ON October 24, 1945, US president Harry Truman, along with representatives from 50 other countries, signed the UN Charter in San Francisco, California. The United Nations was established to foster global peace, prosperity and justice. In the 66 years that have passed since that historic day, the UN’s mission and membership have been broadened dramatically.
United Nations Day, part of United Nations Week, is devoted to raising global awareness of the aims and achievements of the United Nations organisation.
In Cambodia, the day is an oppor-tunity for the UN country team to meet with the Prime Minister to discuss common development priorities, emerging issues (such as this year’s devastating floods)
and other issues of significance.
Cambodia became a member of the United Nations on December 14, 1955. But decades of civil war had a severe impact on the possibility for growth in the Kingdom.
In the 20 years that have passed since the signing of the Paris peace accords, Cambodia’s progress on many fronts can only be described as remarkable.
The economy is now worth nearly $12 billion, GDP growth has averaged more than eight per cent over the past 10 years, and latest data shows impressive progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals.
There are gaps that need work, ranging from equitable poverty reduction, further improvements in maternal mortality and the introduction of social protection measures for the most vulnerable to improved quality of education, investment in Cambodia’s youth and the broadening of civil society engagement.
The United Nations has stood alongside the Royal Government during Cambodia’s transition, and our continuing commitment is exemplified by our current five-year development plan, valued at $579 million.
By focusing on economic growth and sustainable development, health and education, gender, governance and social protection outcomes, with a particular focus on cross-cutting issues of aid effectiveness, gender, human rights and youth, our five-year plan reflects the government’s own National Strategic Development Plan and the needs of this country.
UN Day is an opportune time for us to reflect on the progress that has been made, lessons that have been learnt, the work still ahead and how the UN can continue to contribute most effectively to Cambodia’s development.
More than 1,000 people make up the UN family in Cambodia, which consists of 26 agencies with varied mandates. But we are one United Nations team working together in Cambodia for peace, poverty reduction and human rights.
Our comparative advantage is clear: our staff bring skills and experience in sectors ranging from agriculture, food security, gender equality, education and employment to trafficking, health, justice and child rights.
Our staff are predominantly Cambodian and our international staff come from all corners of the earth to work with, and for, the Cambodian people.
These are challenging times. About 1.5 million people in Cambodia have been affected by this season’s floods, and globally we are dealing with economic crisis, joblessness, climate change and inequality.
These are challenges governments around the world are working to address. UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon suggests it is precisely as a result of these turbulent times that we must be united. Global problems demand global solutions and all nat-ions working on a common agenda.
This is no easy task, but it is the very mission of the United Nations: “to build a better world; to leave no one behind; to stand for the poorest and most vulnerable in the name of global peace and social justice”.
The United Nations team in Cambodia reaffirms our commitment to working with the Royal Government, with donors and development partners, and with civil society to ensure basic human rights are met and that Cambodia continues its progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals, to better the lives of all Cambodian people.
Douglas Broderick is the United Nations resident co-ordinator in Cambodia.