Address by His Excellency General Surayud Chulanont (Ret.), Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand, on the Occasion of the United Nations Day 2007

United Nations Conference Centre, Bangkok, 24 October 2007

Mr. Shigeru Mochida, Officer-in-Charge ad interim of the Secretariat & Deputy Executive Secretary of UN-ESCAP,
Mr. G. Giridhar, United Nations Resident Coordinator ad interim,
Dr. Manaspas Xuto, President of the United Nations Association of Thailand,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure and an honour for me to be invited to preside over today’s event in commemoration of the 62nd anniversary of the United Nations. On behalf of the Royal Thai Government and the people of the Kingdom of Thailand, I would like to express my best wishes to the United Nations and specialized agencies in Thailand and to all their staff members.

Last month, I had the privilege of speaking at the United Nations General Assembly, for the first and last time, as Prime Minister. There in New York, I took the opportunity to reiterate, clearly and unequivocally, to the family of nations, that Thailand is fulfilling its pledge -- to becoming a stronger democracy, to being a just and equitable and indeed more sustainable society, to continuing our role as an effective and responsible member of the international community. And I believe that our message received a warm reception.

As I speak before you, here and today, I fully recognize that, with elections scheduled for 23 December, with the electoral laws in place, with a new Constitution to safeguard the interests of the Thai people, this Government will soon be part of our continuing political history.

But not before we have fulfilled our mission and kept our promise. That is of laying a firm foundation for a better, kinder and more just Thailand for all of its people.

For all the changes that have taken place under this Government’s watch, and the further changes to come following national elections, though, I am supremely confident in one abiding constant in Thai foreign policy.

And that is Thailand will always be a firm supporter of the United Nations, of the ideals and principles for which this organization stands, and of the value of respect for diversity which it promotes.

“Turning swords into ploughshares” is an ideal that will continue to find resonance in this country, with this people. For we are peace-loving and we strive always to build a better future for our children.

We are thus proud to have been a member of the United Nations and contributed to its activities for over sixty years. We are thus privileged to be host to the UN agencies and specialized bodies and serve as their regional headquarters for the Asia-Pacific region.

Rest assured, then, of our continuing support for all the good work that the United Nations and its specialized bodies, indeed all of you, are doing for the cause of multilateralism, for the benefit of our region and the world at large.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I need not go in depth into the priorities that this Government and this country attach to the good work of the United Nations. This I have done in New York.

But let me emphasize one important theme.

And that is our unchanging commitment to enhancing the larger freedoms that are enshrined in the UN Charter. Freedom from want. Freedom from fear. Freedom to be who we are while respecting the rights of others.

But to attain these larger freedoms, we need to continue to make advances in three key areas, namely, human rights, security and development. This “trinity” was set out by the United Nations and we support it.

As the promotion and protection of human rights plays an integral part in my Government’s policy and is enshrined in our Constitution, it should come as no surprise that this is an issue to which we attach great importance in the UN. Thailand has supported the establishment of the Human Rights Council (HRC) from the outset and has actively participated in the institutional building process of the HRC.

We believe that constructive dialogue and cooperation, especially in the HRC’s framework, are essential to the promotion and protection of human rights at the national, regional and international levels. And it is to this end that we have been working to ensure a sound basis for the promotion and protection of human rights within ASEAN, as enshrined in the forthcoming ASEAN Charter, that will support the larger endeavours of the UN.

Maintaining international peace and security is the bread and butter of the UN. In support of the UN’s active role in promoting peace, stability and peaceful resolution of conflicts, Thailand has participated in many UN peacekeeping operations. From Burundi to Bosnia. From Cambodia to Timor Leste. Just two weeks ago, the Royal Thai Government approved the dispatch of personnel to the UN-AU Hybrid Operation in Darfur by the end of this year.

But prevention is better than cure. That is why we support initiatives such as the “good offices” role of the UN Secretary-General and his representatives. And that this why we have highlighted the need to promote a “Culture of Peace”, one embracing tolerance and respect for diversity. Meanwhile, we Thais place sustainable development at the centre of our national development and international cooperation agenda. Here, we draw inspiration from His Majesty the King’s philosophy of Sufficiency Economy. Sustainable development remains one of the best and most effective deterrents against wars, conflicts and anarchy in society. Development fosters trust and cooperation among countries. It brings distrustful nations closer together in a spirit of friendship and good neighbourliness.

For decades, Thailand has been an active and committed partner of the UN in the field of development. Our successful programmes in drugs eradication, crop substitution and the fight against HIV/AIDS as well as other pandemics such as SARS and avian flu have been widely recognized. We have also been working actively with countries, developed and developing alike, toward attaining the Millennium Development Goals, especially in the area of poverty eradication, and to promote people-centred development. And we believe that Thailand’s continuing search for sustainability can provide valuable lessons for others as the global community grapples with new challenges such as those posed by climate change.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

For the UN to maintain its rightful place on the world stage in the coming decades, we need to be assured that it will be effective and just, fair and impartial. Continuing UN reform is therefore needed.

That is why Thailand is working closely with the UN to realize a revitalization process that will bring forth a more effective, more efficient, more transparent and more accountable UN. Parallel with the on-going discussions at the UN Headquarters in New York, Thailand has joined the Four Nations Initiative on Governance and Management of the UN (4NI). Together with Sweden, Chile and South Africa, the initiative will examine UN governance and management reform issues from a long-term perspective.

But we the Member States also have to do our share. We need to have the political will to empower the UN to take action as and when necessary. We need to provide the UN with sufficient resources.

In short, we the Member States and the UN need to trust one another. Only in partnership can we ensure that the multilateral approach will be effective in tackling the global challenges of our times. On the part of Thailand, I can assure you that the Thailand-UN partnership will continue to be an important part of this collective effort to promote peace and prosperity for all.

So, happy birthday to the United Nations.

Long may you continue to serve the common good, to defend the rights of the weak and to uplift the hopes of all mankind. In these noble tasks, Thailand stands by you.

Thank you.