The Royal Bahamas Defence Force honour guard parades with the Bahamian and United Nations flags at the Flag Raising Ceremony in Commemoration of United Nation’s Day at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday, October 24, 2007. (BIS Photo/Tim Aylen)
By: Lindsay Thompson
NASSAU, Bahamas – The simultaneous hoisting of The Bahamas and United Nations (UN) flags in a ceremony observing October 24 as United Nations Day signalled the continued belief the country has in the principles of the 62-year-old world body.
In this vein, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of National Security and Immigration, the Hon. Tommy Turnquest called on Bahamians to uphold the principles of the UN in areas of democracy, the rule of law and peace.
“Let us together help to raise consciousness of the critical work that the United Nations do on behalf of the world’s people,” Mr. Turnquest said in an address at the 13th Annual UN Flag Raising Ceremony at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs East Hill Street Office Wednesday.
“Let us encourage our young people to mobilise in support of the United Nations. Let us give our support to national and international initiatives to ensure that the United Nations remain relevant, is effective, and is capable of fulfilling the principles of the Charter,” continued Mr. Turnquest.
On October 24, 1945, the United Stations was formally established when 51 countries signed the Charter at San Francisco in the aftermath of World War II. Now, 192 countries are members of the UN. In 1971 the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution recommending that the day be observed as a public holiday by Member States. Traditionally, however, most celebrate by meetings, discussions, ceremonies and exhibits.
The Bahamas has been a member of the UN for 34 years, following its independence on July 10, 1973 from Great Britain.
According to Mr. Turnquest, the UN is the world’s premier multilateral organisation because of its adherence to the principle of equality of all nations.
“We know this from the full range of global issues inscribed on the agenda of the United Nations. From development to peace and security, from health to globalisation and trade liberalisation, from terrorism to weapons of mass destruction, from passport issues to stamps, virtually all areas of human endeavours are addressed by the United Nations system,” he said.
“The Bahamas has used the UN forum to bring to the forefront issues of importance to the country, as well as do its part in working cooperatively with others, including the community of non-governmental organisations to resolve problems of international nature,” Mr Turnquest noted.
He pointed to the recent address by Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Brent Symonette at the 62nd UN General Assembly, at which he emphasised that the UN works diligently to consolidate gains made by Haiti, so as to put that island-nation on a firm path to sustainable development.
“A peaceful and stable Republic of Haiti is certainly in The Bahamas’ national interest,” Mr. Turnquest said.
“The Minister of Foreign Affairs also informed the UN of critical issues facing The Bahamas in the areas of financing for development, international cooperation in tax matters, global health and particularly the continuing problem of HIV/AIDS and challenging cross-border problems, including illicit drug and small arms trafficking and migrant smuggling,” Mr Turnquest added.
He noted that the Minister of Foreign Affairs also drew the UN’s attention to the fact that the organisation is halfway through the target dates set for the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
“If the MDGs are faithfully implemented, the world can expect to hear less frequently sad stories of poverty, hunger, retarded development and natural and man-made disasters and other serious global problems,” Mr. Turnquest said.
He suggested that the key to addressing the myriad of challenges the UN faces is to give full expression to the principles and purposes of the Charter, and to close the gap between what States say they are going to do and what they do.
“I do not want to give the impression that the United Nations is a panacea for the world’s problems,” Mr. Turnquest pointed out. “The fact is that these are turbulent and challenging times for the United Nations as pressing global problems persist and new problems emerge daily.”