New York

19 October 2006

Secretary-General's message to Human Security Photo Exhibit [delivered by Ms. Alicia Barcena, Chef de Cabinet to the Secretary-General]

Human security in the 21st century implies far more than the absence of violent conflict. It embraces the right of individuals to live in freedom and dignity, free from poverty and despair and with the opportunities and choices to fulfil their potential.

The photographs in this exhibition breathe life into this concept. They touch upon some of the things that men and women anywhere in the world cherish most: enough food for the family; adequate shelter; good health; schooling for the children; protection from violence whether inflicted by man or by nature; and a State which does not oppress its citizens but rules with their consent.

These images also illustrate that, ultimately, the United Nations is about people: their needs, their welfare, their aspirations. Since 1999, the UN Fund for Human Security has financed over 130 community projects in more than 60 countries. They range from refugee assistance and reintegration in Afghanistan to combating trafficking in women and children in Cambodia and Vietnam. Each project seeks to build a culture of peace from the ground up by empowering individual communities as full partners in the work of the United Nations. Collectively, they demonstrate the immense potential of local action undertaken on a truly global scale.

I would like to thank Jan Egeland and his colleagues for organizing this display. And I invite all people to view this exhibit and to see in these vivid photographs the role the United Nations can play in alleviating hardship and furthering the cause of peace and development.