Press Releases

    SG/SM/9719
         15 February 2005

    Secretary-General, Accepting ‘Peace Through Dialogue’ Award in Munich, Says Honour Affirms Importance of Institution, Not Individual

    NEW YORK, 14 February (UN Headquarters) -- Following are Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s remarks on receiving the award for Peace Through Dialogue at a dinner hosted by the Minister President of Bavaria in Munich on 12 February:

    Thank you, Mr. Minister President and Professor Teltschik, for those very kind words.

    You have honoured me for my “efforts to prevent and settle conflicts in order to maintain stability and peace”. It is a very moving citation, and I thank you warmly for it.

    But I am also aware that an award like this, in the words of my great predecessor Dag Hammarskjöld, “is a question not of a man, but of an institution”. You are affirming the deep importance you attach to the office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and in particular, its role in helping to resolve disputes through peaceful means.

    The most precious qualities of the office of Secretary-General are its integrity, impartiality, and independence. Like all my predecessors, I have sought to use my office to build bridges between parties, wherever I believed an opportunity for the peaceful resolution of disputes might be found.

    To that end, I have participated in many summits between parties in bitter dispute. I have embarked on many missions to troubled lands. And I have always been aware that the outcome of my endeavours depends in large part on the willingness of the parties to compromise, and the unity among Member States. Inevitably, my success rate in resolving disputes peacefully has been mixed.

    That comes with the job description.

    In all this work, I have had to confront not only the doubts of others, but my own as well. But I have persisted, because by precedent, by principle, by Charter, and by duty, I am bound to exhaust peaceful means to further international peace and security. I do so fully aware that peace is not true or lasting if it is bought at any cost; that only peace with justice can honour the victims of war and violence; and that without democracy, tolerance and human rights for all, no peace is truly safe.

    And in upholding the principles of the Charter, I do not shy away from the need to adapt them to changing circumstances, and to reform the institution which is meant to advance them. Indeed, tomorrow I will speak about the need for renewal of our collective security system, and the recommendations contained in the recent Report of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change.

    I hope that all States will take up and act upon the very important recommendations. And I thank you, once again, for honouring me, and the office I hold, at this crucial time in the life of the United Nations.

    Vielen Dank. Thank you very much.

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