● Excellencies,
● The United Nations Resident Coordinator,
● Honorable Ministers and Assistant Ministers,
● Permanent Secretaries,
● Development Partners’,
● CSO and Faith-based representatives

● Representatives from Academia
● Distinguished Guests &
● Ladies and Gentlemen.


Ni sa Bula Vina’a, and a very good morning, to you all.I am delighted to join you this morning to launch the United Nations Social
Cohesion Program for Fiji.

I would like to begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the land on which we stand today, ki Nadonumai, vua na Turaga na Tui Suva and pay my respect to their Chiefs past and present, as well as to emerging leaders and
members of the Vanua o’ Nadonumai who may be present here this evening. I acknowledge their role in caring for the Vanua.

I take this opportunity to welcome everyone today, particularly our partners who have been the key contributors to the UN
Secretary-General Peacebuilding Fund. Please allow me to express our gratitude to His Excellency the Secretary General of the
United Nations and the UN Resident Coordinator for Fiji who secured necessary support for this initiative.

This important endeavor is being implemented with the Government of Fiji and United Nations family – the United Nations
Development Programme, UNWOMEN, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights as implementing partners for the project.

These partnerships exemplify the values of collaboration and inclusivity that are central to the United Nations’; mission of promoting social cohesion and peacebuilding. The Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund is the United Nations; leading instrument to invest in prevention and peacebuilding, in partnership with the wider UN system, national and subnational authorities, civil society organizations, regional organizations, and multilateral banks.

The Fund stands as a testament to the UN’s commitment to supporting resilience and prevention in regions facing political crises.

Pacific Region

The Pacific is generally a region that is under-represented in the global agenda. Yet, it is a region that has experienced various

political crises. Beyond our vibrant cultures, we in the Pacific face unique challenges that often go unnoticed on the world stage.

Issues such as climate change, economic vulnerability, and geopolitical competition have put significant strain on the social fabric
of Pacific Island nations.

These crises highlight the urgent need for cohesive and inclusive governance structures that prioritize the well-being of all

This is the impetus for my call for the establishment of a zone of peace for our region, where our aim is to promote peace
amongst peoples, nations and globally.

Zone of Peace

At the UN General Assembly last year, I announced that we in Fiji want a future characterised by global solidarity and the
collective wellbeing of humanity. Collectively, Nation-States must respect one another and the rules-based international
order forming a stable foundation from which we can tackle existential threats, pursuing collective security and lasting peace for all. Global military spending has grown every year since 2015 and the world is in an upward spiral of militarisation.

Even states that favor rules over power are building up their defences, as an insurance policy against the risk that the rules-based
order fails to withstand the actions of those that oppose it. We in Fiji do not see military build-up as the answer for the Blue Pacific region. The two world wars of the last century and nuclear testing in our region have left scars that remain in our collective memory as dark episodes in Pacific history, never to be repeated.

I have been advocating for the declaration of the Blue Pacific as an Ocean of Peace, in alignment with existing regional declarations and the UN Secretary-General’s New Agenda for Peace, which outlines a vision for multilateral efforts to advance peace and security in our complex and changing world. I tabled my vision for the Ocean of Peace to fellow Pacific Islands Forum leaders in Rarotonga, in November last year.

It is my hope that Pacific Islands Forum members will unite to declare our Ocean of Peace to the world, making the region and its
peoples the very emblems of peace. Our declaration would make it clear: there is no place for military buildup in the Pacific.

This doesn’t mean that Pacific Islands Forum members would relinquish the right to make arrangements to deter and defend against hostility. Responsible governments should always have arrangements in place to protect their
sovereignty and their citizens.

Peacebuilding at home and on the global and regional stage is the key agenda for Fiji and the priority of the government I lead. We are committed to the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation commission to heal the pain and scars left by the events of 1987, 2000 and 2006. Globally, Fiji have been active contributors to the UN mission for peace.

It is now time to make peace at home, promoting social cohesion and addressing the pain and injustices, of the past, for a
better future.

Peacebuilding Fund Project

I am therefore delighted to note that United Nations Social Cohesion Programme for Fiji will support Government agencies and civil society organizations in promoting social cohesion. The Fund provides rapid support to Government Officials, Members of Parliament, Independent Bodies, Women’s national and local community organizations, CSO’s, and human rights defenders to undertake social cohesion and reconciliation activities.

This aligns perfectly with the agenda of the People’s Coalition government.

The broad aim of the project is to rebuild trust amongst and across communities and social groups, as well as between citizens and government institutions.

With this funding and close partnership between the Fiji Government and the United Nations, the project aims to strengthen connections, trust, and accountability, and ultimately, peace and reconciliation.

The project will address key sources and potential triggers of tension in Fiji by promoting dialogue and respect for human
rights. It will bring Fiji a step closer to achieving the Peace Pillar, under the United Nations Pacific
Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework 2023 to 2027.

I urge us all to continue to carry forth the spirit of collaboration and commitment that has characterized our gathering today.

The launch of this UN Social Cohesion Project marks not just the beginning of a programme, but a testament to our shared dedication to fostering peace, resilience, and prosperity. Let us remain steadfast in our efforts, knowing that together, we can build a future where conflict gives way to understanding, where division yields to unity, and where hope
prevails over despair.

It is my hope that this launch today will facilitate discussion of this important topic. With those few words, I consider myself privileged to be here to Launch the UN supported Social Cohesion Project and initiative.

May God Bless Fiji

May God Bless Us All

Vinaka Vakalevu, Dhaanyabaad,  Thank you.

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