Remarks at a Tribute to the Memory of Baldwin Lonsdale, President of the Republic of Vanuatu

Ambassador Michele J. Sison
U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
June 22, 2017


On behalf of the United States as host country, I would like to extend our deep sympathy to the people and government of Vanuatu on the loss of President Baldwin Lonsdale. President Lonsdale leaves behind a legacy of integrity and humility.

Even before becoming president, he had a rich history as a man of service and as a man of faith. As a civil servant and as Secretary-General of the Torba provincial government, President Lonsdale was committed to serving his community. And later, after becoming a clergyman, he was able to make so many valuable personal connections and to deliver hope to so many.

Upon taking office, President Lonsdale expressed his desire to ensure that “the constitution of the nation is upheld at all times and that peace, unity, justice, and harmony prevail at all times.” This commendable goal was put into action in the very first year of his presidency.

As we all remember, in March of 2015, Vanuatu was devastated by Cyclone Pam, a category-five storm that left the country in a state of crisis. In the wake of this catastrophe, President Lonsdale made heartfelt appeals to the international community, imploring the world to provide much-needed assistance to the emergency situation in his country. He worked tirelessly to manage the devastation and to personally guide efforts to rebuild the community he cared about so deeply.

And in October 2015, President Lonsdale acted decisively to ensure that the actions of a few did not compromise the integrity of Vanuatu’s government. This strident defense of democratic principles

reflected his commitment to the rule of law.

In times of crisis, President Lonsdale served as a pillar of stability for the people of Vanuatu, and he led his country with the surest of hands. President Lonsdale was an exceptional man and an outstanding leader who was much loved by his people. The future of Vanuatu is brighter thanks to his leadership.

We again offer our sincere condolences on his passing.

Thank you.