Policy-makers, UN representatives, journalists and members of the diplomatic community gathered to celebrate UN Day on 24 October at an event organised by UNA-UK in collaboration with our partners at the Embassy of Kuwait.
At the event, UNA-UK presented Ian Martin with the 2013 Sir Brian Urquhart Award. Each year, the award is given to a UK citizen who has made an outstanding contribution to the aims of the United Nations. Mr Martin has worked for over four decades to further conflict prevention, peacebuilding and human rights around the world, holding senior positions at Amnesty International and with the UN in countries including Ethiopia, Eritrea, Haiti, Rwanda and Timor-Leste. His most recent role was Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya.
Mr Martin used his acceptance speech to honour the pioneering efforts of Sir Brian Urquhart, who shaped the UN's administrative and peacekeeping functions during its early days, and to reflect on Sir Brian's proposals on UN reform, which continue to be highly relevant today. Pointing to the need for "multilateral leadership" in our multipolar world, he emphasised the importance of improving the quality and independence of senior UN leaders through better appointment processes. He then spoke of the ongoing difficulties the UN faces in managing the interplay between its peace and human rights mandates, using examples from Nepal and Sri Lanka to highlight the challenges of adapting "a model for UN action in the field that was designed for a development rather than a conflict response".
The event also launched UNA-UK's major new publication, Global development goals: Leaving no one behind. Featuring contributions by over 50 experts and practitioners, the publication assesses progress, gaps and challenges in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and offers recommendations for the post-2015 agenda.
To mark the launch, David Hallam, the UK's Envoy for Post-2015, spoke on the UK government's priorities for the new framework, which include sustainable jobs and livelihoods, gender equality and empowerment, governance and the rule of law, and stable and peaceful societies. He also emphasised the importance of retaining a focus on the MDGs before their 2015 deadline, “because the credibility of any post-2015 goals depends on the success of the MDGs”.
UNA Branch members also celebrated across the country, including UNA Shipley who marked UN Day by raising the UN flag on Shipley Town Hall.
To find out more about UNA-UK's other UN Day activities, including its major membership campaign, click here
UNA-UK would like to take this opportunity to thank our generous host for the evening - the Ambassador of the State of Kuwait to London, H.E. Khaled Al Duwaisan GCVO, who occupies the role of Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in London.