Near Verbatim Remarks by the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General Ms. Sara Nyanti on UN Day 2022
Honourable Minister Stephen Par Kuol, representing the Government of the Republic of South Sudan.
Ambassadors, Heads of Missions, and Members of the Diplomatic Corps.
Heads of United Nations Agencies and Non-Governmental-Organizations.
Representatives of Civil Society and other key stakeholders.
All United Nations Colleagues,
I’m delighted to welcome all of you to this year’s UN Day celebration.
This marks the 77th anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations when the United Nations Charter was signed.
At that time, the UN Charter was a beacon of hope, peace, and security for a world that was emerging out of a devastating Second World War.
The Charter calls on every one of us to uphold shared values of global peace and security, first to protect human rights, ensure sustainable development, and respect international law.
Importantly, the UN Charter made us realize that problems or crisis were not limited to single nations but rather they affected every nation of the world.
Today, every country in the world is having to address circumstances of global proportion – including COVID-19, the increasing social, political, and economic polarization. It has become clearer that all nations must act together for every nation to be better. The multilateralism that is offered by the United Nations is needed now (or today) than ever before.
South Sudan became a proud member of the United Nations 11 years ago. And after it has gained its hard-won independence, South Sudan finds itself still grappling with many issues. Since then, we have had outbreaks of civil war, loss of lives and property, sexual violence, severe climate shocks and food insecurity, among many other things.
However, this young nation and the people have shown resilience, and continue to do their best to overcome the obstacles to attain lasting peace.
The road to a durable peace is not an easy, but unity of purpose among all leaders can minimize the difficulties, especially on the country’s most vulnerable. I wish to assure the people of South Sudan, that the United Nations family has been, and will continue to stand, with you, every step of the way, on your road to peace and prosperity, because it is your road, it is your half, and all of you as South Sudanese must be part of it.
We know that without peace, there can be no sustainable development, and this is why we are working with the Government and communities, as an impartial partner, to help deliver sustained peace, humanitarian assistance, security, and development.
Across South Sudan, our peacekeepers are protecting communities in conflict hotspots and reducing tensions. The United Nations Development System with the 21 agencies, funds, and programmes, are working on trying to shift the development trajectory in partnership with the government; and for those of them who are also part of the humanitarian operations alongside INGOs and NGOs, they are providing much-needed assistance to the most vulnerable people, at a time of dwindling resources and often, even under serious threat to their own lives.
Unfortunately, South Sudan remains the worst place for humanitarians to work, being most affected. But that has not stopped us, as the United Nations, from doing what we are called to do.
Our commitment to the welfare of the people of South Sudan is underscored by our support for the ongoing peace processes. We have recognised the extension of the transitional period by another 24 months, and we commend the agreement on a Roadmap by all signatories to the Revitalized Agreement. We have also welcomed the long overdue graduation of the Necessary Unified Forces.
These developments are commendable, and we look forward to more tangible actions in timely fashion, according to the spirit and the letter of the Peace Agreement. But we must be frank to admit that, much more critical work remains to be done. At the local levels, the extension of the peace agreement has not translated into a reduction of incidents of subnational violence or intercommunal conflicts. This needs to happen. There can be no development, or even the appropriate and quality to deliver the life-saving services, if there is no peace.
This nation desperately needs an all-inclusive constitution-making process that can pave the way for the conduct of free, fair, and credible elections, to mark the end of the transition and the beginning of South Sudan’s journey as a truly democratic nation.
Excellencies, Ladies, and gentlemen,
On this special occasion of the 77th UN Day, I call on all the people of South Sudan – especially the leaders - to put aside your differences and get truly united, to deliver peace, progress, and security for all. It is possible, and we are here because we believe that you can do it.
It is through national unity and strength of political purpose that the remaining benchmarks of the Revitalized Peace Agreement can be fulfilled. It is through unity that the people of this rich and vibrant land can enjoy the prosperous and secure future that they deserve; that the children of South Sudan can dream, and they can hope and believe in a better tomorrow.
The United Nations is here to support you on this critical journey from war to lasting peace.
I would like to seize this opportunity to thank all the personnel of the United Nations in South Sudan, all personnel of the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations, all personnel of the United Nations Development System, all personnel of the United Nations-Led Humanitarian Operations, all personnel who give your service everyday so people can have hope.
I said this morning to Heads of Sections in the Peacekeeping Mission, and I will say it here today unabashedly, I stand here because the United Nations is. As a Liberian woman who was a National Officer in the UN at a time of our war, had it not been for the United Nations backing up efforts ECOWAS, and for the effort of the entire United Nations family: Peacekeeping, Development, Humanitarian, I wouldn’t be standing here. I recounted a night where we were 72 in a room, knee to chest. I could only stretch my legs if my husband put his knees to his chest. There were people from the entire community seeking shelter and refuge to avoid mortal shells dropping [on us]. That night, I couldn't do it any longer. The next morning, after the mortar shell hit the house next to us, I ran out; I ran to that house and I picked up some pieces of the mortar shells, and I put them in my purse, and I carried them in my purse for about five years, or so, because I said I never wanted to forget.
The work of the UN for me is not a job. I'm privileged to work and get a paycheck, but I do it because I believe in what we do. I believe in the values and the principles. I am standing here as Liberia woman because the UN is, and because Member States, all 193 Member States of the UN, continue to invest even when they have competing priorities at home; continue to invest, even when people say multilateralism should die.
But we believe in this world, and we believe in the work the UN does to save this world. I'm proud to be a UN international civil servant, and of course, we carry out our duties without necessarily being thanked, but the thanks come from seeing progress in nations like South Sudan, and I hope I can come back to visit South Sudan 40 years from now and see the contributions we made today.
Thank you and Happy UN Day!