Mr Annan made his first speech after his election as the Secretary-General of the United Nations, at the 51st Session, 88th plenary meeting of the General Assembly on December 17, 1996, at 3 p.m. in New York. His speech is reproduced below.
Thank you all for your kind words. I am deeply moved by the good wishes of so accomplished a group of speakers.
The assembly has done me a great
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I wish to pay tribute here to the vision, farsightedness
In a period of great change, the
The time to choose is now, for this
There is no lack of blueprints for a new, post-cold-war United Nations. There is no lack of ideas or debate. What we need
All the problems, particularly the old ones — peace and security among nations and social justice for their peoples — still confront us. But the old approaches to these problems must be broadened. A new understanding of peace and security must emerge. The world is beginning to
Similarly, we now know more than ever that sustainable economic development is not merely a matter of projects and statistics. It is above all a matter of people, real people, with basic needs: food, clothing, shelter and medical care. Let us ensure that the resources and facilities of the United Nations system are effectively
Let us ensure that the voice of the United Nations in economic matters is heard by those member states with the greatest capacity to give. These and other challenges are not the Secretary-General’s alone, not the Security Council’s alone, not the Economic and Social Council’s alone. The role of the General Assembly will become still more important as we seek to perfect the triangle of development, freedom
In this common effort, I shall neither overstep nor
I intend to lead an international civil service that will be honest, efficient, independent and proud of its
In that spirit, let us embark on a time of healing: a healing of fractures and frictions between member states and this
To the nations and peoples of the world whose representatives are gathered here today, I say simply this: The United Nations is your instrument for peace and justice.
Use it; respect it; defend it. It can be no wiser, no more competent and no more efficient than those member states that now comprise and guide it. But those of us who serve you here pledge our every effort and all our energy to the causes set forth in the charter. No nation needs to face or fight alone the threats which this
But we cannot succeed without your political, moral, financial and material support and participation. Applaud us when we prevail; correct us when we fail; but, above all, do not let this indispensable, irreplaceable institution wither, languish or perish as a result of member states’ indifference, inattention or financial starvation.
I accept the high post entrusted to me, humbled by the formidable challenges that lie ahead, but filled with confidence in the nobility of our goals, in the determination of our common spirit and in the success of our common effort. Alone, I can do nothing. Together, we can irreversibly advance the frontiers of peace, dignity