Speech by Robert Piper, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, on the occasion of UN Day 2012

02 Nov 2012

image UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Robert Piper addressing the UN Day Celebration in UN House, Kathmandu

Honourable Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha,
Heads of Constitutional bodies,
Your Excellencies, 
Distinguished guests,
Former and current UN colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you again for joining us to celebrate UN Day here at UN House. This is my fifth UN Day in Nepal and I have become attached to this short ceremony to celebrate the strong ties that bind Nepal and the United Nations together. And not just Nepal, but other Member States too, who are always present and always so supportive.

In the time since we last met, the UN Country Team has continued working hard alongside our Government partners, Non Government actors, development partners and others to reduce poverty and accelerate Nepal's development process.

For example, since last we met, the Government, with the support of UNICEF, launched a multi-sectoral nutrition plan, which aims to reduce child stunting by one third by 2017. FAO and IFAD have supported the Government in formulating a national Agriculture Development Strategy, which will guide agricultural and rural development in Nepal for years to come. WHO helped the Ministry of Health and Population coordinate the development of a Monitoring and Evaluation framework for the second National Health Sector Plan. The ILO supported the formulation of a National Master Plan on Child Labour Elimination. UN-Habitat supported the implementation of the Sanitation and Hygiene Master Plan. UNESCO continued its vital work to preserve Nepal’s rich heritage and to build government capacity to safeguard it for future generations. 

At the Election Commission, UNDP’s work continued to help the Commission successfully register almost 11 million voters with photographs and biometric profiling. UNAIDS together with UNODC contributed to the first time ever size estimation for populations at higher HIV risk. UNFPA helped the Ministry of Youth and Sports develop a youth responsive budgeting model. UN Women supported Ministries and local bodies to classify their budget according to gender responsiveness.

Under the leadership of the Government, WFP embraced a safety net approach focusing on social protection at community level, creating sustainable protective and productive assets. UNV helped increase civic engagement and community participation through volunteerism. The Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament promoted peace and disarmament education among Nepal’s children and youth.

And in the last year 18,000 refugees from Bhutan resettled to a third country with the assistance of IOM and UNHCR as well as the strong support of the resettlement countries and the Government. Once 108,000, the camp population has now reached less than 42,000 people.

This is just a taste of the diverse work of our 19 agencies over the last year, of course. But I hope it illustrates the importance and breadth of our work in Nepal. And reflects the reality as always that our greatest successes in this period have been Government successes. We could not and would not attempt to take credit for anything, alone. Because all of our work involves partners local or international, Government or non-Governmental, and all are made possible by the funds given to us, voluntarily by many of the Governments and organizations represented here today.  UN Day is also our chance to thank you for these vibrant partnerships that have lead to such important results.

Indeed, significant results have been achieved and Nepal's development indicators continue to improve. These results are all the more impressive given the headwinds development efforts have faced over the last decade in this country. Nepalis from many walks of life, from civil servants to village health volunteers, from police men and women to teachers, have achieved so much. Imagine what they could have accomplished in a more conducive governance environment.

Looking back almost 6 years now since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, it is important to recall Nepal’s successes on the peace process. There has been no resort to arms since the peace agreement was signed and Nepal has transitioned peacefully into becoming a republic. The 2008 Constituent Assembly elections established the most representative legislature ever. The cantonments have been emptied and the final integration of the Maoist army will be completed in just a few weeks time.  The country has become minefield-free. These achievements need to be protected.  

We also recognize that the euphoria of almost 6 years ago has given way to uncertainty and concern. Concern about a continuing political and constitutional crisis. Uncertainty about when and how the constitution drafting process will get back on track. Questions about when and how the next elections will be held, and the challenges of ensuring a conducive environment for them. Concerns that the rule of law remains fragile. 

This peace process, from its very beginning, has been truly Nepali-led, supported by the international community. We urge and hope that the country’s leadership will overcome the current deadlocks, reach out across political divides and lead Nepal successfully towards the national transformation envisioned in the CPA. The kind of leadership that binds the nation together with a sense of common purpose and moves Nepal forward, even as the country approaches the most challenging and fundamental issues at the root of the peace process.

Moving forward, Nepal's development efforts can either consolidate or undermine progress on the peace process. The quality of Nepal's development gains is a preoccupation for all of us today. The extent to which progress is shared equitably throughout the land, between men and women and across all communities. The extent to which policies are made in a consultative manner and are translated into fair legislation that promotes and respects the rule of law. The extent to which the average citizen feels they are viewed as a ‘shareholder’ rather than a ‘Subject’ of the State.

Since we last met to celebrate UN Day, the UN Country Team and the Government have finalized our new UN Development Assistance Framework which will frame the next 5 years of our work in support of the Government’s overall development vision. This was a critical process at a critical juncture in Nepal’s development trajectory.

The big organising ideas for our new cycle of cooperation are equity, inclusion and rights. We are also determined to focus a substantial part of our work to helping Nepal protect its considerable development gains to date, whether from natural or Man-made threats. And supporting Nepal's growing international cooperation. 

Our new UNDAF responds to the Government's development vision, most recently articulated by the Honourable Deputy Prime Minister himself to the UN General Assembly where he underlined on behalf of the Government of Nepal that "by democracy, we mean inclusive and participatory democracy, and by development we mean people-centered development with social justice and socio-economic transformation." We subscribe whole-heartedly, DPM, to your observation in New York that "without democracy and development, there cannot be lasting and sustainable peace."

We are excited about the new UNDAF and look forward to working closely with all of our partners in implementing this ambitious vision.

In closing, I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the nearly 700 Nepali police men and women and 4000 Nepali soldiers currently serving across 12 UN missions across the globe often in difficult and dangerous circumstances. We salute their contributions and courage and acknowledge the presence of the senior representatives of the Nepal Army and Police present today. 

Allow me to also acknowledge my extraordinary team of heads of agencies in the UN Country Team that have lead their organizations towards so many successes. And who support me so generously. To thank their dedicated staff and the families of our dedicated staff that allow them to do what they do. We are only as good, afterall, as the people we have in our ranks and I must say, we are so very well served by these individuals, local and international.

And to thank our Member States, the Government of Nepal in particular, for your ongoing commitment and support to your United Nations.

Happy UN Day. 

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