New York

10 August 2012

Deputy Secretary-General's remarks to World Humanitarian Day celebration in the General Assembly Hall, featuring Beyonce [as prepared for delivery]

Good evening, everyone!

On behalf of the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: Welcome to the United Nations General Assembly Hall!

This place has never looked so beautiful.  What an incredible transformation.  Many warm thanks to the organizers and the performers – of course, especially Beyoncé!

Tonight, Beyoncé brings more than her stunning talents – she brings inspiration to help another person.

“I Was Here” is such a profound and moving song.  We are  fortunate that Beyoncé has dedicated this beautiful composition to the United Nations.

On World Humanitarian Day, we remember people who rushed into danger zones to save others – and gave their own lives as their supreme sacrifice.

I was a friend of Sergio Vieira de Mello who died in a terrorist attack, together with 21 other United Nations colleagues, in Iraq on 19 August 2003.  We are honoured to see his son Laurent here tonight. 

Sergio represented for me the best of the United Nations - belief in the values and principles laid down in the United Nations charter and practical humanitarian action on the ground.  He did everything in life with passion and compassion.

Tonight we also honour the many unsung heroes who carry on the humanitarian mission of their fallen colleagues.  These brave individuals prove that a bullet or a bomb can never kill the human spirit of solidarity.

We will hear their stories tonight.

But this evening is about more than hearing stories. It is about transforming history by accepting the responsibility for all of us to make this world a better place.

Let us draw inspiration and energy from tonight’s performance.  And tomorrow, let us spread the humanitarian message and mobilize a billion people to action, for a better future and a life in dignity for all.

Thank you.