United Nations
Secretary-General Kofi Annan
Remarks to Special Meeting of UN Staffers
September 14, 2001

Following is the text of remarks to staff made today by Secretary-General Kofi Annan at a special meeting in tribute to the memory of the victims of the terrorist acts that struck the United States:

“Dear friends,

At the end of this harrowing week, this is where we should be: together in one room, united as a single family. That includes all of us at Headquarters, the Funds and Programmes, and our colleagues at information centres and other duty stations around the world who are joining us through a live Webcast.

The full dimensions of this tragedy are still unfolding, as losses are confirmed and hope for miracles fades. But there can be no doubt of its enormity, both in terms of the sheer number of lives cut short, and in terms of the chilling ruthlessness with which it was planned and carried out. No cause can justify acts of terrorism and inhumanity.

To those among you who have family or friends injured or among the missing and the dead, Nane and I can only offer our deepest sympathy and sincere condolences.

Our host city is deeply wounded. Our host country is in mourning. But their magnificent spirit is not broken. We stand with them now, as guests who benefit from their hospitality, as fellow members of their communities, as people who share their desire for peace and love of family and freedom. We stand with them in their hour of trial, and offer whatever comfort and support we can.

The staff committee has provided an inspiring example of solidarity with its decision -- as we just heard from Rosemarie -- to donate at least $25,000 of staff funds to New Yorkers in need. I urge you all to add to this initial contribution as generously as you can.

I also want to thank all of you for the composure and professionalism you have shown this week. Our security officers have been working virtually round the clock. Many of you have braved uncertainty and difficult journeys to report for duty. Many of you have also donated blood and volunteered your help in other ways.

Things cannot be said to have returned to normal. We all remain shaken. The emotional and political fallout has only begun. Like many others in this city, we are back at work, trying to pick up where we left off, yet gnawed by a sickening feeling that nothing will ever be the same again. And it won't. But we must carry on with our work.

If anything, this week's events make our mission of peace all the more important. We must confront violence and hatred even more resolutely. We must also intensify our struggle to overcome extreme poverty and its attendant ills -- conflict, ignorance and disease. All too often, the choices we face are not between better and best, but between less bad and worse. Every question answered generates new dilemmas.

Our duty, as UN staff members, is to persevere. Our place, each in his or her own way, is beside those in distress: to salve their wounds, and to give them hope.

Those are high expectations, especially at a moment when we are looking horror in the face. But I have a deep, abiding faith in your abilities and your sense of commitment.

Dear friends,

I know you join me in offering sympathy and solidarity to the people of New York and the United States in the terrible anguish and loss they are going through. I know you will do all you can to offer support to those who need it most.

Let me now ask you all to stand together for a minute of silence in honour of all the victims, and in sympathy for all who have suffered a loss.

Thank you very much.