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Former Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, three veteran diplomats honoured with 2023 Diwali ‘Power of One’ Awards at UN

United Nations, Dec 12 (PTI) Former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and three veteran diplomats were here honoured with the annual ‘Diwali Power of One Awards’, hailed as the ‘Oscars of diplomacy’, for their selfless efforts to “help form a more perfect, peaceful, and secure world for all”.

The former UN chief was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2023 Diwali Stamp — The Power of One Award ceremony organised by the Diwali Foundation USA.

The other awardees for the year 2023 are former permanent representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the UN Ambassador Mirsada Colakovic, former permanent representative of South Korea to the UN Ambassador Kim Sook and 72nd UN General Assembly president and EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue Miroslav Lajcak.

They were honoured at a special ceremony held in the UN Headquarters on Monday.

Ban commended the work and “forward-thinking vision” of the Diwali Foundation USA “for advancing vital light in a world of increasing darkness”.

Ban said the world of today “seems fractured like never before” as he cited the COVID-19 pandemic, climate crisis and regional conflicts, particularly “regional crisis as we see today in the Middle East and Ukraine”.

“But it is exactly at times such as these that the work of the United Nations is indispensable. The United Nations and its pursuit of peace, human rights and sustainable development exemplifies the values and principles that we should all espouse to replicate,” he said.

Ban was the eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations, serving two terms as the world’s top diplomat from January 2007 to December 2016.

He said that as the world moves into 2024 and beyond, “we share a common destiny illuminated by peace, sustainability and prosperity. Let us work together and expand our unified efforts to realise this shared destiny for all. This is your political responsibility and for me, my moral responsibility as a former Secretary General” and as an awardee of the Power of One honour.

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj, in her address to the event attended by UN diplomats, envoys, civil society members and policy experts, said that Diwali is a celebration that holds a very special place in the hearts of over a billion Indians across the globe.

Diwali “is more than just a festival. It is a sentiment that embodies the triumph of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance and hope over despair”, she said.

Kamboj said “as we lit the lamps of Diwali, let us remember that every small light, no matter how small, can make a significant difference in dispelling the shadows”.

Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Mohan Pieris said “Deepawali has become truly a secular festival in the world, since its message is not exclusively restricted to any religious creed.

“This festival has united the global community with the central message that we need more than ever the humanistic ideals to engage the inglorious wars, which are bleeding the innocence of humanity,” he said.

Pieris underscored that for the world to have peace, it is important that the whole world must be united to save the higher ideals of humanity, which have evolved since the millennium in various religious traditions.

Chair of Diwali Foundation USA Ranju Batra, who had spearheaded efforts for over seven years to get a commemorative ‘Forever Diwali’ stamp issued by the US Postal Service in 2016, said: “Diwali is a message of peace.” She said her journey for the Diwali stamp is seen as a “metaphor of peace and harnessing its power to promote excellence in diplomacy. The ideals of Diwali are the ideals of UN Charter”.

She noted that the 2023 Power of One awardees have clearly demonstrated that “one person can make a difference”.

The Diwali stamp celebration is not of a religion or nation but of the spirit of harmonious inclusiveness and cross-cultural understanding that all religions deserve, she said.

Eminent Indian-American attorney and Chair of National Advisory Council South Asian Affairs and moderator of the award ceremony Ravi Batra said the UN transcends borders and boundaries.

“The need to acknowledge excellence is critical, generally, but in diplomacy, which is on life support in today’s world, it is essential and that’s how these awards are – the Power of One,” he said, adding that they honour “world class diplomats who have changed the world by what they did”.

Hailed as the ‘Oscars of Diplomacy’, the awards are presented to former Permanent Representatives or former high-level members of the UN Secretariat or member state, or soon to be “former”, who have “toiled selflessly to help form a more perfect, peaceful and secure world for all”.

The 2023 Award ceremony was co-organised by the Diwali Foundation USA and Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, and the Permanent Missions of Chile, Eritrea, Georgia, India, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Morocco, Oman and Sri Lanka to the United Nations.

The co-sponsors included the Permanent Mission to the United Nations of Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bhutan, Cyprus, France, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, Iraq, Israel, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Nepal, Philippines, South Korea, South Africa, Spain, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkiye, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Palestine, and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA-NY) among others.

Diwali Foundation USA was established in 2017 to promote a peaceful and consensus-based process to achieve societal “good, as befits the high hopes and ideals of humanity enshrined in the United Nations Charter”, a statement said.

The Foundation established ‘The Power of One’ awards to celebrate and highlight the important work done in a peaceful manner, especially at the United Nations.

Previous honourees include former UN assistant secretary general and deputy executive director of UN Women, Lakshmi Puri, former UK Ambassador to the UN, Matthew Rycroft, former permanent representative of Georgia to the UN, Kaha Imnadze, and former permanent representative of Grenada to the UN Keisha McGuire. PTI YAS PY PY

This report is auto-generated from PTI news service. ThePrint holds no responsibility for its content.

Source: The Print

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