|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Secretary-General, at Inauguration of Renovated Security Council Chamber,
Says Room Speaks ‘Language of Dignity and Seriousness’
Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the inauguration of the renovated Security Council Chamber, in New York on 16 April:
It’s a great honour and pleasure for me to participate in this re-opening of the Security Council Chamber, beautifully renovated, and I thank the members of the General Assembly, particularly the Norwegian Government, for their generous contribution.
Before I turn to the reason for this gathering, let me just say a few words about the earthquake today in Iran and Pakistan.
I understand that the damage is less than might have been expected for an earthquake of this strength. Still, there are deaths and terrible damage. I express my profound condolences to the families of the victims, and to the Governments and people of both countries. I will continue to follow the news closely as relief workers and search-and-rescue teams reach the areas. The United Nations stands ready to help as necessary if asked to do so.
Thank you for coming together for this event tonight. The first and foremost task mentioned in the Preamble of the Charter of the United Nations is “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”. Since 1952, this room, the Security Council Chamber, has been the place where the world has come together in our efforts to “unite our strength to maintain international peace and security”, as the Preamble puts it.
The wear and tear of decades took its toll, and this room was vacated three years ago for much-needed renovation under the Capital Master Plan. Standing here now, it is hard to imagine that at one point during the construction, this room had been stripped of everything. Only the bare concrete walls, the floor slab and the ceiling remained. Now it is whole again, and then some. We are back amidst the beauty and majesty of the Security Council Chamber.
The iconic design of Arnstein Arneberg, the preeminent Norwegian architect of his time, has been meticulously restored. Just as it did when the first resolution was tabled here long ago, the room speaks to us in a language of dignity and seriousness. At the same time, it entices us with its surprising and enchanting simplicity. Its horseshoe table unites the Security Council members.
The tapestry and draperies are meant to inspire them in their work by depicting the anchor of faith, the growing wheat of hope, and the heart of charity. The famous backdrop to all that goes on here — the mural by the great Norwegian painter Per Krohg showing a phoenix rising from the ashes of war and oppression — has itself risen anew, symbolizing once again in lively colours humankind’s eternal hopes for peace and freedom.
While the room looks as it did in 1952, a number of twenty-first century improvements will provide a more pleasant, healthier and safer work environment. Better air conditioning and ventilation, improved electronics and various security enhancements are just some of the upgrades.
I thank the Member States for their support of the Capital Master Plan. I would like to express special gratitude to Foreign Minister [Espen Barth] Eide and the Government of Norway. This room, as we all gratefully remember, is a gift of Norway. Norway provided generous support for this renovation, beyond its assessment, another sign of the country’s enduring commitment to the United Nations.
If my predecessor Trygve Lie of Norway were with us today, I am sure he would feel quite at home in this renovated Security Council Chamber. Perhaps the only thing he would miss would be the ash trays.
In the days ahead, the Security Council will return to this chamber after three years in interim quarters. I wish the Council and all Member States every success in the hugely important work they will carry out here. Let us be moved by these surroundings to take wise and effective steps that will fulfil the world’s aspirations for peace.
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