- The Honourable Minister of Youth, Sport and Child Development, Mr. Emmanuel Mulenga, MP
- All senior Government officials
- Members of the UN Country Team
- Other UN colleagues
- The youth
- Everyone that has joined us virtually including
- Members of the Diplomatic Corps
- Cooperating Partners
- Implementing partners
- The media
- Ladies and gentlemen
I welcome you all to the official commemoration of the United Nations Day in Zambia. I am, on behalf of the United Nations Country Team and the entire UN family in Zambia, honoured to
share a few remarks on this occasion when we celebrate the founding of the United Nations 75 years ago. The theme of this year’s celebration is “The future we want, the UN we need: Reaffirming our commitment to multilateralism.”
Let me begin my remarks with a brief about the founding of the United Nations (UN). As you are aware, following the end of the Second World War, the world was in ruins and nations wanted peace. Countries came together and said; ‘Enough is Enough’. The name “United Nations”, coined by then United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was first used in the Declaration by the United Nations on 1 January 1942, during the Second World War, when representatives of 26 nations pledged their Governments to continue fighting together against the Axis Powers.
In 1945, representatives of 50 countries met in San Francisco at the UN Conference on International Organisation to draw up the UN Charter. The delegates deliberated on the basis of proposals worked out by the representatives of China, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States, at Dumbarton Oaks, United States, in August-October 1944.
On 26 June 1945, the Charter was signed by the representatives of the 50 countries. Poland, which was not represented at the Conference, signed it later and became one of the original 51 Member States.
The United Nations officially came into existence on 24 October 1945, when the Charter had been ratified by China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the United States and by most other signatories. As a result, United Nations Day is celebrated on 24 October each year. I am happy to note that this birthday is shared with Zambia’s Independence Day which we celebrated a few days ago.
The United Nations has, working through its 193 member States, over the last 75 years lived up to the purposes and principles contained in its founding Charter. Challenges have been met on the way and many still exist today but we continue to forge ahead and work to help resolve issues affecting humanity that include peace and security, climate change, sustainable development, human rights, disarmament, terrorism, humanitarian and health emergencies, gender equality, governance, and food production.
In doing this, the UN encourages collaboration because we need stronger cooperation among
nations to resolve the challenges that threaten to undo the gains we have made this far. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that we are one global village and one people with one vision who wish to live in good health and enjoy what life has to offer.
The Coronavirus brought us all to a stop and its effects continue to be felt across the world. We have seen how nations, the private sector, philanthropists and individuals have come forward to offer support, showing the importance of working together in unity and solidarity. Now and post COVID-19, all UN member States need to work together and build back better. With greater multilateralism, we can emerge stronger and better face other challenges that may come.
Guest of honour, ladies and gentlemen
We need trust and collaboration with never ending dialogue. With the Sustainable Development Goals at the centre of our work, we need to forge ahead as one human family and deliver a better future for all and the UN that we need.
As the UN Secretary General, His Excellency, Mr António Guterres said in his 2020 UN Day message: I QUOTE…
“The Sustainable Development Goals give us an inspiring blueprint for recovering better. We face colossal challenges. With global solidarity and cooperation, we can overcome them.” END OF QUOTE.
I am happy to note that in Zambia, the UN is supporting Zambia’s development priorities through the United Nations Sustainable Development Partnership Framework that has been fully aligned to the Five Pillars of the Seventh National Development Plan or 7NDP, thereby making our support more efficient and effective.
Through the Partnership Framework, the UN interventions have mainly focused on economic diversification and job creation, reducing poverty and vulnerability, reducing developmental inequalities, enhancing human development, and governance and human rights.
As we do our work, our principle is to ensure that no one is left behind while also helping ensure gender equality, disability inclusion and having a special focus on vulnerable groups.
While we are on track in meeting the targets set in the Partnership Framework by 2022, there is need to further strengthen our efforts in different areas that include reducing deaths driven by Non-Communicable Diseases, ending child marriages, increasing women empowerment and the participation of women in elected positions.
Guest of Honour, ladies and gentlemen
Among the main UN achievements and contributions to the 7NDP, include progress in the Zambia Health System Strengthening Programme; the general improvement in school enrolment which places Zambia on track towards achieving the SDG target on education; the increased access to safe drinking water from 63% to 86% in urban areas and from 47% to 55%, in rural areas. By raising awareness on climate change and training the Government of Zambia extension staff and farmers in climate change adaptation, the UN has contributed to the increase in adoption of weather index insurance among smallholder farmers. UN support has also strengthened the capacity of young people to strategically advocate for youth priorities at national and sub-national levels.
I wish to commend the Government of the Republic of Zambia for its ownership of the UN interventions and for its commitment towards making the vision of Zambia a reality. On behalf of the UN family, I wish to reaffirm our continued support and partnership with the Government and people of Zambia and ensure a better Zambia in which no one is left behind.
Let me turn to the UN75 campaign which is an important activity on which we have dedicated a lot of efforts this year to mark, in a special way, the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. You have certainly seen UN75 visibility through our writings, videos and other materials.
In January this year, the UN Secretary General launched the UN75 campaign as the world’s largest listening exercise to hear from global citizens on the future we want and the UN we need. We have since January been working with partners to reach as many people as possible, to listen to their hopes and fears, learn from their experiences and empower them to think and act globally. This has been done through the UN75 Dialogues and one-minute survey.
In Zambia, close to 50,000 people have so far participated in the survey which is still open until 31 December 2020. Being third in the world in terms of the survey participation, Zambians have spoken, and their views were part of the UN75 Report released on 21 September 2020 during the UN General Assembly.
Guest of Honour, ladies and gentlemen
I am pleased to share with you what Zambians aspire to as they expressed themselves through the UN75 survey:
When asked on what the international community should prioritize to recover better from COVID-19, Zambians noted the following top priorities:
-increase support to the hardest hit countries and communities;
-strengthen solidarity between people and nation;
-rethink the global economy and invest more in education and youth programmes.
On the question of the world they want in 25 years, Zambians aspire to:
-better access to healthcare;
-more employment opportunities and;
– more sustainable consumption and production.
In terms of the global trends that could affect most their futures, Zambians mentioned:
-risks related to health,
-Climate Change and Environmental issues; and rapid changes in our populations.
Further, over 25,000 of the respondents said that it is essential for countries to work together to manage these trends while about 22,000 said that COVID-19 had changed their views on cooperation between countries resulting in them now favouring more cooperation.
This morning, the survey findings I have outlined were discussed by youth with a view of making recommendations on how leaders can actualise the future we want. I wish to thank all the youth who participated in the Youth Dialogue both in person and virtually.
The youth are the leaders of tomorrow. They know what they pass through and their needs. Hearing their voice is, therefore, important. The resolutions made by the young people will help shape our shared future beginning with issues that affect Zambia.
To conclude, let me remind everyone that we only have 10 years to go before the year 2030 when we need to have made progress on the Sustainable Development Goals. We need all hands-on deck so that each of us can contribute and help in the attainment of the Global Goals. The task is huge but possible, if we work together, and stay the course with full commitment.