In his last message for United Nations Day, Secretary-General assesses progress, highlights remaining challenges

New York, 24 October 2006 - Following is the message by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan for United Nations Day, observed 24 October:

For the tenth and last time as Secretary-General, I offer friends and colleagues around the world my best wishes on United Nations Day. I have spent almost my whole professional life working for the United Nations – so this day, and the values that it stands for, will always be special for me.

Over the past 10 years, we have made some big steps forward in our common struggle for development, security and human rights.

  • Aid and debt relief have increased, making the world economy somewhat fairer.
  • At last, the world is scaling up its response to HIV/AIDS.
  • There are fewer wars between States than there used to be; and many civil wars have ended.
  • More Governments are elected by, and accountable to, the people whom they govern.
  • And all States have acknowledged, at least in words, their responsibility to protect people from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

But, there is so much that still needs doing:

  • The gap between rich and poor continues to grow.
  • Very few countries are on track to reach all eight of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
  • Many people still face atrocities, repression and brutal conflicts.
  • The nuclear non-proliferation regime requires urgent attention.
  • Terrorism, and the reaction to it, are spreading fear and suspicion.

It seems we don''t even agree which threats are most important. Those who live in small islands may see global warming as the biggest danger. Those who live in a city that has suffered terrorist attacks – like New York, or Mumbai, or Istanbul – may feel that confronting terrorism is more urgent. Others, again, may cite poverty, disease, or genocide.

The truth is, these are all global threats. All of us should be concerned about all of them. Otherwise, we may not succeed in dealing with any of them.

At this time of all times, we cannot afford to be divided. I know that you, the peoples of the world, understand this. Thank you for all the support and encouragement you have given me, throughout these 10 difficult but exciting years.

Please urge your leaders to work with my successor, and make the United Nations ever stronger and more effective.

Long live our planet, and its peoples. Long live the United Nations!