Secretary-General, at Staff Day Opening Ceremony, Hails Fallen Colleagues, Calls for ‘Rededicating Ourselves to Their Mission’

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

I am pleased to be with you once again to celebrate Staff Day and the dedicated women and men who make up our United Nations family.  Let me also commend the President of the Staff Union, Patricia Nemeth, and her staff for the effort put into organizing this day and representing the interests of the staff year-round.

As I said, we are a family, bound by the common desire to do good and breathe life into the values and principles of the United Nations as set out in our founding Charter.  We do this all around the world, often in some of the most challenging and dangerous environments.

And so, it is our duty today — and every day — to remember and commemorate our fallen colleagues.  So far this year, we have lost 25 civilian staff, 43 peacekeepers and 4 police officers.  Our sympathy goes to their families and friends who feel their loss so keenly.  Let us remember the sacrifice our fallen colleagues made in working to make the world safer and more dignified for those less fortunate than themselves.  And let us honour their memory by rededicating ourselves to their mission.

All around the world, United Nations staff are working to fulfil the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to leave no one behind.  From addressing acute humanitarian needs to working on long-term development, from keeping the peace to defending human rights, from feeding the hungry to helping build resilience to climate change, United Nations staff are working on the front lines of today’s most pressing challenges.

You are my colleagues, and I am constantly made proud of the work you do, in the field and at our Headquarter duty stations, saving lives and building hope.

For many of us, we are now entering a particularly busy period as the new General Assembly looms.  This year, we have five important high-level meetings focused on adding impetus to our global goals:  the Climate Action Summit; the high-level meeting on universal health coverage; the SDG Summit; a high-level dialogue on financing for development; and a high-level meeting on small island developing States.  We also have the usual broad schedule of high-level meetings and side events that will keep us all busy.

So, before we work, let us enjoy ourselves.  Each of you is a talented staff member.  But, I know many of you have other talents that will be on display here today.  So, let me wish you and your families a happy Staff Day.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.