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Secretary General’s remarks at funeral of Kofi Annan

The Secretary-General

Remarks at funeral of Kofi Annan

Accra, Ghana, 13 September 2018

[As delivered]

To Nane Annan and the Annan Family,

To Kofi Annan’s larger family, starting with you, President Akufo-Addo and the people of his beloved Ghana, and extending to every corner of the globe,

To the many members of the United Nations community who grieve the passing of one of our own.

Since the shock of Kofi’s death, I have been reflecting on what made him so special.

To my mind, it is simply this:

Kofi Annan was both one-of-a-kind and one of us.

He was an exceptional global leader — and he was also someone virtually anyone in the world could see themselves in: those on the far reaches of poverty, conflict and despair who found in him an ally; the junior UN staffer following in his footsteps; the young person to whom he said until his dying breath “always remember, you are never too young to lead — and we are never too old to learn.”

Like few in our time, Kofi Annan could bring people together, put them at ease, and unite them towards a common goal for our common humanity.

There is an old joke: The art of diplomacy is to say nothing … especially when you are speaking!

Kofi Annan could say everything, sometimes without uttering a word.

It came from the dignity and the moral conviction and the humanity that was so deep in him.

He had that gentle voice, that lilt that made people smile and think of music. But his words were tough and wise. And sometimes the graver a situation, the lower that voice would get.

We would lean in to listen. And the world would lean in. And we were rewarded by his wisdom.

Kofi Annan was courageous, speaking truth to power while subjecting himself to intense self-scrutiny.

And like his predecessor Dag Hammarskjold, he had an almost mystical sense of the role of the United Nations as a force for good in a world of ills.

All of this added up to a remarkable record of achievement.

He pioneered new ideas and initiatives, including the Millennium Development Goals and the landmark reforms in his report, “In Larger Freedom”.

He opened the doors of the United Nations, bringing the Organization closer to the world’s people and engaging new partners in protecting the environment, defending human rights and combating HIV/AIDS and other killer diseases.

Kofi Annan was the United Nations and the United Nations was him.

Dear Friends,

Kofi Annan was also my good friend.

We marched through life together in many ways.

When the people of Timor-Leste were seeking self-determination, we worked together — he from the United Nations, and I from Portugal — to support the peaceful resolution of their plight.

When the UN Refugee Agency needed new leadership, Kofi blessed me with his trust in asking me to fill that role – and then provided unwavering support to protect and shelter the most vulnerable of the vulnerable.

Now that I occupy the office Kofi once held, I am continually inspired by his integrity, dynamism and dedication.

To him, indifference was the world’s worst poison.

Even after finishing his term as Secretary-General, he never stopped battling on the front-lines of diplomacy.

He helped to ease post-election tensions in Kenya, gave his all to find a political solution to the brutal war in Syria and set out a path for ensuring justice and rights for the Rohingya people of Myanmar.

Kofi straddled many worlds, North and South, East and West.

But he found his surest anchor in his African roots and identity.

The great Nelson Mandela, accustomed to being called Madiba, had his own nickname for Kofi, and called him “my leader”.

This was no jest. Kofi was our leader, too.

When I last saw him not long ago at the UN, his bearing was how I will always remember him: calm yet determined, ready to laugh but always filled with the gravity of the work we do.

He is gone now and we will miss him immensely.

But I am sure of this — if we continue to lean in and listen hard, we will still hear the words and wise counsel of Kofi Annan.

“Please carry on,” I hear him saying.

“You know what to do: Take care of each other. Take care of our planet. Recognize the humanity in all people. And support the United Nations — the place where we can all come together to solve problems and build a better future for all”.

Dear Friends,

Let us continue to heed that voice of grace and reason – that voice of morality and solidarity.

Our world needs it now more than ever.

As we face the headwinds of our troubled and turbulent times, let us always be inspired by the legacy of Kofi Annan — and guided by the knowledge that he will continue speaking to us, urging us on towards the goals to which he dedicated his life and truly moved our world.

Thank you.

