The Nigerian International Secondary Schools Model United Nations (NISSMUN) Conference this week convenes in Abuja to deliberate over the issue of cybercrime. The event gathers together hundreds of students from different states in Nigeria, as well as representatives of the diplomatic corps. In the official opening of the Conference on Monday, the Ambassador of Finland spoke about the importance of multilateralism, and the role that the Model United Nations plays.
The Finnish Ambassador also hosted on UN Day, Tuesday 24 October, at the Embassy those delegates of NISSMUN that in this 13th Conference represent Finland. The students had the opportunity to learn about different aspects of Finnish society, including education and gender equality. They were also told about the 'CodeBus Africa' project that Finland, together with local partners, did in February in Nigeria, along nine other African countries, as part of its centenary celebrations. The aim of the project was to promote positive aspects of ICT, and in particular, interest in computer coding among girls.
The speech of Ambassador Suomela-Chowdhury at the opening ceremony of the 13th Model United Nations Conference at the International Conference Centre in Abuja on 23 October is below:
First of all I would like to commend the organizers of this event. Apart for the impressive practical arrangement, we have already today heard many thought-provoking speeches, and I am sure there are many more fascinating and enlightening discussions to come.
I thank you for the privilege of having been invited here. This s in fact my first Model United Nations Conference, even though over many years I have worked with UN issues at my Ministry, have attended many UN meetings, and have had the opportunity to see UN field operations, too. This is a very special occasion for me, and I would not have missed it for anything.
The Unite Nations is unique global forum. We hear many times, and it is true, that if it did not exist, we should invent it. It is esseential to have a global forum where the world can come together to handle questions with global aspects. It is quite clear that more and more issues in our everyday lives have a truly global aspect. Information and communication technology, the subject of this conference, is among the most obvious examples.
The UN is does critically important work across the world. It has operations around the globe, in the different UN capitals where global norms are produced and where the headquarters of the difference UN agencies are located, and it is involved in countless field operations across the world, including in Nigeria. The UN deals with peace, security, development, human rights, gender equality – practically every aspect of human existence.
The UN of course is not perfect, and the international community needs to keep reforming it - because we need it, and therefore want it to stay relevant for years to come. We must also always remember that the United Nations is what the Member States make it. If the organization is inefficient, we as Member States make it so. And when it does great things, it is the Member States that make it great. The Member States make the UN what it is.
I want to applaud the concept of the Model United Nations. It has an important role in helping understand the UN as an organization, and its importance. It also increases young people's understanding of the world, and brings them together, to network, and to learn about handling issues through dialogue, discussion and negotiation.
Several of you might also end up working for the United Nations. There are already many Nigerians in very prominent UN positions - incl. of course first and foremost Amina Mohammed, your former Minister of Environment, and now Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations. Nigeria certainly keeps producing impressive international figures, and among them some truly amazing women!
Finland has been a member of the United Nations since 1955. We are very strong supporters of multilateralism, and common efforts to promote development, peace and security, human rights and gender equality. We were also actively involved in formulating the new Sustainable Development Goals that we all now need to focus on implementing. This year when my country celebrates its 100th Anniversary, we are more conscious than ever that the United Nations has an absolutely critical role to play in the world.
Tomorrow, I will have the pleasure of receiving some of you at my Embassy. For now, I wish you all a great day and week of learning, and also of fun.
I thank you for your kind attention.