28 June 2006

Like United Nations, Musée du Quai Branly Illustrates Universality of Human Family, Says Secretary-General at Museums Inaugural Ceremony in Paris

(Translated from the original French.)

NEW YORK, 20 June (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of the statement by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the inaugural ceremony of the Musée du Quai Branly, in Paris on 20 June:

It is an honour and a pleasure for me to take part in the inaugural ceremony of the Musée du Quai Branly.

At the same time, I have a deep sense of connection.  As Secretary-General of the United Nations, I am very aware of the purpose of a museum such as this.

You might say, in fact, that, like the United Nations, this museum, dedicated to "the arts and civilizations of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas", illustrates the universality of the human family.  And so it is not by chance that you have invited my very distinguished predecessor, Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, to occupy a seat on the Board of Directors.

There is another similarity between us, and that is dialogue among peoples and civilizations.  This museum was conceived with a dual purpose: on the one hand, to preserve, study and promote understanding of the works of humanity in all their richness and diversity and, on the other, to promote fresh dialogue and exchange between cultures, enabling each of us to understand in a more objective way both our own roots and the profound unity of humankind.

Nor are you unaware of your even greater intellectual kinship with UNESCO, as you have also invited its Director-General, Koïchiro Matsuura, to be on your Board of Directors.  He deeply regrets that he is unable to be here today.

In displaying and celebrating the beliefs, customs and knowledge of human cultures, this museum provides an opportunity to see and to learn about the infinite intangible heritage of humanity.  In doing so, it will provide valuable support to the UNESCO conventions on world heritage and the diversity of cultural expressions designed to protect the wealth of arts and traditions of the peoples of our planet.

In a world that is trying to get its bearings and find its values, museums such as this serve as places where humanity can preserve and regain confidence in itself.

* *** *