10 October 2003


NEW YORK, 9 October (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan on United Nations Day, 24 October:

These are difficult times, for the world and for the United Nations.

In Iraq and in many other regions, violence and terror continue to bring death and suffering to innocent people.  In August, the United Nations itself suffered a brutal assault on its Baghdad headquarters.  We lost some of our dearest friends and colleagues.  You, the peoples of the world, lost some of your best and most dedicated servants.

But on this United Nations Day, let us not mourn or be downcast.  Let us rather remember what our colleagues were in Iraq to do:  to help the Iraqi people rebuild their country, after years of war, oppression and isolation -- just as other United Nations workers are in other war-torn countries, helping to relieve suffering, restore peace and build new institutions.

We must continue that work of serving humanity wherever its needs are greatest.  We must continue helping you, the peoples of the world, to find common solutions to common problems.  And we will.

We will continue our efforts to tackle poverty, disease, climate change, and the spread of small arms.  And we will also work together to fight terrorism and the spread of weapons of mass destruction.  We do not have to choose.  The United Nations must confront all these threats at once.

To do so successfully, it may be necessary to make changes in our international system, including the United Nations itself.  By and large, I believe our Organization has served humanity well for fifty-eight years.  But it has never been perfect, and the time may well have come to improve it.  I have urged all governments to think about that, and I am appointing a panel of wise men and women, to make suggestions.

In the end, governments will decide.  But they will make the effort to reach agreement only if you, the peoples, tell them clearly what you expect -- what kind of world you want to live in.  I rely on you to do that.  And I believe that if you do make your voices heard, loudly and firmly enough, we can indeed win through this crisis and build a better world, based on the rule of law.  Let us all persevere, in the knowledge that we are all contributing to a better future, for ourselves and for our children.




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