7th Kuala Lumpur Model United Nations at Garden International School

Feb 6, 2015

“Living Through Change”

Delegates and guests to this 7th Kuala Lumpur Model United Nations,

Dr. Nicola Mason,

Good afternoon.

It is my delight to be here this afternoon and I thank Ms. Khanna and the Secretariat for the kind invitation.  As a parent at GIS, I was an invitation I could not resist.  I also want to thank the KLMUN Secretariat for organising the conference.  It is very encouraging and signals a hopeful future to see so many delegates, more than 300 enthusiastic, energetic and inspiring young people, coming from schools across several states in Malaysia, and from as far away as China and Japan, to participate in this event!

As the UN-Secretary General’s Representative and Coordinator of the efforts of the United Nations development system here in Malaysia, I am inspired by your strong interest in the role, functions, and work of the United Nations as one way in which you can serve countries and people all around the world; because the United Nations is You.  The UN is our community of nations.  As countries, and citizens of the UN’s 193 member States, we have committed to work together to maintain international peace and security, and promote social progress, better living standards and respect for human rights of all people; and to be a centre for harmonising the actions of nations to achieve these important goals.

I am proud to see you all taking your rightful place in our family of nations and making your voices heard in constructive and meaningful ways.

You have chosen for your conference the theme “living through change”.  You could not have selected a more appropriate theme, as yours is a generation that must cope, and also steer a steady course through the complex challenges of an increasingly interconnected world experiencing a startling pace of change.

In spite of the many advances in the world, we enter 2015 facing rising extremism; conflict, violence and brutality within and between nations; persistent poverty and deprivation and rising inequality -  not reflected just in the widening gap between the rich and the poor, but also in the inequality of opportunities open to men and women, to people of different races and ethnicities, sexual orientation and gender identity, and various forms of disabilities, for example, in access to education, healthcare, basic sanitation and clean drinking water, and decent jobs. Our rapid industrialisation and technological advancements surely led to better standards of living, but also saw increasingly unsustainable consumption and production patterns, contributing to environmental pollution and climate change.  Many of these challenges no country can tackle alone.  They require international cooperation and effective global solutions, complemented by determined national action.

We are counting on you, as leaders of today and tomorrow, to help us find solutions for the challenges of our world.  Because, I suspect what brings you all here, what made you invest the many hours of preparation is not merely to live through change, but the strong desire to influence change and to shape our future and our world.

As you step into your roles as delegates, you will come face to face with these difficult issues, you will experience how issues are raised and prioritised or not, and how decisions are made at the UN.  And you will experience a process that enables all the Member States – large and small, rich and poor, with differing political views and social and economic systems – to have a voice and a vote.  

I hope through this process, you will have a better understanding and appreciation of the work of the United Nations here in Malaysia and around the world.  The United Nations is present in over 177 countries and territories around the world. And in each country there are different UN specialised agencies, funds and programmes that work together with governments, NGOs, local communities and the private sector, to address the countries development priorities.  These agencies together form a United Nations Country Team (UNCT), which is the team I lead here in Malaysia and in Singapore and Brunei.

The UN has been present in Malaysia for over 60 years, even before Malaysia became an independent country. Malaysia has developed a lot in this time, from a poor country to an upper middle income country, now aiming to join the ranks of the developed world.  Today, the UN Country Team in Malaysia comprises 17 agencies, from the UN Development Programme to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, from the UN Population Fund to UNICEF, from the International Labour Organisation to the World Health Organisation.  Our work is to help shape a better future.  It is demanding, but satisfying and exciting work, and we look forward to you one day joining the effort, whether as diplomat at the UN, in Government, civil society or the private sector.

Over the years, as I work in different countries, I’ve seen many things change for the better, but much more needs to be done to spread the benefits of development more equitably, so all people can live in dignity and in freedom, and have the opportunity to reach their full potential. We need concerted and determined action by all to create a better world.

I wish you a very exciting KLMUN conference!  Enjoy the learning, the networking, and meeting new friends from all over Malaysia and the rest of the world who might share the same interests and be excited about the same things as you. 

Take to heart  the words of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon:  "You are already leaders. Your ideas, your actions and your decisions make a difference. More than any other generation, you have a voice. ..”.  I hope to see some of you at the UN one day – as government representative, expert, development professional, community leader or Secretary-General.

Thank you.

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