New York

4 February 2014

Deputy Secretary-General's remarks on Re-dedication of Norman Rockwell's Golden Rule [as prepared for delivery]

On behalf of the United Nations, I want to thank the United States Mission, the Thanks-Giving Foundation, and the City of Dallas for bringing us together.

Norman Rockwell’s Golden Rule is one of the most treasured and popular works of art at the United Nations. 

It captures the imagination of visitors of all ages. First of all through its message: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

But I think this is largely also because like the United Nations itself, Rockwell’s Golden Rule is a mirror of the world. “We the peoples”, as the UN Charter states in its preamble.

It reflects humanity – the wondrous mix of nationalities, creeds and colours. 

But it also reflects the very essence of our mission as set out in our Charter.

At its core, our work is about narrowing the gap between the world as it is and the world as we want it to be.

The Golden Rule captures that truth, unselfishness and respect are foundations of all our faith traditions.

The Bible and the Torah call on us to “love thy neighbour as thyself”.

Islam teaches that “no one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.”

Buddhism counsels people to “hurt not others that you yourself find hurtful.”

The Hindu Mahabarata summons us to “do not unto others which would cause … pain if done to you.”

Yoruba wisdom of Africa plainly says:  “One going to take a pointed stick to pinch a baby bird should first try it on himself to feel how it hurts.”

These insights are age-old. Yet, they have never been more relevant or urgent. 

In the 21st century, conflicts, disease, environmental damage and instability respect no borders or beliefs. 

And so here stands this glorious artwork around the corner from the General Assembly and down the hall from the Security Council beckoning us to find the humanity and the heart that makes us one. 

Rockwell’s Golden Rule encapsulates our mission so well it is no surprise that he quite literally drew from the United Nations to guide the making of this masterpiece.

Years before he painted the Golden Rule, Rockwell sketched a work he called the “United Nations”. 

It is a remarkable piece -- stretching eight feet and depicting some Member States and the UN flag flanked by dozens of representatives of humanity.

There they stand – young and old … peacekeepers and war-weary … the hungry and the hopeful – all looking to our global organization.

Many of those figures ultimately found their way into the Golden Rule. 

Today Rockwell’s original work “United Nations” might be largely forgotten.  But that may soon change. 

We are joined today by Ms. Laurie Norton Moffatt, the Director of the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. 

I am pleased to report that we are in conversations and very much hope that this or next year we can bring Rockwell’s “United Nations” to the United Nations for the very first time.

In closing,

Just as our global institution inspired Norman Rockwell -- I know that his “Golden Rule” will continue to inspire us.

Let us draw from the spirit of this great work to keep working for peace, development, human rights, and a Life of Dignity for All.

Thank you.