Johannesburg, South Africa

01 December 2003

Message of the Secretary-General to the 24th General Assembly of the World Veterans Federation

I send my greetings to the veterans and victims of war who have gathered in Johannesburg for the 24th General Assembly of the World Veterans Federation.

Yours is a unique grouping. You bring together former belligerents, the enemies of yesterday, to reconcile and to become friends today, and to work for a peaceful tomorrow.

Few speak with more authority on the need for peace than those, like you, who know the face of war. That is why your work to promote disarmament, advance human rights, and strengthen peaceful settlement of international disputes is vital. So too is the need for societies to take measures to rehabilitate former soldiers and integrate them into society, and to remember those who have been lost.

I know that, among your number, you count former personnel of UN peacekeeping missions. At United Nations Headquarters, we have just unveiled a memorial to those who have given their lives in the service of the Organization. The inscription on the memorial is simple: remember here those who gave their lives for peace.

The best way to remember our dead, and indeed all those who have been lost in war, is to rededicate ourselves to the cause of peace and to the daily work so eloquently set out in the Charter of the United Nations: the work of saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war.