Deputy Secretary-General: Statements
New York , 2 September 2015 - Deputy Secretary-General's remarks at ceremony dedicating commemorative plaque at the Tree of Peace and Unity
As we all remember we first planted this Tree of Peace and Unity on 5 May this year to remember the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe.
Today, we have seen this tree grow a little and we dedicate this plaque to mark the time the World War nightmare finally ended in Asia and the Pacific.
After millions of senseless deaths, horrifying cruelty and deep trauma for many, many men, women and children, the healing could finally begin.
The creation of the United Nations in 1945 was a bold step in a new direction – an act of abiding trust in humanity after so much tragic human sacrifice from the worst side of humanity.
Since then, the United Nations has saved countless lives around the world. Thanks to you, and your dedicated attention to the work of the UN, the United Nations was the midwife at the birth of many treaties on ending racism, discrimination against women and atrocities such as torture. The United Nations helped end apartheid and dismantle colonialism.
Our peacekeepers have often sacrificed their safety and lives to bring stability to others. Our humanitarian workers have rushed aid to millions of victims of wars and emergencies. The United Nations continues, with your help, to strive for peace, development and human rights every day, around the world.
Our work today is more important than ever. I cannot refrain from mentioning that, for instance, there are at least 60 million refugees and displaced people – a greater number than at any time since the Second World War. They have fled the most shocking conditions of violence and devastation – often only to face new threats as they struggle to survive. We have seen horrific, almost unbearable, examples and images of this only in the last few days.
We now need more than ever passion and compassion on a global scale. Without passion, nothing happens in life. Without compassion, the wrong thing happens.
But we also need comprehensive strategies of solidarity and practical action to deal with today’s challenges.
We know that progress is possible. We have seven decades of proof at the United Nations that international cooperation makes us all stronger. We must continue to reform and work to make the United Nations better.
The Millennium Development Goals marked the largest antipoverty campaign in history. You the Member States have done a wonderful job in agreeing the sustainable development goals that world leaders will adopt later this month are even more ambitious, universal, cross-cutting and inclusive.
In Paris, in December, governments will seek to adopt a bold and robust new climate agreement.
This means that this year, 2015, can be a turning point for a life of dignity for all. Dag Hammarskjold talked about the future being the vision, the horizon, but also the step we take today – and that there must be a link between the two.
The plaque we dedicate today is a reminder of the past. But let us also make a pledge for the future.
As we honour the victims of the Second World War, we must resolve again to live up to the founding purpose of the United Nations: to achieve peace, human rights, justice and social progress for all, as spelled out in the UN Charter, our best moral and political compass in the search for a better world.
Statements on 2 September 2015