Close to seventy guests came to pay tribute to South Sudan, which gained independence on July 9, 2011. Among the guests were several heads of state, foreign ministers and government representatives from a broad range of countries, as well as the African Union and the European Union.
Norwegian State Secretary Espen Barth Eide opened the event by saying:
“It is truly a great achievement that we can welcome the Republic of South Sudan to the UN. The fact that we are where we are today is of course a tribute to the vision and political will of the leaders on the two sides, but it would never have happened without the active support of the international community. Those countries represented here have been among your closest partners in this journey. Now, we will reiterate our support, knowing that the road ahead will not be easy.”
In welcoming the 193rd UN member state, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said the UN and the international community will continue to be a strong supporter of the peace process and will do its part to assist South Sudan in dealing with the many challenges ahead.
The UN’s newest member was represented by Emmanuel Lowilla, Minister for Presidential Affairs. Speaking on behalf of South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit, Mr. Lowilla said it’s vital for South Sudan to find solutions to the unresolved issues in the peace negotiations. He said the fight against corruption will be a key priority and stressed the importance of continued support from the international community to create progress in his country.
The British Minister for African Affairs, Henry Bellingham, and US Ambassador to the UN, Susan E. Rice, pledged continued support for the newly independent country. Ambassador Rice also said the US puts great faith in the head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), Ms. Hilde Frafjord Johnson, a former Development Minister of Norway.