Unveiling: The Best Weapon

Statement by Minister of International Development Dag-Inge Ulstein at the unveiling of The Best Weapon-bench on Nelson Mandela Day, 18 July 2019.

Dear colleagues, dear friends,

The best weapon is to sit down and talk. These words were spoken by one of the most recognizable human rights champions of the 20th century and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nelson Mandela. What better way to celebrate the essence of his life and legacy than to gather in the spirit of multilateralism here tonight.

It’s always great to be with good friends. I am especially honored to be here with Minister ‚Äčof Tourism Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane and Ambassador Jerry Matjila of South Africa - on the International Day of Nelson Mandela. Dialogue and negotiation is what Nelson Mandela is best remembered for. It was his message of peace and reconciliation that greatly eased his country’s transition to democracy and brought South Africans together.

The UN brings 193 countries together, every day. On equal footing, we sit down. We talk. And more importantly - we listen. We try to find the best solutions for our common future.

This week at the High level Political Forum for Sustainable Development, I have had the great honor to walk these halls, listen and talk. I believe we share many interests and opportunities. Partnership is the best way to realize these. Norway has always been committed to a strong UN, at the center of international cooperation. The sustainable development goals are our common road map to the future. We have heard about the progress and the challenges this year as one of every four member states have shared their experiences, the lessons they have learned and the path ahead to reach the Global Goals by 2030.

The bench that we are here to unveil tonight is a symbol of this multilateralism. It is designed in a shape that brings people together - in the center. You are drawn to sit close. To talk. To listen. And to cooperate. You simply can not sit on opposite sides.

My hope is that this bench will be used every day as a symbol of dialogue as our best weapon for peace.