UN: EU Statement at the Tribute to the Secretary-General

United Nations - General Assembly: Tribute to the Secretary-General and Administration of the Oath of Office of the Secretary-General designate, New York, 14 December 2006

Statement by H.E. Ambassador Ms. Kirsti Lintonen, Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations on behalf of the European Union

Madam President,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.

Madam President,

The European Union would like to join other delegations in expressing our deep appreciation to Mr. Kofi Annan for his uncompromising dedication to the common good of humanity during his term as Secretary-General of the United Nations. He has made an outstanding and lasting contribution to practically every field of activity with which the organisation is engaged: peace and security, development, human rights, as well the internal reforms of the United Nations.

It has often been remarked that, of all the impossible positions in the world, that of Secretary-General of the United Nations must be the most impossible: all the hopes of humankind focus on the United Nations; all the fears are brought to its door. The Secretary-General is the embodiment of the organisation - his voice is the voice of the nations of the world united. 

One of the most remarkable achievements of Mr. Annan is that he has been able to build such a consensus on how to address so many seemingly intractable problems that the international community has faced during the past decade. Moreover, he has had the strength of character to provide the necessary moral leadership to show the way forward even when we, the Member States, have been too distracted with our national concerns to perform that function.

As Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Annan has played an invaluable role to the revitalization of the United Nations system. He has had a clear vision on how this institution created 60 years ago under very different circumstances could be reformed in a way that would allow it to respond effectively to the challenges of the 21st century. Mr. Annan has been a particularly eloquent and persistent spokesman for human rights and the rights of women. He has reminded us that it is the welfare of the individual that is at the core of the mission of the United Nations no matter what the particular field of activity. It was largely thanks to his efforts that the heads of state and government gathered to New York in September 2005 to express their joint conviction that peace and security, development, and respect for human rights are fundamentally inter-linked. This understanding, together with the institutional expressions given to it in the form of the Human Rights Council and the Peace-Building Commission will be a lasting monument to the accomplishments of Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Madam President,

It is thus with profound admiration and gratitude that the European Union wishes to express its appreciation to Mr. Annan for the remarkable work he has done in his present role. We look forward to supporting him in his future endeavours for the good of humanity. We also want to thank Mrs. Nane Annan for her contribution and support and wish her all the best.

In today's world the challenges of the Secretary-General are enormous. On behalf of the European Union I want to wish to the new Secretary-General every success in carrying out these important responsibilities. We look forward to working in close cooperation with you.

Thank you, Madam President.