Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Message to the General Assembly on the Algiers attack delivered by videolink from Bali

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Bali (Indonesia), 12 December 2007

It is close to midnight, here in Bali, but I feel compelled to most urgently address you in the wake of the terrorist attack on the United Nations offices in Algiers.

Words cannot express my sense of shock and outrage. This was a despicable strike against individuals serving humanity’s highest ideals under the United Nations banner. One Head of Government speaking today in Bali said it well: those serving the United Nations serve us all -- and so this was an attack on all of us.

We are still counting the dead, tending to the wounded, and looking for the missing -- not only from our own United Nations staff, but also innocent Algerians. My heart goes out to the victims. Their sacrifice cannot and shall not be forgotten.

I spoke to President [Abdelaziz] Bouteflika this evening to express my deepest condolences to the people of Algeria and to the families of the victims. I asked the President to take all necessary measures to ensure the security of the United Nations personnel.

I have also asked the UNDP [United Nations Development Programme] Administrator, Mr. Kemal Dervis and other senior officials, to proceed to Algiers immediately. They will determine how best to aid those injured in the attack and their families. The security and welfare of United Nations staff is paramount. We will take every measure to ensure their safety, in Algeria and elsewhere, beginning with an immediate review of our security precautions and policies.

We all remember the attack of 19 August 2003 against United Nations headquarters in Baghdad. It claimed the lives of some of our best and brightest, among them Sergio Vieira de Mello and many Iraqis. We have taken many measures since then to enhance the security of our staff and premises around the world.

Meanwhile, our brave men and women continue their difficult and dangerous work. Our mission has been, and will always be, to help those most in need. The Baghdad attack will not deter us. Neither will this most recent attack. Our colleagues in Algiers would ask no less.

In Algiers, we have today one more ugly reminder that terrorism remains the scourge of our times. The international community must be resolute in opposing those who prey on the innocent and vulnerable and those, like the United Nations, who seek only to help them.

As Secretary-General, I wish to assure this august body that I will continue to work with you in meeting this ever-present danger.

Let us salute our brave men and women. Let us know that this attack on the United Nations is an attack on us all and our highest ideals. I call on this General Assembly to stand united. We must all condemn this deed, just as we must work, together, to bring its vile perpetrators to justice.