UN75: United to Shape the Future We Want
Vientiane, 26 October 2020 – Today, the Government of Lao PDR and the United Nations jointly organized a high-level event in commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations and the 65th anniversary of Lao PDR as a UN member state. H.E. Mr. Saleumxay Kommasith, Foreign Minister of Lao PDR, and Ms. Sara Sekkenes, United Nations Resident Coordinator to the Lao PDR, co-hosted the event under the theme “The future we want, the United Nations we need: reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism”.
This anniversary comes in a time of great disruption for the world, compounded by a global health crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with severe economic and social impacts. However, it also serves as a reminder that times of struggle can become an opportunity for positive change and transformation. It further reaffirms the importance of multilateral cooperation and global solidarity both in the face of the pandemic, and the many global challenges that lie ahead.
Speaking on the global response to the anniversary, and the path ahead, United Nations Secretary-General Guterres said “Across this anniversary year, we have engaged in a global conversation. And the results are striking- people are thinking big- they are also expressing an intense yearning for international cooperation and global solidarity. Now is the time to respond to these aspirations and realize these aims”.
This year also marks the 65th Anniversary of Lao PDR’ membership of the United Nations. This long-standing partnership has supported much important progress, with the Government and UN having worked to halve poverty since 1990, reducing the gender equality gap and improving nutrition and school enrolments. The UN has supported Lao PDR in advancing its multilateral engagements and contributions and achieving its national development priorities, including the prospective graduation from the list of Least Developed Countries, with a focus on strategic areas such as governance, inclusive growth, social protection, UXO clearance, building resilience, and the development of human capital.
Reflecting on the history of the UN, and the efforts needed now, H.E. Mr. Saleumxay Kommasith, noted that: “To list all the achievements of the UN will be too long. Nonetheless, the UN needs to be reformed and readjusted to make it fit for the current environment. It is the duty of member states to take responsibility to help make the UN strong and effectively deliver its roles and mandates. For the Lao PDR, we firmly believe that the UN as well as multilateralism are still valid and relevant in the current global context and the Lao PDR will continue to strongly support this course.”
Ms. Sara Sekkenes, UN Resident Coordinator, spoke on the continued need for shared approaches and institutions in the changing context, remarking that “The world is better connected, with people almost anywhere on the planet able to share information and interact instantly in ways that would
have been unimaginable when the UN was first founded. And it is more interdependent, with a global web of trade, investment, development, and travel connecting the fortunes of all, on a shared planet that we must protect and preserve together.” Adding that “the principles of sovereignty remain a hallmark of international cooperation, yet member states are interconnected and interdependent in ways that demand engagement, respect and empathy in a manner never experienced before.”
Ambassadors from five different UN member states then took the floor to reflect with some personal remarks on the history of the Organization and priorities for the next chapter under the themes of people, planet, prosperity peace, and partnerships.
H.E. Mr. Jean-Bernard Carrasco, Ambassador of Australia to Lao PDR, stressed that “by tapping into the full potential of all our citizens and supporting all people to participate in the economic and social development of our countries, we grow stronger in our shared unity and our humanity. To ensure we include everyone, all countries need to reduce inequalities and take an intersectional lens to focus on the most vulnerable people in this next Decade of Action.”
H.E. Mme Florence Jeanblanc-Risler, Ambassador of France to Lao PDR, spoke of the need to protect the planet, calling for greater shared effort to “protect our common global public goods, climate, biodiversity, health and oceans”, as ”five years after the Paris agreement, there is an urgent need for an awakening and resetting climate at the heart of the international agenda” poignantly noting that “when a 16 year-old girl addressing world leaders at the UN in 2019 says ‘how dare you?’ and becomes a symbol of a generation which does not want to wait any more to take control of its destiny, we have to question our actions.”
Discussing the need for shared prosperity, H.E. Mr. John Pearson, Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Lao PDR, said “We have to be confident that the world will find a way to contain COVID. And when it does, how we reconstruct our economies will be critical. I hope that the effort to build back the world’s economy will focus on four aspects - which are, of course, interlinked: equality, inclusivity, quality of life, and sustainability.”
H.E. Mrs. Maria Renata Caldas de Jesus, Ambassador of Timor-Leste to Lao PDR, reflected on the importance of preserving and protecting peace, noting how “with peace, we can stand together with inclusive societies between nations, we can have sustainable development in every aspect of life on this planet”, but also stressing that “peace is not something that simply comes naturally- it is made by our efforts, our sweat, and our hands.”
Finally, H.E Mr. Pablo Antonio Rodriguez Vidal, Ambassador of Cuba to Lao PDR, spoke of the need for reinvigorated partnerships to accelerate progress toward our shared goals, declaring that “It is time for global unity, for redoubling multilateral cooperation as well as strengthening the central role of the United Nations System in our collective endeavours.”
More than 200 representatives participated in the event, including those representatives from the Prime Ministers’ Office; Supreme People’s Prosecutor; National Assembly; the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Agriculture and Forestry, Finance, Health, Home Affairs, Industry and Commerce, Justice, Labour and Social Welfare, Natural Resources and Environment, Planning and Investment, Pubic Security, and Public Works and Transport; from the Embassies of Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, Cuba, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland, Timor Leste, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, Vietnam, United States and the delegation of the European Union; Lao National Front for Construction; Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Lao Women’s Union, Education and Sports; private sector; civil society organizations and development agencies as well as the representatives of the seventeen resident Agencies, Funds and Programmes of the United Nations Country Team in the Lao PDR.