New York

16 June 2017

Deputy Secretary-General's remarks at Memorial for Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Late Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

Thank you so much to all the moving speakers here this evening.
 
It was such a shock, such a painful shock, to lose my friend and brother Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin.
 
I extend my sincerest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues, in Nigeria and beyond.
 
When I initially joined the United Nations system in 2012, Prof. Osotimehin was there to welcome, support and inspire me.  
 
He was a remarkable, dedicated and wise man who served humanity. 
 
He made a huge difference in the lives of many people  in Nigeria and around the world. His sudden passing is already being felt by his colleagues at the United Nations as well as by the thousands of young beneficiaries and activists who were impacted by his efforts. 
 
As a champion of a life of dignity for all, especially  girls, women and youth, Dr. Osotimehin’s passing is a terrible loss. 
But we can take heart.
 
Babatunde left a remarkable legacy. We can see it in the eyes of young couples who can plan their families thanks to his advocacy. We can see it in the girls who are spared FGM thanks to his strong leadership. We can see it in the mothers who survive childbirth thanks to his principled activism.
 
We may never be able to measure just how much he did for our world – but we know it is immense, and invaluable.
 
Now it is up to us – family, friends, colleagues – to sustain this.
 
Our grief is a manifestation of how much respect and admiration he fostered. And his memory is our inspiration to do more with the time we have on this Earth.
 
My thoughts and prayers go out to those closest to him and everyone in the UN family and who admired Babatunde, a towering giant of humanism who lives on in the lives of the millions of people he helped.
 
Thank you.