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Secretary-General, at Staff Day Opening Ceremony and Memorial Wreath-Laying Stresses Duty to Carry Forward Memory, Legacy of Fallen Colleagues

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks at the Staff Day opening ceremony and memorial wreath-laying, in New York today:

It is a pleasure to join you again for Staff Day and I am glad to know that this tradition has been firmly re-established.

Let me start by acknowledging the President of the Staff Union and thanking her and their team, for their initiative and their commitment to the staff in general, and to Staff Day in particular.  Let me also offer a special welcome to the President of the Association of Former International Civil Servants.  Our efforts today build on the hard work of yesterday.  We know, as well, that, even though people retire, their hearts and thoughts remain engaged with the United Nations.

We begin Staff Day by honouring our colleagues, our dear colleagues, both civilian and military personnel, who have fallen in the line of duty while serving the cause of peace.  Their loss touches us all, and our duty is to carry forward their memory and their legacy.  This year, our hearts are also made especially heavy by the unexpected passing of Kofi Annan.  I will travel to Ghana next week for the funeral and we will have an appropriate memorial here in New York.  I again offer my condolences to the family and to so many people here who had the privilege to work with him.

These are difficult times, from conflict to climate change and much else.  But, I am convinced that this remains an era of opportunity.  I hope to use this year’s high-level week to mobilize world leaders to do more, to do better and to do faster.

But, alongside world leaders, the strength of the United Nations lies in the commitment and talent of the staff.  I am continually inspired by the diverse and skilful ways in which staff bring the ideals of the United Nations to life for the people we serve around the world.  Every day, your efforts save lives, instil hope, uphold universal values and advance progress on pressing global challenges.

We have a very hard month ahead of us, and of course our work is complex and challenging and not only during that week but throughout the year.  I thank you for your dedication and hard work, and for bringing the ideals of the United Nations to life around the world.  Happy Staff Day to each and every one of you and to your families.

For information media. Not an official record.