Press Releases

    SG/SM/9297
                                                                                                                            11 May 2004

    Franklin D. Roosevelt Constant Source of Inspiration to All Who Work at UN, Secretary-General Says in Video Message on Receipt of four Freedoms Award

    NEW YORK, 10 May (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s video message on receipt of the Four Freedoms Award, which was presented at a ceremony in Middleburg, Netherlands, on 8 May:

    I am so sorry not to be with you in person today.  The Four Freedoms Award is a very great honour, which has special meaning for me because of its connection with Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.

    FDR is a hero, and a constant source of inspiration, to all of us who work at the United Nations.

    The United Nations had many founders.  But he, beyond doubt, was pre-eminent among them.

    He it was who, in the midst of the epic struggle against Nazi barbarism and aggression, determined that neither America nor the world should ever have to go through such a conflict again.

    He it was who vowed to build a permanent global security system, which in the future would curb any tendencies towards aggression before they got out of hand.

    He saw that United States interests would best be served by binding the other great Powers into a system of collective security, which would, as the Charter puts it, "save succeeding generations from the scourge of war".

    Sadly, he did not live to see the Organization come into existence.  But before he died, he had persuaded other world leaders to share his vision.

    No less important, he had persuaded his own countrymen to do so -- Republicans as well as Democrats.  Ever since then, American Presidents of both parties have worked with other countries, in and through the United Nations, to achieve things that were important both for America and for the world.  The United Nations is not, and should never be, an issue of partisan politics, in any of its Member States.

    Nor should we forget Eleanor Roosevelt’s towering contribution to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which started the United Nations on its other great destiny, as the forum for setting worldwide norms and standards.

    The Four Freedoms that FDR had proclaimed are the very core of that Declaration, as they are of the United Nations Charter.

    Their importance for democracy, and for the world in general, cannot be denied.

    So once again I thank you for this great honour, and I thank Her Majesty Queen Beatrix for honouring this ceremony with her presence.

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