NEW YORK: The UN General Assembly on Wednesday held a special session to pay tribute to the late Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. At the advent of the session, attendees observed a minute of silence to mourn and honor the late Amir, who passed away on Dec 16. In his speech, President of the UN General Assembly Dennis Francis said the late Amir Sheikh Nawaf’s reign was marked by public service and a commitment to the principles of unity, dignity and solidarity.
Sheikh Nawaf was known for his diplomatic prowess nationally and abroad and was revered as a unifier. Francis went on to point out that the late Amir guided Kuwait towards progress and maintained its tradition of multilateralism. He noted Kuwait’s election to the Human Rights Council is emblematic of the late Amir’s vision for a more peaceful world. That vision will be instrumental in finding a lasting solution to the crisis in Gaza. Voicing condolences to the Al-Sabah Family, he called on the UN General Assembly to honor the Amir’s legacy, stating: “May his great soul rest in peace.”
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres described the late Amir as the “Amir of wisdom, forgiveness and peace”. “Today, we are united in sorrow by the passing of His Highness Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Amir of the State of Kuwait. I want to extend my sincere condolences to His Highness’ family and the government and people of Kuwait. We stand with all of you today in mourning and memory,” he said.
Guterres pointed out that Sheikh Nawaf dedicated his life to the people of Kuwait. For nearly six decades, on the domestic and global stages, he served at the highest levels of government, across a diverse range of ministerial positions. “Far beyond Kuwait’s borders, His Highness was a respected statesman. He was a determined champion of preventive diplomacy - an approach that helped define Kuwait’s role across the Gulf region and around the world. He was a steadfast voice of regional and global stability, peace and multilateralism - the very values and goals that give life to this chamber,” he said.
“He was a generous humanitarian, helping to ease human suffering and mobilize support for millions of people in need around the region and the world. And his personal commitment to collective solutions to forge peace remains an inspiration,” the UN chief added.
He urged all to follow his example by “collaborating and compromising” for peace. Stressing that those qualities are “in tragically short supply”, he urged those present to also remember their own obligations to be wise in decision and action, to be forgiving of one another and to be willing to collaborate and compromise to forge peace. “This is our solemn responsibility,” he underscored.
Guterres also extended his best wishes to HH the Amir Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. “The United Nations will continue its strong partnership and friendship with the State of Kuwait, as we work to build a better, more peaceful and tolerant world for all people,” he concluded.
Qatar’s representative mourned the late Amir, saying “the Gulf family has lost one of its pillars”. Noting that the late Amir contributed to regional unity and to Kuwait’s renaissance, she said his personality was characterized by wisdom and justice, as well as concern for the well-being, stability and advancement of his people.
Also voicing condolences was Egypt’s representative, speaking for the Arab Group, who noted that everyone - nationally and internationally - knew the late Amir as a noble gentleman who defended just causes - particularly that of Palestinians. “No one can ignore his nobility and his wisdom,” he said, recalling that, under the late Amir’s reign, Kuwait’s commitment to multilateralism to achieve the goals of the UN Charter - even amid unprecedented challenges - was evident.
Other speakers also noted the late Amir’s legacy, spotlighting his contributions both at home and abroad and expressing condolences to his successor, family, country and people. These included the representatives of Turkmenistan, speaking for Asia and Pacific States; Zambia, speaking for African states; Sweden, for Western European and other states; and the United States. Thanking the speakers for their sincere words and condolences, Kuwait’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Tareq Al-Bannai said history books will “faithfully pay tribute to the memory of a just leader whose name and reign have been testimony to everything that is noble”.
Sheikh Nawaf loved his people - and was loved by them - and when asked what his weakness was, answered that he was weak when he saw an old person asking for help or a sick child suffering. History honors those who spend their lives serving people, Bannai said, paying tribute to the late Amir’s memory and congratulating his successor. “Kuwait will remain as you know it,” he added - an active member of the United Nations and a defender of its noble mission of peace, tolerance and justice. – KUNA