Press Releases

    SG/SM/9419
                                                                                                                            13 July 2004

    Secretary-General Thanks Bangkok United Nations Staff for Commitment to Global Mission

    NEW YORK, 12 July (UN Headquarters) -- Following are Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s remarks to the Bangkok United Nations staff in Bangkok, 12 July:

    It is a great pleasure to be here in Bangkok and to see the UN family here together.  Since I was last here in February 2000, a lot has happened internationally, and within the United Nations.

    This is a large, lively, very diverse and crucially important duty station for the United Nations and its family of funds and agencies.  I wish I could visit more often.  You are the face of our Organization in a region where an enormous portion of our work is done, and which is home to a high percentage of our constituents -- the world’s people, especially the poor and vulnerable.  So I would like to thank you all for your contributions and hard work.

    We have only a short time together, and I want to hear your comments and questions.  So let me just say a few words and then we can open the floor.

    The past year or so has been a difficult time for our United Nations. Our effectiveness was questioned as a result of the war in Iraq.  Close colleagues perished in the ruthless attack on our Baghdad headquarters.  We are struggling to cope with a surge in peacekeeping mandates.  There has been a spate of allegations and attacks in the media about various aspects of our work.  And you yourselves, in the recent organizational integrity survey, have said quite clearly that our internal workings and attitudes are not what they could and should be.

    But such periods of stress also offer opportunities.  And indeed, we are seeing today a very rich debate about collective security, about how to open our doors even wider to civil society and the private sector, and about other steps to adapt the Organization for the future.  So I remain optimistic -- that Member States will draw appropriate lessons from recent experience, and that we ourselves can renew ourselves from within.

    I also believe that, at such times of adversity and challenge, it helps us all to see ourselves as one United Nations, and to break down the silly tribal divisions that sometimes develop between different elements of this one Organization.  For the people of the world, we are one United Nations, and should act as one.  We should also be aware that our Member States expect us to perform better in this respect.

    As we move ahead, I hope you will know that your welfare and security are constantly on my mind.  In Iraq and elsewhere, we are taking steps to fix the systemic security failings that were identified by investigations into the Baghdad attack and even before then.  Of course, we cannot hope to avoid risk altogether, but I believe we are learning to manage it better.

    I hope you have noticed signs here in Bangkok that we are taking security more seriously than in the past.  If not, or if we are not moving fast enough, I need to hear about it.  I also want to urge each of you to be vigilant, and to guard against any sense of complacency given the times in which we are living.

    Thank you again for your commitment to our global mission.  It is your loyalty that keeps us going.

    Now let’s open the floor for your questions and comments.

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