Press Releases

    19 November 2002


    NEW YORK, 18 November (UN Headquarters) -- This is the text of remarks yesterday (17 November) by Secretary-General Kofi Annan at a memorial ceremony at United Nations House, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina:

    We have come together today to pay solemn tribute to United Nations personnel who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of peace in the former Yugoslavia.

    In so doing, we remember the hundreds of thousands of people from Bosnia and its neighbours, of different faiths and ethnicities, who died in this tragic conflict. The pain the people of this city endured, and the shame of what happened to their compatriots in Srebrenica, has etched itself on the conscience of the world. This memorial will serve to reinforce our own determination -- as peacekeepers, citizens and members of the human family -- to build better lives for succeeding generations.

    The peacekeepers we honour here came from every corner of the earth and represented every religion, faith and culture. They came from different backgrounds to work for the ideals at the heart of the United Nations Charter -- human rights, peaceful coexistence and justice for all. Men and women, soldiers, police officers, civilians, local and international staff -- we remember them, salute them and pay homage to their sacrifice.

    The simple but eloquent words engraved here will be their memorial:

    And when asked,
    "Whom shall we send and who will go for us?"
    They said,
    "Send us. We shall go."

    I ask you to join me in a minute of silence to honour them.

    [minute of silence]

    Friends, the memorial we inaugurate today holds an additional message for us. For it is hewn of stone from the same quarry that is being used to rebuild the Mostar Bridge. The destruction of that bridge, after centuries during which it provided a link between peoples, communities and cultures, occurred during Bosnia and Herzegovina’s darkest hour. When it rises again, it will become a powerful symbol of reconciliation among the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and a beacon of hope to the world.

    Today, peace is taking hold in this region. Tolerance and mutual respect for all faiths and cultures are gaining ground. The world looks to Bosnia and Herzegovina to build a society based on respect for the rule of law, justice and democratic institutions.

    That is the key to a future of stability and prosperity for all of the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina. That is the way to ensure that they will be firmly integrated into the European family. And that is how we will know that the sacrifice of our peacekeepers has not been in vain.

    * *** *