10 May 2005

Commitment to Building “World Fit for Humankind” Is Best Tribute to Millions Who Perished in Second World War, Deputy Secretary-General Tells General Assembly

NEW YORK, 9 May (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of remarks by Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette at today’s meeting of the General Assembly to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War:

It is entirely appropriate that this Assembly should commemorate, with all due solemnity, the end of the Second World War in Europe.  I thank the Russian Federation for taking the initiative to ensure that it would do so.

As the opening words of our Charter remind us, the Second World War brought untold sorrow to mankind.  The scourge of war, so constant in human history, reached unprecedented levels in the mechanized murder of millions of men, women and children, and in the spread of destruction to almost the entire world.  The descent into the abyss spared no one.

The end, when at last it came, unleashed a flood of feelings.  Jubilation mixed with mourning.  Revelry gave way to sober reflection.  Some survivors found in their deliverance from fear and oppression evidence that a miracle had occurred.  Others declared that faith itself had been demolished forever.

The work of rebuilding lives and families, societies and cities, was taken up with inspiring vigour.  So was the task of repairing the fabric of international relations.  As the end of the war came into view, delegates gathered in San Francisco to draft this Organization’s founding Charter. 

As they pursued their work, a quick succession of events -- the liberation of the death camps, the advance of allied armies, the downfall of the Nazi regime -- brought new hope to a world wearied by years of conflict.  As fascism fell, the United Nations rose.  As the ashes settled and the dust cleared, among the new features of the landscape was a new organization designed to better manage the world’s affairs -- and most of all to help prevent such catastrophes from happening ever again.

The Russian poet Leonid Leonov summed up the outcome of the Second World War with the words, “we have defended not only our lives and our property, but also the very notion of a human being.”

That is the most important task that continues to challenge us today -- to defend the notion of humanity.  So, as we look back today -- to honour the dead and pay our respects to the heroes, soldiers and citizens who ultimately overcame tyranny -- let us also look ahead, and reaffirm our commitment to the goal of building a world fit for humankind.

That is the best tribute we can pay to the millions who perished in World War Two.  Our work is never done.  We are undefeated only because we have continued trying.  That is the work of the United Nations, and the reason we are here today.  Let us ensure we all remain committed to that shared mission.

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