Top United Nations officials and the heads of UN agencies today welcomed the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the world organization and its leader, Kofi Annan, praising the Secretary-General for his vision and integrity.
In a statement on behalf of the members of the Security Council, the body's President, Ambassador Richard Ryan of Ireland, said the UN "is the embodiment of cooperation among States in safeguarding peace, advancing international development, and in combating common threats to the dignity and well being of peoples everywhere."
Referring to the "high esteem shared by people throughout the world for Secretary-General Kofi Annan," the Council President said the Prize "rightly honours his exceptional achievements in the service of the United Nations and of the entire international community as well as honouring the achievements of the United Nations itself."
"It is the right decision at the right time to honour and praise Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the United Nations as the stronghold of our shared values and commitment for peace, security, freedom and prosperity for all," said Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO). "Kofi Annan has tirelessly rallied support for these values. Through his strong personal commitment, he has increased the credibility of the United Nations as we begin a new millennium."
Mary Robinson, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the award was an "explicit and timely recognition" of Mr. Annan's leadership. "In the aftermath of the horrific attacks in the United States and in light of the terrible humanitarian situation facing civilians in Afghanistan and in that region, this recognition heartens all human rights defenders, in the United Nations and in civil society, and encourages us to continue the struggle for human dignity and human security," she said.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Ruud Lubbers, said he was proud that the prize went to "my Secretary-General and a fabulous man." All UN staff, he said, were "proud that the 100th Nobel Peace Prize for the first time honours not only the Secretary-General but also the United Nations as a whole."
Also congratulating the Secretary-General and UN staff for the award, the President of the UN General Assembly, Han Seung-soo of the Republic of Korea, expressed the hope that the international community would view the prize not just as a recognition of past achievements but, more importantly, as "a beacon illuminating the way forward for the United Nations as it rises to confront new challenges."
In Geneva, Vladimir Petrovsky, the Director-General of the UN Office there, called Mr. Annan "one of the world's most visionary and democratic" leaders. "We cannot but note with great satisfaction the recognition of the important role of the United Nations in the world today in working to create a more benevolent international community across all lines of religion and race," he said, stressing that the UN was the "main forum equipped to combat terrorism, as well as to provide legitimacy to whatever steps are taken to tackle this issue."
Numerous other UN officials and organizations, including the top UN official in the peacekeeping mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the UN's Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, also hailed this year's decision by the Norwegian Nobel Committee.