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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Farewell speech by HE. Lang Yabou

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Ambassador & Permanent Representative
permanent mission of The Gambia to the UN

Deputy Head of Mission,

Distinguished dear colleagues of Team-New York,

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We are gathered today for me to bid you farewell at the end of my tour of duty as Ambassador and Permanent Representative of The Gambia to the United Nations in New York.

Distinguished colleagues, as I hand over the Mission, I thought it befitting to deliver this statement to serve as a reflection and reminder to all of us both about the period that we have been together and into the future.

This gathering would remain a critical part of my life as a civil servant. As diplomats, we always come and go but as we leave, what we leave behind as legacy is what is used as yardsticks to measure the extent of our successes.

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Speaking of legacy, I am doing it with a grateful heart. A heart full of satisfaction that, I was the leader of Team New York for 3 years 11 months during which together, we represented and achieved a lot for The Gambia.

Our collective belief in the project called The Gambia made a lot of difference in helping us to register unprecedented milestones as alluded to by the UN Secretary-General when we visited him on Friday 26th August to bid farewell. Continue this belief and keep critically debating issues before agreeing on them.

My dear colleagues, as a team, we have done well in representing our country. During the last three years eleven months, as Gambia’s diplomats, we ensured that, the country’s voice was never absent and continues to be strong in conversations and debates on key issues of critical importance such as the peacebuilding, peacekeeping, peace and security, debt, COVID-19 recovery, poverty, SDGs, climate change, youth and women empowerment and other challenges facing our country, the continent, the global south and the larger international community. We have done this together and it was acknowledged and commended by the Secretary-General, partners and our colleagues.

The achievements of the team in the mentioned areas would continue to form part of our legacy. It is a legacy that is achieved with the active participation and involvement of all team members and it is because we were all involved, that is why we achieved what we achieved.

I would therefore, urge the team to continue to be more involved so that together, you would achieve more than what we achieved now. Endeavor to build on our current successes to add to the good legacy.

Working with this team taught me a lot and indeed contributed to my personal and professional development. The experiences gained would continue to form critical part of my career in the service of The Gambia.

From a humble background and beginning, Almighty Allah has been very kind to me and my family. The journey I travelled in the last 28 years as a civil servant to be where I am today, continues to provide great lessons that enriches me and my family.

Of utmost importance, listening to the Secretary-General last Friday talking about the team’s achievements under my leadership gave me additional pride, satisfaction and motivation to keep working hard.

Colleagues, I am ending my tour of duty with a great sense of fulfillment and belief that as a team, we have done a lot together for the country. Amazingly enough, COVID 19 did not stop Team New York from working.

We closed the Mission and worked remotely from home for only 6 months. Then we opened since September 2020 and remained fully open to-date.

My dear colleagues, our daily sacrifices have paid off and I remain proud as team leader of a group that has given it all for the country especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The risks and sacrifices made to continue working particularly, the services rendered to our community will forever remain in my memory.

You have been resourceful and dedicated during COVID-19 pandemic in mobilizing resources for both the government and NGOs like Red Cross and CRS and the guidance and support provided to the community has been exemplary and appreciated by them.

Beyond, our mandated representation function at the UN, we initiated fruitful bilateral engagements for the country and we have been there for the Gambian community especially during most difficult moments like COVID-19, the Bronx fire disaster, etc.

A lot of delegations that visited New York during the last few years would continue to remember the team for the dedication, commitment and extra efforts that you always put in to make them successful and comfortable during their stay.

My dear colleagues, today when it comes to peacekeeping, we have placed The Gambia on the map. The achievements registered in managing this on behalf of the country speaks for itself.

In addition to countable achievements, our collaborative efforts with other stakeholders have paid off enabling the Gambia Armed Forces to progress with activities for the plan deployment of a Quick Reaction Force. Once, fully materialized, this would be a great achievement for the country.

On peacebuilding, our engagement with the PBC has become a success model worthy of replication elsewhere. We succeeded in maintaining the much-needed momentum of our partners to the cause of The Gambia.

