Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Remarks at Baghdad bombing commemoration ceremony

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Headquarters, 17 August 2007

Dear family, members of victims and friends, Excellencies, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen.

The bombing of the Canal Hotel on 19 August 2003 remains one of the UN's darkest days. Four years on, our hearts remain heavy.

We have lost colleagues before in the line of duty. But this was the first time the United Nations was deliberately targeted on such a massive scale. The bomb detonated at our Baghdad headquarters robbed us of our best and brightest and injured many more, but it also shattered any illusion that the United Nation's ideals and impartiality permitted us to operate above the fray in Iraq. The bombers shook us to the very core, yet they could not shake our ideals: our values, our commitment, our resolve; these are all unchanged.

Today, those very ideals, that same resolve, guide our work for peace, whether in Darfur or in Dili, in Beirut or in Baghdad. This work is our ultimate and lasting tribute to our fallen friends. It is how we honour their memory every day, wherever a blue flag flies.

The Security Council's recent decision to renew and strengthen UNAMI's mandate is an opportunity to carry forward the work of Sergio Vieira de Mello and his colleagues. And I understand the fears and concerns some staff may have about any expansion. That is why I affirm to you today that any such measure remains strictly subject to conditions on the ground – your safety is and always will be a paramount concern. At the same time, the terrorists who struck so cruelly in Baghdad must, one day, be brought to justice. There can be no impunity for such murderers.

On this sombre anniversary, my thoughts go out to the survivors of the Baghdad bombing, and to the families of those who died. And I pay tribute to the brave men and women who continue to serve the United Nations, in Iraq and beyond.

Thank you very much.