Opening Statement at United Nations Day Celebrations

Delivered at United Nations Day Celebrations in Bangkok, Thailand

Excellencies,
Heads of UN Agencies,
Colleagues,
Distinguished guests,

As we gather here to celebrate the 72nd anniversary of the United Nations, let me first express once again our deep condolences to the Royal Family and the People of Thailand as they laid to rest their beloved King -- a great advocate of sufficiency economy.

More than seven decades ago, 51 countries came together with the fundamental mission of maintaining international peace and security, upholding the human rights of all people, and promoting international cooperation. The potential of the United Nations is phenomenal. It is the only multilateral institution with universal membership, and with the dual mandate of promoting peace and stability and development, both of which mutually reinforce each other. The achievements of the United Nations have been notable. Most of all, the United Nations and its values have helped spreading democracy and promote peace, but also supported eradicating diseases such as smallpox; and ending hunger for 80 million people in 80 countries. The UN is saving 3 million lives each year by supplying vaccines to 45 per cent of the world’s children; it is offering support for more than 65 million people fleeing war, famine and persecution; and it maintains peace with about 117,000 UN peacekeepers in 15 operations on 4 continents.

Building on these achievements, the UN recently adopted a set of landmark agreements: the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on financing for development; and the 2030 Agenda, which with its universal coverage and reach, and the pledge to “leave no one behind” is the boldest agenda for humanity. Our Secretary General has now resolved to introduce bold reforms to reposition the UN Development System and change the management paradigm, for the UN to evolve as a more trusted impartial and valued advisor and partner for “all countries – North and South alike – as they advance on the path to meeting the SDGs.” Lifting the UN as a 21st century thought leader calls for us to enhance its capacities to be a catalyst, innovator and champion of sustaining peace by harnessing the nexus between development and conflict prevention.

Within the context of the UN Development System reforms, there will be wide ranging changes across the UN to enhance system-wide synergies by aligning roles and functions of UN bodies and institutions. These reform proposals call for Regional Commissions to progressively strengthen and enhance quality, coherency and consistency of the UN Development System’s policy advice by repositioning them as Think Tanks of the UN System, providing world-class analysis and knowledge on the regional priorities, innovation, finance and development and transboundary issues; serving as regional platforms for exchange of best practices, and for implementation follow up and review of the 2030 Agenda; and strengthening the normative and policy capacities of UN Country Teams.

This requires reinforcing the role of Regional Commissions by fostering trust through region and system-wide pooling of expertise and resources with global secretariat and UN funds and agencies, so that the UN Development System is synergized and has an impactful collective leadership and unified voice as it offers diagnostic and policy advice. Regional Commissions including ESCAP have embarked on their own realignment to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Agenda.

The reforms of the UN Development System will augment and enhance the development impact of the UN so critical for conflict prevention and global peace and prosperity. The global theme for UN Day this year, “Potential in Diversity” serves as a reminder to all of us working at the United Nations, that we are here to serve the best interest of the people. To truly uphold the promise of the UN Charter, we must work towards creating peace and prosperity for all.

To fulfil the pledge to ‘leave no-one behind’ we must ensure that no person – wherever they live and regardless of ethnicity, gender, age, disability, religion or belief, race, sexual orientation or other status – is denied universal human rights and basic economic opportunities.

I thank you.