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سازمان ملل متحد در ایران
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Speech delivered on the Occasion of UN Day in Iran - 71 for 17 SDGs

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30 October 2015
Tehran, Iran

Gary Lewis

UN Resident Coordinator

Your Excellency, Dr. Ebtekar, Vice President of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Your Excellency, Dr. Araghchi, Deputy Foreign Minister,

Ambassador Bizmark, Director-General in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,

Distinguished Ambassadors and Members of the Diplomatic Corps,

Our partners from across Iran in development and humanitarian work,

Friends of the United Nations,

Colleagues in the United Nations,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Please allow me to join in welcoming you all here – very warmly – to our special UN Day celebration.

My responsibility, this morning, is to do two things.

The first is to share with you – as I always do – the reflections of our Secretary-General, Mr. Ban ki-Moon.

The second is – with your permission – to spend a few minutes reflecting on three important aspects of this day – a day which is so special for the UN family here in Iran.

Click here to read the UN Secretary General’s message on UN Day.

Now to my own reflections.

My first point is to draw your attention – again – to the Sustainable Development Goals.

On a personal note – and after having worked for three decades in the UN – I believe that through the adoption of the SDGs, human beings now – finally – have a meaningful set of objectives which represent the fullest, most complete plan yet to sustain our future on this fragile, endangered planet.

Please take a moment to read and familiarize yourselves with what these SDGs call for.

  • These 17 goals – which have been adopted by all UN member states – aim to eradicate poverty, fight inequality, build peaceful, inclusive, and resilient societies, and secure the future of the planet and the wellbeing of future generations.
  • The 17 goals apply to all countries and all people.
  • Taken together, the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, represent a shared vision for the future of humanity.
  • There can be no Plan B.
  • For the alternative is clear.
  • And it is an alternative of darkness and despair – with our world gripped by even more turmoil and instability than we have today.

So, all told, we are setting for ourselves goals which need to be met by the year 2030.

  • Governments have agreed to be measured by these goals.
  • Governments must if they are to succeed.
  • Governments must dedicate money to achieving them.

I would like to use this opportunity to share – for those of you who may not already know – that Iran has decided to deliver a report on its SDG performance during the 2017 UN High Level Political Forum in New York. This forum is the United Nations’ central platform for following-up and reviewing implementation of the SDGs.

The UN looks forward to working closely with Iran on this important effort.


Ladies and Gentlemen, the role of the UN Development System to support all UN Member State achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. This applies also to our work in Iran.

The framework which will allow us to do this in Iran is called the UN Development Assistance Framework – or UNDAF. Our new UNDAF was signed in the presence of Dr. Araghchi. It starts its work at the beginning of 2017 – a few short weeks from now.

And, for the next 5 years – between 2017 and 2021, we will focus – as agreed – upon four pillars. These are:

  1. The Environment
  2. Health
  3. A Resilient Economy, and
  4. Drug Control

We thank those partners – many of whom are here in this room today – the Government, our donors, our civil society and private sectors partners, and our partners in the media who have done so much to bring our joint work to the attention of the public at large.

We look forward your continued support on the road ahead with our new UNDAF.

This new UNDAF will support the 6th Five-Year National Development Plan, which is currently before the Majlis for consideration.

We are pleased to see that a full 20 of the Articles in the National Development Plan correspond directly to the SDGs.

Our UNDAF itself also contains strong linkages to the SDGs.

So, in this way all three plans – the world’s – Iran’s – and the UN’s in Iran – become completely inter-connected.

But in order to make this happen we will continue to count upon the passion and commitment of many. This is my second point.



Among these “many” are the approximately 400 staff and personnel of the UN working here in Iran. People who work – day in and day out – to help Iranians live safer, healthier, and more empowered lives. Many of these colleagues are also with us in the hall this morning.

These women and men have joined the United Nations with a vision to make the world a better place. I would ask that before you leave, please take a little time to engage us in conversation. Ask us about what we do – about our thoughts and dreams. We will have plenty tell you.

And so, to our 400 hard-working team members – 90 per cent of whom are Iranian – I say this.

Colleagues, thank you for your dedication and your commitment to our noble goals of:

  • peace,
  • justice,
  • human rights and
  • development.

Through you, I would also like to extend my sincerest appreciation for the support of your family members and loved ones. For they too are part of the extended UN family in Iran.

Their silent and unstinting support reflects their commitment, as well as yours, to the development and humanitarian goals we are trying to achieve together with our partners in Iran.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please join me in giving a round of applause to our UN colleagues in Iran.


Ladies and Gentlemen, my final point is simple.

I would like to end by saying, as I did last year, that – for me – the United Nations is more than simply an organization.

It is a vision. The vision that nations can unite around common principles and goals. Goals like the SDGs.

More than this, we serve a vision which is grounded on the promise that though we are human, we can only really achieve our “humanity” though our interactions with others.

So I end my reflections – in this same spirit – by doing something I have wanted to do ever since arriving in Tehran. And this is to read a poem which, symbolically, hangs large – and proud – at the entrance of the UN Headquarters in New York.

Even though it was written 8 centuries ago, by the famous Persian poet Sa’adi, we all know it.

Sa’adi’s words, in their own way, serve as a motto for the United Nations – and for the interdependence of mankind regardless of social barriers and ethnic distinctions.

It runs as follows:

Human beings are members of a whole,

In creation of one essence and soul. 

If one member is afflicted with pain,

Other members uneasy will remain.

If you've no sympathy for human pain,

The name of human you cannot retain.

Thank you all – so much – for coming, this morning, to support us.

Sepass gozaram.

Last modified onMonday, 31 October 2016 16:47
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