New York

14 January 2013

Secretary-General's remarks at New Year's Concert of the 67th Session of the General Assembly [as prepared for delivery]

Your Excellency, Vuk Jeremic, President of the General Assembly, Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

Good evening and Happy New Year!

Dobro vece. Hvala Serbiyo. Srecna nova godina.

I am delighted to join the President of the General Assembly in welcoming you to this New Year’s concert.

Tonight we will be treated to the music of the Viva Vox Choir.

I thank them for coming here from Serbia, in the heart of Europe.

Over the years, artists from around the world have performed in this Hall.

When they do, our interpreters can take a rest. Music is universal language. It has the power to touch the hearts of all people and remind us of our common humanity.

This wonderful tradition of holding concerts in the General Assembly was started by my distinguished predecessor, Dag Hammarskjöld.

He once said, “Never look down to test the ground before taking your next step: Only he who keeps his eye fixed on the far horizon will find his right road.”

I fully agree. I have always tried to live by the advice a teacher gave me as a young boy: “Keep your head in the clouds and your feet on the ground.”

Both sayings teach that we should march forward with our eyes on our ideals.

We need these ideals to guide us as we navigate the many problems in our world: poverty, war and environmental disasters.

Far too many families greeted this New Year with the simple wish that it would be less painful than the last. That they might have enough to eat … or save their loved ones from war … or give their children a better life.

I have met these families – in refugee camps and slums … in capitals and the countryside.

They come from different backgrounds, but they share the same desperate hope that the United Nations can make a difference.

We have a grave responsibility to answer this call.

At times, the struggle to overcome global problems can feel overwhelming.

Tonight’s performance should give us hope.

The Viva Vox Choir sings a capella. This style – more than any other – showcases the human voice.

Voices can be used to divide and oppress – or they can be used to heal and uplift.

I hope that tonight’s concert can inspire us to raise our own voices – for justice, solidarity and peace in our world.

Thank you.