By: Ahmmed Saleem, UN Media
RC’s Speech – UN Day Reception
22 October 2021
Your Excellency Adaljiza Albertina Xavier Reis Magno, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation,
Honourable Ministers, State Secretaries and other National and Municipality-level government officials,
Members of the National Parliament,
Excellencies Ambassadors and Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
National and International Partners,
Members of the Media,
Members of the UN Family,
All Protocols Observed,
Last year, in the midst of the global pandemic, we marked the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. “We the Peoples” of the United Nations renewed our joint commitment to strive together to deliver the promise of the UN Charter: to secure a world where everyone can thrive in peace, dignity and equality on a healthy planet. The continued relevance of multilateralism was also reaffirmed, while there was a shared recognition that the United Nations as a unique multilateral system needs to consistently strive to more inclusive, better networked and more effective.
One year on, we celebrate the 76th anniversary of the United Nations. The global pandemic is still with us, lives are continuing to be lost, and the health and wellbeing of people – particularly the vulnerable – continue to be affected. The socio-economic impact of COVID-19 is acutely felt everywhere, and inequalities between nations and within countries are growing. I would like to acknowledge the efforts of all those who have made great efforts throughout the past year to address the impacts of COVID-19 and to pay my respects to those who have lost family members, friends and colleagues this year.
We all know that we must quickly come to terms with climate change as the new normal. The impacts of climate change are felt everywhere, including in Timor-Leste, where in April this year, we experienced the worse flooding in recent history. These disasters will continue to occur, and we are acutely aware of the vulnerability of Timor-Leste to such disasters as a small island developing state.
But I don’t want to infer that all is doom and gloom. Far from it. Throughout both the COVID-19 pandemic and the April floods response, we have witnessed a remarkable level of solidarity and compassion – starting at the community-level, all the way up to the Government and the friends of Timor-Leste, many of you are here today. Amidst global vaccine inequality, Timor-Leste received – and continue to receive – COVID-19 vaccines. Under the strong leadership of the Government, with support from the partners including the UN, vaccine coverage in Timor-Leste is increasing daily. As at 19th October, nearly 70% of the eligible population received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccination, providing them a degree of protection from the virus. This is something that Timor-Leste and its friends can – and should – be proud of.
Similarly, during the floods response, the first respondents were the neighbours and local communities helping each other. The Government, all sectors of society, national and international partners came together to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance.
As I look to the coming year, the word that comes into my mind is: action. First, of course, is climate action, and this involves a set of actions (and changes in our lifestyles) that all of us will need to take, urgently and consistently – every single day. As the Timor-Leste delegation sets out to the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), the United Nations stands firm to continue to support the Government and people of Timor-Leste to take concrete actions on climate change adaptation and disaster risk management.
Second are a set of actions related to countering the increase in inequalities and ensuring that the COVID-19 recovery is inclusive, with active participation of women, youth, persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups, to harness the full potential of every person everywhere.
Third are a set of actions related to ending violence against women and girls. Globally, including in Timor-Leste, violence against women and girls was a pandemic even before COVID-19. Emerging global data and global reports have shown that all types of violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence, has intensified during COVID-19. In a month’s time, we will be marking the annual 16 days of activism. But I’d like to say today: it’s not just 16 days. We need to act to end violence against women and girls every single day, for 365 days, until no woman, no girl feels threatened or unsafe.
These are only three areas of actions that we need to focus on. We need to change gear, to accelerate our collective efforts in all these areas. It is not easy. But the solidarity and the sense of shared responsibility we have witnessed this year gives me some reasons to be optimistic for a more peaceful and prosperous future for all.
The 2030 Agenda’s promise of ‘Leaving No One Behind, For People and For Planet’ must guide us in making difficult policy choices and taking bold decisions and actions based on the spirit of global solidarity and shared responsibility. We must work to advance public goods and take decisive climate actions. We must also focus on greener/bluer economic recovery, resilience, social services, and social protection systems.
I have always said that challenges can make or break nations. Timor-Leste is a challenge-hardened nation. In the era of COVID-19 and emerging climate emergencies, this is an opportune time for us to renew our collective commitment to the vision of tolerance, universal human rights, peaceful co-existence, and promotion of inclusive socio-economic growth, as set out in the UN Charter.
I firmly believe this is what the United Nations is all about. Today, on the occasion of the 76th anniversary, I ask everyone to join hands and to re-assure the people and Government of Timor-Leste, that the United Nations not only stands with you, but also that the United Nations belongs to you.
Obrigado barak and thank you all!