11 December 2013

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Support for UN Archives Critical to Preserving Humankind’s Rich Heritage,


Secretary-General Says at Opening of ‘UNEARTH’ Exhibition


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the opening of the UNEARTH Exhibition, at the Gabarron Foundation in New York on 11 December:

Thank you so much for the opportunity to attend this wonderful exhibition.  I am deeply grateful to all of the staff and officials of the Gabarron Foundation for making this possible.  I thank my colleagues in the UN Department for Public Information (DPI), particularly Chaim Litewski, who devoted so much creative energy to this meaningful project.

DPI and the Gabarron Foundation have unearthed great treasures that tell us so much about our common past.  These wonderful photographs and posters also tell the world about the many achievements of the United Nations.  We see UN peacekeepers, humanitarians, development workers and human rights defenders helping people in need.  As we move through the exhibition, decades pass, black and white turns to colour, and the settings change — but the spirit of solidarity never fades.

As Secretary-General, I am delighted that schoolchildren and others in the community are visiting this exhibition.  I am heartened that these images will travel to Barcelona and other cities.  I hope UNEARTH will be seen far and wide.

On a more personal level, I am touched by the photo of refugees from my own country, the Republic of Korea, crossing the Han River.  I am certain that millions of other people around the world could find an image in the UN archives that would speak to them.  We have some 800,000 photographs and tens of thousands of hours of recordings.

The history of humankind over the past seven decades would not be complete without the UN Archives.  But the Archives need support.  Without proper care, the negatives and other fragile materials can decay.  I applaud UNEARTH for showcasing the value of our Archives so that we can raise awareness about the richness of this heritage and the need to preserve it.

I was delighted to see among the posters upstairs the one that Cristobal Gabarron created for the United Nations Millennium Summit.  At the time, he said the concept for this work was “Vivir juntos y compartir” — to live together and to share.  This was the spirit behind the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that grew out of the Declaration adopted at the Summit.

This commitment — to live together on our planet and share our burdens and joys — will drive progress on the MDGs and help us set a long-range vision for development.

Let us be inspired by the achievements that this exhibition documents to do even more for our collective future.

Thank you.

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For information media • not an official record