Press Releases

          27 October 2004

    Secretary-General, at Headquarters Ceremony, Congratulates UN Staff with 25 or more Years of Service

    NEW YORK, 26 October (UN Headquarters) -- Following are the remarks delivered today by Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the Staff Recognition Awards Ceremony at Headquarters, honouring staff with 25 or more years of service:

    I am really delighted to join in this tribute to you, as staff members who have given so many years and so much of their energy to the United Nations.

    Like you, I’m also an old-timer, so I personally know the meaning of 25 years or more of service in the Secretariat.  I think I speak for all of us in saying the thought is sometimes a bit overwhelming!

    Just look back to the time when most of you were new recruits.  In 1979, when the youngest among you joined the Organization:

    -- There were 152 Member States -- 39 fewer than today;

    -- The UN had five peacekeeping operations, compared to 16 today;

    -- We had never heard of HIV/AIDS;

    -- Climate change was a concept known only to scientists; and

    -- The world was in the grip of the cold war.

    Together, we have lived through a quarter-century of almost dizzying change.  It has been a period marked by persistent challenges, and by some of the biggest upheavals in world history.

    For those of us who have made the UN our life’s work, we share a constant that serves as a compass amidst all this change:  the goals and principles expressed in the Charter.

    Those principles were intended to address the conduct of States.  But I think we all know how they also inform our own working lives and our relationships with one another.

    Faith in fundamental human rights, dignity and worth of the human person, equal rights of men and women -- these are the principles we should seek to apply to our own immediate surroundings every day.  Your dedication to them is a credit to you.

    If change and renewal are constant processes in any living institution, this is especially true of the United Nations.  Since our founding, we have been evolving, adapting to new challenges and adjusting to new realities.

    In recent years, many of you have taken on wide-ranging new responsibilities, and shown remarkable flexibility, both at Headquarters and in the field -- often at short notice, in response to a new situation in the world, or as part of the ongoing reform effort to remake and renew the Organization from within.

    I am convinced that both you as individuals, and the Organization as a whole, have grown stronger through this experience.  Like all public institutions, the UN has its flaws.  It is not perfect.  We are not perfect.  But we have repeatedly proven the value of this Organization, through the competence and diligence of its staff, in difficult and often dangerous circumstances.

    Anniversaries such as this are also an occasion to look forward -- to reflect on our future roles, and on ways we can respond to perennial and emerging challenges more effectively.

    Here too, you especially have an important role to play.  With your collective experience, wisdom and institutional knowledge, you can act as valuable mentors and guides for newer colleagues and others who join us in the effort to make the Charter’s goals a reality.

    So as I thank you today for your contribution so far, and congratulate you on this milestone in your lives, I also ask you to remember that our work is never finished.  We need you.

    In that spirit, I wish you all continued success and good health and I am confident that your commitment to the principles of the UN will remain steadfast and strong.

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