12 October 2001 Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who was today awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with the United Nations, said the honour "challenges us to do more and to do better, not to rest on our laurels."
In comments to reporters, the Secretary-General said the award "is going to be a great encouragement for me, personally, and for all my colleagues around the world."
The challenge ahead, he said, was "to really move forward and work with governments and make sure there is true international cooperation and multilateralism."
To a question on how he felt personally, Mr. Annan said he was "humbled, but also encouraged."
Asked how he had heard the news, Mr. Annan said his spokesman, Fred Eckhard, had woken him up with a congratulatory phone call. "Of course it was a wonderful way to wake up, given the sort of business we are in - usually when you get a call that early in the morning, it's something disastrous."
He also related an anecdote about one of his aides, who had been travelling through Africa when Mr. Annan was appointed to a second term as Secretary-General. "He met an old man - an old man he didn't know - and the old man said to him, 'I have a message for the Secretary-General: Tell him we are happy that he's reappointed, but he must take time to celebrate his achievements and successes to be able to focus on challenges ahead.'"
In effect, the Secretary-General said, "It is the same message we are getting from the Nobel Committee, that there are challenges ahead, we've had some successes and failures, and they expect us to work hard and meet those challenges."
Mr. Annan also paid tribute to the UN staff working to make the world a more just, more peaceful and happier place. "The only true prize for them and for us will be peace itself," he added.
Kofi Annan is the second Secretary-General to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. The Organization's second Secretary-General, Dag Hammarskjöld, was awarded the prize posthumously in 1961, for his action in strengthening the United Nations.