6 July 2006

In Remarks at Inauguration of UN Mission Headquarters in Liberia, Secretary-General Pays Tribute to Peacekeepers, Others Who Gave Lives in Pursuit of Peace

NEW YORK, 5 July (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of remarks by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the inauguration of United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) headquarters in Monrovia on 4 July:

My wife Nane and I are moved and honoured to be with you today, Madam President, to inaugurate the headquarters of the United Nations Mission in Liberia.

This structure is a powerful symbol of Liberia's rebirth.  For years, it was an empty shell, a tragic testament to the waste of war.

Today, Pan African Plaza stands as testimony to the partnership between Liberia and the United Nations in rebuilding the country, and bringing it to a point of stability in a subregion rife with tension.

Here in Monrovia, we can all see Liberia's recovery with our own eyes.  That recovery is also taking place in all of Liberia's 15 counties.

Refugees are returning home.  Internally displaced persons are being resettled in safe communities.  They are all rebuilding lives once devastated by war.

Under your leadership, Madam President, the Government is consolidating its authority throughout the country.

But as we celebrate peace, we must also remember those who did not live to join us today.  We grieve for the thousands of Liberians who died -- most of them innocent civilians.

And let us honour the memory of those who gave their lives in the pursuit of peace.  Today, I pay tribute to the peacekeepers and others who made that ultimate sacrifice.

And I pay tribute to all the men and women who have served here -- in peacekeeping, humanitarian and development work, overcoming dangerous and difficult conditions to make an extraordinary contribution to the new Liberia.

It is often said that failure is an orphan, but success has many parents.  I would say, rather, that the success of the new Liberia is manifested through its many partners.

Among them are the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member States and the African Union; the United States, the United Kingdom, China and Germany; the European Union and the World Bank.

Today, all of us can look to Liberia as an example of what the international community can achieve when it pulls together in a clear and common cause.

But above all, it is the people of Liberia who deserve the credit for where we are today.  It is their courage, their perseverance, their resilience that brought us here.  It is for them we must stay the course with Liberia for the long term.

The United Nations looks forward to building further on our partnership with the Liberian people on the road ahead.  May this structure provide us with solid support in that mission.

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