New York

10 October 2006

Secretary-General remarks at UNA-USA Dinner [as prepared for delivery]


Dear friends and colleagues,

It is quite an honor to be introduced by my friend Ted Turner, a remarkable individual whose vision is matched only by his uncommon generosity.

You have just seen a videotape of Ted's pledge in support of the United Nations. Tonight, I am pleased to announce that the United Nations Foundation recently delivered the one billionth dollar to UN causes –and is by no means done. Over the last eight-and-a-half years, Ted has donated $600 million of his own money, and spurred partners into contributing another $400 million to our work. I expect that the remainder of Ted's gift will inspire even more support for the UN and its work.

Some of you may be aware of tomorrow's observance of Disaster Risk Reduction Day. Ted's actions, in one sense, represent a grand investment in risk reduction. His giving facilitates our efforts to address causes rather than symptoms, better preparing us to act rather than react.

Moreover, Ted's pledge has helped the UN to change - to become a partnership organization, something that has been a top priority of mine. UNFIP - the office I set up to be the counterpart of the UN Foundation - has seen an exponential growth in interest from companies and foundations keen to work with us.

But Ted's act was perhaps even more important for the message it sent to his fellow Americans, his fellow businessmen and women, and to the world. Here was an iconic businessman standing-up for the United Nations, and saying to the world that the UN and its work were worthy of support; that the individual has contributions to make and that an individual can make a difference.

Indeed, I have found that one of the great privileges of being Secretary-General is that you can call upon, and work with, many truly exceptional men and women who find the United Nations and its mission worthy of their support.

Today I join you in honoring one of them –my special envoy for tsunami recovery –President Bill Clinton. More than six years after leaving the most powerful office in the world, he remains –indeed, is more than ever –one of the world's most compelling personalities. His leadership on global health, economic empowerment, religious reconciliation and governance has set a towering benchmark for retired statesmen and - might I add? - retiring Secretaries-General.

Bill has always proved a tough act to emulate. Fortunately, the rest of us can count on the ingenuity of a person like Dean Kamen to fuel our collective quest to improve lives everywhere. The Segway may hog the headlines but I have a feeling Dean is going to transform the world even more by what he is now doing to bring cheap power and clean water to the poor.

Ted, Bill and Dean are all proud Americans who also happen to believe strongly in the work of the United Nations.

It is a conviction shared, I know, by all of you. That is why I am happy to be here again, and why I owe this Association and Bill Luers such a big debt of gratitude. For while I am proud of all that the United Nations has accomplished over the past decade, I also know we could not have come this far without friends like you.

Your advocacy helped tell the UN's story to the American people and their Government. It galvanized domestic backing to help us adapt a 20th century institution to the needs of a 21st century world.

For me, personally, your steadfast encouragement has often made the difference between an impossible job and a constantly exhilarating one. Your friendship has sustained Nane and me over the years, and it is the treasure we will take with us into private life.

So please accept my heartfelt thanks for ten truly wonderful years.

Thank you very much.