Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Remark to UN staff in Algiers, Algeria

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Algiers (Algeria), 18 December 2007

Dear colleagues,
Dear friends,

It is an honour to meet with all of you today. Since Tuesday last week, you have been on my mind every hour of every day. I very much regret I was not able to reach you until now.

Few of us can imagine the pain you are grappling with. You work here with no other mission than to help the people of Algeria create a better future. One of your injured colleagues, an Algerian national, put it so well: “When you love your country, you build it, you don’t destroy it.”

I owe every one of you a debt of gratitude for your dedication and professionalism. And I stand with the entire people of Algeria in the face of the scourge of terrorism. Those who target innocent civilians in this way commit an unspeakable crime. Terrorism hurts all nations -- large and small, rich and poor. It takes its toll on human beings of every age and income, culture and religion.

Less than half an hour ago, I visited the site of the bombing, and I cannot tell you how shocked I was, how saddened and distressed I was by this terrible event. What I saw before me was awful, and now that I see before me the families of the victims, I have no words to say how profoundly I feel about what has happened. I see these children and I have no words to express my emotions. But we will not be intimidated, we will not be discouraged.

Today, I promise you that I will spare no effort in ensuring that the United Nations provides adequate security for its staff, wherever you serve. I will look at all possible ways, with all parts of the system and with Member States. I am asking Governments to remember their obligations under General Assembly resolutions, and to take a number of specific measures to improve staff security.

I promise that we will do all in our power to put into place a communications system that is adequate when an emergency occurs. I know the UN family in Algiers faced severe logistical problems in communicating over the past week, and that made your terrible ordeal even worse. We must and will remedy this, here and in duty stations around the world. Staff must be able to access basic information about their situation and that of their colleagues.

And I promise that while I am here, I will do all I can to explain to the public and the media the role of the UN -- why we are here, what we do, what we stand for and what we don’t. We are not here to represent the interests of one group of nations against another. We are here to help build better lives for children and provide shelter for refugees. We are here to address environmental problems. We are here to clear land mines and advance the rule of law and human rights.

We will continue that work. We will complete the work that you and your fallen colleagues have begun. We will not be deterred. We will go on doing whatever we can to help build a better future for the people of Algeria. Only by carrying on with that mission can we begin to do justice to the memory of the friends we have lost.

I cannot continue with my speech, I am too emotional, but my heart is with you. I am with you, with your families, with your children….