I am delighted to join you.
What a wonderful sight you are: hundreds of dedicated, long-serving staff members.
I would like to thank the Staff Union and the Department of Management for reviving this meaningful event for the first time since 2005.
I am a relative newcomer to the United Nations. You have been here for at least 20 years, and some for more than 30.
All I can say is, “Wow!”
Congratulations on reaching these milestones.
More than that, thank you for your service to the United Nations and the people of the world. And a sincere thank you also to your families and friends, whose support and sacrifice have been crucial throughout the years.
You have helped several Secretaries-General and all five occupants of my post.
Some of you have seen nearly three dozen countries become new Member States.
And you have witnessed a remarkable and volatile period in world affairs – from the end of the Cold War to the dizzying pace of the technological age.
But your contributions can also be measured in ways that have little to do with front-page headlines or seismic change.
You are the bedrock of the United Nations.
You are the institutional memory that helps the Organization function, day in and day out.
Over the years, you have served in many different capacities – and many different duty stations.
You have gained new skills, learned new languages, opened new doors.
As you have grown, you have given even more.
I know you are still expanding your horizons – using your experience and skills to help our Organization better serve the world’s people.
In the process, you have made the United Nations a constant and a calling.
Perhaps you have the gray hairs to prove it!
Dag Hammarskjold once told staff that the concept of teamwork is all well and good.
But he said teamwork could just mean that we are “formally tied together by the very fact that we are on the same payroll, that we are under the same rules and so forth.”
And he said, “that is not enough”.
“We are not what we should be,” he said, “we have not reached the full strength of our possible contribution, until we have managed to develop within ourselves, and in our relations with others, the sense of belonging.”
He called that “a deeper sense of unity”.
When I look out at all of you, that is what I see.
That is what you have given.
Today, on behalf of a grateful Organization and a better world, we simply say: Thank you.