6 December 2001


NEW YORK, 5 December (UN Headquarters) -- Following are the remarks of Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the special event to mark the close of the International Year of Volunteers 2001 at Headquarters 5 December:

One year ago, I had the pleasure of taking part in the opening ceremony of the International Year of Volunteers.

During this past year, we have taken a very close look at the entire phenomenon. The study of volunteering that Sharon [Capeling-Alakija] has just referred to underlines the magnificent contribution that volunteers make to advancing the ideals of the United Nations.

They help us carry out our work in sometimes difficult and dangerous conditions.

They fight poverty and marginalization.

They bring assistance to those in need and help us protect the global environment. Without their courage, generosity and dedication, the work of the United Nations would be much more difficult. I wish once again to thank all of them -- the United Nations volunteers and all others who give freely of their time, energies and ideas to contribute to our global mission.

In these troubled times, volunteers are a shining example of the brave and caring face of our humanity.

Immediately after the terrible attacks against the United States, people from all walks of life and all strata of society rolled up their sleeves and volunteered to help in any way they could. At the same time, we know that far away from the media spotlight, around the clock and around the world, thousands of volunteers contribute in thousands of ways.

The International Year of Volunteers has made their vital contribution better known. It has also given us a better perspective on how we can encourage volunteer action at home and abroad, and give it the respect and support it deserves.

The Year is over, but we must sustain the momentum that we have built up over the past 12 months. If our hopes of building a better and safer world for all are to become more than wishful thinking, we will need the engagement of volunteers more than ever.

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