Your Excellency Mr. Mariano Rajoy, Prime Minister of Spain, Your Excellency Mr. Román Oyarzun, Permanent Representative of Spain to the United Nations, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
My wife and I are deeply grateful to His Majesty King Felipe VI and the Government of Spain for this prestigious award.
I humbly accept the Collar of the Order of Civil Merit on behalf of all the dedicated staff of the United Nations.
It has been a great honour serving this indispensable Organization over the past ten years.
It has been a decade of tumult and triumph.
I leave office satisfied that I have worked as hard as possible to meet the demands of the office and to leave the United Nations better equipped to fulfil its broad mandate.
Where instability and injustice persist, I am disappointed, especially with regard to Syria.
But I am proud to have been part of the transformational movement that brought us the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Many contributed to these successes, and I am particularly pleased that you have chosen today to also honour my trusted lieutenants, Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson and Chef de Cabinet Edward Mulet.
Both men have given many years of dedicated service to the United Nations, and I have benefitted greatly from their wise counsel and good humour in times of crisis.
I am also grateful for the honour you have bestowed on my wife, Mrs. Ban Soon-taek of Dame Commander of the Order of Isabella the Catholic.
My wife is perhaps the most able and patient diplomat among us!
I owe her my most profound gratitude for being my strongest support and sternest critic all these years.
I would also like to thank Spain for its great contribution to the United Nations and making the world a better place.
Last October, I was honoured to visit Madrid to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Spain’s membership of the United Nations.
Spain has always been, and remains today, a crossroads of civilizations.
You are in the vanguard of advancing sustainable development, human rights and cross-cultural understanding.
I commend Spain for its membership of the Security Council over the past two years, and its contribution to global peace and security for six decades.
As we look ahead to the coming years, I count on Spain to continue to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, at home and abroad, and to remain a strong friend of the United Nations.
It has been a privilege working with you and for this Organization.
I know I can count on you to offer the same friendship and strong support to my successor, Mr. Antonio Guterres.
Thank you. Muchas gracias.