SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS WORK OF BUILDING DEFENCES OF LASTING PEACE NEVER DONE

SG/SM/6839
15 December 1998

SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS WORK OF BUILDING DEFENCES OF LASTING PEACE NEVER DONE

15 December 1998


Press Release
SG/SM/6839
HQ/592


SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS WORK OF BUILDING DEFENCES OF LASTING PEACE NEVER DONE

19981215

Following is the text of remarks made today by Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the occasion of the rededication of the mural, "Mankind's Struggle for Lasting Peace", presented to the United Nations by the Dominican Republic and Spain:

It is a joy to see "Mankind's Struggle For Lasting Peace" restored to its full glory today. For what we see before us is not only a restored work of art. It is a testimony to the restoration of hope, the reconciliation of nations and the resurrection of humankind.

This mural was one of the first works of art to be installed in the Secretariat of the United Nations.

José Vela-Zanetti painted it only a few years after the Organization was built out of the ashes of world war. The artist's homeland was still recovering from years of bloody civil conflict. Spain, not yet a Member State of the United Nations, had many years to go yet before returning to democracy.

And so this mural -- a gift of the Dominican Republic, the artist's home in exile -- tells the story of a family of nations driven asunder. But it also shows members of that same family forging a structure that will serve as the new defences of lasting peace: it shows them building the United Nations. In that structure, the mural tells us, lies the best hope for reconciliation of the family and for the resurrection of humankind.

Today, democracy has long since been restored to Spain, which has taken its rightful place in the United Nations and in the family of nations. Democracy has been restored to countries around the world -- with Spain's former colonies in Latin America providing shining examples. José Vela-Zanetti has returned to his homeland, and although we regret he could not be with us today, we are pleased that his son is here to represent him, along with representatives from León, the artist's hometown.

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And we, the family of nations, still have much work to do. If the history of this bloody century has taught us anything, it is surely that the work of building the defences of lasting peace is never done. And that just like the builders in this mural, we will always be in the process of construction.

And so, as we pass by this wall in the days and years to come, let it serve as a source for the daily restoration of our faith. For the reconciliation of warring members of the family of nations, wherever they may be. And for the resurrection of hope as we strive to meet the greatest prayer of man: that which asks not for victory, but for peace.

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For information media. Not an official record.