2023 “Diwali Stamp – Power of One Awards,” aka “Oscars of Diplomacy”- Remarks by Lead Organizer, H.E. Olof Skoog, Head of European Union Delegation to United Nations

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ECOSOC Chamber, United Nations

December 11, 2023

Dear SG, Mrs. Ban, Colleagues, and Friends, 

Thank you everyone for turning up this crazy Monday afternoon for a Ceremony that we will hope will bring some Light. I am Olof Skoog. I’m the EU Ambassador to the United Nations. It’s a pleasure to once again be the Moderator of this Event and I want to thank Ranju and Ravi Batra for the confidence and trust you have placed in me to once again play this role. 

We are here today to honor dedication, action and commitment. Before we continue with the programme let’s get us and the room into the mood of Diwali. We will proceed with the Diya Lighting Ceremony. I ask Ranju and Ravi Batra to join us. I ask my fellow co-organizers to join me: David Bakradze, Ruchira Kamboj, Omar Hilale, Paula Narvaez, Akan Rakmethullin,  Mohammed Al-Hassan, Sophia Tesfamarian, Mohan Pieris. Ranju will lead us.

I am so proud to co-host the Event this afternoon. I will be the MC. I will be calling speakers to the Lectern here, for brief statements 3-4 minutes, not 34 minutes! Ranju Batra will then give her remarks as will Ravi Batra, after which he will conduct  the awards ceremony. We will conclude with a family photo of the Awardees, Speakers, all co-sponsors, PRs, UN high officials and family members of each.

Dear colleagues,

We meet here in the spirit of Diwali. The victory of light over darkness,  knowledge over ignorance.

As one burden is added to another in this world where, mostly men seem tirelessly inclined to make trouble to ourselves or to others, it appears very often as if all of us here at the UN are taken further and further away from what has put us all here in the first place: The UN Charter! Every time you consult it, you are in awe of the creators’ vision. 

Faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small. To promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom. And of course, to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.

The headwinds are formidable. They feel almost insurmountable.

I often reflect how paradoxical it is, that in most of our conversations, a vast majority of us here agree that these ideals remain central to our duties here. If it was all up to us, the world would be in a much better place. We all agree on the basics and that we need to step up to approach the vision and the determination of the Founders of the Charter, and not move further away from them.

Our session today is very much about turning the best of our intentions into real change. Light over darkness. Knowledge over ignorance. 

I want to pay a very special tribute to Ranju Batra, who fought for an idea to have the DIWALI SPIRIT locked in and amplified through USPS issuing the Stamp. This represents the kind of spirit and resilience and commitment to actually getting things done in the face of a great many bureaucratic and political hurdles. 

The Awards to be handed out a little bit later: the “ Diwali Stamp – The Power of One” are all about cherishing that kind of vision, resolve and tenacity  and honor people who have through their mission here at the UN gone beyond what can be expected,  making marks on their way that truly resonates beyond the meeting rooms of the UN.

I thank you.






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