Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to the sixteenth plenary meeting of the seventy-fifth session of the General Assembly: Tribute to the Memory of His Highness Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, Amir of the State of Kuwait, in New York today:
I extend my profound condolences to the family of His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and to the Government and people of Kuwait
His Highness was a distinguished statesman, an outstanding humanitarian, a bridge-builder and a messenger of peace. We mourn his loss together with Kuwait. And it is fitting that we do so in the General Assembly. His Highness prioritized cooperation and multilateralism and led Kuwait to join the United Nations in 1963.
He steered his country’s foreign policy for almost 60 years, first as Foreign Minister and then as ruler since 2006. Throughout his reign, His Highness, earned recognition and respect from near and far for his outstanding leadership and commitment to peacemaking. He always stood ready to bridge faiths, cultures and countries in the neighbourhood and beyond.
With foresight, political wisdom and persistence, His Highness shaped Kuwait’s preventive diplomatic engagement in the region and internationally. He played a vital role in mediating crises, facilitating dialogue and spreading messages of peace, tolerance and coexistence.
As a close friend of the United Nations, His Highness was also reliably on the front lines of mobilizing the international community in acts of solidarity. I will never forget, distinguished permanent representatives and delegates. I was High Commissioner for Refugees. At the peak of the Syrian refugee crisis with the complex political situation of the moment, it was very difficult to mobilize international solidarity to support the Syrian refugees.
It was His Highness who decided to convene a first conference of solidarity and Kuwait started it with an extremely generous offer, so strong, so high, that all other countries felt the need to do the same and we were able to provide an effective response to the Syrian refugee crisis. Then for two more years, in the absence of another country volunteering to do so, His Highness convened again the conference of solidarity, the humanitarian solidarity with the Syrian people and the Syrian refugees and maintained a very high support and a very generous leadership.
His initiative and leadership were decisive in some of the most important humanitarian efforts around the globe. The lives of millions of people in need were improved because of his compassion and his commitment.
His ambitious vision also contributed to the evolution of modern Kuwait. His work to support and empower women at all levels manifested in his efforts to ensure women’s suffrage in Kuwait. The world has lost a global leader and a symbol of humanity.
I extend my best wishes to Amir Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmed al-Sabah, who while grieving the loss of his brother, has taken over the leadership of Kuwait. The United Nations looks forward to continuing our strong partnership and friendship with the State of Kuwait, building on the legacy of His Highness. We will keep supporting Kuwait’s mediation efforts and its role in promoting peace and stability.
I trust that His Highness’ tireless efforts in regional and international diplomacy and stability will remain a priority for the State of Kuwait. In this difficult time, I once again offer my deepest condolences on this heavy loss to the people of Kuwait, the region and far beyond. Shukran.