23 September 1996

Press Release


19960923 Following is the text of the toast delivered by Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali at the luncheon in honour of heads of State and government attending the fifty-first session of the General Assembly at Headquarters on 23 September:

It is a great honour for me to welcome to the United Nations today their excellencies: The President of the Republic of Colombia; the President of the Republic of Poland; the President of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia; the President of the Government of the Principality of Andorra; the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Morocco; the Prime Minister of Norway; and the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea.

I also extend my warm greetings to the distinguished Foreign Ministers and Permanent Representatives who have joined us today.

So many nations. So many cultures. So many peoples. But one family of nations. And one home. This home.

Your presence here today shows your resolve to stay true to the commitments made a year ago, at the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations. On that momentous occasion, 128 heads of State and government committed themselves -- many of you committed yourselves -- to a strong and effective United Nations, to serve the peoples of the world in the twenty- first century.

We must stay true to this commitment. The United Nations is an Organization critical to the future. But what this commitment stands for -- and what is at stake -- goes far beyond the United Nations itself. At stake is an entire project of international cooperation for the good of all humanity. It is a project some three centuries in the making. But it is the twentieth century that has brought the greatest advances in international systems, institutions, doctrines and agreements for the common good.

It is this great project of international cooperation that established the foundation stones of the international system we know today. The concept

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of the State. The concept of sovereignty. The concept of the individual human person, as the one irreducible entity in world affairs. These fundamental concepts are the basis for still more foundation stones of international peace, justice and prosperity. Collective security. Human rights. International law. Cooperation for development.

All of these foundation stones are embodied in our international system. The United Nations stands for and is the crux of this system. But Member States -- you and your people -- are the raison d'être of the United Nations. More than that, you are the United Nations. We must show solidarity. We must strengthen the foundations of our common future.

Already, the new United Nations has begun to take shape. Change is taking place on all fronts. But there are three main levels of institutional reform definitively under way at the United Nations: managerial; organizational; and intergovernmental. Concrete progress in all three areas has generated a promising momentum.

We have adapted peace-keeping and humanitarian assistance to new circumstances. We have brought greater coherence to development efforts, and new advances in international law. We have cut costs, increased productivity, extended accountability and enhanced performance. We have moved assuredly toward a mission-driven institution ready to accept and implement change. Sustaining this momentum will require a broad consensus on the role of the United Nations and the nature of its work.

If the great project for international cooperation is to proceed, it can only do so successfully with, and through, the United Nations. The process of reform and renewal already under way at the United Nations has provided a vision for the future which can guide our efforts in the period immediately ahead. It is in essence, a simple vision -- a vision of a United Nations that works. If we persevere, and build with courage, the future holds unparalleled promise. Please join me in a toast to the United Nations of the future -- to the common future of all Nations and all peoples.

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For information media. Not an official record.