United Nations Day 2011

Your Royal Highness,
Madam Prime Minister,
Foreign Minister,
Advisor to the Governor of Bangkok,
Ambassador Xuto
Ladies and Gentlemen,

On this United Nations Day, in addition to extending you a very warm welcome, I would like first to offer my deepest sympathy and support to Thailand, our host country, as floodwaters continue to affect lives and livelihood. Allow me to express the United Nation’s solidarity with the Governments and people affected by these devastating floods in Thailand and in our neighbouring countries.

In support of this and other natural disasters in recent months, including the earthquake in Turkey yesterday, the United Nations stands ready to assist our Member States in humanitarian relief and to build back better. I would like to congratulate the Prime Minister for being the first woman Prime Minister in Thailand and to assure her of our full support in these very challenging times.

On this United Nations Day, we commemorate Bangkok as the United Nations Hub for Asia-Pacific. By giving us this gracious home, you have given Asia Pacific a regional United Nations presence to build our collective strengths, to share regional solutions, to implement the founding ideals of the United Nations, to build a more inclusive, sustainable and just future for all our people.

People look to the United Nations to help defeat poverty and hunger, to be the defender of the defenseless. But who would have imagined that Asia Pacific could have achieved such spectacular economic growth, social progress and poverty reduction, weathering numerous economic, social, political and cultural storms? Our region has already halved the world’s absolute poverty ---- one of the Millennium Development Goals. For this we are proud. But never let us forget the other half and the disparities that still exist between and within countries in our region.

In our collective development journey, our nations are united and guided by the values of the United Nations: promoting human rights for all; improving the lives of our children; expanding access to quality education and health for our people; preventing conflicts; building peace and fostering human security; ensuring gender equality; making development more caring of our people and our planet and more inclusive for our people. Our United Nations family in Bangkok work as one to serve our region, using UN values as the pillars of our work. You will see these values written on the pillars outside that support our UN home in Bangkok.

But ours is an unfinished journey. Never has there been a time where co-ordinated and collective action is more needed to address the multiple shocks and threats of the 21st Century. With the food-fuel and financial crises, and natural disasters, the development gains from decades of hard work in Asia Pacific are at risk of being lost. While the region has become the growth pole and the centre of stability of the global financial recovery, experience indicates that social recovery takes much longer. Increased natural disasters like the ones we are experiencing in our region wipe out years of hard work and human lives. We need to build resilience and to find new drivers of growth founded on shared prosperity, social equity and sustainability. Only then will we bring balance back to this unequal and troubled world.

To put this vision into action, I believe we must invest now in our leaders of tomorrow. With this in mind, I am pleased to announce a new initiative on UN Day - the ESCAP Young Leadership Programme for Least Developed Landlocked Countries in Asia-Pacific. Our goal is to train these young leaders to engage effectively in multilateral forums, in negotiations and processes that will make a difference in the future development of their countries. The first leaders will join us from Mongolia and Bhutan as we prepare for our next Commission Session in May 2012. Their Ambassadors are with us here today.

The next generation is inheriting a world that is more complex. There are many new challenges bringing to mind the statement “if the United Nations did not exist, we would have to create it”. There is new awareness that development is impoverished when human rights, human security and the well-being of people and our planets are not guaranteed. From providing support to countries with special needs to bridging the divides of economics, politics culture, and the environment, no other organization enjoys universality and therefore global legitimacy. No other organization has proven throughout history that it is capable of reforming and remaking itself to rise to new challenges.

So on this day we celebrate and commemorate the work of the United Nations, it is also a reflection on the founding ideals and values of the United Nations and a celebration of those whom we serve---- our Governments and “We the Peoples”. On this special day let me once again thank the Royal Thai Government---our generous host country for keeping us together in this wonderful home, and for making Bangkok the UN Hub for Asia-Pacific.

On this day, let me wish us the gift of clarity so that we may see the path of wisdom in dealing with the development and ecological challenges to human survival, and the gift of strength and solidarity as we continue our journey towards a world free from want, free from fear, and free from discrimination.

Happy Birthday, United Nations.