23 October 2015
Ms. Kaarina Immonen delivering her speech. Photo: UNDP Lao PDR/Lou Sensouphone
Your Excellency Saleumxay Kommasith, Vice Minister of Lao PDR of Foreign Affairs,
Esteemed members of the media,
Dear UN colleagues,
I would like to invite you to a journey
A journey 70 years back in time.
What did the world look like in 1945?
70 years ago, the global community was ravaged by the Second World War with its immense losses in human lives and heritage. The world was divided and looking for ways of peaceful coexistence.
It was 70 years ago that delegates of fifty nations who represented over eighty per cent of the world's population, people of every race, religion and continent, agreed to bring to life an organisation, which would preserve peace and promote justice and better living for all mankind. They gathered at the San Francisco War Memorial in the United States to sign an unprecedented document: the United Nations Charter! This charter was the founding treaty of a new global intergovernmental organisation. The United Nations Charter was ratified on 24 October 1945. With it, the United Nations was born.
The United Nations was growing rapidly. 10 years into its history, the number of Member States had grown to 76. In 1955, 16 new flags were raised at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City – and, importantly so, the Lao flag was one of them.
Indeed, 60 years ago, Lao leaders recognized that their country can gain substantially from being part of an international organisation founded to protect international stability, peaceful coexistence and intergovernmental cooperation.
In recent years, Lao PDR has ratified seven of nine core Human Rights Treaties and is actively pursuing regional integration.
As a milestone in UN history, the UN's Millennium Development Goals - global objectives aimed to halve poverty, end hunger, boost education and health and gender equality – were adopted in 2000, with the Lao Government championing their achievement. Indeed, development in Lao PDR was considerably boosted by this prime commitment and resulted in a trusting close collaboration between the Lao PDR and the United Nations.
Another major step was taken when, last month, the Lao delegation, together with all other 192 member states, adopted the Sustainable Development Goals as the new global development agenda at UN Headquarters in New York. We commend the Government of Lao PDR on their further commitment to sustainable development and inclusive growth, fuelled by the Sustainable Development Goals.
Looking into the future, to prepare for the next step this year, Lao PDR recently submitted its climate action plan to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. This document is very important in supporting the International Climate Change Conference in December in Paris this year. In 2010, governments agreed that emissions need to be reduced so that global temperature increases are limited to below 2 degrees Celsius. The agreement countries will reach in Paris will constitute a new global deal to tackle climate change.
There is plenty to celebrate. Today, we are here to do just this. We are here to celebrate 70 years since the UN was created. We are here to celebrate 60 years of partnership between the Lao PDR and the United Nations.
Our celebrations will start with a symbolic act. We will light Patuxay in blue. Blue is the colour of the United Nations. Blue also represents stability and trust. These are the characteristics we value in our cooperation with the Lao PDR. A blue Patuxay symbolises our partnership, our friendly relations, but more importantly, it will be a reminder of the commitment to sustainable development by the Government and Development Partners.
This symbolic act is part of a global event marking the 70th anniversary of the UN. On 24 October, more than 150 iconic monuments and landmarks in more than 45 countries around the world will be lit up blue. Patuxay will be joining world-famous landmarks from Australia's Sydney Opera House to the Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt and the Empire State Building in New York.
We are celebrating a unique alignment of anniversaries. 70-60. To showcase development gains in the past 60 years, we are also launching here today a photo exhibition titled "Working together for Lao PDR". The photographs on display illustrate how the United Nations support the Government in its various development efforts. These photos depict not only the areas we are working in, but they are also stunning testimonies of the beauty of Lao PDR and its people.
You will be the first ones to admire these beautiful photos. After tonight, the exhibition will be open to the public at Vientiane Center through November, and will then tour different locations in the capital and provinces.
Let me congratulate the United Nations on 70 years of existence. Allow me also to convey UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's congratulations to the Lao PDR on the 60th anniversary of its membership to the UN.
We will now officially switch on the blue light and open our photo exhibition. Please take some time to admire and take photos – it will be a unique sight!
Happy UN Day to all!