New York

4 December 2013

Secretary-General's remarks at event marking the 50th Anniversary of the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and honouring Mr. Jean Gazarian, UNITAR Senior Fellow

It is a great pleasure to join you for this event.

I am glad to add my voice to all those around the world who have congratulated UNITAR on its 50th anniversary.

UNITAR is an invaluable member in the UN family.

Over the past 50 years, UNITAR has reached hundreds of thousands of men and women with knowledge relevant to the UN’s global mission. That includes 50,000 people in the past two years alone.

UNITAR has provided essential training for diplomats, especially those from developing and least developed countries. This has helped to build up the capacity of our Member States, thereby levelling the global playing field in vital areas ranging from the development of basic knowledge to the negotiation of international agreements.

Today, 45 per cent of UNITAR’s training is done through e-learning. As global Internet access grows, the potential impact of UNITAR in sharing essential knowledge is unlimited. This cost-effective capacity to reach people wherever they are will be especially important in shaping and then implementing the new post-2015 development agenda.

UNITAR also continues to expand its reach by forging partnerships with academic institutions, the private sector and other international organizations.

At a time of challenge and change, UNITAR is helping the United Nations to keep pace.

I congratulate UNITAR’s leadership as well as the staff for their contributions.

Looking beside me at the podium, I would also like to thank UNITAR for providing a platform for the continued engagement of valued members of the UN family.

Ambassador Kamal, it is good to see you again.  Thank you for serving as a UNITAR Senior Fellow following the decade you spent representing Pakistan here in New York and in Geneva.  I understand you have placed a particular emphasis on informing young people about the work of the United Nations, and I thank you for that important outreach and contribution.

Mr. Gazarian: this 50th anniversary event also marks 67 years of your relationship with the United Nations.

That’s right, a remarkable 67 years.  You joined the Secretariat in 1946, when the UN was in its infancy – and when you were pretty young yourself!

You had a unique perch, working with the General Assembly for many years.

You have truly seen it all, a lot of things, if I may just recall:

Nikita Krushchev’s shoes in the General Assembly.

Fidel Castro’s marathon speech.

There may be many in your memory.

And, I am sure, enough behind-the-scenes intrigue to fill a movie or a memoir.  But of course, as a consummate international civil servant, you will never betray your oath of confidentiality!

You served several Secretaries-General.  Most of all, you earned the respect of colleagues around the world.

Thank you for what is truly a lifetime devoted to the international public service.

Congratulations once again to UNITAR on this occasion.  I wish you much success in the years ahead in carrying out your important work.

Thank you, Mr. Gazarian.