New York

14 May 2013

Secretary-General's remarks to reception marking the 50th anniversary of Kuwait joining the United Nations [as prepared for delivery]

Asalamu alaykum. [Peace be upon you.]

Tonight we celebrate a half-century of productive cooperation and engagement between the United Nations and Kuwait.

I am here to say congratulations – Mabruk! – and also thank you. Shukran.

Kuwait has faced great challenges that we all remember. During its darkest hours, the United Nations stood firm for Kuwait’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.

The United Nations Security Council responded with speed and unity to the  illegal invasion and occupation of your country.

Over the years, the UN continued helping Kuwait to recover.

I welcome the significant improvement in relations between Kuwait and Iraq.  I am eager to see these relations normalize and Iraq fulfil its outstanding obligations to Kuwait.

Last year, I visited both Kuwait and Iraq twice and encouraged leaders to keep working for greater cooperation.  I trust that both countries will continue to demonstrate goodwill and vision.

Kuwait has already shown its leadership in the region and beyond. 

I am especially grateful to Kuwait for its generous support for our humanitarian relief operations.

His Highness Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah the Emir of Kuwait hosted and co-chaired the Syria Pledging Conference earlier this year. He made a remarkably generous pledge of $300 million to help the Syrian people. This set an example for other donors to follow.

The Conference achieved historic results, with a total of $1.5 billion pledged – and we must continue to translate all those commitments into concrete support for the Syrian people who so desperately need our help.

This is in keeping with Kuwait’s proud record of reaching out to people in need… a value that is enshrined in Islamic tradition.

Kuwaiti NGOs and Red Crescent Societies are doing valuable work in the region. Kuwait has established one of the world’s largest sovereign development funds, the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development.

I also rely on Kuwait’s leadership. I am grateful to my Humanitarian Envoy, Dr. [Abdullah] Al-Matouq, for engaging key officials across the Gulf to reach our common goals.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We all know Kuwait joined the Organization in May 1963. But you may not realize that Kuwait was our 111th Member State.

Kuwait was number one … one … one.

Some might say that was just a coincidence. But tonight I would like to propose that Kuwait strive to be number one in advancing peace … number one in standing up for human rights … and number one in promoting development.

I am confident that Kuwait and the United Nations will continue our close partnership for another 50 years – and beyond.

Thank you.