Welcome Remarks by HE Dr Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, on the occasion of DIRCO-UN Webinar United Nations Day commemoration: “The importance of multilateralism in building back better for a post-COVID-19 world”, Friday, 30 October 2020

UN Resident Coordinator Ms Nardos Bekele-Thomas,
Prof Tawana Kupe, Vice-Chancellor and Principal, University of Pretoria,
Ms Elizabeth Sidiropoulos, Chief Executive of the South African Institute of International Affairs,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps and the United Nations Country Team in South Africa,
Distinguished Guests,

I wish to warmly welcome you all to this joint DIRCO-UN webinar themed: “The importance of multilateralism in building back better for a post-COVID-19 world.”

Today’s webinar marks the diamond anniversary of the day that the UN Charter entered into force on 24 October 1945.

At the recent commemorative high-level event of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations held on 21 September 2020, a Political Declaration was adopted reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism.

The Declaration aptly concludes with these words: “We will work together with partners to strengthen coordination and global governance for the common future of present and coming generations.”

As we wish the United Nations well into the future, let us also recommit ourselves to the ideals of the Charter.

Annually, DIRCO and the United Nations Office in Pretoria host joint events to mark United Nations Day. Unfortunately, this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we could not meet physically since large gatherings are still prohibited. Thus we opted to host a joint webinar to commemorate UN Day.

When we gathered last year to celebrate the formation of the UN, none of us imagined that the world would be engulfed by a common enemy – the COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed more than a million lives around the globe, deepened poverty, widened the inequality gap, increased insecurity and revealed cracks in the system of global governance.

The pandemic has awfully reminded us of the indispensable value of multilateralism. We have seen that, as with other contemporary challenges, no country acting alone can successfully deal with the pandemic. While commendable multilateral cooperation between States has been witnessed, the pandemic has also raised the question of how the world should be organised in its aftermath.

We trust that today’s panel discussion will help suggest practical ways to build back better for a post COVID-19 world. A post COVID-19 world should be free of conflict. It should also be a world free of poverty, inequality and underdevelopment, a world of inclusive economic growth and shared prosperity and it should be a world where young people are able to grow and thrive and where women have equal rights and opportunities.

I am therefore hopeful that this webinar will allow us ample time to delve into this theme in detail, with the intention of emerging with concrete guidelines than can provide succinct goals for South Africa’s multilateral engagements in this ever-changing world.

With those few remarks, welcome to you all and thank you!


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