Press Releases

    25 October 2005

    Secretary-General's Remarks at United Nations Day Concert

    NEW YORK, 24 October (UN Headquarters) -- This is the text of remarks by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan this evening at the United Nations Day Concert in the General Assembly Hall:

    Today is an anniversary for all people -- no matter where they live, or what they do for a living.  Although the United Nations is an organization of States, the rights and freedoms it exists to uphold and advance belong to everyone.

    Its Charter was written in the name of "We, the peoples" -- and it is for people everywhere that the United Nations works to serve the cause of peace, advance development, and defend the dignity of every human being.

    I'm sure at least a few of you in this room will join me in saying how wonderful it is to be just 60 again.  You will forgive me for saying just 60.  For the younger members of our audience, that age may seem like an eternity.  But many of us know how short a time 60 years really is.

    Just think of the lifetime of a man whose anniversary we also honour and celebrate this year -- my great predecessor Dag Hammarskjöld, who was born 100 years ago.

    He was only 56 when his plane crashed on a mission to the Congo in 1961.  And the UN was just a teenager.

    Dag Hammarskjöld was able to accomplish exceptional things in his lifetime -- from peacekeeping to development to human rights.  But we also know that, had he lived, with his vision and vitality, he could have done even more.

    So to those who tend to get impatient with the shortcomings of our United Nations, I would say -- to be 60 does not mean the end of the road.  It means you have achievements to build on, experience to learn from, and energy enough to see things through.

    When Hammarskjöld spoke in this very hall 45 years ago to the day, in his last remarks at a UN Day concert, he compared the life of the United Nations to the movements of a symphony.  We cannot say, as he did then, that "we are still in the first movements".  But we can say, as he did, that we are still "far from the end which inspired the Charter".

    I am delighted that tonight, we will hear musicians from Hammarskjöld's homeland.  Let me extend a warm welcome to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Stockholm.  May they inspire our United Nations in its mission.

    Tack så mycket.  Thank you very much.

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