23 October 2015
Vice Minister Saleumxay delivering his speech. Photo: UNDP Lao PDR/Chelsey Parish
Madame Kaarina Immonen, United Nations Resident Coordinator,
Esteemed Heads of United Nations Agencies,
Members of the media,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Welcome to a unique celebration. Welcome to the start of a series of events around the 70thanniversary of the United Nations and the 60th anniversary of our country as a member of the UN.
The global theme of the 70th anniversary of the UN is “Strong UN. Better World”. Indeed, since Laos became a member state of the United Nations 60 years ago, our country has taken major strides in its development and become a far better place to live for us all.
The presence of the United Nations in our country has helped us bring about a range of achievements.
Let me give you some examples:
- In 2014, 98.5 percent of our children were enrolled in primary schools and our public expenditure on education has grown significantly.
- We have reached the target of halving the proportion of people whose income is less than one dollar a day by 2013. The poverty rate has declined to 23% by 2013, and estimates show that this trend is continuing.
- According to projections, the under-five mortality rate in our country has dropped from 170 to 70 per 1,000 live births between 1993 and 2015.
- In the same period, maternal mortality has dropped by 75%.
Today, 16 UN agencies have a permanent presence in the Lao PDR - and a number of UN Agencies provide support from their regional headquarters. These UN Agencies with their various fields of expertise help us achieve Socio-Economic Development. They also help cultivate the talent and tools we need to make sure we graduate from Least Developed Country Status.
The adoption of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals in 2000 has sped up the development of our country considerably. These goals aimed to halve poverty, end hunger, boost education and gender equality, amongst others, on a global scale. Our Government has been committed to actively working towards achieving these global goals right from the beginning. In the past 15 years, we have made considerable progress on reducing poverty, keeping our population healthy, safe and educated, and on empowering women.
We are still facing challenges – which we look forward to addressing in cooperation with the United Nations.
The UN General Assembly in New York, including President Choummaly, has recently adopted the Sustainable Development Goals. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are the bedrock of a new global development agenda and will promote peaceful and inclusive societies, create better jobs, and tackle key environmental challenges. They should help shift the world onto a sustainable development path, with 2030 as the target date. Unlike the MDGs, the new development agenda applies to all countries, rich or poor. In Lao PDR, we will be looking closely at how the rapid economic growth of our country can benefit all of our people, leaving no one behind.
Esteemed UN colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
60 years ago our country joined the United Nations, because we felt the need to be part of this international organisation founded to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, promote social progress and better living standards, and encourage respect for each other’s rights and freedoms. We wanted this then, and we still want this now - because we believe in these values.
Today, we stand at our national landmark Patuxay, which is the focal point for the launch of a series of celebrations around our joint anniversary in cooperating with the United Nations. Did you know that the five towers of Patuxay symbolise our country’s belief in peaceful coexistence among nations? What better landmark would better represent the values we share with the United Nations?
Today, we have arrived at an auspicious moment in our country’s history. We are looking back on major achievements – and forward to joint challenges.
On the United Nations’ 70th Anniversary, and after 60 years working together towards the development of our country, I congratulate and thank the United Nations and its representatives in our country. We look forward to a continued close and fruitful cooperation with the UN family in the years to come.
Thank you for your attention.