12 July 2006

New UN Complex in Bonn "Yet another Expression of Germany's Abiding Faith in International Cooperation for the Common Good", Says Secretary-General

NEW YORK, 11 July (UN Headquarters) -- Following are UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's remarks at the opening of the United Nations campus/complex in Bonn, 11 July:

Let me start by saying how happy my wife and I, and my team from New York, are to be here.  We always feel at home when we come to Germany.  Of course it's an important UN centre but this time around there is a special warmth, there is a special atmosphere of friendship which radiates through Berlin and wherever we went.  As many have said, we do expect that mood, that spirit, to be sustained for a much longer period and won't end with the World Cup.

Today we celebrate the deepening of the already close partnership between Germany and the United Nations.

Support for the world Organization has long been at the centre of German foreign policy.  One might even say that United Nations ideals have become part of the country's very identity.  Having themselves known the horror of war, and the errant path a society can take, the German people are strongly committed to peace, human rights and sustainable development -- and not just at home.  As we have seen from Afghanistan to the Balkans, and now the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Germans have shouldered major burdens, their solidarity with troubled peoples near and far is robust.  Their commitment to multilateralism is clear, not only as pioneers of European unity, but as constructive and generous global citizens.  And their support for the Millennium Development Goals is steadfast.

In a few moments, Chancellor Merkel and I will walk through the Millennium Development Goals arches.  I know we will be following in the footsteps of many other Germans who have done so, and I am grateful for this country's efforts to get people here and throughout Europe not only thinking about the Goals, but doing something to achieve them.

It is no wonder, then, that Germany is a major centre of United Nations activity.  Hamburg, for example, hosts the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, a quiet yet effective player in advancing both environmental protection and the global rule of law.  And our presence here in Bonn, which dates back to 1951, keeps growing.  This is partly because Member States continue to entrust us with more and more mandates.  But it is also because the great hospitality afforded us by our hosts has made Bonn one of the Organization's most attractive and rewarding duty stations.

With today's opening of this campus, Germany's commitment to the United Nations grows deeper still.  The renowned "Langer Eugen", which formerly housed the parliamentarians of a divided Germany, is now the place where all United Nations agencies are united, and will work as a single family.  We are grateful for the impressive restoration, which preserves the building's cultural heritage, while endowing it with a full complement of modern amenities.  For a United Nations system which has until now been scattered around Bonn, this new, unified headquarters is a wonderful opportunity to explore the benefits of synergy.

The breadth of work that will be carried out here is remarkable.  It is from Bonn that the United Nations leads the world's efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change.  It is from Bonn that we seek to protect migratory animals and endangered species.  It is from here that we try to protect 1 billion of our fellow human beings from the consequences of land degradation.  It is from here that we strive to improve early warning of natural disasters.  And it is from Bonn that we organize the sending of volunteers - thousands of them, from many lands -- to all regions of the earth, to help with the essential work of economic and social development.

My friends, that is just a sampling of what we do here.  Our Bonn presence defies brief description.  But there are certain commonalities.  First is the formidable technical expertise of our staff.  Second, there is a strong sustainable development thrust to the work carried out here.  Now co-located in the same premises, these talented, dedicated men and women can enrich each other and find new links among their closely related pursuits.  I know they are just as excited about the prospects for teamwork as they are about the spectacular views from the new rooftop canteen!

The opening of this campus comes at a crucial time in the life of the United Nations, as Member States and the Secretariat work to implement the outcome of last year's World Summit.

The Summit was a milestone.  While world leaders did not achieve everything we might have hoped for, they did agree on progress across a broad front.  They recognized that development, security and human rights are not only important in their own right, but also reinforce and depend on each other.  They reaffirmed an unambiguous resolve to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.  And on one crucial issue -- the responsibility to protect -- the Summit achieved a breakthrough:  all Member States expressed their will to act collectively, through the Security Council, when a population is threatened with genocide, ethnic cleansing or crimes against humanity.

Important steps have also been taken since the Summit.  A new Human Rights Council started work last month, and I am pleased that Germany is among the members seeking to give us a fresh start in this vital area.  Germany is also a member of the new Peacebuilding Commission, which has also started work and which should allow us to assist countries coming out of conflict in a much more effective manner.  We have launched a Democracy Fund, and strengthened our emergency relief fund.  Member States are discussing the counter-terrorism strategy that I proposed, and are in the midst of reviewing all mandates older than five years, so that we can eliminate waste and duplication and focus on the real issues of the day rather than accumulated workloads of yesteryear.

We are working with Germany and others to resolve the dispute over Iran's uranium enrichment programme.  We are planning for a peacekeeping operation in Darfur, even as our humanitarian personnel continue to deliver much-needed assistance.  And we are pressing ahead with the reform effort.  Our goal is to make the United Nations a more transparent, accountable and effective instrument of service to humankind.

At such busy times, during this period of transformation and renewal, it is encouraging to know that the United Nations, and I personally, can continue to count on the support of the Government and people of Germany.  Madame Chancellor, I know you care deeply about the matters handled here in Bonn, including from your time as environment minister and as President of the first United Nations Climate Change conference.  We all look forward to what you will do on these issues now that you bring that experience to bear as Chancellor.  Thank you again for yet another expression of Germany's abiding faith in international cooperation for the common good.  We will spare no effort to be worthy of that trust.  My colleagues and I will not let you down.

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