Remarks on passing away of Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA

Remarks by the President of the United Nations General Assembly, H.E. Peter Thomson, at the UNDP/UNFPA Executive Board Meeting, on the passing away of Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA

6 June 2017


President of the Executive Board. Ambassador Ib Petersen of Denmark,

Chef de Cabinet, Ms. Maria Luiza Ribeiro

Acting Executive Director of UNFPA, Natalia Kanem

Deputy Executive Director of UNFPA, Laura Londén

Ladies and Gentlemen,


It was with shock and deep sadness that we learnt yesterday of the sudden passing of Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, the Executive Director of UNFPA.

As a physician, professor, national advocate and global leader, Dr. Osotimehin was throughout a steadfast champion of the rights of women, girls and young people.

He recognized the importance of empowering all people to make decisions on issues that affect their lives, and brought this approach to his time as Head of Nigeria’s National Agency for the Control of AIDS, as Nigeria’s Minister for Health, and as an UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund.

As you all know during his time at the helm of UNFPA, Dr. Osotimehin was as forceful advocate for women and girls, fighting tirelessly for the importance of sexual and reproductive health, and reproductive rights, as drivers of human dignity, gender equality, human rights and sustainable development.

It was he who advanced global consensus on the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action (ICPD), and its integration within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Here at the United Nations we will never forget the force for the good that he represented in that advancement.

I had the privilege, as a former President of the UNFPA Executive Board, and as a former Chair of the G77, to work closely with Dr. Babatunde over many years. I benefited deeply from his generosity in sharing his commitment and vision, particularly in his push for the reform of the development system to ensure it could most effectively support women and youth.

Dr. Osotimehin served the international community and his country with dedication and distinction.

Let us honor his memory by building upon his life’s work and his legacies.

On behalf of the United Nations General Assembly, I would like to extend my deepest condolences to Dr. Osotimehin’s family, to the staff of the United Nations Population Fund, and to the Government and people of Nigeria.

I thank you.

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