UN’s 72nd anniversary celebrated in Tehran
Among attendees at the event were diplomatic corps, representatives of UN agencies in Iran, foreign ambassadors in Iran, and Abbas Araghchi, Iran's deputy foreign minister for legal and international affair, who delivered a speech on the occasion.
In his opening speech, Gary Lewis, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Iran, reflected on the task of the UN “to assist the governments of the world to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)”.
Lewis enumerated the scope of assistance the UN has provided for the Iranian government as eradicating poverty, improving public health, fighting inequality, building an inclusive and resilient society, and helping Iran to contribute to protecting the planet’s environment and thus the well-being of future generations. Having the privilege to observe the UN Day in Iran 5 times, Lewis expressed his gratitude to his colleagues, members of UN agencies in Iran for their commitment to reaching their objectives i.e. “peace, justice, human rights and development” in the country.
In the ceremony, the audience were also given a visual tour of all development work of the UN in the last 5 years of operation in Iran. The UN’s Endof-Cycle UNDAF report, covering years 2012-2016 in English and Farsi was also launched during the event. Lewis who is leaving Iran in February, made also a concluding personal note and left the audience in tears.
Following is part of Lewis’ passionate remarks on reflection of his departure from Iran:
I started my remarks this morning by saying that this is the fifth time I have had the privilege to preside – on the UN side – over this august gathering of partners, friends and well-wishers of the UN. Sadly, this year will also be my last. In a few short weeks, my full 5-year term as UN Resident Coordinator and head of UNDP, having started in mid-February 2013, will come to an end. More than this, I would like you to know that serving the UN in the Islamic Republic of Iran has – to date – been the richest professional experience of my life.
It will certainly be difficult to exceed this experience. But, wherever I go, Iran – Persia – will always stay with me.
Please allow me to share with you but a handful of the vivid, intoxicating images which will forever stay with me.
- The cool of the evening in the desert town of Kashan, with the sound of the azan rising as the sun sets.
- The reassuring sight of the powerful, jagged twin rows of sandstone desert mountains guarding me on either side as I mark my progress home on the road from Kerman.
- The seductive sound of the sitar, one warm evening, mingling with the breeze as we listen to Hafez with the wind blowing playfully in the curtains.
- Becoming respectfully lost in the still, Friday-morning silence at Behesht-e Zahra as mothers and daughters move about, lamenting the death of men – my age – who were lost, a generation-and-a-half earlier, in an imposed conflict which came to define this nation.
- Listening to the pleas for help from those who dwell, in peril, from a lack of water – in both Urmia and the Hamouns – and later, with the support of many others, trying to find solutions for their plight.
- Watching the dawn of another day slowly bring its torrid energy down upon the ancient city of Shiraz, only to see the inhabitants absorb and then adapt this energy to their own civilized pace for living.
- Contemplating, at the foot of the Naghsh-e Rostam – one of my favorite places in all of Iran – the far-off days when those who ruled in Persepolis commanded the affairs of vast swathes across the known world.
- Reflecting upon what the first of these Achaemenid rulers – your great leader Kourosh – has given to the world in terms of code to live by. A code which was just, civilized and tolerant. An inspiration for others to try to follow.
- Getting to know friends at the Tehran Peace Museum who opened their warm hearts to my wife and me. These men and women let us see both the despair of daily life for chemical weapons survivors, and the exalting ability of these very same individuals to smile and tolerate the shallow preoccupations and complaints of we who will never experience a fraction of their grief.
The UN Resident Coordinator in Iran, who learned Farsi during his years of stay in Iran, concluded his speech by reciting a poem from Hafiz in Farsi.
The world is in a better place because of the UN, Araghchi says
The other speaker at UN Day was Araghchi, who for his part, praised the UN, saying, “The world is in a better place because of decades of collective efforts made by all member of the states at the United Nations.”
On the one hand, Iran's deputy foreign minister said, the UN has not been able to “adequately resolve issues” and on the other the UN has acted as a platform for the Member States to express themselves and seek peaceful ways to resolve differences. “The UN has given us hope to make a better world through peaceful means.”
“Take the JCPOA, the Joint Compressive Plan of Action, for example,” he said, referring to it as a collective efforts made by seven nations in the world as well as the European Union to resolve a complicated issue, preventing an unnecessary crisis and misunderstanding. He restated that JCPOA shows the “power of diplomacy”. The deputy minister also expressed his gratitude to Lewis and praised him for all efforts he put into “saving the Cheetah, reviving Lake Urmia, combating diseases, and taking care of sand storms in Ahvaz.” “We are very grateful to you, [Lewis],” Araghchi concluded.