25 June 2008
Deputy Secretary-General

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York



Following is the text of welcoming remarks by UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro at the 2008 United Nations Public Service Day and Awards Ceremony, 23 June, in New York:

I am delighted to welcome you this morning to the sixth United Nations Public Service Day and Awards Ceremony.  I am honoured to celebrate this Day with you.

We are here to recognize the innovative and important work done by public institutions around the world.  The 12 winning institutions come from diverse countries -- Australia, Brazil, India, Jordan, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Tunisia and the United States. 

Despite their diversity, the winners of the 2008 United Nations Public Service Awards demonstrate one universal truth -- innovation in governance is possible.

Allow me to extend a special welcome to all our winners and finalists.  Your innovativeness and your leadership have made a meaningful difference in the lives of ordinary people.  In your daily work, you found new and effective ways to deliver vital services to those in need.  You helped to make your Governments more transparent and accountable, by creating new mechanisms for citizens to participate in the making of decisions that affect their lives. 

The fact that many have travelled from far away to join us here today and that Heads of Government and ministers have made time to contribute to this event via videoconference is a clear recognition of your excellence in public service. 

Your exemplary initiatives should inspire all Governments around the world -- at all levels -- to strive for excellence in public service.  While the private sector and civil society play a fundamental role in the development process, it is Governments that have the main role to steer development efforts and provide the necessary conditions for a stable, peaceful and prosperous society.  It is Governments that can ensure and facilitate access to quality services, such as health, education, sanitation facilities and water.

It is critical, therefore, that the public sector is structured and administered in a way that serves people efficiently.  It is imperative that policies and programmes put people first.

Yet, as we all know, Governments face many challenges, both domestic and international.  They must do more with less; be more open and accountable; and respond more effectively to the demands from citizens for greater participation in public decision-making.  These challenges are ever more daunting as the current food crisis, climate change and natural disasters threaten to unravel the developmental progress made in the last decade.

Governments around the world need to break with “business as usual” and engage in ever more innovative ways of delivering public services and of organizing the way they function.  Indeed, good governance is an essential ingredient for achieving the entire United Nations development agenda.

But, good governance requires people who are capable, committed and effective.  People who are willing and able to work with all actors of society, including Governments, civil society and the private sector, to meet citizens’ aspirations and needs.  In short -- people like you.

And today, we celebrate your determination and imagination in searching for new approaches to improve the performance of the public sector.  I encourage you to stay on this path and together we can take one step closer towards achieving internationally agreed upon development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals. 

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For information media • not an official record