Statement of the Asia-Pacific Group
Delivered by H.E. Rohan Perera
Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN
& Chair of the Asia-Pacific Group
Friday 21st September 2018
Mr. Secretary General;
Ladies & Gentlemen;
Madam Nane Annan & family;
And other well-wishers;
Sri Lanka has the honour to deliver this statement, as Chair for the month of September 2018, on behalf of the Asia-Pacific Group of States, and join others to pay tribute to the late Secretary-General His Excellency Mr. Kofi Annan, and celebrate his life and legacy.
Kofi Annan was a visionary leader who worked tirelessly to make the world a better and more humane place, and remained a strong advocate for norms, values and principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter.
For many, Kofi Annan embodied the values of the United Nations, an organisation to which he devoted much of his life, first joining the United Nations family as an administrative and budget officer at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva in 1962, and rising up through the system to become the first Secretary-General elected from the ranks of UN staff.
As Secretary-General, Mr. Annan led the charge to revitalize the organisation and bring it into the new millennium. His first plan for reform - “Renewing the United Nations” presented to Member States in 1997, continues to be pursued with a renewed focus on improving coherence and coordination.
During Mr. Annan’s tenure in office, he brought new people into the UN to foster a fresh outlook of ideas. He promoted a UN whose mission it was to promote peace; and act as a beacon of tolerance and solidarity through dark and turbulent times. His work encouraged the world to rethink what the United Nations had become, and push the boundaries as to what it could become, in order to respond to contemporary challenges.
Mr. Annan’s Millennium Report titled “We the Peoples: The Role of the United Nations in the 21st Century” was a clarion call for us, as member states to commit towards an action plan to address crucial issues such as ending inequality and poverty, safeguarding the environment, and protecting people from conflict. His report provided the basis for the Millennium Declaration adopted at the Millennium Summit, held under his leadership.
The Summit established a new global partnership amongst states to pursue common, time-bound goals and allowed for the formulation of the MDGs. This served as the bedrock foundation that we continued to build on to form the Sustainable Development Goals Agenda.
Mr. Annan’s “Call to Action” to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic led to the establishment of a Global AIDS and Health Fund. He was also the founder of the Global Compact Initiative, to bring corporate social responsibility to the forefront of business.
The joint awarding of the 2001 Nobel Prize for Peace to Mr. Annan, and the UNO, was a clear recognition of his immense commitment and contribution to the work of the UN.
Throughout his life, Kofi Annan stood fearlessly as a voice for peace, human rights and dignity and articulated at best- a conscience of humanity in often difficult times. Many have paid tribute to his professionalism and for his humility, warmth and wit. There are those of us who have been privileged to have worked with him, in the UN family, or come across him during interactions and discussions. We will remember his towering presence, wisdom and his soft spoken style of looking for solutions through diplomacy and dialogue; and recall the dignified and purposeful way he worked towards shaping a better world for all.
Our thoughts and wishes are with his wife Madam Nane Annan and family and all those around the world that have been touched by his charisma, tireless work and compassion.
Wednesday this week, marked the twelfth anniversary of Mr. Annan’s farewell statement to the General Assembly. In his statement he expressed his gratitude to have served as Secretary-General during a “remarkable decade” and stated, I quote:
“Together we have pushed some big rocks to the top of the mountain, even if others have slipped from our grasp and rolled back. But this mountain with its bracing winds and global views is the best place on earth to be.”
Today, we honour his efforts and his unwavering belief in the United Nations to help forge solutions for many of our common problems. In paying tribute to Mr. Annan, let us remain steadfast in our global efforts to work together and face challenges together.
Mr. Kofi Annan was a peacemaker whose legacy remains. May his memory and the ideals he stood for continue to inspire people around the world, so we may all work together towards a more just, humane and peaceful world for all.