The United Nations (UN)’s Maldives office today marked the 66th anniversary of the UN’s founding with a ceremony and reception held in the UN’s Male’ compound.
Speaking at the ceremony, Vice President of the Maldives Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan observed that the UN “is as relevant today as it was when it was first founded.”
Dr Waheed, himself a former UN employee with the UNICEF agency, noted that he had himself witnessed the organisation’s work in 16 of the 190 countries in which it had a presence.
In countries such as Yeman and Afghanistan, Dr Waheed recalled that he had seen friends “risk their lives to deliver food, medicine and books to remote parts of countries that even government officials rarely visit. I’ve worked with warlords who fear the UN because of the human rights it stands for.”
The UN had a mandate to protect people from their own government, if the government turned on its own population, he said.
“The world does not want another Bosnia or Rwanda. Libya was saved thanks to the work of the UN Security Council,” he noted.
Locally, new problems such as transnational crime, drug addiction, human trafficking, piracy, human rights challenges, climate change, “cannot be solved in isolation. Some are international issues – global problems needing global solutions,” Dr Waheed said.
Also speaking at the ceremony, acting UN Resident Coordinator Zeba Bukhari observed that despite a perception that the UN dealt primarily with peace and security, “most of its efforts and resources are actually devoted to improving the conditions of vulnerable population groups, full employment, and conditions of economic and social progress and development.”
Concrete examples in the Maldives, Bukhari noted, will include the support of electrification of islands through more efficient means and alternate energy, cost effective solutions to coastal management, water and sanitation, land use and resource management, reef systems management and waste management.
“All these efforts will be tied to better livelihoods and agriculture and fisheries opportunities, ‘green’ healthcare-related activities, disaster preparedness and mitigation measures, and greater environmental awareness especially at the community and school level,” she noted.
On October 26 the UN is due to launch a report marking the date the human population reaches seven billion. According to the report, the figure has implications for sustainable human development including climate change, food security, water and waste management, employment, and conflict and peace building.
“Some say our planet is too crowded. I say we are seven billion strong,” said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, in his UN Day address.
“We are living longer. More of our children survive. More and more of us live at peace, under democratic rule of law. As we have seen in this dramatic year, people everywhere are standing up for their rights and human freedoms,” he said.
“And yet, all this progress is under threat. From economic crisis. Rising joblessness and inequality. Climate change. Around the world, too many people live in fear. Too many people believe their governments and the global economy can no longer deliver for them. In these turbulent times, there is only one answer: unity of purpose.”