Michelle Gyles-McDonnough: United Nations Day at Taylor's University

Oct 24, 2015

Yang Berbahagia Professor Dato’ Dr Hassan Said, President and Vice-Chancellor, Taylor’s University,

Yang Amat Mulia Tunku Zain Al-‘Abidin ibni Tuanku Muhriz,

Professor Dr. Pradeep Nair, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Taylor’s University,

Professor Dr. Perry Hobson, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Global Engagement,

Associate Professor Dr. Tang Siew Fun, Director of the Integrated Teaching and Lifelong Learning Centre at Tayor’s

Yang Berbahagia Dato’ Sarjit Singh Banta Singh, Advisor of the SHINE Award Programme,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning and Happy United Nations Day!

It is my great pleasure to be here at Taylor’s University to commemorate with you the 70th anniversary of the historic formation of the United Nations.  Seventy years ago, on this day, the world came together as a community of nations and agreed to uphold a set of shared purposes and principles to save future generations from the scourge of war, and to ensure peace and security, sustainable development and the enjoyment of human rights by all peoples everywhere.

Since then, we have achieved much. We have successfully ended war between nations.  We have seen the birth of new nations, and seen the efforts of nation building result in significant improvements in human development.  Indeed in the most recent 15 years of this rich 70 year legacy, the accelerated push of the Millennium Development Goals has lifted more than 1 billion people out of poverty, made significant inroads in health, the environment, empowering women, ensuring education for both girls and boys, and in reducing the rate of maternal and infant mortality. But much more needs to be done.

Today, alongside these enduring achievements, many challenges remain.  Internal conflict, the rise of extremism, growing inequalities, and persecution threaten the fabric of peace and security and tear at basic human rights, resulting in some 60 million people forcibly displaced, compared to 37.5 million just a decade ago. And climate change is no longer a future prospect but a clear and present threat.

So this year, as we celebrate 70 years, it is clear that the work of the UN is not done.  We look ahead to a better world, ready – guided by a new 2030 Agenda and new sustainable development goals (or SDGs), which have been developed through the most participatory and inclusive process in history. Millions around the world, including 8000 Malaysians in face-to-face and on line discussions, helped to shape the goals.  The SDGs have now set for us a bold and ambitious course over next 15 years to continue the project to transform our world.

This year, UN member states also have come together on the Sendai Framework to reduce disaster risk and build the resilience of nations; and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, which is a new global framework for financing sustainable development.  Another key piece of the puzzle will come into place in December, when countries, we hope, will take the courageous step to conclude a new global agreement on climate change at COP21 in Paris.

To achieve this ambitious 2030 Agenda, we need a strong UN. This is the message of this year’s commemorative theme for UN Day:  “Strong UN. Better World.”

The theme highlights the importance of multilateralism and the unique and essential role that the UN plays in enabling participation, inclusion and partnerships across borders, and with public and private sectors, civil society, academia and citizens for the global public good. As proven by the important collective decisions and landmark agreements that have been reached just this year alone, it is only the United Nations that provides the indispensable global platform to facilitate dialogue and consensus for the common good for people, our planet and a prosperous and sustainable future that is shared by all.  The UN achieves this by ensuring that the voices of all countries, large and small, are heard. Seven decades after its founding, the United Nations remains a beacon for all humanity.

We are clear on what needs to be done. Now is the time for determined action.  Success will depend on new and innovative partnerships to implement our shared agenda for the next 15 years.  This agenda for peace, prosperity, security and dignity for all is not just the responsibility of governments, but of all of us.  We must do our part.

In closing, I would like to congratulate and to thank Taylor’s University, its staff members and students for organising this event and, by doing so, demonstrating their solidarity with the many women and men who have dedicated their lives to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, to create the world that we want under our united blue flag.  The 70th anniversary is a moment to recognize their dedication – and to honour the many who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.

As the Secretary-General stated in his UN Day message today, “The timeless values of the UN Charter must remain our guide.  Our shared duty is to “unite our strength” to serve “we the peoples”.

Thank you.

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