Press Releases

    6 March 2002


    Following is the text of remarks by Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the opening of the Nobel Peace Prize 1901-2001 Centennial Exhibition, New York 4 March:

    Let me express my warmest thanks to the Government of Norway and the sponsors for bringing this wonderful exhibition to New York.

    For the United Nations and me, being centenary Peace Prize laureates was a singularly moving experience.

    This exhibition does a fine job of explaining and illustrating the debt we owe to our predecessors -- both in and outside the United Nations -- who worked so hard and took such risks, over the past century, to save humanity from the scourge of war.

    It tells us about Jean Henri Dunant, the Founder of the International Committee of the Red Cross, and indeed one of the founding fathers of humanitarian work as we still know it.

    It tells us about Albert John Luthuli, the South African anti-apartheid leader who was the first African to win the Peace Prize.

    It tells us about Dag Hammarskjöld, who did more to shape public expectations of the office of Secretary-General, and indeed of the United Nations, than anyone else in its history.

    In fact, it is striking that, in their different ways, all the Nobel laureates represented here supported the work or the ideals of the United Nations.

    The "Portraits of Peace" by Micheline Pelletier tells the human side of the story: they show the individual men and women behind the work for peace.

    I am honoured and humbled to be included among them. And I can tell you that posing for this photograph was a memorable experience: for once I had a real dove by my side, not just the dove pin I always wear on my lapel.

    And the paintings in this exhibition give us another aspect of the Nobel tradition -- the freedom of expression that is so essential to building and promoting enduring peace.

    To sum up, this exhibition shows how humankind’s understanding of peace has grown over this past century -- a century of savage loss and bloodshed, but also one of extraordinary progress and vision.

    I know that many -- whether United Nations staff or members of the public -- will be inspired by coming here and viewing it. So -- a big "thank you" to all those who helped make it happen.

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