Seventy-seventh Session,
50th Meeting (resumed) (AM)

General Assembly Pays Tribute to Late Emir of Kuwait, with UN Secretary-General Urging All to Follow His Example by ‘Collaborating and Compromising’ for Peace

The General Assembly met today to pay tribute to Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, late Emir of Kuwait, who passed away on 16 December.

Dennis Francis, President of the General Assembly, recalled that the Emir began his career as Governor of Hawally at the age of 25, became Minister for the Interior in 1978, Minister for Defence a decade later and, finally, Crown Prince in 2006.  He further noted that the Emir assumed that role at the height of the COVID‑19 pandemic, steering his country through one of the most turbulent crises in living memory. Emir Nawaf’s reign was marked by public service and a commitment to the principles of unity, dignity and solidarity, and, known for his diplomatic prowess nationally and abroad, he was revered as a unifier. 

He went on to point out that the Emir guided Kuwait towards progress and maintained its tradition of multilateralism.  Kuwait’s election to the Human Rights Council is emblematic of the Emir’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 Assembly to honour the Emir’s legacy, stating:  “May his great soul rest in peace.”

“Emir of wisdom, forgiveness and peace,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres, noting the words displayed on digital billboards across Kuwait City after the Emir’s passing.  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. 

“The Gulf family has lost one of its pillars,” stated Qatar’s representative, speaking for the Gulf Cooperation Council as delegations around the Hall took the floor.  Noting that the Emir contributed to regional unity and to Kuwait’s renaissance, she said his personality was characterized by wisdom and justice, as well as a concern for the well-being, stability and advancement of his people.  Asking that the Emir be put in a high place in Heaven, she observed:  “Indeed, we belong to Allah, and to Him we return.”

Also voicing condolences was Egypt’s representative, speaking for the Arab Group, who noted that everyone — nationally and internationally — knew the Emir 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 Emir’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 Emir’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 today’s speakers for the sincere words and condolences, Kuwait’s representative said that 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”.  The Emir 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 honours those who spend their lives serving people, he said, paying tribute to the Emir’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.

For information media. Not an official record.