Today, notable tangible results of PBC engagements in The Gambia includes the setting up of the National Human Rights Commission, supporting the TRRC, CRC, other reforms and building and sustaining peace through implementing over 20 projects with UN Agencies and stakeholders in The Gambia amounting to over $20million, etc.

The background work provided by this team in sustaining the momentum and interest of partners in our transition and its processes is commendable and the fruits of our multilateral and bilateral engagements with partners and special friends would continue to be of great benefits for The Gambia.

On promotion and protection of rule of law, democracy, human rights and international humanitarian law, we scaled up The Gambia’s voice at an unprecedented level among nation states.

Members of the team served as excellent coordinators and facilitators of various committees and processes that, continues to cherish and appreciate our contributions and leadership.

As a team, you made me proud by working hard to produce results with very minimal resources and moved Gambian diplomacy to a new level and standing at the UN that history and posterity would positively remember all of us for.

In the last few years, our colleagues trusted us to represent them in the Executive Boards and Bureau of UNDP, UNFPA, UNOPS, UN Population Award Committee, Main Committees of the UN and now UN Women and Commission on Population and Development.

We also represented the continent in the selection of the new Prosecutor for the ICC. Above all, in October 2021, our initiative and efforts resulted in the election of The Gambia to the Human Rights Council for the first time in history.

Indeed, our records in terms of value addition in the boards and committees speaks for themselves. As Vice President representing Africa in the Bureau of the UNDP/UNFA/UNOPS Executive Board in 2021, together with others, we facilitated the negotiations and adoption of the New Strategic Plans 2022-2025 for all the UN agencies under the Board.

We also did the same for country programme documents for over 10 countries, including the UNDP refocused country programme for The Gambia.

Distinguished colleagues, I thank Almighty Allah for helping Team New York under my leadership to successfully implement its mandate and some of the programmes and activities that it set out for the Mission despite the huge resource and other challenges.

My special thanks and appreciation to the entire staff, both past and present for the tremendous support, cooperation and respect given to my person and above all for the commitment and dedication given to the job.

The extra miles that we travelled together made the difference in helping us to achieve great things together for the common good of our country and its citizens and I remain grateful for that.

To the Gambian community in the USA, especially those in New York and its surroundings, I thank them all from the bottom of my heart for the great amount of support, cooperation, prayers and respect.

I am proud of them all and once again would urge them to continue the same collaboration and cooperation with my successor.

I also take this opportunity to thank the senior management and staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and all sectors in The Gambia for the support, guidance and cooperation extended to the Mission during the last three and half years and urge that, the same support, guidance, team spirit and cooperation be extended to my successor.

Indeed, as I complete my tenure as the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of The Gambia to the UN after 3 years 11 months, I am doing it with a great amount of satisfaction, pride, happiness and appreciation that we have delivered for the Government and People of The Gambia.

We served with dedication, commitment, sincerity and honesty. The results we achieved together have served and would continue to serve our dear country.

With glory and gratitude to Almighty Allah, the time has come to draw the curtain on this part of my journey as a public servant and as I do so, I would continue to need your prayers and support in my future endeavors in life.

I thank Team-New-York from the bottom of my heart and have no doubt that the team would give my successor all the support and cooperation required to enable him succeed with you as a team. I wish you and your families all that is the best for you in life.

Dear colleagues, I am doing this to remind us that the gathering today should be one of reflection on what we did together as a team for our country.

Rather than being emotional, I want all of you to be happy and remember that we spent useful and rewarding 3 and half years together and when parting, we should remember and celebrate the great successes and pray for better and more successful future as we continue to serve our dear motherland.

Indeed, there is honor in serving and as duty bearers, the trust, responsibility and confidence reposed in us by our appointments must always guide our actions.

Finally, Team-New-York, I am grateful. My wife and my whole family are grateful.

To all of you, I say thank you from the bottom of my heart and wishing you and your families all the best in your future endeavours in life. Thank you all.

Note: Ambassador Yabou is now the Permanent Secretary at the Ministy  of Foreign Affairs  

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