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Ms. Hanaa Singer, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Representative in Sri Lanka,

Staff of the UN Country Team in Sri Lanka,

UN Volunteers,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I consider it a special honour to represent the Government of Sri Lanka to mark the United Nations Day with the UN Country Team, today. This is because it is not only the 73rd Anniversary of the United Nations and the 63rd anniversary of Sri Lanka’s membership in the UN that we commemorate today, but the memory of a very special individual, Ms. Una McCaulay, who made a significant contribution to the UN-Sri Lanka partnership.

I feel privileged to have been invited by you to unveil the “Una McCauley Conference Room” here at the United Nations Office in Colombo. Her memory, as most of you who worked with her know, will always live in the hearts and minds of the people she touched and worked with during her long years of service here as the UNICEF Representative and thereafter as UN Resident Coordinator. Dedicating this Conference Room in her memory, I think, is an important and most appropriate gesture. Her name will now be associated with a place for people to meet; share their ideas and views; a place that facilitates debate, reasoning and the seeking of solutions. This is so much a part of what Una stood for.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

73 years after the signature of the Charter of the United Nations on 24th October 1945, the world is faced with crises and situations which seem daunting. Addressing the opening of the General Debate on 25th September, Secretary-General António Guterres drew the attention of the UN Member States to the dangers faced by the world.

He said,

“Today, world order is increasingly chaotic. Power relations are less clear. Universal values are being eroded. Democratic principles are under siege. The rule of law is being undermined. Impunity is on the rise as leaders and states push the boundaries at home and in the international arena. We face a set of paradoxes. The world is more connected, yet societies are becoming more fragmented. Multilateralism is under fire precisely when we need it most.”

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The challenges that are before us are indeed daunting. But it is precisely at times like this that we must not lose faith. It is precisely at times like this that we must each renew our individual commitment to universal values, the need to focus on the sense of our “common humanity”, do our part, each one of us, in making adjustments in our own lives, by influencing others, by speaking up and by taking action.

-Whether it is in the responsible disposal of garbage;

-arresting climate change;

-reducing our carbon footprint;

-standing up for human rights;

-advocating for the right to education and healthcare;

-combating human or drug trafficking or wildlife trading;

-protecting our environment and growing more trees;

-creating peaceful societies and contributing to sustaining peace, stability and reconciliation in our own country, which is essential for economic development and prosperity for all.

Sri Lanka’s commitment and respect for the Charter of the United Nations, multilateralism, the rules-based world order, the SDGs, the Paris Climate Agreement, and the pursuit of clean energy, are clear. Our vision is to create a peaceful, stable, reconciled, and prosperous nation for all our citizens, while as a Nation State we respect and do our part in preserving the rules-based order, both nationally and internationally.

Ours is not an easy journey, especially considering our conflict afflicted past. It is not an easy journey to reach our objective of “never again” through reconciliation and sustainable development with a distinct peace dividend.  We need all the support we can get, and we value deeply in this regard, the work of the United Nations in Sri Lanka. Your dedicated effort in supporting the work of the Government is deeply appreciated, and I take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for your service.

I want to also take a moment to extend our appreciation to the entire UN family across the world, including the UN Peacekeepers, who work with dedication, often placing their lives at serious risk, with the vision and hope of making the world a better place for all.

Thank you.