue to target investments in health and education, in clean water and sanitation;  (v) Scale up social protection and employment programmes; (vi)  Expand access to energy and promote low carbon development;  (vii) Improve domestic resource mobilization;  (viii) Commitment by the international community to provide development assistance and improve the predictability and effectiveness of aid.

With the renewed vigor by member states, and by all the people within each member state, the achievement of MDGs is very possible.  With political will, adequate resources and concerted efforts the Millennium Development Goals will be met by 2015.

In conclusion, Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish to take this opportunity to say a big vinaka vakalevu to the Government of Fiji for the warm hospitality and support for organizing this event. I also wish to acknowledge the strong support and collaboration from the development partners and civil society organizations for the UN’s work to support the people of the Pacific.

Finally, I encourage all of us – Government, civil society, private sector, donors, UN agencies and other development partners, as well as each and every one of us,  to continue to work hand in hand, together as one, to overcome  these challenges, and to make sure that our work benefits the most vulnerable in our societies, in particular women and children.

Many thanks for your attention – Vinaka Vakalevu!!!