Press Release

Marking the United Nations Day

24 October 2023

Speech by Ingrid Macdonald, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Excellencies, Colleagues, Friends,

On behalf of the United Nations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, I welcome you to United Nations Day 2023. 

This year we mark the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and it is in the spirit of this foundational declaration that we gather here tonight.

This year also represents the half-way point for achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Yet, we face a world on the verge of a precipice. The Secretary-General has called a “code red for humanity” as we struggle to retain hope with unprecedented inflation; an unparalleled climate emergency; the highest number of violent conflicts since 1945; rising discrimination and hate speech; backsliding of women’s rights; civic space under pressure and new technologies rapidly advancing. 

The promise of the SDGs to leave no one behind and the promise of the Universal Declaration for Human Rights of freedom, equality and justice for all remains of paramount importance, but we face serious risks. 

It is therefore vital to reaffirm the essence of the Declaration - that all human beings are born equal in dignity and in rights - and get the SDGs back on track, not only for our collective future, but for generations to come.

Excellencies, friends

Bosnia and Herzegovina will soon embark on its 4th Universal Periodic Review of its human rights situation. The UPR is an opportunity to examine progress and challenges, emerging issues and ways to constructively address human rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Dealing with the past; addressing discrimination; countering hate speech; strengthening the rule of law; eliminating gender-based violence; protecting the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment; empowering citizens; reversing threats to civic space, are just some of the critical areas requiring full attention.

In partnership with the government, the UN will seek to harness this opportunity to create momentum for participatory, inclusive consultations around the country, with authorities, institutions, civil society and citizens. 

I encourage everyone here tonight to fully engage in the UPR process with a view to reaffirming the centrality of human rights for the benefit of everyone across Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

Excellencies, friends

Tonight, is also about recognition and thanks

I would like to extend congratulations the SDG Council in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for presenting the country’s second Voluntary National Review (VNR) in New York in July. The review details the state of progress and gaps for SDG implementation across Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as identifying future priorities. It is a comprehensive must read for everyone interested in the sustainable development of the country.  

I would also like to congratulate Bosnia and Herzegovina for being declared eligible for the Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund late last year. Together with the government, I am pleased to advise that we are progressing in areas such as women, peace and security; youth peace and security; culture, environment and education; as well as dealing with the past. This investment will enable a longer-term and inclusive approach, recognizing that peace requires constant effort and investment, especially in today’s tumultuous times.

I also wish to thank all the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina and our generous donors for your support which remains more critical than ever.

Finally, I wish to thank all of the United Nations team represented here today for their leadership and recognize their impressive results in 2022, including the reduction of energy consumption to 195 kWh/m in the public sector, mapping of ICT resources across all 2,061 schools, establishing 25 multisectoral teams for prevention of violence against women, enabling access to basic social and legal services to 48,051 migrants, engaging 2,200 young people in community-level initiatives, and much, much, more.

Next year, the United Nations will start preparing our new five-year Cooperation Framework with Bosnia and Herzegovina. I welcome everyone here to join us in this process with a view to ensuring that no one is left behind on the country’s sustainable development and European journey. 

In closing, I would like to dedicate a special thank you to all of the United Nations, staff for their dedication and commitment to the values and ideals of the United Nations Charter. “We the peoples of the United Nations”, would not be possible without our own incredible people.

To quote the Secretary-General: “On this United Nations Day, let us commit with hope and determination to build the better world of our aspirations; let us commit to a future that lives up to the name of our indispensable organization.”  

Thank you. 

Ajla Becirspahic

Ajla Bećirspahić

Communications and Advocacy Officer

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United Nations Resident Coordinator Office

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