UN Day Message: Framing the Future We Want Through the Principles and Values of the UN Charter

Photo Credit: Wilasluk Aurtaveekul UNESCAP

Heads of UN Agencies,
Distinguished guests,
Colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Introduction & SG’s Message

In 1945, the world, and our region, was a very different place. Amidst the darkness and devastation of World War II, and the horrors of the first atomic bombs used in combat, it was also a year which saw the dawning of a bright new hope.

On 24 October 1945, the United Nations Charter entered into force, and the United Nations was born. Thank you all for joining us here at the UN hub for Asia and the Pacific, to celebrate United Nations Day.

I would like to begin by sharing with you the UN Day video message from United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon.

Colleagues, Ladies & Gentlemen,

UN Exists to Make Positive Change Possible

Universal peace; security; regional & international cooperation; equal rights; self-determination; respect and fundamental freedoms. These are the purposes of the United Nations, as set down in our Charter, which for 67 years has remained the living, beating heart of our organization. It directs our efforts, guides our work, and inspires our commitment to a better, shared future.

The American diplomat and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Ralph Bunche, who was also closely involved in drafting the Charter, once wrote: ‘The United Nations exists not merely to preserve the peace but also to make change - even radical change - possible without violent upheaval. The United Nations has no vested interest in the status quo. It seeks a more secure world, a better world, a world of progress for all peoples. In the dynamic world society which is the objective of the United Nations, all peoples must have equality and equal rights.”

The past six decades have seen a number of shifts in the emphasis of the UN’s work to bring about change: from peacemaking and decolonization, in the years immediately following WWII; to the maintenance of security and the promotion of universal human rights during the period of the Cold War. More recent decades have seen the emergence of a focus on preventative diplomacy and economic & social development.

It is clear that the next big challenge for the United Nations, our Member States, and the peoples of the world, is the need to build change for a more inclusive, sustainable future.

Colleagues, Ladies & Gentlemen,

Meeting the Challenges of Change in Asia-Pacific

We marked UN Day last year, in the middle of the 2011 Thai floods – a very real and timely reminder of the need for us to build resilience, and to find new drivers of growth founded on shared prosperity, social equity and sustainability.

I am very pleased therefore, that we will today be launching the 2012 Asia-Pacific Disaster Report in Bangkok – a Report which emphasizes the lessons of the 2011 disasters, and the critical links between economic and social development, resilience and disaster risk reduction.

The Report is another reminder of the need for us to balance the economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainable development, which is why I am also pleased that our UN Day special guest, Professor Jeffrey Sachs, has accepted my invitation to deliver the annual ESCAP Distinguished Person Lecture on “Sustainable Development Solutions for Asia.” I hope you will all join us for the lecture later today.

Colleagues, Ladies & Gentlemen,

Conclusion

In conclusion, as the Secretary-General’s message reminds us today, global and national institutions are being put to the test, and we must now raise our collective ambitions. Growth and development are not enough – we must grow better, together.

Our United Nations family in Bangkok, covering Asia and the Pacific, must ensure that, working together as one UN at the regional level, we help to drive the change for our region, making development more inclusive and caring for our people and our planet.

The key to this change will be our work, and that of our Member States and civil society partners, in a big final push to 2015 on the Millennium Development Goals – and in forging the post-2015 sustainable development framework. Sustainable development is the face of the UN Charter for the 21st Century.

I would like to end today by recalling the words of former Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld, who said: “We are not permitted to choose the frame of our destiny. But what we put into it is ours”. Let us together frame the future we want, through positive change grounded in the principles and values of the United Nations.

Join me in wishing the United Nations a very happy birthday.

Thank you.