Bookmark the Spokesperson’s website: http://www.un.org/sg/en/spokesperson
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International Day of Indigenous peoples: protecting the rights of the world’s most Vulnerable Groups

The 9th of August is set aside as a day to remember a group of people that have been forgotten for years and whose cultures and languages are at risk of being extinct. Indigenous people account for close to 370 million of the world’s population living across 90 countries. According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) indigenous people make up for less than 5 percent of the world’s population and yet account for 15 percent of the world’s poorest people. 

Indigenous people are said to speak an overwhelming majority of the world’s 7 000 languages and represent 5 000 distinct cultures. This population group has for years maintained social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are different from the world’s most dominant societies. Regardless of their differences, all indigenous peoples from around the world share common problems related to the protection of their rights as distinct peoples. Natives have continuously sought recognition of their identities, way of life and their right to traditional land, territories and natural resources. Up to the present, indigenous peoples rights have for years been violated. Indigenous people are arguable amongst the most vulnerable and disadvantaged group in the world according to UNDESA.

The theme for 2018, international day of world’s indigenous peoples focuses overall on, ‘migration and movement’. This includes also the current situation of indigenous people, who as a result of losing their lands, territories and resources have been forced to migrate to urban areas seeking better prospects of life, education and employment. Additionally, some have also fled to other countries evading persecution and conflict in their home countries, alienating them from their tribal land and customs.

The indigenous peoples of Namibia include the San, the Ovahimba, Ovazemba, Ovatjimba, Ovatue and Nama. These communities experience myriad social, cultural and economic difficulties in relation to the mainstream populations of Namibia. The san people of Namibia are said to constitute approximately 1.3% up to 3.5% of the population. The majority of Indigenous people are said to have been dispossessed of their ancestral land and resources and often no longer have the rights over their territories. The Natives in Namibia are believed to be living in extreme poverty and their life expectancy is said to be way lower than the national average. The Draft white paper on the rights of indigenous people in Namibia even mentions that some of the San groups have completely lost their language whilst adapting languages of neighbouring groups.

The United Nations strives to make use of a human rights based approach to planning and policy making for development. This approach ensures that human rights principles, such as equality and non discrimination are met by duty bearers. The 10th SDG for example attempts to reduce inequalities for all peoples. This SDG includes aims to reduce the inequality amongst all population groups in Namibia. These aspirations are in-line with the second UNPAF pillar on Social Transformation which seeks to achieve equitable access to education, protection of rights and access of integrated social protection services by the most vulnerable groups.

Namibians and the rest of the international community must bend together in-order to protect the rights of indigenous people and ensure that their distinct and unique culture does not go extinct. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres notes that, “the 2030 agenda for sustainable development must realize the rights of indigenous peoples across all the goals. Indigenous peoples must not be left behind.”

 

 

 

2018 World Humanitarian Day (WHD) campaign: #NotATarget

August 19, 2003 is remembered as a dark day in the history of the United Nations when 22 people who dedicated their lives to peace were killed by a terrorist attack who targeted the UN headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq. As a result of the tragic event, and in honour of the people who lost their lives, the General Assembly decided to designate 19 August as World Humanitarian Day in order to pay tribute to all aid workers around the world who are risking their lives on a daily basis for a greater cause.

From Syria’s sieges and civil wars, to Yemen’s slip towards famine, to the migration crisis disrupting countries across the world. All around the globe, various humanitarian crises affect the everyday life of a large number of people, with devastating consequences for the most vulnerable. Children do not have the opportunity to receive a quality education, which is caused by a limited access to schools. Furthermore, war zones lead to declining general welfare, limited healthcare, and to the displacement of entire population groups. Increasingly often, aid workers and other helpers are regarded as possible threats and targets. In order to prevent those tragedies, the global community must take a stand and act.

The United Nations, together with their member states, compiled the Sustainable Development Agenda to tackle these challenges, help those in need, and work side by side with the people who try desperately to eliminate the suffering of those affected by violence. The 3rd SDG attempts for example to ensure healthy lives and to promote well-being for all peoples of all ages. This goes hand in hand with the four pillars of the United Nations Partnership Framework, especially the fourth one which focuses on vulnerable groups and tries to eradicate poverty.

For WHD 2018, the United Nations will relaunch their successful worldwide social media campaign of last year to shine a light on the fact that civilians are still #NotATarget. Through this movement, people will have the opportunity to raise their voices and show their conviction that help is never a threat.

