Secretary-General, at Anniversary Event for Vienna International Centre, Urges International Community to Build on Progress towards Peace, Justice

SG/SM/19602
27 May 2019

Secretary-General, at Anniversary Event for Vienna International Centre, Urges International Community to Build on Progress towards Peace, Justice

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks at the event marking the fortieth anniversary of the Vienna International Centre, in Vienna today:

I do believe that if Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Johann Strauss had been here today, they would have loved the wonderful piece we all have heard.

I want to say that it is good to see Vienna going on with the most fantastic musical tradition of the world.  Because music is a universal language.  Music is the language of peace.  Music is probably the best language we could have in the United Nations.  And I think this ceremony could not have been started better than with this wonderful piece, wonderfully composed and wonderfully played.

Thank you very much to all those that made it possible, including of course the federal Ministry [for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs].  I want to thank especially our host country of Austria and host city of Vienna.  It is a pleasure to join you all for this important occasion, and I congratulate all my colleagues who serve with the United Nations here.

Today we celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the Vienna International Centre.  Next year we mark the seventy-fifth anniversary of the United Nations.

This is a time to take stock and to reflect on our global mission, forged in the ashes of war, to prevent any repetition of the genocide that took place during the Holocaust, and to enable succeeding generations to live in dignity and larger freedom.

Sadly, after all these years, we still have far to go.

Two weeks ago, I visited Christchurch, New Zealand, where I expressed my solidarity with the Muslim community after the horrific attacks on two mosques.  In the past few weeks, we have also seen deadly attacks on churches in Sri Lanka and Burkina Faso, and on a synagogue in California.  We must be more vigilant than ever in the face of corrosive hate and violent extremism, online and offline.

And while old threats remain, new challenges have erupted.  We have a few short years for decisive action on climate change, which poses a different kind of threat to our planet.

The whole international community must embrace our duty to promote peace and work for justice and human rights on a healthy planet.  The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is our road map, and the Vienna headquarters of the United Nations plays a vital role in our efforts.

From the adoption of the Vienna Declaration on Human Rights, to landmark conventions on transnational organized crime, human trafficking and migrant smuggling, illicit firearms, drugs and corruption — Vienna has hosted many milestones of international cooperation.  The Vienna-based parts of our United Nations family promote cooperation in outer space, peaceful uses of nuclear energy and advanced technologies to support development and mitigate climate change.

On this anniversary, let us reaffirm the core values of our United Nations and build on the progress we have achieved.

I thank all my colleagues for your dedication and wish you every success in your essential work here in Vienna and around the world.

You live in a wonderful city.  I remember coming to Vienna for the first time in 1973, with my wife, in our car from Lisbon a few months after getting married.  To come from Lisbon to Vienna in our own car in 1973 means that you really want to come to Vienna.

I always heard from colleagues working in Vienna that conditions that were given to them by the Austrian Government were particularly favourable, to the extent that many decided to retire and go on living in Austria.  I think this is the best [testimony] to the fantastic hospitality of our host city and host country.

I want to thank once again the people of Austria and the people of Vienna for their wonderful hospitality and support.  Vielen Dank.

For information media. Not an official record.