Shashi Tharoor closing remarks

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					Transcription of Shashi Tharoor’s speech
9 September 2005

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen please do take your seats. This has been a
remarkable day and a remarkable period in the history of the United Nations. I don’t
think I need to actually welcome you to the Closing Session of the 58th Annual DPI/NGO
Conference, because you have never left. Although I must add that with the closing of
this Conference, it is clear that we will see the opening of a new phase of civil society
involvement with the United Nations. Thank you all for making it possible and we all at
the Secretariat look forward to joint campaigns to advance our shared agenda.

It is my very great honour to welcome the two remarkable people seated at the podium.
A man, I am sure, that all of you have already showed your feelings for in the last few
minutes. I gather many of you had the chance to see him at the reception last night, as
well, so I won’t even mention his name. But I will say he is the one who is accompanied
in your audience by his gracious wife, Nane Annan. And on my right, our closing
speaker for this final session, Dr. Shirin Ebadi, who has travelled from Tehran, arriving
only last night.

Let me just say, before passing the floor to Secretary-General Annan, that he is a strong
advocate of the things you all value -- of human security, of human development, of
human rights -- and he is a great human being. It is a genuine testimony to the
importance of our relations with you, that at what is certainly the busiest time of a very
busy year, and on the eve of the Summit of World Leaders, Secretary-General Annan
himself has insisted on coming here to address you today. I sometimes say he is a man
who needs no introduction in this house. But I will say to you, Sir, you need no
introduction to this audience. We are all ears. The floor is yours.

—Secretary-General Annan speaks—

Thank you very much Mr. Secretary-General and thank you also for staying on to listen
to our closing keynote speaker. It is my great honour, too, to introduce Dr. Shirin Ebadi.
Dr. Ebadi is President of the Tehran-based Human Rights Defence Centre and Founder
and Former President of Iran’s National Association in Support of Children’s Rights. An
independent lawyer and human rights activist, Ms. Ebadi received the 2004 Nobel Peace
Prize, the first Iranian and first Muslim woman to be so honoured. She also lectures at
the University of Tehran. Ms. Ebadi’s work as a lawyer and a human rights advocate has
had a remarkable impact in Iran and, as we all know, her influence goes well beyond that
country’s borders. Her campaigns to improve the legal rights of refugees, women and
children, have found an echo globally and her courage to continue her work is a source of
inspiration for activists everywhere, including, I suspect, a few in this room, and to many
of us at the United Nations. Ms. Ebadi, you have the floor.

—Shirin Ebadi speaks—

—Secretary-General Annan leaves the room—
Ladies and gentlemen, we will now resume the meeting. I do want to say that the
Secretary-General, as you all know, has many special representatives around the world.
And on leaving this meeting, he has left behind his special representative to all of us;
Mrs. Annan is staying on for the rest of the meeting.

Before I give the floor to your Chairman, Joseph Donnelly, for his closing remarks, I
have been advised to take the host advantage to offer you a few brief observations of my
own. I know it has been a long day, and so I will be brief. As I mentioned earlier, you all
know, this has been an extraordinary time at the United Nations. And as you have been
meeting for the past three days, delegates and Member States have been in feverish
negations, often occupying rooms for smaller meetings that have been reserved for your
events. I am sure everybody here is under no illusions as to why these negotiations have
taken priority, in some instances, even at the expense of your own scheduled activities.
The 191 Member States are our Board of Directors and what they are discussing is no
less than the future of the entire international system. I apologize, therefore, for any
inconvenience that you may have experienced. But let me be clear on two points. As the
highly charged meetings you have held today make clear, your voices are being heard.
And they have been heard, as you yourselves realized, by Secretary-General Kofi Annan,
first and foremost. And your message is clear. You have demanded that the UN’s
Member States do the right thing and ensure that the outcome of next week’s World
Summit is a truly worth event. Worthy of the support of you all, you the NGOs, you civil
society, and of the hundreds and thousands of individual citizens, as the Secretary-
General said, “we the peoples”, who have been following this process with keen interest.
And this means, amongst other things, reaffirming the issues that you have underlined
here in the last couple of days, delivering on the Millennium Development Goals,
working seriously for the eradication of poverty. It means acknowledging the
responsibility to protect, honouring the views we’ve heard on human rights, enshrining
these principles into the ever-growing body of international laws and norms. And you
have been crystal clear in letting the world know, and letting this building know, that you
expect the reform of the United Nations to strengthen this unique institution. You want
to better equip the United Nations to meet the tremendous challenges and threats that face
us in the 21st century. We know you want to see the UN equipped with the human, the
physical, the moral resources it needs to get the job done. You are our support. You are
often our backbone. You are often our conscience. Thank you.

Clearly your views have the support of the Secretary-General, you’ve just heard that this
afternoon. They have the support of the President of the General Assembly and of the
host of other senior UN officials who have joined you in the course of this Conference.
And I am sure many Member States share these concerns. Your clear expression of what
you expect on behalf of civil society, will I hope, encourage those struggling with the
negotiations to redouble their efforts in the few days that remain. And they will work
through the weekend, the few days that remain before the Summit. The dialogues must
continue and the results must be achieved. I also recognize that you will be leaving this
building this afternoon and some of you will literally be taking to the streets with your
expectations of your leaders. We at the United Nations are counting on you as much as
you count on us.

So let me end by thanking you all for joining us here and offering your solidarity with
this institution. And I must offer a special thanks to Joseph Donnelly for taking the helm
of this year’s Conference. On behalf of all of us, of all of you, and for leading it with
such vision and such passion. And of course, I hope you will join me in thanking the
Conference Committee for their nine months of hard work, alongside their equally
hardworking DPI colleagues, especially Paul Hoeffel and his staff and interns.

For those of you for whom returning home means more than a subway ride, bon voyage,
and please have a safe journey, but come back. You are not just welcome, we need you.
And now let me return you to your Chair, Joseph Donnelly, to close the Conference.

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