Not only can Namibians advocate for change by joining this movement but they can, in the words of UN Secretary-General António Guterres: “[…] Shine a spotlight on the millions of civilians around the world whose lives have been caught up in conflict.”

 

The International Day of Friendship –  the relevance and importance of friendship

The International Day of Friendship was proclaimed in 2011 by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly with the idea that friendship between peoples, countries, cultures and individuals can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities.

The importance of friendships for young people, teenagers provide that sense of belonging and acceptance by their peers.

As we age, friends become increasingly important to health (SDG3) and happiness, according to a new research in the journal Personal Relationships. With time we learn to deal with the ups and downs of life. Friends provide a sounding board and encourage personal growth.

Our world faces many challenges, crises and forces of division — such as poverty, violence, and human rights abuses — among many others — that undermine peace, security, development and social harmony.  To confront those crises and challenges, their root causes must be addressed by promoting and defending a shared spirit of human solidarity that takes many forms — the simplest of which is friendship.

 A recent Harvard study concluded that having solid friendships even helps promote brain health. Friends helps us deal with difficult circumstances and to make better lifestyle choices.

United Nations Partnership Frame Work (UNPAF) 2019-2023 reports on the social protection of the poor and vulnerable groups. A circle of friends provides many benefits e.g. social support, someone to confide in, food in times of crisis, etc. Helping others adds to our own happiness.

Some friends have the strange power of turning every bad episode into hilarious and unforgettable ones. It’s also important to be a good friend yourself. Friends can change our value system, so we learn to inject more meaning into our lives.

#Inspirechange – Marking the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela devoted his live to service of humanity as a human rights lawyer, a prisoner of conscience, an international peacemaker and as the first democratically elected president of the Republic of South Africa.

One hundred years after his birth Nelson Mandela’s values of peace, justice, humility and his commitment to social justice still resonate and continue to inspire the world. Nelson Mandela day 2018 marks 100 years since the birth of Nelson Mandela. The centenary celebration is an occasion to reflect on his life and legacy, and follow his call to ‘make the world a better place’.

To honor his legacy on the promotion of social Justice, the fight against segregation and the promotion of a culture of peace, the United Nations General Assembly in 2009, proclaimed Nelson Mandela’s Birthday, 18 July, as International Nelson Mandela Day, devoting the day to serving the public. 

On 18 July 2018, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek team arranged a Mandela day Public awareness campaign with motorists. The campaign involved handing out inspiring messages of Mandela attached to promotional items e.g. SDG gift bags, lanyards, the Declaration of Human rights, UN fact cards, SDG lapel pins and UNIC Windhoek branded Pens. The team devoted its 67 minutes sharing messages of humility and peace with Namibian motorists at the intersection of Robert Mugabe Avenue and Sam Nujoma Drive.

Madiba led a life of sacrifice and unwavering leadership, in spreading the words of global peace and justice. Every day the United Nations works to promote peace, human rights and ensure sustainable development for all. This year’s Mandela day centenary and the 70th Anniversary of the Universal declaration of Human rights, is an opportunity for all people to recommit to upholding principles of equality, justice and human dignity.

UNIC WINDHOEK bids farewell to outgoing interns

The United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek is pleased to congratulate and bid farewell to its outgoing team of interns who joined the agency’s internship programme for Communications, education and development at the beginning of this year.

The graduate programme was established to provide practical and pro-active training to grandaunts as well as recent graduates looking to sharpen their skills for the employment industry.

Interns actively participated in the aiding of communicating key messages of the agency as well as conducting research, facilitating various outreach programs, strengthening social media campaigns, etc.

UNIC Windhoek internship programme exposed students to a network of  people in a more controlled and stable environment. Proper training, assignments, and duties were given without the added pressure.

These young novices have done exceptionally well, their efforts and impeccable commitment to deliver will only advance their skill sets for the future.  The students stated: “The experiences we went through shaped us, encouraged personal development, but also greater understanding of one self.  And being an intern at the Centre gave us more opportunities to build connections with UN professionals that can be very beneficial for our future career.”

On behalf of the entire UNIC Windhoek team, we wish to express appreciation to the outgoing interns and cast our best wishes towards their future endeavours. Thank you for your support and willingness to go the extra mile in executing the work of the UN in Namibia.

