On Staff Day, Annan says UN will be judged by its performance in Afghanistan

On Staff Day, Annan says UN will be judged by its performance in Afghanistan

Lauding the dedication of United Nations staff worldwide, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today said that given the UN's key role in Afghanistan, the Organization would be measured by its work in that country.

"One test by which we will surely be judged is our performance in Afghanistan," the Secretary-General told UN personnel assembled at UN Headquarters in New York to mark Staff Day.

With political talks under way in Bonn, he added, "it seems likely that the United Nations will play a major role in helping the people of Afghanistan pull together their lives and put together a credible government, and continue to build the infrastructure and institutions any society needs to function."

At the same time, Mr. Annan called attention to other urgent issues on the international agenda, including conflict, poverty, AIDS and environmental degradation. "We have our work cut out for us even if no new crises or emergencies erupt - and as experience has shown, that is a very big if," he said.

The Secretary-General also highlighted the issue of staff security, which he called "a constant concern." Over the past year, he noted, 74 military and civilian UN personnel had lost their lives in the line of duty, while many others were kidnapped, injured or otherwise harassed. "I wish to assure you that we will continue to do our utmost to improve staff security, here at Headquarters and particularly in the field," he said.

Noting that UN Staff Day 2001 was marked on the eve of the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo, the Secretary-General stressed that the Nobel Committee’s decision earlier this year recognized the contribution of all UN workers. “In a very real sense, you are all the Nobel laureates,” Mr. Annan told the assembled staff. “But let us remember, too, that this prize endows us with even greater responsibilities.” He added that he was very pleased that five staff union presidents, representing UN staff organizations all over the world, would be part of the delegation to Oslo.