NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF SEYCHELLES
Sunday 8th May 2016,
The Assembly met at 9am
Moment of Reflection
Mr Speaker in the Chair
Your Excellency Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, Mrs. Ban Ki-Moon, the Deputy Speaker Honorable Pool, Leader of Government Business, Honorable Members of the National Assembly, and Honorable Members of the Youth Assembly, invited guest, Ladies and Gentleman, good morning.
Let me first of all your Excellency welcome you to the National Assembly of Africa’s smallest democracy. Indeed Your Excellency you are the first ever serving Secretary General of the United Nations to address this house. Given your outstanding repute it is beyond doubt that you need no introduction. Therefore without much further ado, I would invite you your Excellency to address the House.
H.E MR. BAN KI-MOON
Your Excellency Dr. Patrick Herminie, Speaker of the National Assembly. Your Excellency Ms. Shelda Commettant, Clerk of the National Assembly, Distinguished Ministers and Distinguished Members of the National Assembly. Excellencies, Ladies and Gentleman and dear young people, bonzour.
It is a great honor to address this National Assembly on the first visit by a United Nations Secretary-General to the Seychelles. Mersi bokou pou sa lenvitasyon tre salere. I am particularly proud to be here as you celebrate your fortieth anniversary as a sovereign nation, and as a member State of the United Nations. The United Nations stood together with you during the turbulent first years of your nationhood. You have amply repaid that support over the last forty years.
Distinguished Members of the Parliament, Mr. Speaker, Seychelles is recognized all over the world for its natural beauty, which I have been lucky enough to enjoy during this visit. Yesterday I visited the Vallée De Mai, I understood why this nature reserve, which is a global resource for biodiversity, is described as the heart and soul of Seychelles. Not only Vallée De Mai but your whole country is an inspiring example of sustainable development, which has succeeded in steadily raising the standard of living.
Your impressive record on the Millennium Development Goals shows that it is possible to thrive economically while improving healthcare and education, caring for the most vulnerable and protecting the environment. I also commend this Assembly’s strong record on democracy, demonstrated most recently by your recent decision to limit presidential terms. I congratulate you on this unanimous amendment of the Constitution which can serve as an example for the region.
I am also impressed by the number of women assembly representatives here today. The proportion of women in this parliament is fifth highest in the world and Seychelles is ranked second for gender equality on the African continent.
H.E MR. BAN KI-MOON
Women are being appointed to senior roles in the Judiciary like the Chief Justice and as Governor of your Central Bank I urge you to continue this progress. Mr. Speaker has just said that your assembly is maybe the smallest assembly in Africa, but I have seen in fact smaller assemblies in other parts of Europe, there are twenty eight members. That country Andorra is a fifty-fifty men and women, exactly fifty percent. I heard that there were some changes recently but yours is very impressive. I hope that this may reverse at a new future. I know that you are going to have an election in two months’ time, I hope to see more women advance into this National Assembly, congratulations.
Ladies and Gentleman, I would also like to say a special word out to the young people who are seating here. You are part of the biggest generation of young people the world has ever known.
The United Nations see young people not as leaders of tomorrow but as leaders today. We are working with the young men and women around the world on initiatives to build peace, to create jobs and to fight violent extremism. As you look to the future, I urge you to lift your eyes above the immediate horizon and become global citizens, demonstrating your allegiance not only to your immediate community but to the wider world.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentleman, in today’s world we are all interconnected. Problems and challenges are never confined to one country or region. Insecurity is spreading. Massive inequality persists among people and nations. Too many people in too many places are excluded because of their race, religion, faith, sexual orientation, gender identity and other differences.
Violent extremists are committing atrocities designed to divide and destroy communities. Criminal networks are exploiting lawlessness and chaos and building links with the terrorists to traffic people, illegal drugs and weapons and to hide their profits.
These problems require cooperation and coordination, in a global response. The United Nations is the forum where we seek solutions. Today I would like to talk about three of these and call for your commitment and support.
The first, last month at the United Nations Headquarters, to be exact April 22nd on International Mother Earth Day, we broke a record for the highest number of country to sign any treaty or convention or agreement in one day. One hundred and seventy seven countries have now signed the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Seychelles was one of them and you went on to become the sixteenth country to ratify immediately as you signed this Agreement.
