The United Nations family in Ethiopia on Tuesday marked UN Day with pomp and fanfare as they celebrated the anniversary of the entry into force in 1945 of the UN Charter, the foundational treaty of the United Nations.
Key activities for the day, held under the theme 'Potential in Diversity', included the UN flag raising ceremony, performances by the Ethiopian police band, speeches and a rendition by Ethiopian youths on the importance for Africa to achieve the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) and transform the continent.
The youths emphasized the importance of the set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of the new sustainable development agenda, in particular ensuring no-one was left behind.
Ms. Giovanie Biha, Deputy Executive Secretary at the Economic Commission for Africa, delivered Secretary-General António Guterres' speech marking the day.
"Our world faces many grave challenges. Widening conflicts and inequality. Extreme weather and deadly intolerance. Security threats – including nuclear weapons. We have the tools and wealth to overcome these challenges. All we need is the will," she said.
"The world's problems transcend borders. We have to transcend our differences to transform our future. When we achieve human rights and human dignity for all people – they will build a peaceful, sustainable and just world. On United Nations Day, let us, 'We the Peoples', make this vision a reality."
Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa-Onochie, UN Resident Coordinator, UNDP Resident Representative, and UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Ethiopia, in her presentation said this year's UN Day theme resonated for the UN in Ethiopia as 'we are working in a country that officially celebrates diversity as the fabric of its national identity – and the engine of its ambitious growth'.
"Giving due recognition to the potential in diversity also speaks to the commitment anchoring the sustainable development goals, which is that we leave no one behind. This is not an easy commitment to deliver on as our collective history teaches us," said Ms. Eziakonwa-Onochie.
Over the years, decades and even centuries, she said, diversity has been seen as one of the natural triggers for conflict and inequality.
"We need to tackle this misconception and see it for the lie that it is. Our genes celebrate the potential of diversity. Recognising the potential of diversity is not only the humane thing to do but it is the most natural human thing to do as well," the Resident Coordinator said.
All member states of the UN, she said, signed up to the transformational Agenda 2030.
"We only have 13 years left to create a new and sustainable world, one that is better for the planet and all living in it. Exploiting the potential of diversity is one sure way of ensuring that we have a better chance of delivering on this common agenda," said Ms. Eziakonwa-Onochie.
"At the heart of harnessing the potential of diversity lie our youth. We need to actively invest in instilling in the youth this respect for diversity and recognition of its potential to improve our lives, and shape our common future."
Quoting an anonymous philosopher, she said diversity was the one true thing human beings have in common and should celebrate it every day.
Representatives from the African Union Commission and the Ethiopian government also spoke; praising the UN for its work in the country and its quest for peace and stability on the continent, in particular ensuring people celebrated diversity.