Press Releases

    21 November 2002


    NEW YORK, 20 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following are the remarks of Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the exhibit on the life of Ralph Bunche, delivered by S. Iqbal Riza, Chef de Cabinet, New York, 19 November 2002:

    I am very pleased to deliver the Secretary-General’s message for this photo exhibit honouring a great servant of the United Nations and a pioneer in peacekeeping. As we look ahead to the Bunche centennial next year, it is only right that we begin now to consider his achievements and honour his legacy.

    Ralph Bunche began his career as a researcher in race studies and civil rights at Howard University in Washington, D.C., but soon came to the United Nations to serve the cause of peace and equal rights across the world. From Cyprus to Kashmir to the Congo and to the Middle East, Bunche exemplified the highest values of the United Nations Charter, which he helped draft at the United States State Department. But it was in the Middle East that he made perhaps his greatest contribution, drafting the Partition Plan, and succeeding the assassinated Count Bernadotte as the United Nations chief mediator.

    Upon accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950 for his efforts to promote peace in the Middle East, Bunche said that "the United Nations exists not merely to preserve the peace but also to make change -- even radical change -- possible without violent upheaval". From his work in civil rights in America to his efforts for peace around the world, Ralph Bunche knew that radical change was both needed and possible.

    Our world today is no less in need of radical change than his; the ideals of the Charter no less in need of affirmation. That is the belief that inspires the work that takes place here in conference rooms at United Nations Headquarters in New York City -- and continues across every time zone in refugee camps, schools, and health clinics; in peacekeeping and humanitarian missions around the world.

    It is a belief inspired by the example and sacrifice of the great humanitarian and peacemaker we honour today.

    Thank you very much.

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