Speech by Mr. Karel Frielink – Dean of the Consular Corps of Curaçao

United Nations Day – 24 October 2017


Your Excellency, the Acting Governor of Curaçao, Mrs. Nolda Römer-Kenepa

The Prime Minister of Curaçao, Mr. Eugene Rhuggenaath

The Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of Curaçao, Mrs. Marilyn Alcalá-Wallé

The Minister of Social Development, Mr. Hensley Koeiman

The Deputy President of our Parliament, Mrs. Giselle Mc William

The Secretary General to UNESCO, Mrs. Marva Browne

Commander of the Armed Forces on Curacao, Brigadier General De Vin, and the Commanders of the MNCCC

Fellow members of the Consular Corps of Curaçao and members of the Directorate of Foreign Affairs

Distinguished guests

Good afternoon and welcome!


On behalf of the Consular Corps of Curaçao, it is an honor to address you all on the celebration of the 72nd anniversary of the United Nations. It was in October of 1945 that the UN Charter went into effect with the intention to avoid another global conflict like the one that had just ended. So far, so good. Since then, the UN has grown from 51 to 193 member nations and has 17 agencies, such as UNESCO, UNICEF, the IMF and the World Health Organization.

I am delighted to announce this is our third consecutive edition of our Speech Contest. We ask students from all schools to submit speeches based on one of three topics; this year’s were based on Tourism, Immigration and Social Media. We received speeches from various schools: Albert Schweitzer, Vespucci, Radulphus College and the International School of Curaçao. The speeches were then carefully read by the appointed judges: our US Consul General Mrs. Margaret Hawthorne, our Honorary Consul of Belgium Mr. Jan van Belleghem and the Honorary Consul of Germany – that’s me!

After much deliberation, we named the three finalists who will soon read their speeches out loud: Kyara Oliemuller, Britney Hooi and Aron Kibbelaar. Our Prime Minister, Mr. Eugene Rhuggenaath, has agreed to assist in judging today’s presentations and will announce the winner, who will receive our grand prize: a check for the amount of NAf 750. The prize is generously sponsored by BZSE Attorneys at Law Curaçao.

Before moving on, the board of the Consular Corps would like to thank all the students who submitted a speech this year – a round of applause! We also would like to thank United Distributors for offering the wine we are drinking today. Thank you, Honorary Consul Robert Willems. And we would also like to thank the team that organized this celebration, including Avila and its staff, for a job well done.

I would like to take a moment to acknowledge this year’s hurricane season and the devastation it has brought unto several islands of the Caribbean. Soon after the storms had passed, the UN appointed Curacao for coordinating relief efforts; several of my colleagues and myself have been closely involved in assisting the affected islands – both in situ and from here. Help and assistance was offered by many organizations and countries, including the Netherlands, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, the Federal Republic of Germany, the French Republic and the Kingdom of Belgium.

Our own government, members of the community and the Red Cross mobilized swiftly to help. The Multinational Caribbean Coordination Cell (MNCCC) was set up at our Naval Base in Parera. It is composed of British, Dutch and French members of the armed forces, working together to ensure efficient coordination of the numerous organizations participating in the rescue and support missions. This intergovernmental collaboration is an excellent example of what the UN has strived for since 1945. I think I speak for everyone when I wish much courage to all those recovering from this endeavor. We also extend our gratitude to all those who put their schedules on hold to rush over and help.

Ladies and gentlemen, the United Nations has declared 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. What is sustainable tourism? At first, I thought it was making sure our visitors have enough sun-screen. I was wrong. It turns out to be a little more interesting. Tourism in the sustainable sense means ensuring social inclusiveness to reduce poverty, preservation of cultural values and heritage, implementing and abiding to eco-friendly measures, protecting our resources, our environment, and aiming for healthy, calculated economic growth. It means that our beaches and coral reefs should be clean, it means making visitors feel safe; it also means being happy and having a friendly attitude!

In 2016, over 1.2 billion travelers crossed international borders, each leaving behind their own carbon footprint; by 2030, this number will have grown to 1.8 billion. These travelers have an increasing number of choices, and it is our job to make Curacao a highly sought-after destination whilst keeping our best interest in mind. Our success will require working together towards a shared vision, based on a responsible philosophy and boasting an open-minded attitude ready to accept help or advice when we need it.

Although the topic of tourism swiftly leads to talks about the economy, the infrastructure or the natural resources, it’s a business which relies primarily on people. Investing in our future people means focusing on education. It is perhaps the most important institution of any society, without which the others would cease to exist. It is up to all of us to motivate those working in education, that they may continuously improve and adapt to new generations; a very demanding but most-honorable task. It is often important to listen to those we are trying to help and teach, and so it is our duty to give the future generations a voice. By events such as this one, the Consular Corps aims to inspire Curacao’s fierce youth; in the words frequently attributed to the Chinese general, military strategist, and philosopher Sun Tzu: “Opportunities multiply as they are seized.”

Curacao has the opportunity to secure a place as a top tourist destination and should go about seizing it – in a sustainable fashion.

It is now with great pleasure that I give the floor to our Prime Minister, Mr. Eugene Rhuggenaath.


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