New York

29 June 2015

Secretary-General's remarks to opening of art exhibition entitled "We the peoples: Norman Rockwell's United Nations" [as prepared for delivery]

Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, Ms. Kathy Calvin, President and CEO of the UN Foundation, Ms. Laurie Norton Moffatt, Director and CEO of the Norman Rockwell Museum, Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me begin by thanking the Norman Rockwell Museum for its support. 

I thank the United Nations Foundation for its generosity. 

I thank the many United Nations officials for their enthusiasm in bringing this exhibition to our headquarters.

On any given day at the United Nations -- at virtually any hour -- you will find tourists, delegates and diplomats marvelling before a beautiful mosaic – an amazing representation of Norman Rockwell’s Golden Rule.   

I often walk by and see people as diverse as the painting itself – standing in awe at its moving image of humanity and its transcendent message of compassion and community that is at the heart of all world religions. 

Imagine our delight when we only recently came to discover that there is a golden thread that leads directly from the Golden Rule right back here to the United Nations.

Almost a decade before that painting, Norman Rockwell came here on a mission.

He said he wanted “to help the world out of the mess it’s in”  -- and he believed “the United Nations was our only hope.”

He composed a drawing he called the “United Nations” and kept it in his studio.  Ultimately, it lit a spark that became the Golden Rule. 

We are so honoured to now host the original Golden Rule as well as the “United Nations” drawing for the entire summer of our 70th anniversary year.

Take a moment.  Look at it closely. 

You see three ambassadors of the Cold War-era representing the Security Council and engaged in a debate.

But standing right behind, almost crowding in on them, almost breathing down their necks, are young and old, the hungry and the hopeful, peacekeepers and war-weary. 

In other words, “we the peoples”.

In each of their faces, you see their worries, their aspirations, their dreams. 

You feel their expectations.  You sense their quiet but insistent demands to deliver results.

I think it is exceptional that this artist – so anchored in American society – was quite literally drawn to send the message:  we belong to the world.

The United Nations Charter is our birth certificate.  Norman Rockwell’s “United Nations” brings it to life.

His drawing brings the message of the United Nations home. 

We are honoured now to have the artwork home for this truly one-of-a-kind exhibition.

Thank you.