10 October 2003



NEW YORK, 9 October (UN Headquarters) -- Following are Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s remarks at a dinner hosted by the United Nations Association -- USA and the Business Council for the United Nations in New York on 8 October:

It is a great pleasure to be here tonight. Thank you all for yet another extraordinary show of support for the United Nations.

You will not be surprised to hear me say that we need that support more than ever these days.

Let me thank you especially for the posthumous award you have given to Sergio Vieira de Mello, at a time when we are all still grieving for him and for the other members of our family -- if I may put it like that -- whom we lost in the tragedy of 19 August.  We at the United Nations will always be grateful to him for the standards of competence, commitment and compassion he set for the international public service.  It falls now to the rest of us to carry on his work -- and that of our other murdered colleagues -- amid sorrow and as we wrestle with the troubling implications of having been targeted so directly.

The days and weeks ahead in Iraq, and elsewhere, will not be easy.  We will need many things -- strength, imagination, money, but above all, leadership.  We have all seen how much can happen when presidents, corporate chiefs and band-leaders like my friend Bono, who I’m delighted to see here tonight, seize an issue and single-mindedly identify themselves with it.  What happens?  Bureaucracies move more quickly.  Companies find that they can help without sacrificing their business objectives -- indeed often to the advantage of those objectives.  And doors open to new ideas and new people that can shake up and improve upon the status quo.

Two other award-winners tonight, Hank McKinnell and Dr. Alex Godwin Coutinho, are prime examples.  We need more of their kind of commitment and creativity.  These are difficult times that have strained to the limit the global system through which the human family seeks to address challenges and threats that endanger us all.  Events from 11 September through the war in Iraq to the failure of last month’s trade talks at Cancún have shown that our differences are much deeper and more serious than we thought.

That is why I told the General Assembly last month that we have come to a fork in the road -- a moment comparable to 1945, when the United Nations was founded.  We need to take far-reaching decisions, as our founders did then, about the way we are going to face our common threats together.  Otherwise, each State will look to itself for its own security, and we shall all face a very anarchic and uncertain future.

And that is why I am appointing a high-level panel to examine ways to further strengthen the United Nations.  This is not just a continuation of my current reform effort.  The panel’s scope will be much broader, looking first at the major threats and challenges the world faces, and only in the light of that analysis making recommendations.

And so, my friends, as we try to determine what the United Nations does best, and what it can do better, I will look to all of you to do what you do best:  telling the United Nations story to the American public and Government alike.

It remains in the interest of all States, large and small, to have an effective United Nations that not only articulates our common values, but also defends them and puts them into practice.

It is in the interest of all States, large and small, not only for the role of the United Nations to be clearly understood, but for the Organization to have the resources -- political, human, and financial -- needed to fulfil that role.

And it is in the interest of all States that the United States be fully engaged in the United Nations, not only because it was so instrumental in creating it, but also because it can contribute so much to its future.

Shared values, principles and goals have sustained this partnership for more than half a century -- and remain as sturdy and timeless as ever.  I look to you, our good friends in the United Nations Association, to tend this relationship so that it can continue to thrive in this new and challenging century.

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