Secretary-General's Message

In his last message for United Nations Day, Secretary-general assesses progress, highlights remaining challenges

Secretary-General, Kofi Annan

Video link Video of SG's Message

Following is the message by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan for United Nations Day, observed 24 October:

For the tenth and last time as Secretary-General, I offer friends and colleagues around the world my best wishes on United Nations Day.  I have spent almost my whole professional life working for the United Nations - so this day, and the values that it stands for, will always be special for me.

Over the past 10 years, we have made some big steps forward in our common struggle for development, security and human rights.

  • Aid and debt relief have increased, making the world economy somewhat fairer.
  • At last, the world is scaling up its response to HIV/AIDS.
  • There are fewer wars between States than there used to be; and many civil wars have ended.
  • More Governments are elected by, and accountable to, the people whom they govern.
  • And all States have acknowledged, at least in words, their responsibility to protect people from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

But, there is so much that still needs doing:

  • The gap between rich and poor continues to grow.
  • Very few countries are on track to reach all eight of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
  • Many people still face atrocities, repression and brutal conflicts.
  • The nuclear non-proliferation regime requires urgent attention.
  • Terrorism, and the reaction to it, are spreading fear and suspicion.

It seems we don't even agree which threats are most important.  Those who live in small islands may see global warming as the biggest danger.  Those who live in a city that has suffered terrorist attacks - like New York, or Mumbai, or Istanbul - may feel that confronting terrorism is more urgent.  Others, again, may cite poverty, disease, or genocide.

The truth is, these are all global threats.  All of us should be concerned about all of them.  Otherwise, we may not succeed in dealing with any of them.

At this time of all times, we cannot afford to be divided.  I know that you, the peoples of the world, understand this.  Thank you for all the support and encouragement you have given me, throughout these 10 difficult but exciting years.

Please urge your leaders to work with my successor, and make the United Nations ever stronger and more effective.

Long live our planet, and its peoples.  Long live the United Nations!


The Secretary-General remarks at the United Nations Day concert

Dear friends,

This is a very moving occasion for me, since it is the last time I celebrate United Nations Day with you.  I have spent almost my whole working life in the UN family. So this day, and the values that it stands for, will always be special for me.

Let me say a word of gratitude to the Government of Greece and the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation for helping to bring us together at this concert. What better way than music to mark this day?

Celebrating UN Day energizes us. It strengthens the bonds between us. It makes us stop for a moment and realize how thrilling it is to work alongside people from every corner of the earth who share the goals of the Charter.

So I thank all of you for coming to celebrate this evening. Thank you for understanding that this is your United Nations.

Thank you for understanding that it is up to all of us to make the most of this indispensable instrument.

It is just like with some of the instruments in the orchestra behind me. One of the violins, for example. Individually, all the strings make different sounds; but when they are played together, guided by the right composition, they begin to make sense.   

So, guided by the Charter, we work together to seek to ensure that our instrument -- the United Nations -- is as harmonious and resonant as it can be, in the interests of the people it exists to serve.

That is what I have sought to do during the 10 years that I have served as conductor – er, I mean, Secretary-General.

And all of you have played an invaluable part. I thank every one of you for your support during these unforgettable years. Please continue to take care of our precious instrument.

Thank you very much.


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