New York

22 September 2016

Secretary-General's remarks at event to Recognize the Contributions of the Government of Qatar to the Preservation of Historic Documents of the United Nations [as prepared for delivery]

Your Excellency, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar, Your Excellency, Ms. Alya Ahmed Saif Al-Thani, Permanent Representative of the State of Qatar to the United Nations,

I am delighted to join you today in this beautiful lounge – a generous gift of Qatar.

We opened it three years ago together. Ever since then, it has become a favourite spot at the United Nations.

We have had many meaningful events here. Shukran jazeelan. Thank you very much.


Today I have another reason to thank Qatar for its invaluable support.

Qatar has given us an invaluable treasure by supporting the Library’s archive of historic documents.

We have many such precious documents dating back to the founding of the United Nations.

Their meaning is timeless – but the paper they are written on is vulnerable to the elements of time.

The only way to save these documents is to digitize them.

Two years ago, the Government of Qatar generously contributed funding for this painstaking task. The Department for General Assembly and Conference Management and the Department of Public Information have made the best possible use of this support.

Already close to 42,000 documents have been uploaded online. These include some of the most historic meetings at the United Nations. These records date from 1945, when the United Nations was just born. They include the Cold War period. And they cover the early years after it ended. It is humanity’s shared history. Now more people than ever before can access this rich archive.

I am truly grateful to Qatar for ensuring that this work will continue at least until 2018. I hope other governments will follow this shining example.

Qatar joined the United Nations almost exactly 45 years ago – on September 21st , 1971.

That means Qatar is helping us preserve a history that includes many years when its representatives were not here.

I really value this spirit to search for truth beyond our own experience.

Let us continue to cherish the UN’s past for the sake of our shared future.

Thank you.