Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Remarks at Memorial Ceremony for Congressman Tom Lantos, Chairman, U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Washington, D.C. (USA), 14 February 2008

Distinguished guests,

Tom Lantos was a dear and irreplaceable friend of the United Nations, and of mine.

Chairman Lantos' leadership on challenges confronting humankind, from AIDS to Darfur, resonated far and wide because his voice had unique authority and reach. His was a voice that stemmed from witnessing the worst in man confronted by the best in man. He knew what was possible, because he had lived through the unimaginable.

So when Chairman Lantos used his voice to build a better understanding in this country of the United Nations -- or to build a better understanding in the United Nations of this country -- people listened. We took account of what he said, and we took action.

As for me personally, I will always remember all I learned from Chairman Lantos. On my first visit to Washington as Secretary-General, he reached out to his colleagues to remind them of the importance of the UN. He introduced me to people who could support me in my work. When I visited him again in his office a few months ago, I had no time for lunch, so he and Annette gave me sandwiches as we worked, and he told me to consider his office my sanctuary on the Hill.

Today, my profound condolences go to Annette, to their daughters and grandchildren. They go to Chairman Lantos' countless friends in the United States Congress and Government, in the Jewish community and in the international community. He leaves a profound legacy of ideals, a boundless love of his chosen country and the world, and a family that will carry this forward.

All us here have this in common: we knew Tom Lantos as a champion of our common humanity. We benefitted from his tireless efforts to train our consciousness and conscience to the dangers that come with inaction, intolerance and injustice. We have lost a voice that binds us to the very reasons the United Nations was founded. Today, I am proud to stand among you and give thanks for Tom Lantos' valiant and incomparable life.

Thank you very much.