07 May 2015

Remarks at the High-level Panel on the commemoration of the end of World War II

Ban Ki-moon

I am grateful for the opportunity to join all of you in this beautiful and historic city of Gdansk to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe.

The various commemoration ceremonies taking place throughout Europe and beyond remind us of the tremendous shared sacrifice and the huge price of victory over fascism, paid through countless lost lives and devastating destruction.

It is also a searing reminder of the need to intensify our joint work to prevent such horrors.

The terrible long years of World War II were a time of unspeakable atrocities, of lost faith and lost humanity. The war took a heavy toll on many countries, including all those represented here, and particularly on their youth. At the same time, those years also saw extraordinary bravery.

It was the collective effort of many countries that led to victory over evil and the ultimate triumph of ideas over tyranny.

This anniversary holds special importance for the United Nations. Our Organization was founded on the ashes of this calamitous war that claimed the lives of millions of fellow human beings.

Out of this tragedy emerged a common resolve by the international community to come together and create the United Nations, in order to foster international peace and security. As our Charter reminds us, our main purpose is to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”.

The war shaped our mission and its lessons guide our work.

The key principles of the Charter and all modern principles of international law were formulated as direct responses to the war. These include: non-aggression, the peaceful settlement of disputes and respect for human rights.

This anniversary is a powerful reminder of the vital need to protect and continually promote these principles.

Today’s commemoration comes at an especially crucial time for Europe when we are facing a number of complex challenges that require all of us to work together, including in dealing with the tragic and destructive conflict just next door and a number of protracted conflicts still plaguing the wider region.

I am also pleased that my visit provides a renewed opportunity to address issues of mutual interest to the United Nations, Poland and other members of the European Union that are here and to further strengthen our dialogue and cooperation, including on advancing sustainable development, tackling the challenge of climate change, protecting human rights and preventing deadly conflict.

As we reflect on the lessons of World War II, I wish to encourage Poland and the countries of the region to share their experiences, best practices and lessons learned from their successful post-World War II transitions to become stable, democratic, inclusive and prosperous countries.

You remain important examples for countries undergoing processes of political transformation, both in the region and beyond.

While humanity has made some progress to confront its many challenges, the world still continues to be fraught with conflict and suffering.

We must enhance the international system’s capacities to prevent and resolve conflict in order to create the conditions for a peaceful, more prosperous world.

We owe this to the generations lost in this and numerous other wars; we above all owe it to our children and future generations.

Thank you.