Congratulation and thank you very much for your leadership. Mersi bokou.
I thank you again for your leading role and urge everyone with influence to persuade other governments to ratify as soon as possible. We need fifty five countries, representing fifty-five percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions, to join for the Agreement to enter into force. I am heartened by the number and diversity of countries that have committed to ratify the Agreement within this year.
I also encourage you to maintain political oversight so that the spirit of global cooperation continues as we begin to implement this Paris Agreement on climate change. We need robust procedures and rules to keep the global temperature increase well below 2 degrees centigrade.
I am grateful for the initiatives and strong commitment of members of the alliances of Small Island Developing States-AOSIS, for your commitment to bringing this issue to the global agenda, urging and convincing the global leaders to try and strive to bring this global temperature rise below 1.5 degree centigrade. It was only possible with your strong support.
Seychelles has already made great progress towards a sustainable and climate resilient future. Your Environmental legislation to ensure sustainable tourism and fishing is one of the strongest in the world. Half of your land and one third of your vast marine territory are already protected. You are also showing the way on finding innovative sources of funding for climate adaptation, including your debt swap with the Paris Club.
Excellencies, Distinguished Ministers, Ladies and Gentleman, the second point I would like to make is that the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development with this 17 goals, we call it SDG’s 17 goals, is our declaration of interdependence. What does it mean interdependence? Among these 17 goals, nothing can be implemented in isolation, in separation. All these 17 goals should be carried out altogether comprehensively and this is tightly interconnected goals. It aims to enable all people to live in dignity on a healthy planet. This is a universal project; even the richest countries still have communities living in abject poverty and may struggle against racism, religious intolerance and other forms of oppression. No country has yet achieved true gender equality. But for island states, climate action and sustainable development are a matter of survival. They are two mutually reinforcing sides of the same coin. Storms, coastal erosion and rising sea levels can halt and reverse sustainable development initiatives in a matter of hours or days. SDG 14, on conserving and using oceans and marine resources for sustainable development carries particular resonance for you.
The true test of this agenda will be in its implementation. We need action from everyone and everywhere. All sectors of society must be involved: Government, Business and Civil Society.
I particularly welcome your role as parliamentarians in beginning to engage on the SDG’s more than a year ago. Your Blue Economy Initiatives is drawing the world’s attention by linking the alleviation of poverty and improved food security with reduced environmental risks and ecological imbalances. I wish you all the best in implementing your plans and assure you of the United Nations support as you work to build on the progress you have already made.
Third and finally, we face unprecedented numbers of people in urgent need of humanitarian aid around the world. Today’s refugees are caught up in the biggest displacement crisis of our era. I have been calling leaders around the world, even in countries that have not been directly touched by this global phenomenon, to respond with compassion and respect to human rights.
On September 19th of this year, the United Nations General Assembly will hold a summit to address large movements of migrants and refugee’s across the world – and the need for shared responsibility.
Later this month on May 23rd and 24th, I am convening the first ever world issue Humanitarian Summit meeting in Istanbul, Turkey. World leaders will make commitments to uphold humanitarian law, to protect civilians in conflict and to improve the global response to the 125 million people who need urgent humanitarian aid. This number 125 million is the largest ever since the end of the Second World War. I count on Seychelles to engage in this important event.
Mr. Speaker of the National Assembly, Honorable Members of the National Assembly, Ministers, ladies and gentleman, from my first day in office in 2007, I made climate change a top priority. Negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda began around the time I started my second term. During the long years of discussion, one thing has become very clear to me, small states have big ideas and big political will. Your experiences, commitments and insights have been invaluable.
Small states like Seychelles have served as a magnifying lens for many of the climate and development issues that all nations must face. When you are united, small states can change the world.
I congratulate you on your achievements and I urge you to build on your leadership role. The United Nations is committed to working together with you, every step of the way.
Mon kontan Sesel e mersi. Thank you very much.
Your Excellency, once again thank you for making the time in your very busy schedule, to come and address us. It was indeed a brilliant and excellent speech. Thank you.
We feel honored and privileged that you have graced us with your presence and as you approach retirement, it remains for me, on behalf of the National Assembly, to wish you all the very best in all your future undertakings.
I thank you very much, your Excellency.