Statement by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General Nicholas Haysom United Nations Day 2023
Honourable Mary Nawai Martin Nawai, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs of the Republic of South Sudan and Honourable Stephen Par, Minister of Peace Building.
Ambassadors, Heads of Missions, and members of the diplomatic community.
Heads of United Nations Agencies and Non-Governmental-Organizations.
Representatives of civil society and other key stakeholders.
And of course all my UN colleagues.
Welcome and thank you for joining us to commemorate that day when sovereign nations of the world united in the aftermath of an unspeakable tragedy.
Seventy-eight years ago, the United Nations Charter was signed in the wake of World War II.
Through this act, Member States undertook to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war and committed their joint efforts towards a greater common good: realized through cooperation, peace, development, and human rights.
A fundamental assumption of the Charter is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This holds true today, even if there are many who would want to see some current issues more effectively addressed through multilateral approaches.
As the newest member to sign up to the Charter in 2011, South Sudan subscribed to one of its most fundamental principles: that disputes are to be settled through peaceful and non-violent means.
The Charter remains a document that brings us together and recognizes the need for collaboration before competition, dialogue before conflict.
And yet, it is a guide only. This is because documents are not self driven vehicles; rather, they give us important signposts. A text remains a text, until political leaders give life to the words contained therein.
I believe the same understanding applies to the Revitalized Agreement for the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan and that’s why it is important for South Sudanese to take the lead in shaping their own collective destiny, by demonstrating political will and common purpose towards a prosperous future for all South Sudanese.
The United Nations family was proud to stand with South Sudan in its moment of independence, as we are proud to stand with its people today.
Let me recall that, since independence, the UNMISS mandate has evolved. We came at a moment of statebuilding and then proceeded into a period of restoring peace, building confidence, initiating development, and protecting civilians.
We can now see a new horizon, as the country stands on the precipice of its first post-independence elections and seeks to consolidate the commitments of the 2018 Revitalized Peace Agreement.
But significant challenges remain, South Sudan faces a humanitarian and economic emergency of an unprecedented nature, against the backdrop of an unsettled regional neighbourhood beset by conflict and political and ethnic faultlines at home.
Competing global priorities are making it difficult to prioritize international assistance for South Sudan.
This combination of factors presents a high mountain to climb for South Sudan if it is to deliver on their commitments. But it is our firm belief that this nation can live up to its potential as a land of great abundance and opportunity; that it can showcase ingenuity and innovation; and that the dividends of peace are within its grasp.
That is why the UN family has been closely involved with establishing essential institutions that can enable sustainable development to take root – that is, upon a foundation of human rights, the rule of law, justice and accountability.
We believe the challenges ahead can bring out the best in the South Sudanese, if a sense of common destiny and shared future compels the imperative to work together. These are the true values of the UN Charter.
By way of example, the inspirational success and popularity of South Sudan’s national basketball team, the Bright Stars, illustrates how the people of this country yearn for their nation-building moment, and the spirit of what can be achieved when rivalries and differences are put aside.
It’s time for the political class and signatory parties to marry that dream with reality, and for the international community and the United Nations to stay the course towards that objective.
I am confident that with a spirit of compromise, consensus, and partnerships among all stakeholders, this is possible.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On UN Day, I take this opportunity to thank our humanitarian colleagues who often risk their own lives to help the most vulnerable.
And to the dedicated peacekeepers—military, police and civilian—who strive to keep communities safe across the length and breadth of this country: Your service and the personal sacrifices you make every day for the cause of lasting peace are truly valued.
On behalf of the UN, I would like to acknowledge the support received from the communities we serve across the country, the productive working relationship with our host government, our vital partnerships with regional organizations and Member States, and the invaluable contributions of donors.
In conclusion, I urge us all to recommit to the principles and values enshrined in the UN Charter. Let us all recommit to the goals and aspirations of the Revitalized Peace Agreement. I truly believe that these two documents continue to bind us all, at this decisive moment in South Sudan’s journey.