Intended Acceptance Remarks of the 2023 “Diwali Stamp – The Power of One Awards,” aka “Oscars of Diplomacy,”  by H.E. Kim Sook, represented Republic of Korea in UNSC

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United Nations, 11 December 2023


It’s a great honor and privilege for me to be recognized as one of the 2023 “Diwali Stamp – Power of One” Awardees.

I salute Ranju and Ravi Batra for configuring the ideals and values of Diwali into these annual Awards.

Such ideals and values as:

– victory of light over darkness,

– victory of good over evil,

– victory of wisdom over ignorance.

Yesterday, flying over the Pacific Ocean for 14 hours to participate in this honored annual event, it came to my mind whether the Ocean deserves the name, the Ocean of Peace. Peace, these days, is a word that seems so far away from us.

The world is going through many changes and crises.

And these crises warrant stronger leadership, determined political will and elevated role of multilateral system, with the United Nations as it’s lead, given that it has the world’s best convening power.

But the fact is, UN and multilateralism are constantly under siege, specifically Security Council, for not being able to properly respond to the deepening crises. I personally agree with those who demand better performance and more effective functioning of Security Council and, to that effect, Secretary General to be free of constraints.

So while taking those concerns seriously, let’s think about this.

UN is what its member states and their leaders make of it, more so in the case of Security Council where P-5 prevail on most issues.

Richard Holbrooke was known to have said: “Chastising the UN for failure of multilateralism is akin to blaming Madison Square Garden when the Knicks lose.”

It’s unfair, if criticism should be directed only and wholly to UN.

Let’s face the truth that first and foremost: responsibility lies on the shoulders of members that constitute it.

So, as 17th century English poet John Donne used to say:

“Therefore, send not to know for whom the bell tolls,

it tolls for thee.”

Let’s think through responsibly on the basis of Diwali values: such values as light, good, wisdom, harmony and inclusiveness.

In that sense, this Award gives added meaning to me. Finally, I congratulate my fellow Awardees – SG Ban Ki-moon, H.E. Mirsada Čolaković and H.E. Miroslav Lajčák – and everyone present today.

I thank you.

Note: These are the Remarks H.E. Kim Sook intended to deliver in-person, had he been present to receive his award as he intended. Instead, SG Ban accepted the Award on Amb. Kim Sook’s behalf. 


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