On behalf of Dr. Carlos Lopes, the Assistant Secretary-General of United Nations and Executive Director of United Nations Instituted for Training and Research (UNITAR) Family in Geneva and Nigeria, I welcome you all to this epoch-making occasion of the official inauguration of the institute for Humanitarian studies & social Development.

UNITAR is proud to be associated with this Institute because of the commendable foresight of the Board of Trustees, Governing Council and management of the Institute in setting up this ingenious initiative.

Looking at the array of eminent dignitaries who have graced this auspicious event despite their tight schedules, I feel re-assured that we cannot despair of humanity. I join every well meaning person here to confirm that the institute will expand the frontiers of knowledge of service delivery for sustainable development. Please permit me to briefly introduce UNITAR.

The United Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) was established in 1965 as an autonom’s body within the United nations with the purpose of enhancing the effectiveness of the organization through appropriate training and research.

UNITAR is governed by a Board of Trustees and is headed by an Executive Director who also doubles as Assistant Secretary General of the United Nation Organization. The institute is supported by voluntary contributions from governments. Intergovernmental Organizations, foundations, and other non-governmental sources. Every year UNITAR organizes about 150 training events locally and off-shore to the benefit of more than 10,000 people, and 40,000 participants through e-learning.

UNITAR Mission
UNITAR’s mission is to conduct research on knowledge systems and to deliver quality innovative training for developing the capacity of beneficiaries. Building on our experience we optimize expertise, information and knowledge-sharing to achieve this mission.

It may interest this august audience to know that since 23 March 2006 when the office of UNITAR was inaugurated in Port Harcourt Nigeria, we have been partnering with Federal Government intervention agency NDDC, State Governments, Local authorities, Civil Society Organizations, Non-governmental Organizations, and oil and Gas Companies with the Niger Delta Region in delivery of quality Training and Build Programmes for Sustainable Development.

At the inception of UNITAR activities in the Niger Delta Region, we conducted series of researches and through participatory consultation, highlighted a wide range of issues of felt needs with a chain of causes.

In response to the findings, UNITAR developed programmes in six thematic areas. Working in collaboration with public and private partners, we contributed to sustainable development and the achievement of the MDGs, with Peace Building and promotion of Human Rights as our main focus. They are:

1.Negotiation and Conflict Resolution: Training and Capacity Building Workshops and Seminars in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution/ Mitigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms for the different segment of stakeholders all inclusive. Direct engagement with militant youths and strengthening the capacity of Peace Builders in the Niger Delta Region.

2.Governance and Local Administration Management: Framework for establishment of Institute for Good Governance to address the issues of democracy, corruption, accountability and electoral fraud. Systematic overview of functioning systems and processes in local administration management for broadening understanding of good government at the local government level. Provision of various instruments that strengthen governance structure and building capacity of existing senior civil servants (Permanent Secretaries) through seminars and workshop in Governance and Leadership Development for efficient service delivery. Workshops in Participatory Budgeting and Revenue generation to deepen participatory democracy reduce high incidence of fraud and improve accountability at local authority and state levels.

3. Environmental Protection and Compliance: Creation of institutional and civic awareness of environmental standards for compliance and community mass action for protection of natural resources. Promotion and formation of Action Groups for systematic documentation of environmental profiles and report to inform better policy making and implementation. Development and execution of programmes for industry-specific interests (oil and gas) in Health, safety and environment for civil society organizations, private sector entrepreneurs and political/public office holders.

4.Economic and Social Development Planning: Community development Programmes to enhance the traditional systems of governance at the community level. Stakeholders manner that will also encourage participation, accountability and transparency within their communities. Beneficiaries include community based organizations, local authorities, civil society organizations, private sector and donor agencies. Multi-Stakeholder partnership programmes broaden stakeholders views in managing complex projects. Provides insight into stakeholder engagement, and effective communication strategies in stakeholder management.

Participatory approaches to strengthening community development associations consolidates local democratic systems. In rural development planning, stakeholders are guided on the planning of Local economic empowerment and development strategies (LEEDS) which affect livelihood of the vulnerable women and youths and also contribute to the achievement of the MDGs. Monitoring and evaluations prepares participants on the fundamentals of M&E in development project management. It explores the tools of M&E and focuses on the triple constraints of cost, time and quality and effective resources management.

5.Business Development: Developing business plans for SMEs for practitioners Enterprise development for owning viable businesses. Microfinance appreciation and development for enterprise development trainers, civil society organizations and private sector investors. UNITAR/HP Micro accelerated programme (MAP) for introduction of ICT support and strategies. UNOSAT imagery and satellite solutions for several socio-economic deployment and environmental monitoring of disaster prone regions.

EMPLOYMENT GENERATION, POVERTY REDUCTION, SUSTAINABLE PEACE AND PROMOTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS: Among other successful programmes, we developed and delivered specifications for technical training and capacity development of youths and graduates from Niger Delta region to enable them acquire hands on industry based skills in the following options: Millwright, welding, instrumentation, drilling, cable tray, scaffolding, safety management, procurement and transportation.

The impact of the new initiatives is lauded by private and public institutions that have since started training youths in the programme in Norway and Namibia. The programme which also supports the Federal Government Amnesty initiatives ensures adequate manpower for the Nigerian Local Content Policy of 70% in 2010.

In fact, all stakeholders in Niger Delta region have at different forums acknowledge UNITAR’s extant contributions as a panacea for peace, security and long awaited social justice in the embattled region. As at april 30, 2010, 932 participants have benefited from UNITAR training and capacity building programmes. In consideration of UN gender sensitivity, out of this number, 709 are men while 223 are women. We need not bore your excellencies with our verifiable record of achievements.

Humanitarian services: As an agency of the UN, UNITAR has been managing knowledge globally, and we are convinced that the challenges of humanitarian services are enormous. There is need for knowledge driven collaboration, partnership and participation of all-inclusive stakeholders to achieve the goals of sustainable humanitarian service delivery.

That is why we congratulate the institute for this bold initiatives in choosing to offer alternative education, capacity building and development of skills to individuals and organizations involved in humanitarian services. We also congratulate all individuals, organizations and institutions who are contributing towards the achievement of the noble cause of this IHSD. UNITAR loves the ideals of the institute and will collaborate with her in relevant areas to contribute to the achievement of her laudable goals. Finally, we felicitate with all awardees and graduates who are being honoured today. God bless you all. Thanks for reading.
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