Press Releases

    SG/SM/8065
    5 December 2001

    ISMAT KITTANI’S DEATH DEEP LOSS TO UNITED NATIONS
    FAMILY SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL AT
    NEW YORK MEMORIAL SERVICE

    NEW YORK, 4 December (UN Headquarters) -- Following are the remarks of Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the memorial service for Ismat Kittani in New York on 4 December:

    Ismat has been described as many things by many people. Those who sat with him at the conference table called him an acknowledged master of diplomacy. Veterans of United Nations affairs called him one of the clearest political minds in the business. Young people who worked for him called him a father-figure and a mentor. Those who knew him well called him an inspiration and a friend.

    I knew him to be all of the above. Ismat served five Secretaries-General –- including me –- with dedication and commitment. He was an exceptionally loyal member of our United Nations family As important, he brought a great deal of warmth and humour into our lives.

    Ismat embodied the kind of unassuming leadership that made those around him feel motivated rather than intimidated; the kind of optimism that made you feel that with every problem there was really an opportunity; and the kind of integrity that made you realize he was not interested in scoring points -- except at the poker table.

    Indeed, rather than keeping tabs on other people under the credo that "information is power", he would occasionally state that he wished to assert his right not to know.

    A few years ago Ismat wrote a chapter on peacekeeping. I would like to read to you a few lines from it now. And I quote: "Success requires patience and a keen sense of knowing when the moment is ripe… recognizing that moment and acting on it quickly and decisively when the moment arrives is the art of the peacemaker. There is no lack of opportunity for failure, but resilience, resourcefulness, and a good measure of luck can improve the chances of success."

    All those qualities Ismat described, he himself possessed in abundance, as a professional and as a human being -- though he would have been the last to admit. it.

    Dara, as our condolences go to you today, I want you to know that your father’s death is a deep loss to his other family too -– the United Nations family. He was a man who cared deeply about the United Nations and cared deeply about other people, and he was not afraid to show it. If I had to sum it up, I would simply say that he was a gentleman -- in the best and the truest sense of the word.

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