Press Release

2586 Buddha Jayanti Celebration - 23 May 2024, Lumbini

23 May 2024

Right Honorable Prime Minister Mr. Pushpa Kamal Dahal, 
Honorable Deputy Prime Ministers, 

Honorable Minister for Culture Tourism and Civil Aviation and the Chair of the Lumbini Development Trust

Excellencies Ambassadors, Government officials, Media personnels 

And dear peace lovers 

NamasteNamo Mitaa-vaya ( greetings in buddhism), and a very good morning to all of you! 

It is my profound blessing to be in Lumbini to celebrate the birth, enlightenment, and pari-nirvana of Gautam Buddha.  And what an absolute honour once more to step on these sacred grounds, the soil where the Prince of Peace had walked on nearly 2600 years ago! 

Revered guests, it’s been 23 years  that the United Nations gave recognition to the Day of Vesak, or Baisakh as it is known in Nepal.  We must be grateful for Hon. Lakshman Kadirgamar the then foreign Minister of Sri Lanka, who in November 1998 made the proposal to the UN to provide international recognition to the “Day of the Full Moon in the month of May” that is most sacred for a fifth of the world’s population. 

Last year, when the UN Secretary General visited Lumbini he said, ”This is a place to reflect on the teachings of Lord Buddha. And to consider what his message of peace, interdependence, and compassion, means in today’s troubled world.”

It is indeed a troubled world.  Where we seem to be at loggerheads with nature, as well with ourselves.. across borders, across faiths, across ideologies.

And it is when we come to a place like Lumbini, where its special aura permeates the atmosphere around us and seeps into our souls, that we instinctively try to seek deep within ourselves the reason of our existence. 

And when we really dig deep, not carrying the baggage of yesterday or tomorrow, we discover that all we long for is happiness and peace.. peace of mind, and peace around us.. yes, just shanti, shanti shanti! (peace) 

“With our thoughts we make the world, “said Lord Buddha to his disciples.

It is thoughts that lead to actions.  And the actions of the United Nations, in its mission to promote peace, security, and human rights, embodies the essence Buddha’s teachings... be it the Five Precepts, or the Eightfold Path… in various aspects of its work. 

Like he preached, we in the UN work diligently to ensure that we have the Right View, the right perspective on issues and problems that need to be tackled to ensure safe an equitable life for all.  

We strive to have the Right Intention in every task we undertake, every vison we propose which we then voice with Right Speech that respect everyone, and are geared to foster compassion and harmony.  

Right Action guides our overall work to promote peace and development, especially in these turbid times. And with Right Effort guided by the principles of the UN Charters, we strive to promote Right Livelihood and ensure that no one is left behind. 

Being a global organization, Right Mindfulness  and Right Concentration  are important features of the institution. It prods us to keep adapting to changing situations, be it global politics, climatic changes, planning for the unexpected. But all the time, being mindful of the here and now! 


So, Distinguished guests, 

Gathered here today in these sacred gardens, let us be at peace with ourselves and with the world. May the full moon of Buddha Purnima take away the darkness of ignorance, bigotry and hatred and herald an era of contentment and peace on earth. 

Shanti Shanti Shanti !

Hanaa Singer-Hamdy ,RC

Hanaa Singer-Hamdy

United Nations Resident Coordinator
Ms. Singer-Hamdy has worked for close to 30 years across development and humanitarian contexts at various senior management and strategic leadership roles. She served as the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka from 2018 to 2022. Under her leadership, the UN in Sri Lanka continued its partnership with the Government in responding to complex economic and political challenges including the 2019 Easter Bombings, COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent deterioration in macroeconomic stability and debt sustainability. When Sri Lanka faced a significant rise in food insecurity and other humanitarian concerns, she led a response targeting 3.4 million people in need that raised over $100 million for vital aid. To advance inclusive and rights-based development, she led the design of the United Nations Strategic Development Cooperation Framework 2023-2027 in consultation with Government and other stakeholders. Since 2019, she also mobilized over $36 million for peacebuilding and resilience programming through the UN Sri Lanka SDG Multi-Partner Trust Fund.

Prior to this, she held several senior management positions in UNICEF offices across the world, including as the Associate Regional Director in Geneva and as Country Representative for Syria, Nepal, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan.

In Syria, she provided strategic leadership to one of the largest protection crises on the global stage – successfully scaling up programmes through an integrated package of high impact interventions in health, nutrition, water and sanitation, education and child protection - increasing the reach of UNICEF’s work to the most vulnerable children including in besieged and hard-to-reach areas.

As UNICEF Chief in Nepal, she pioneered strategic programmes for scaling up sanitation, adolescents and multisectoral nutrition programmes, establishing strategic new alliances resulting in the government adopting national action plans. She has also led humanitarian programmes in Burundi and Haiti, and as a regional emergency advisor for CEE/CIS countries coordinated setting up cross border humanitarian operations to Afghanistan ,from central Asia, and Iraq,from south Turkey. She also provided technical support to emergency preparedness programmes in the North Caucasus, CEE/CIS countries .

Ms. Singer-Hamdy holds a Master's degree in Political Sociology and a Bachelor's degree in Political Science from the American University in Cairo, Egypt. She obtained a diploma in “Planning and Management of Decentralized Development Projects” from Bradford University in the United Kingdom. Ms. Singer-Hamdy has engaged in academia and research in political sociology and international relations at the American University of Cairo and at the Sadat’s Academy for Management Sciences, Faculty of Political Science of Cairo University.
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Simrika Sharma

National Information Officer

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