 

Model UN training session held at tertiary level

On the 27 June 2018 UNIC Windhoek held a training session tertiary level at the UN house where various participants from different tertiary institutions gathered to elevate their caucusing skills and above all comprehend the importance of research that drives a Model UN conference. In partnership with the University of Namibia (UNAM) Model UN Society, the president of the UN Model UN Society facilitated a training session on 27 June and 04 July 2018 for students from UNAM, Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), College for the Arts and University of Management (IUM) students.

The training session was officiated by MUN chairperson, Helena Kandjumbwa who guided the delegates through the Rules and procedure, geopolitical, cultural, and historical aspects of dealing with the member state allocated to the delegates. With the support of the Centre she delivered a robust session which motivated the delegates with inquisitive responses.

A conference for tertiary students is scheduled to take place during October this year.

 

#WCW WednesdayCelebrateWomen April Feature Lucinda Ockhuizen part 3

Women play an integral role in our society. In an endeavour to feature women from different sectors, our WednesdayCelebrateWomen #WCW campaign, highlights women in our community doing extraordinary things. This week, we release the rest of our interview with our April feature, Lucinda Ockhuizen.

Which of the 17 SDGs resonate with you and why? How do you plan to work towards achieving this goal?

Gender Equality is the SDG that resonates with me the most because we live in a society where very few of the entire university enrolments for science fields are women, yet some of the most difficult challenges of our time can be solved by Scientists and Engineers. I plan to assist in achieving this goal by actively encouraging more women to embrace STEM fields in Namibia.

Why is it important to empower women and girls to pursue careers in the field of technology?

Empowering more women to work in the STEM fields will maximise innovation, creativity and efficiency. By making women part of the STEM workforce, services and solutions will be guided by a broader array of experiences and will be better designed and more likely to represent all users.

 What motivates you and who is your role model?

I am motivated by the idea of changing people’s lives and I am inspired by strong and powerful female role models and their stories.

 What is your advice to girls following their dreams?

I would say to young girls: “You can determine what your outlook is about a situation, despite where you come from or what you are going through and you shouldn’t let go of your dreams simply because someone else says it is impossible.”

 

Model United Nations Namibia (MUNNAM) update 2018

Our Model United Nations programme is specifically targeted for Namibian youth! Young people have the opportunity to learn more about the UN by modelling diplomats and heads of member states in a simulation of the General Assembly. Topical discussions take place and the aim is to reach consensus and pass a resolution at the end of the conference. As youth gather to deliberate and step into the shoes of diplomats they need to learn about the UN and how it works, the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda and need to stay true to ideals of the UN Charter. The Model UN programme develops critical thinking and analysis and provides young people with a more pragmatic view of international relations and diplomacy.

Preparations are under way to host the 7th annual Model United Nations  Namibia (MUNNAM)   conference for high school learners in Namibia. The applications forms are streaming in and soon the UNIC Windhoek team will release the final selection of delegates who will convene during September 2018 in Windhoek to debate, lobby and negotiate as member states of the General Assembly. For more information about the programme please email us: unic.windhoek@un.org or call us at 061 204 6367.

 

#WCW Wednesday Celebrate Women features Lucinda Ockhuizen Part 2

UNIC Windhoek’s #WednesdayCelebrateWomen campaign features formidable women who are making a mark in their respective industries. Last week we introduced our April feature Lucinda Ockhuizen. This week we learn more about how her journey in 3D technology started… #WCW

As a Namibian woman in 3D technology in the country; can you tell us a bit about what that entails?

In 2014, while briefly living in Australia. I came across a 3D printer at a Children’s Science Fair and I was fascinated by the potential to create something from nothing. We thought of creating similar opportunities for our son and children in Namibia. A few months after we moved back to Namibia, we purchased our first 3D printer and started creating products for family and friends. Our first product was fabricated in our kitchen – a 3D printed map of the Namibian regions.

In 2016, I was nominated and subsequently shortlisted for the prestigious African Women Awards – Dynamic Start up Award. The nomination was an honour and door opener for me. In 2017 we introduced educational tech services and programs and we are currently working on a 3D printing programme which will align with the Namibian national curriculum. Continue reading