Address By Ambassador Manaspas Xuto, President of the United Nations Association of Thailand at the Celebration of United Nations Day 2008, on Friday, 24 October 2008, at the United Nations Conference Centre, Bangkok

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Address By Ambassador Manaspas Xuto President of the United Nations Association of Thailand at the Celebration of United Nations Day 2008, on Friday, 24 October 2008, at the United Nations Conference Centre, Bangkok ------------------

Your Excellency, Deputy Prime Minister, Ms. Noeleen Heyzer, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of ESCAP, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I thank Deputy Prime Minister Chaovarat for honouring us with your presence.

It is indeed a pleasure and an honour for me to address this meeting to celebrate the 63rd anniversary of the United Nations. The United Nations was founded in 1945 to usher in a new era of peace following an era of destruction, to advance the cause of peace and security, human rights and development, and to bring the peace dividend to “the peoples of the United Nations”. The year 2008 marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Universal Declaration, adopted by the General Assembly on 10 December 1948, was a historic milestone in the evolution of our common understanding and an affirmation of the values we deem inviolable: that all human beings are born free and with equal and inalienable rights and fundamental freedoms. We commend the UN’s role in fighting for the human values that bind us together in our globalised world, no matter where we are born or where we live.

The mandates and works of the Organisation today have become vastly wide-ranging. They encompass everything from preventing conflict, providing humanitarian assistance and bringing food to the hungry, to building shelters for the displaced, providing better education for the poor and developing new norms of international conduct.

Truly, the UN has become an important symbol of unity amidst diversity, of the triumph of peace over discord, of hope for a better future for succeeding generations. As an Organisation, the United Nations has been central to ongoing international efforts to meet the global challenges of our times, and we must ensure that it continues to play a pivotal role in this new millennium. To this end, we highly appreciate Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for his commitment in steering the UN through challenges both long-standing and new, as the world struggles with climate change, poverty, human rights violations, threats to international peace and security, intolerance, extremism, disease and pandemics. We also appreciate his promise to pursue UN reform so that the Organisation will be more efficient and effective in tackling these global challenges.

On the whole, the task is daunting, compounded now by a contagious financial crisis which affects both rich and poor countries alike.

In 2005, I was asked by UNCTAD to launch the year’s Trade and Development Report, here in Bangkok. At that time, I tried in vain to call on the economically powerful nations to rectify certain global imbalances, as demonstrated by the enormous current account and trade deficits, particularly in the United States.

Unfortunately, as with other crises in the past, the wake-up call, which has come from many quarters, was not heeded in time. The current financial crisis and its global contagion will have dangerous consequences everywhere. Recovery will take years. Millions everywhere will suffer. While there is little that the UN can do, it will nevertheless have to take care of the social victims of this crisis, as the targeted deadlines for the Millennium Development Goals will be missed.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

For the United Nations to work successfully, it needs support and cooperation, not only from member governments but also from the people, civil society and business community in the individual member countries. This is the mission of the United Nations Association of Thailand, which is proud to have played its part.

Ever since the birth of UNAT in 1953, 55 years ago, it has actively conducted various activities to fulfil its objectives in promoting friendship and understanding amongst peoples, as well as in advocating the ideals and principles of the UN. We work to enhance public awareness of the roles and services rendered by the UN and to promote good cooperation with and support for the UN among the Thai people. UNAT has also attached great importance to the young people of today, directing most of its activities towards the youth and students in schools and universities. For instance, this past July we sent a team of university students to participate in the third Asia and Pacific Model UN Conference in Incheon, the Republic of Korea, giving them an opportunity to learn and practise conferencing skills, as well as to develop a network with their regional peers. For the second consecutive year, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also invited promising students to be a part of the Thai delegation to the United Nations General Assembly.

In delivering these remarks, I cannot fail to pay tribute to my immediate predecessor, former UNAT President Dr. Chira Cha-reon-lert, who passed away in July this year. His contribution to the Association over a period of more than a decade significantly strengthened the Thailand-UN partnership and enhanced UNAT’s capability to play a constructive role in promoting awareness of the United Nations.

Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

On behalf of the United Nations Association of Thailand, I would like to express our sincere appreciation for the work and contributions of all the UN-affiliated offices in Thailand – whether regional, sub-regional or country-focused – who are working to support Thailand’s achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and other aspects of the UN global agenda.

The United Nations Association of Thailand is pleased to be a part of the various vehicles working to enhance awareness and to mobilise public support for the work of these UN agencies, funds and programmes.

In conclusion, I once again congratulate the United Nations on its 63rd Anniversary and wish all those who have served in it our very best.

Thank you for your kind attention.