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General Assembly marks 60th anniversary of end of World War II in Europe

General Assembly marks 60th anniversary of end of World War II in Europe

Louise Fréchette addresses Assembly
As the world's nations looked back today to honour the dead and pay their respects to the heroes of World War II, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette said it was equally important to look ahead and "reaffirm our commitment to the goal of building a world fit for humankind."

"That is the best tribute we can pay to the millions who perished in World War II," Ms. Fréchette said as she opened a solemn ceremony by the General Assembly marking the sixtieth anniversary of the end of the conflict in Europe. "As fascism fell, the United Nations rose…a new organization designed…most of all, to help prevent such catastrophes from happening again."

Ms. Fréchette recalled that while World War II had triggered a "descent into the abyss that spared no one," when the end finally came, it also unleashed a flood of feelings and the work of rebuilding millions of wrecked lives was taken up with vigour. As delegates gathered in San Francisco to draft the UN Charter, a quick succession of events – the liberation of the death camps, the advance of the allied armies and the fall of the Nazi regime – brought new hope to a world wearied by years of conflict.

Defending the notion of humanity remains the most important challenge and task facing the international community, she said. "Our work is never done. We are undefeated because we have continued to keep trying. That is the work of the United Nations, and the reason we are here today," she said, urging the gathering to remain committed to that shared mission.

Assembly President Jean Ping of Gabon recalled the horrors and untold suffering that that tragedy had inflicted on humanity, to learn from the past and to build a good future. “We must not fear opening our eyes to this non-glorious period of history,” he said

Today’s commemoration must be an occasion to reaffirm common commitments to reject war as a way to settle differences, and to consider again the simple but essential values of dialogue and tolerance between all peoples, he added.

The Assembly also heard from representatives of the Russian Federation, Luxembourg, Poland, Kazakhstan, the United Kingdom, Israel, Canada, the United States, China, Germany, Lithuania, the Republic of Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Australia, Belarus, France, Nigeria, Japan and the Holy See.