2 June 2003
‘WE CAN HONOUR LOST COLLEAGUES BY DOING OUR BEST TO TRANSLATE UNITED NATIONS GOALS INTO REALITY’, SAYS DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL IN STAFF DAY MESSAGE
NEW YORK, 30 May (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of remarks, as delivered, by Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette, at the memorial ceremony on Staff Day in New York:
Today, as on every Staff Day, we come together to remember colleagues who have lost their lives while working for the United Nations. We come together to pay tribute to their courage, and the contribution they made to achieving the goals of this Organization.
Most of us come to work every day and sit at a desk, attend meetings in comfortable settings, and have lunch in the cafeteria. We rely on telephones, faxes and computers to be in touch with the rest of the world, including those parts where conflict reigns and where the comforts of modern living are conspicuously absent. Here at Headquarters, we do not have to worry about a perilous working environment, stepping on a landmine or being ambushed on a lonely road where no laws prevail. Some of our colleagues do.
On this Staff Day, we pay our respect to colleagues who have lost their lives. We must never forget them, or lose faith in the overall purpose for which they gave their lives. But let us also send our thoughts to those staff members who continue to work in the most difficult of conditions, helping those who need it most, and trying to bring peace and hope to troubled regions. They are our unsung heroes.
That is why we must never let up in our efforts to protect United Nations staff, wherever they may serve.
We have made tremendous progress over the past year in making security an integral priority in all operations.
Most of the recommendations made by the Secretary-General to the General Assembly in 2001 to enhance security of staff in the field have been implemented, or are in the process of being implemented.
Minimum operating security standards are being put in place at all duty stations. We are in the process of developing a unified framework with enhanced coordination among all parts of the Organization and clear lines of accountability.
Standardized security training, developed by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Office of the United Nations Security Coordinator (UNSECOORD), has been made available to staff members of the United Nations system worldwide.
The number of staff members who lost their lives in the service of the Organization this past year is the lowest since 1992. We must strive to keep up this encouraging trend.
Let me thank the United Nations Security Coordinator, Mr. Tun Myat, and his staff for their dedicated efforts.
Let me also remind Member States of their responsibilities. Only governments can fight impunity by arresting and prosecuting those responsible for violence against United Nations and associated personnel. Only governments can sign and ratify the relevant legal instruments, including the Statute of the International Criminal Court, which defines attacks against peacekeepers and humanitarian workers as war crimes. And only governments can provide the resources that are a crucial factor in improving security.
Today, our thoughts and prayers go to the families of fallen colleagues. That is why I am delighted that the General Assembly has just agreed to the Secretary-General’s proposal for the establishment of a Nobel Peace Prize Memorial Fund, to provide financial assistance for the education of children of United Nations civilian personnel killed in the service of peace. The Fund will, thus, benefit from both shares of the Nobel Prize, awarded in equal amounts to the Secretary-General and to the United Nations in 2001.
When we return to our work today, or join in the activities organized for Staff Day, let us take pride in who we are and what we do. Let us be inspired by the colleagues we have lost, but let us also be inspired by the work that we do, day in and day out. It has a purpose, and we would not be here today if we didn’t all share a belief in the good that the United Nations can bring to the world.
No one can replace the colleagues we have lost, but we can honour them by doing our best every day to translate the goals of the United Nations into reality. We owe it to them, their families and friends. And we owe it to the millions in need who rely on us for hope every day.
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