[Dateline: Bangkok, Geneva, Santiago | Author: iSeek]
As United Nations Day festivities were still taking place around the world, as of Friday afternoon (New York time), Bangkok, Geneva and Santiago had already provided iSeek with descriptions of the celebrations at their offices, which included, among other things, the participation of Chile’s President and Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister.
Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand H.E. Mr. Chavarat Charnvirakul, joined UN staff members, Thai government officials, members of the diplomatic corps, and local Thai students in a ceremony at the Economic Commission for Asia and the Pacific’s (ESCAP) UN Conference Centre.
The day began with a flag raising ceremony for UN Staff, and performances by the award-winning Satri Wat Rakhang School Marching Band. Later, the official ceremony featured performances by the Darasamuth school orchestra whose members ranged in age from five to 17.
In her address, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Ms. Noeleen Heyzer spoke of the many economic and social challenges currently facing the goals of the United Nations, but noted that, “no other organization has proven throughout its history that it is capable of remaking itself in order to rise to new challenges.”
“But the United Nations does not – and can not – act alone.” She added, “It really is as strong as its members want it to be – and when I use the term “members” here, I do not solely mean member states. By “members” I mean every man, woman and child in our region – and on our planet.”
In wishing the UN a happy 63rd birthday, the Deputy Prime Minister said, “On our part, as a proud member of the United Nations, Thailand’s commitment and support have been steadfast.” He reflected on the partnership between the UN and Thai government over the past year in responding to Cyclone Nargis, recalling the UN staging area that was set up in Don Mueang International Airport in Bangkok to launch humanitarian relief operations.
In Geneva, staff gathered at the Palais des Nations to reaffirm the commitment to the values and principles of the Organization.
Thuta Hlaing, one of the youngest staff members at the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG), read the preamble to the Charter as an illustration of the dedication of all generations to the mission of the United Nations.
In his remarks, UNOG Director-General Sergei Ordzhonikidze said that the words of the preamble were a reminder that across the world, people looked to the United Nations to ensure peace, prosperity and dignity. “Today is our opportunity to tell them that we will continue to do our utmost to honour their trust,” he said.
The Director-General paid tribute to staff, stressing that it was the collective determination and energy that enabled the Organization to achieve its ultimate goal: to build a better future for all. “This day is very much your day,” he concluded.
Throughout the day, staff, representatives of Permanent Missions and NGOs took part in events aimed at highlighting the Organization’s work across the three pillars of security, development and human rights.
An exhibition and a film on the drafting and adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were shown at the UNOG Library. The UN Corner with materials on the Organization was also set up there.
The UNOG NGO Liaison Office co-hosted with the Geneva International Model United Nations an interactive conference that reflected on the value of the Charter 63 years after its entry into force. Over 200 young people and many representatives of Permanent Missions and of non-governmental contributed to the debates.
The day concluded with the traditional United Nations Day concert, organized by the cantonal and municipal authorities of Geneva. Thanking the host country, canton and city for their contribution to the Organization, the Director-General reminded that the need for a strong United Nations, at the centre of multilateral efforts to address today’s challenges, was as great as when the Organization was founded.
The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) celebrated UN Day with a ceremony in its regional headquarters in Santiago, Chile, hosted by ECLAC and the United Nations Development Programme, with the participation of Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and four members of her cabinet.
In her presentation, President Bachelet called on the media to pay just as much attention to the very real social and environmental problems in the world as it does to today’s financial turbulence.
“If the same attention were paid to the real dangers of climate change, hunger, exclusion and insalubrity of hundreds of millions of people around the world, especially in Latin America, they would realize that the social and environmental Dow Jones has been falling for a long time now,” she said.
Executive Secretary Alicia Bárcena praised the focus of the Bachelet administration on protecting and promoting what she called “the two ends of time,” referring to people's early and later years. On the one hand, she noted, providing greater learning opportunities in early childhood by extending coverage, quality and equity in preschool services contributes to leveling the capabilities of children of all socioeconomic strata, so they can continue their education on equal standing. On the other hand, the social security reform has established the principle of solidarity for the most vulnerable segment of the population.
The ceremony was attended by representatives of the diplomatic corps, the United Nations system and ECLAC staff, and opened with the SG's message which was read by Enrique Ganuza, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System in Chile.