Secretary-General's remarks at the Cenotaph Ceremony at UNIFIL Headquarters
Naqoura, Lebanon, 31 March 2007General Graziano, men and women of UNIFIL, dear colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,
It is an honour to have this opportunity to witness myself, the outstanding work you are doing for the United Nations and pay tribute to your dedication. Everyday you display professionalism and courage under difficult and even dangerous circumstances. All of you are playing an important role in support of Lebanon's independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and security.
All of you are doing the United Nations proud, and I'm very proud of what you are doing. I was very much honoured this morning by this very moving welcome by the honour guards [and] by the salute of General Graziano. I had a very good briefing, very impressive.
As you may know, I served in the Korean army. I was discharged with a rank of Corporal. My only regret is that I was never a General. I was not able to become an officer. During the course of my election, many people asked whether I wanted to become a secretary of the United Nations or General of the United Nations. My title as you may know is Secretary-General of the United Nations - now call me General Ban.
I want to be a Secretary-General who combines the capacity of being a Chief Administrative Officer - being a Secretary of the United Nations - and General of the United Nations, being a political leader, political general - I need your cooperation.
Again this morning, while being very much impressed; I commend your efforts to carry out the expansion of UNIFIL over the past six months. [Inaudible] together with the Lebanese armed forces to implement the mandate of resolution 1701 of the United Nations Security Council. Lebanese leaders whom I met yesterday have conveyed to me their profound appreciation of your work. This visit is an occasion for me to express my gratitude in person to all of you.
Last year during the hostilities, you lost your dear colleagues and comrades. Allow me to pay homage to those who made the ultimate sacrifice, as well as to their families and to those who were injured. As we salute the memory of our fallen colleagues, let us resort to [inaudible] their liberty. This visit will allow me to see the challenging environment in which you live and work.
Who would believe that we [might] need UNIFIL here, looking at this beautiful scenery, the quiet and peaceful atmosphere. However, the factual life is different.
Around the world, the United Nations peace operations face escalating expectations and many challenges.
In order to strengthen our capacity to support you, our men and women in the field, I have presented to the General Assembly a proposal to create a new Department of Field Support to work alongside a restructured Department of Peacekeeping [Operations].
This is one of the most important reform proposals I have made at the early stage of my tenure. I have learned from my very limited experience that we need a restructuring and strengthened capacity of these peacekeeping operations. We have now 18 missions all around the world [comprising] 100,000 men and women. We may soon be much increased; there is much higher level of expectation from the international community. As we [stand] at this time, there are still many more people suffering from conflicts and dispute of opinions. They are in need of our contributions and help. We may soon see some increase [in] peacekeeping operations.
With these current situations, with these current structures - by any standard of administrative and operational measures - these demands have [created] an unreasonable size of command and control and support service. Therefore, I have proposed a restructured service, and I am very much convinced that the General Assembly has given me, by adopting a framework resolution, [its] support [for] this creation of [the] Department of Field Support.
I will ensure, while carrying out this reform, that there will be a uniform command, much more efficient and effective service delivery and support for the operations here. I am convinced that, in this way, together we will strengthen the capacity of the United Nations to manage and sustain peace operations.
Dear colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, I am heartened to meet such a dedicated and representative group; troops and civilians, international and national staff alike. I know that seeing you all will inspire and motivate me as I face the challenge of my office as Secretary-General.
I'm grateful to every one of you; for your commitment and I'm very proud of you, and I wish you all success [in your] continued contribution for the peace, security and prosperity of this world.
Thank you very much. Thank you.
Off-the-Cuff on 31 March 2007