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Udviklingsministerens tale ved 1. spadestik til FN-byen

FN-byen/Marmormolen den 9. november 2010.

[Det talte ord gælder]

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen

Thank you Jens Kramer-Mikkelsen and Copenhagen City and Port Development [By og Havn] for the excellent cooperation on UN City. Thank you to the architects, engineers and workers who are present here today.

Denmark is one of the major contributors to the UN. The UN City we now create in Copenhagen will symbolize this dedication. But it will also embody our ambitions and expectations to the UN.

The world needs the UN – a UN that is strong and efficient. The UN is measured by one thing, and one thing only: Its ability to deliver results on the ground. Cost effectiveness, knowledge sharing and cooperation among organisations are means to delivering such results, and hence key issues in Denmark’s ongoing dialogue with the UN.

The impressive construction initiated today will be a prime example of modern Danish architecture, high design quality and state of the art energy efficiency. I hope that these qualities may inspire the UN Organisations to fulfil our ambitions: To ensure a modern multilateral system, high quality work and great efficiency in the achievements.

That is my hope for the UN: That the organisation will continue to develop and use its comparative advantages where they really make a difference. First of all, we expect the UN to deliver on peace and security. In an increasingly complex world, this task is as difficult and important as ever. In fragile states such as Somalia and Afghanistan, a comprehensive approach from the international community is necessary. Secondly, the UN must help the world’s poor and destitute. They have no time to wait because of bureaucracy and ineffectiveness or competition between organisations. Nor can any UN organisation afford to fail when it is needed and may be the last resort. The UN’s legitimacy comes from its ability to respond to the challenges it is facing. In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “the essence of inhumanity wasn’t hate, it was indifference”.

At the High Level Summit on the Millennium Development Goals in September, world leaders reaffirmed their willingness to work hard to achieve the millennium goals by 2015 in spite of the economic crisis. The UN has a key role to play in this regard. Again, the UN – and world leaders – will be judged by their ability to deliver results.

Since I took office as a minister, I have seen the UN at work on a number of occasions. Sometimes I have not been impressed. But more often I have been deeply fascinated and encouraged by the dedication of the staff I have met and the depth of the analysis and understanding of the challenges presented to me.

Two weeks ago, I visited UNHCR’s Dadaab camp in North Eastern Kenya where almost half a million Somali refugees are cramped together after they have fled the fighting in Somalia. I experienced firsthand the challenges that the UN, in this case the UNHCR and its partners face when up to 1.000 new refugees arrive every day in a camp that is already many times full. For those people, the UNHCR is the lifeline that helps them survive.

During a visit in Pakistan earlier this summer, I met with UN organisations working around the clock to remedy the effects of the floods. Talking with children in a camp for victims of the floods made a strong impression on me, and I was happy to announce considerable funding to among others UNICEF. I am proud that Denmark is the number one donor per capita in helping Pakistan overcome the effects of the floods. The UN is a vital partner in this regard.

So indeed, we need the UN. This is why Denmark is one of the major donors to the United Nations. Denmark’s multilateral aid last year alone amounted to almost five billion Danish kroner. As an engaged and active donor, we share the goals of the United Nations. And we acknowledge our responsibility to engage in a constructive dialogue with the UN on how to improve performance.

Turning again to the UN City in Copenhagen, The architects in 3xN (three times Nielsen) have toiled to ensure, that the building meets the requirements of a modern organization. I believe they have succeeded. The UN city will provide a number of shared facilities for the members of the UN family. It will allow the over 1.000 UN staff to share knowledge and information, to create partnerships, and to inspire each other. In short, make the UN more effective in delivering results.

It is our hope that this building can become a corner stone in the UN’s quest for meeting the expectations of donors and development partners.

It is no secret that the Danish government is spending considerable resources to provide this building to the UN. The UN in Copenhagen is a major employer and a major customer with businesses locally and all over Denmark. Being a UN City increases Copenhagen’s attractiveness for investors and tourists.

But I see another and more vital aspect. Having the UN close will also allow us to improve - to become better at what we are doing in the development field. For all those who work with development in Denmark, being it the NGOs, universities, or the staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this building will be a gateway to the UN. It is my hope, that UN City will become an intellectual melting pot where the Danish development community and the UN organisations can exchange ideas and inspire each other to become better, reach further and achieve more.

I am very proud to have the UN’s international staff in Denmark and I am happy that Denmark will now be able to provide you with state of the art offices. We appreciate the way you contribute to making Copenhagen an international city.

From what I hear, the UN is also happy to be in Copenhagen. By providing you with this house we hope that Denmark’s and UN’s partnership is cemented for the years to come and that we will continue to enjoy open-minded and informed cooperation and debate on the shared challenges ahead of us.

In New York, they have the UN on the East River. In Copenhagen we will soon have the UN on the Øresund.
Thank you.