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Lebanon’s UN representative marking Independence Day: Lebanon clinging to democracy against all odds

Lebanon’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Amal Mudallali, delivered the following speech at a reception held in New York marking Lebanon’s 75th Independence:

“Ladies and gentlemen,

Colleagues, friends,

This year marks the 75th Independence Day for Lebanon. A Platinum Jubilee!

But today is not Lebanon’s Independence Day. Our independence is few days from now.

Lebanon gained its independence on November 22, 1943. If you google Lebanon’s Independence, though, google tells you that the Lebanese have been trying to be Independent since the Old testament times! It is a long struggle for independence and a testament to the place Lebanon has occupied in history, and to how stubborn we can be when it comes to our freedom!

Although small in size, it is larger than life, in what it represented and still represents in our region and the world. It has limited resources but it is rich in the wealth of its values, in its diversity, pluralism, coexistence, its freedoms and in its example as a model not merely as a country.

Pope John Paul II described Lebanon as a “Message”.

Lebanon has been part of the world connecting continents and melting cultures and civilizations together for millennia. It was always a city on the Hill for the region and beyond. It is not surprising then to see Lebanon as one of the few pioneering countries who we’re present at the founding conference of the United Nations.

For small states like my country, the UN is our only hope and guarantee for a world where a rule based system can assure justice, peace and security. It is still the please where the world comes together for peace and dialogue.

Lebanon. This small country on the Mediterranean was also a pioneer in human rights. Our UN Ambassador, my predecessor Charles Malik was one of five drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 70 years ago. What a legacy for a country, and what an honor for a PR.

The relationship between Lebanon and the UN is as old as this magnificent organization.

Since 1945, we hold the UN in the highest esteem and we look up to it and its members as the saviors of our world, not only from scourge of war but as a beacon for a better future and a more just world.

All UN organizations are represented in Lebanon and have been a great contributor to peace and security and an indispensable partner for development.

UNIFIL has been instrumental in keeping peace in South Lebanon, and I want to thank all of you who have contributed troops to serve in UNIFIL and help Lebanon attain peace and stability on its borders. We are grateful to you.

Lebanon was spared the turmoil that has been engulfing the region for the last few years. We are lucky to have that and we are thanking our lucky stars for it.

But Lebanon has not been always lucky. We witnessed invasions, and occupation, and civil wars. We face many challenges most of it, but not all, are related to geography!

We live in a volatile region. The neighborhood has been rough and we are living through the consequences.

With over 1.2 million Syrian refugees the country, its economy, and infrastructure are feeling the heavy weight of its burden. But Lebanon continues to shoulder its responsibility in being a generous host country hoping that the right conditions makes it possible for all the refugees to go back to their homes and resume their normal lives in peace, security and dignity.

Despite the challenges, Lebanon manages to uphold its democratic traditions: we held parliamentary elections, and we are in the process of forming a government and move forward on our peace and development agendas.

Lebanon has been a country of origin for migration for centuries, and we participated in the negotiating process for a Global Combat for Migration. Lebanon will be present in Marrakech for the signing of the compact because we believe that migration enriches countries and is an engine for development and by doing so we honor the great contributions of our Lebanese migrants all over the world.

Actually in this country and in this very city Lebanese immigrants played and still play an important role in the life and culture and left their stamp.

One such immigrant, the Lebanese-American poet Gebran Khalil Gebran who wrote The Prophet, In NY few blocks from here at the turn of the last century, described his fellow Lebanese immigrants as follows: “They are the builders, the potters, the weavers and the bell-casters. They are the poets who pour their souls in new cups. They are those who migrate with nothing but courage in their hearts and strength in their arms but who return with wealth in their hands and a wreath of glory upon their heads. They are the ones born in huts but who died in palaces of learning. These are the children of Lebanon….”.

Dear Friends, as a child of Lebanon, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for coming to celebrate this special day with us and for being friends of Lebanon.

Thank you, and I hope you enjoy our food and wine and our humble home.”

Source: National News Agency