Press Releases

    25 October 2005

    Secretary-General, in UN Day Video Message, Says Organization Must Reflect New Age, Respond to Challenges, to Better Serve World's Peoples

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

    Dear friends all over the world,

    Today is the sixtieth birthday of our United Nations.

    As we celebrate 60 years, we must recognize that the world we live in today is very different from the world of our founders.

    The colonial era and the cold war have been replaced by an era of globalization and global civil society.

    If the United Nations is to serve the peoples of the world, it must reflect this new age, and respond to its challenges.

    Those challenges come in many forms. 

    They include epidemics, climate change, terrorism, and deadly weapons. 

    They also include the cry of the oppressed and the victims of violence, which is heard around the world.

    Above all, they include the scandal of extreme poverty coexisting with affluence -- the knowledge that hundreds of millions of people are left defenceless against hunger, disease and environmental degradation, even though we have the means to rescue them.

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

    In some areas, they were able to do so, at least in part. 

    The Summit produced detailed commitments to policies, from both rich and poor countries, to halve hunger and poverty in the next 10 years.

    World leaders decided to create new UN bodies for promoting human rights and building lasting peace in war-torn countries.

    They promised to fight terrorism in all its forms, and to take collective action, when needed, to save civilian populations from genocide and other heinous crimes.

    They also decided on important reforms of the UN Secretariat -- to make it more efficient, more useful and more accountable to the peoples it is meant to serve.

    But your leaders could only agree on a weak statement about climate change.

    They could not agree on how to make the Security Council more representative of today's realities.

    And they could not agree on a single sentence about measures to reduce nuclear weapons or dissuade more nations from acquiring them.

    So they have left us with a great deal of work to do -- both in carrying out what they agreed on, and in making even greater efforts to find a way forward where they disagreed.

    There is work for me and my staff in the Secretariat, and work for Governments, both at home and through their representatives here at the United Nations.

    And there is also work for you, the peoples of the United Nations, in whose name our Charter was adopted.

    If you think and act as global citizens; if you insist on your own rights and those of others:  then, I believe, we can build a world that is freer, fairer and safer for all who live in it.

    I promise to do my part in the year ahead -- and I trust you will do yours.

    Thank you very much.

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