Yesterday, Rwanda once more joined the global community in celebrating the United Nations (UN) Day, which constitutes the anniversary of the founding of the UN on October 24th, 1945. The signing of the UN’s Charter in San Francisco, USA, on that day was a solemn pledge to the world’s people to prevent serious and widespread assaults on human dignity and the wholesale destruction of human life, infrastructure and properties as happened during the WWII as well as to always provide assistance and protection to affected populations in the face of natural disasters and emergencies. It was also a pledge to promote sustainable development of all countries within peaceful environments.
With the passage of time, the UN Day celebrations have also come to provide the opportunity for recognizing the important contributions that the Organization has made to world peace, security, humanitarian response and development. Numerous UN workers continue to risk their lives in many parts of the world to protect innocent civilians from the ravages and destruction of war and natural disasters. Many have made the ultimate sacrifice of giving their lives while carrying out their duties in such processes.
The UN’s landmark integrated approach to security, humanitarian assistance and sustainable development makes it a unique partner for countries and people throughout the world in their search for human security, good governance, peace and inclusive development. This is particularly underscored by the Millennium Development Goals, which have provided the world with a unique compact for combatting extreme poverty, disease burdens, environmental deterioration and promoting gender equality and much better international cooperation.
But over the past few years the UN Day has also increasingly prompted a somber reflection on the deepening challenges it is facing in terms of the sheer magnitude of problems that the world is facing against the dwindling resource base of the Organization. The resurgence of conflicts and terrorism over the past few years in so many parts of the world, notably the
Middle East and North Africa and the outbreak of epidemics like Ebola in West Africa as well as the worsening effects of climate change have presented the UN with unprecedented challenges.
These challenges notwithstanding, there are important achievements from the UN’s work to celebrate. We are currently in the last year of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) implementation and they have helped to galvanize more holistic development efforts at both the global and national levels. With the agreed deadline for the MDGs fast approaching, the UN has been working with governments, civil society and other partners to build on the momentum generated by the MDGs and fashion an ambitious post-2015 development agenda. The decisions that will be finally adopted next year regarding this new agenda will undoubtedly lead to a much more decisive global action plan for ending poverty, ensuring prosperity and well-being for all, stepping up of environmental protection and addressing climate change threats effectively.
As the UN Secretary-General puts it, “the UN treaties addressing inequality, torture and racism have protected peoples, while other agreements have safeguareded the environment. UN peacekeepers have heroically separated hostile forces, our mediators have settled disputes and our humanitarian workers have delivered life-saving aid”.
There is no doubt that more than ever before, the United Nations is needed in addressing the multiple crises and conflicts around the World. Despite some of the much discussed deficits of the Organization, it is uniquely placed to lead the global response to epidemics, terrorism, war, discrimination, poverty and climate change.
In Rwanda, the UN has continued over the past year to reinforce its delivering as one (DaO) frameworks and mechanisms, building upon the successes of the pilot phase of the DaO between 2008 - 2012. These processes have rendered the UN’s operations more relevant, efficient, effective and results-oriented. Thus the UN system in Rwanda is currently is better placed to support the country’s accelerated poverty reduction and transformational agenda as encapsulated in Vision 2020 and second the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS II), 2013-2018. Within the framework of the Rwanda UN Country Team’s single business plan, the United Nations Development Assistance Plan (UNDAP) 2013-2018 the UN agencies are implementing joint programmes in the areas of Inclusive Economic Transformation, Accountable Governance, Human Development as well as Humanitarian Actions and Disaster Management. Thus, its programmes are responding directly to the key priorities of the country’s medium-term priorities.
Rwanda has not only sustained its contribution to UN reforms at both national and global levels, but it continues to expand its contributions to UN Peace Keeping missions in various parts of the world. It is also among the few countries in Africa that are on track to meeting the MDGs, and it is also already playing a lead role in the fashioning of the Post-MDGs agenda. All this is a clear testimony to the commitment of the Rwandan leadership to the fulfillment of the key ideals underpinning the founding of the UN and successful domestication of important international agreements. Importantly also, Rwanda commendably discharged its mandate over the past year and a half as a non-permanent member of the Security Council.
This year, with the development and implementation of the One UN Rwanda’s joint programmes, the UN family in Rwanda has broadened and deepened its support to the country’s transformation and sustainable development agenda, which is consistent with the words of the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who called on “Governments and individuals to always work in common cause for the common good”.
Lamin M. Manneh, UN Resident Coordinator in Rwanda