Happy 45th Independence Papua New Guinea
Port Moresby, 15 September 2020 – On behalf of United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres and the entire United Nations family, I would like to wish women and men, girls and boys of Papua New Guinea a very happy Independence Day on this historic 45th anniversary of your independence.
This year also marks the 75th anniversary of the United Nations as well as Papua New Guinea’s 45th anniversary as a UN member state. We join you in commemorating these very important occasions.
The United Nations has been with you from the very beginning, when Sir Michael Somare presented his credentials as your country’s first Prime Minister at the 1975 United Nations General Assembly. You can be very proud of the fact that your Constitution is one of the few in the world that contains almost all the rights and freedoms enshrined in the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Papua New Guinea and the United Nations have been on a remarkable journey since then and one that continues as we shape our futures together.
Papua New Guinea is geographically, linguistically, culturally, and environmentally one of the most unique countries in the world. As a young independent country, you have experienced a lot and have overcome many challenges during the past 45 years of building a new nation.
Just in the last three years, we witnessed your resilience and perseverance as you recovered, in 2018, from the devastating Highlands Earthquake and the outbreak of polio. The remarkable response to this natural disaster and the health emergency demonstrated the strong partnership that exists between the Government, the United Nations, development partners, Civil Society Organizations, Churches, the business community and the people of Papua New Guinea.
In 2019, we were privileged to support the conduct of the historic Bougainville Referendum. The success of the Referendum is a testament to the Melanesian spirit of consensus and cooperation that is the foundation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement. Papua New Guinea has demonstrated to the entire world the wisdom of its people and leaders by sustaining lasting peace, by peaceful means.
This year, on this historic anniversary year of PNG’s independence, we are facing yet another challenge, this time from the COVID-19 global pandemic. The Government has shown its leadership in responding to the pandemic by building an effective partnership with the United Nations, regional and global partners to help the country face this challenge. It is a challenge that we as a global community face together, and only together we will overcome, stronger and more united.
Since 1975, Papua New Guinea has been an active and engaged member state of the United Nations: together we have worked to improve the lives of people, especially the most marginalized and vulnerable, making sure women and girls are respected and can live free from violence, leaving no one behind.
The United Nations, in collaboration with development partners, is committed to continue working with the Government and people of Papua New Guinea to achieve a growth which is inclusive and environmentally sustainable. Together we will continue walking the path towards PNG’s development aspirations. Together we will meet the SDGs.
In the end, it comes down to values, as was said by the UN Secretary-General on several occasions: “We want the world our children inherit to be defined by the values enshrined in the United Nations Charter: peace, justice, respect, human rights, tolerance and solidarity”.
Thank you, Papua New Guinea, for 45 years of commitment to global ideals. Once again, I wish you a happy Independence Day.