Statement of the UN Resident Coordinator, Ms Nathalie Ndongo-Seh, at the UN75 Celebrations
On Friday, 23rd October 2020, the UN in Eswatini celebrated the 75th anniversary of the United Nations at a wonderful ceremony in the UN House car park.
Your Excellency, the Right Honourable Prime Minister,
Your Excellency, Senator Dladla,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Boys and girls,
A very good morning to you all, and to those joining us from their homes. It is with utmost pleasure that I welcome you to today’s celebration of the United Nations, 75th anniversary.
It is symbolic that the sun is shining today, for we are gathering at a time of great suffering and devastation around the world, caused bythe COVID-19 pandemic. The sun brings hope and joy that a new, bright era is on its way.
It is in this spirit that the United Nations was born 75 years ago after the Second World War. At a time when devastation and suffering filled the world, 51 countries joined in solidarity and commitment to maintain international peace and security, promote social progress and ensure better living standards and human rights.
Since then, the world has strengthened and a Third World War, which so many had feared, has been avoided. As reminded by the Secretary-General, throughout history, there has not been such a long period in which major powers have not been involved in a military confrontation. Member States have accomplished global peace treaties, peacekeeping, decolonization, set human rights standards, risen triumphant from apartheid, reduced poverty levels and hunger, given life-saving humanitarian assistance and enhanced protection measures of our planet. These are incredible achievements of which Member States can take great pride.
However, we still have a long way to go. As a human family, we face immense gender inequality in leadership and elsewhere; our climate is in crisis; biodiversity is disappearing; and hatred and misinformation are seeping into our daily lives. On the top of that, we face an unprecedented health, humanitarian and socio-economic pandemic: COVID-19.
Yet, we do not despair but take courage at the immense unity and solidarity displayed by the world during the COVID-19 pandemic. As over 40 million people have become infected and over 1.1 million lost their lives, the bravery of ordinary people has magnified the strength that we have as a human family.
In order to create the ‘Future We Want, the UN We Need’, the theme of today’s UN celebration, we need to join hands in unity with one another.
We shall persevere towards a strengthened and renewed multilateralism that binds us together using the powerful ideas enshrined in the UN Charter. We need a multilateralism that is built on solid trust, honesty and accountability and indeed, a global ceasefire.
Earlier this year, the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr António Guterres, called for an “immediate ceasefire in all corners of the world”, stressing that all resources should be put towards fighting our common enemy of COVID-19. The guns must be silenced, corridors for life-saving aid to be delivered should be made safe, and vulnerable people living in conflict zones must be protected.
At a time when COVID-19 threatens to reverse decades of SDGs progress, the voices of the most vulnerable people have become more important than ever before.
At the start of the year, the UN Secretary-General launched the world’s largest conversation on how to build a better future for all. UN75 became a critical opportunity to listen to the people that the United Nations serves and identify priorities and solutions to the world’s most difficult challenges.
More than 1,000 dialogues were undertaken in 82 countries, of which the UN in Eswatini conducted 16 dialogues with Eswatini most vulnerable people including women, children, persons living with disabilities, people living with HIV and AIDS, the LGBTQI community, youth, low-income and migrant populations. It was during these dialogues that we witnessed the everyday resilience, courage, creativity and aspirations of Emaswati.
Participants expressed the impact that COVID-19 had had on their lives, with a young student sharing how; “Children who live under the poverty line don’t have access to online learning. Their right to education has been violated.”
The devastating impacts of COVID-19 reached from violations of education rights, to an increase in gender-based violence and teenage pregnancies, and many livelihoods destroyed. More than ever before, persons living with disabilities are being left behind, as education moves online and braille becomes scarce, as do protective hygiene practices become difficult to implement.
A young man living with HIV described how, despite the many difficulties, he operated his cleaning service, ‘Pristine Cleaning Services’, throughout the lockdown, using his restricted working days to grow his business and reach residential markets. He stated: “Now that I have time, I wake up every day to do all things and be better. I believe that as a young person, I can do it all.”
It is in this sentiment that His Excellency, Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini, shared with us his vision for the people, whenhe stated that: “We hope for more peace, solidarity, access to education and prosperity of our economies. We wish to see growth that is inclusive, encompassing and does not disadvantage sections of society.”
The UN75 dialogues reflect the depth and the strength of the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini. We are grateful that the Kingdom joined the United Nations ,52 years ago; for it is our honour to serve its people.
In solidarity with His Majesty’s Government, we look forward to a better future for all, as we begin to implement the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF) 2021-2025. The UNSDCF, which was signed yesterday in a wonderful ceremony, acts as a partnership between the United Nations and the Government of Eswatini in achieving the SDGs and Agenda 2030. Our vision is to support “A prosperous, just and resilient Eswatini where no one is left behind.” with the dedication and the courage of the Government, partners and the people of this beautiful nation.
Once again, thank you for being with us today at this momentous UN75 celebration.