New York

26 October 2016

Secretary-General's remarks at Annual Staff Memorial Service [as delivered]

Good morning.  Bonjour.
Five years ago, we instituted an Annual Memorial Service at headquarters to honour the women and men of the United Nations who gave their lives in the service of peace.
Today we come together to pay tribute to 210 of our colleagues who lost their lives in the line of duty between January 1st 2015 and June 30th of this year. 
We also pay tribute to the late Jori De Marco, who was killed while serving as a Security Officer for the Observer Mission in Tajikistan.
We are honoured to be joined today by family members of six fallen personnel, including those of Jori De Marco.
Please join me in a minute of silence.
Dear Colleagues,
In nearly a decade as Secretary-General, I have had the sad duty to take part in many staff memorials at headquarters and around the world.
Like all of you, I have been deeply affected by the losses of friends and colleagues on the job.  In many ways, that feeling never goes away.
The men and women we recognize today came from all corners of the world.  They served in difficult and dangerous conditions. 
What drew them together?  Our blue flag and all it represents. 
There are many flags in the world.  But only one represents all of humanity equally. 
All countries.  All faiths.  All people.  One flag.
Others have tried to turn it into a target.  But that flag remains a beacon.
It represents the conviction that by working together, we can teach a child, we can feed a family, we can heal a community, we can move a country and our world a little closer to a better place.  Inch by inch.   
We know that to be true.  That is what summons us to work every day.  And it is that calling for which our colleagues made the ultimate sacrifice.
Dear colleagues,
The staff we lost never intended to be heroes.  But in striving to do their best for others, they came to represent the best in us all. They are the best heroes.
Those who destroy may think that bombs or bullets are the most powerful force.  They are wrong, simply wrong. 
I think of the lives we lost and the good they did.  And I say without hesitation:  There is nothing more powerful than the human spirit. 
Today and every day, let us honour their sacrifice by giving life to the mission and the values of our beloved United Nations.
Thank you.  Merci.