12 October 2005

UN-Portuguese Relations Marked by Close, Fruitful Cooperation on many Fronts, Secretary-General Says on Receiving Freedom Award in Lisbon

NEW YORK, 11 October (UN Headquarters) -- Following are UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's remarks on receiving the Grande Colar da Ordem da Liberdade today in Lisbon:

I am moved and humbled on receiving this Order.  I know that it is an exceptional honour -- a symbol of the pursuit of freedom so deeply rooted in the soul of the Portuguese people.  I am aware this is also a recognition of the advancement of democracy represented by your revolution of 1974.  I shall do my best to live up to it.

Above all, I accept it as a testimony to the close bonds between Portugal and the United Nations.  Ours is a relationship marked by close and fruitful cooperation on many fronts -- from the advancement of human rights to our joint efforts on behalf of the people of Timor-Leste; the development of Africa, particularly Mozambique, Angola and Guinea-Bissau; from our shared commitment to the principles of democracy to our mission to reach the Millennium Development Goals.

Ladies and gentlemen, in two weeks' time, the United Nations will be 60 years old.  And just a bit later, Portugal will celebrate 50 years of membership in the Organization.  As we prepare to mark those milestones, we must recognize that the world today is very different from that of the founders of the United Nations.

The UN must reflect this new age, and respond to its challenges -- including, first and foremost, the knowledge that hundreds of millions of people are left defenceless against hunger, disease and environmental degradation, even though the world has the means to rescue them.

Last month, world leaders met in New York to try and forge a common response to these challenges.

They did not manage to agree on all issues.  But they did show unity on a fundamental point.  They agreed that development, security and human rights are not only vitally important in their own right; they reinforce -- indeed, depend on -- each other.

That, in our interconnected world, the human family cannot enjoy security without development, cannot enjoy development without security, and can enjoy neither without respect for human rights.

And that, to promote progress in all three, we need to strengthen the United Nations -- the indispensable common house of the human family.

Let us therefore not imagine that the Summit was an end of any sort.  Our shared aspirations for peace, prosperity and human rights will not abate.  We must keep working to implement what has been agreed, keep working for agreement on what has not, and keep sight of our aspirations in doing both.

That leaves us a great deal of work to do.  In that mission, I am heartened that we can count on an ally as steadfast as Portugal.

I thank you again for this honour, and I look forward to an ever more active role played by your country in the years to come.

Muito obrigado.  Thank you very much.

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