Conference on the Sustainable Development Goals on the occasion of the 70th Anniversary of the United Nations
Remarks by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Zahir Tanin
Emerald Hotel, Pristina, 24 October 2015
Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister,


Ladies and gentlemen,

I am particularly pleased to join you all here on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the United Nations. I know the UN intimately from my diplomatic career, both as the Permanent Representative of my country, and through many leading roles during a decade serving at the heart of the organisation’s many policy-making bodies. In this time, I have seen first-hand what a force for good this noble organization can be – it is irreplaceable and essential.

Every day, the UN is making a difference to people’s lives, whether by seeking peaceful resolution to conflicts, sheltering refugees, protecting the environment, or by feeding the hungry and curing disease.

No organization is perfect, but the United Nations has enormous achievementsto be proud of.
Since its inception in 1945 it has defined the rights that every one of us has as a human being; it has made us all safer by helping limit the use of nuclear technologies; it helped bring an end to the injustice of colonialism; it galvanized global efforts to fight the spread of disease; it has deployed 69 peacekeeping operations; and it has provided relief during countless humanitarian disasters.
The United Nations has also consistently promoted the rights of minorities, the principles of tolerance and non-discrimination, and gender equality. Indeed this year we also celebrate 15 years of UN Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, which recognizes that women are disproportionately affected by armed conflict, and are essential actors in achieving peace.

The UN has impacted on our world in so many positive ways, promoting friendly relations between states, setting global norms, and stepping in to solve crises that no country can tackle alone.


Ladies and gentlemen,

I believe that the UN also has many achievements ahead of it.

One of my last duties before taking up my new position here in Pristina was to represent my country at the UN General Assembly, where along with colleagues from 192 countries we agreed global priorities for the next fifteen years. The Sustainable Development Goals set 17 goals to end extreme poverty, covering economic development, human rights, peace and security and the environment. 

These goals build on the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals.

But a crucial difference is that they recognize that ending poverty requires a truly comprehensive approach, covering economic, social and environmental aspects.

That’s why the goals were not just thought up by diplomats – like myself – sitting in New York. They followed a 3-year global conversation, involving civil society and grassroots organizations. It is because of this inclusive approach that the SDGs resonate with ordinary people and are relevant to their lives.
Andrew has already talked about the SDGs, but let me just mention one of them: To promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies. In a post-conflict
setting, these are difficult challenges. I know this only too well from my own country.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Promoting a just, peaceful and inclusive society has also been at the heart of the mission of the UN since it has been present in Kosovo.

The contrast between what we all witnessed in 1999 and what I see around me today makes me optimistic for the future. We stand together today as one UN family, focused upon empowering all people to fulfill their potential, and to take responsibility for creating a better collective future. There is of course much work still to be done. An anniversary like today is a good occasion to reflect on the progress achieved as well as the serious challenges ahead.


Ladies and gentlemen,

The goals enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations are not just a task for the United Nations – they are a task for all of us. They present an opportunity for governments, civil society, businesses and individuals – and indeed all of you here today – to come together to create conditions for prosperity and peaceful relations.

In my new role, I look forward to working with all of you toward these ends.

You can count upon my constant engagement, my support and my friendship.

Thank you.