It is a special pleasure to join you today, as we come together to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the signing of the UN Charter. Shortly, we will join the live commemoration event in San Francisco, where the Secretary-General will speak. I will just make a few brief reflections before we begin viewing the broadcast.
Starting on a personal note, you may know that I always carry the Charter in my pocket.
Why do I do this? In part, it is so that I can take it from my pocket at meetings for rhetorical impact, I must admit! But, most importantly, I carry it because it is a physical reminder that this is an organization built around values and principles.
Yes, our daily work is often process-driven – by timelines and agendas and programmes of work. Yes, we can sometimes feel the weight of the bureaucratic processes.
But at the heart of all this, is one enduring symbol of our core values and mission: the UN Charter. Practically everything that we at the United Nations are doing at HQ’s and in the field today, was set into motion and was guided by this document.
The UN Charter is essentially an expression of hope. It was written at the end of one of the darkest chapters in human history. It symbolises the hope and aspirations that we can bring the world as it is a little closer to the world as it should be. This we can do through cooperation, dialogue, peaceful settlement of disputes and respect of human rights.
Everyone who comes to the United Nations in the hope and determination to help narrow this gap is embodying the aspirational spirit of the drafters of the Charter 70 years ago - whether it is delegates, civil society representatives or UN staff .
The Charter still captures the shared and fundamental dreams and aspirations of over 7 billion people around the world. They are “We the peoples” whom we are to serve. Their hopes for peace and progress as expressed in the Charter still resonate deeply today:
“To save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”… “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person”… “to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom…”
The drafters of the Charter gave succeeding generations a founding document of lasting relevance, reminding us of the power of values in shaping a better future for all. This inspiration is needed more than ever in today’s troubled and turbulent world.
Yes, the UN Charter is truly a gift. It reminds us – as the present stewards of the United Nations – of our responsibilities to live up to the Purposes and Principles of the Charter. It connects us to our strongest roots and our best aspirations as we reach out to an uncertain, yet hopeful, future – if we travel the right road.
I thank you for coming here today to witness the historic celebrations in San Francisco and to celebrate the 70th birthday of the document which can make the difference between war and peace, between poverty and prosperity, between human rights violations and a life of dignity for all.