Economic and Social Council

22 April 2013

Remarks at inauguration of the renovated Economic and Social Council chamber

Ban Ki-moon

I am delighted to be here for this inauguration.

More than 60 years after your predecessors first took their seats we re-open ECOSOC. We carry forward their spirit to advance development. And we do this in a more green space, so the United Nations can practice the sustainability that we advocate.

Today’s ceremony is one in a series of steps on our way back to Headquarters. First the Secretariat was completed. Then last week we inaugurated the Security Council Chamber. Work on the General Assembly starts next month.

This new ECOSOC Chamber invites us to take a fresh look around. The structure is the same as it was in 1952. Back then, this room was considered stunningly modern.

The great Swedish architect who designed the ECOSOC Chamber, Mr. Sven Markelius, created a beautiful room. But he deliberately included a flaw: he left part of the ceiling unfinished. You will see that part of the ceiling is not finished. But why? This is his reminder that the work of ECOSOC will never be finished and development may never be finished.

I hope someday we can complete our mandate and close that part of the ceiling. We managed with the UN Trusteeship Council right next door. But I imagine we will be open for business for a long, long time.

Back in 1952 when the United Nations moved into this Headquarters, Secretary-General Trygve Lie told delegates to make the most of the building to deal with “the immense difficulties that confront you – political, social and economic.”

Of course the difficulties remain immense today. New challenges have emerged that we never could have imagined more than a half-century ago.

But we can take heart from many advances.

I am encouraged that your first meeting in this renovated chamber is with UNCTAD, the World Trade Organization and the Bretton Woods Institutions.

I deeply value this collaboration. I have just returned from a two-day trip to Washington, DC for the World Bank’s Spring Session of Finance Ministers. Our global partnership can advance progress on poverty, disease, environmental degradation – and the many other problems on ECOSOC’s agenda.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I thank the Member States for your patience during our move and for your support.

I extend special gratitude to Minister Carlsson and the Government of Sweden for giving us this wonderful room.

Sweden originally sponsored the decorations here in 1952. Then in 1995 when ECOSOC doubled its membership, Sweden provided for the renovation. Now again, Sweden has supported the upkeep on this remarkable Chamber.

But more than supplying resources, Sweden has given enormous political support to the work of ECOSOC and global development worldwide.

This carries on the great tradition of Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld, who firmly believed that economic and social concerns were as important, if not more important, than political issues. He said “While the Security Council exists primarily for settling conflicts which have arisen, the Economic and Social Council exists primarily to eliminate the causes of conflicts.”

This reflects Dag Hammarskjöld’s philosophy of solidarity.

I share this conviction.

Let us use this new room for dynamic actions that will have an impact far beyond its walls to help suffering people. Together, we can make our world more just and equitable – and that will make it more peaceful.

Thank you very much.