Security Council ‘strongest when united,’ says Secretary-General as he bids farewell

14 December 2016

In its farewell to the outgoing United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the Security Council today acknowledged his contribution to international peace, security and development, in particular his exceptional efforts to solve global problems in economic, social, environmental and cultural fields.

Adopting a resolution by acclamation, the Council also acknowledged his endeavours to meet humanitarian needs and to promote and encourage respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.

“As Secretary-General, you have succeeded in ensuring that the Organization took advantage of the technological advances and prepared itself to meet the challenges of continued globalization, technological change and emerging new threats,” said Román Oyarzun Marchesi (Spain), President of the Council for December, underscoring that today’s world was very different from that of ten years ago. Quoting Miguel de Cervantes, he added: “Good deeds never lack a reward.”

Mr. Marchesi went on to highlight Ban’s remarkable successes, namely the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, as well as the establishment of the Human Rights Council and the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, known as UN-Women, along with the appointment of the first Special Envoy on Youth.

In a similar resolution earlier this week, the General Assembly paid a tribute to Mr. Ban for his “never-tiring service to humanity” over the past decade.

In response to today’s Council action, Mr. Ban expressed gratitude for the opportunity to have served the United Nations over the past ten years. He spoke of the Council’s successes, including its decision to establish the Force Intervention Brigade in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the integral role of the United Nations in securing peace in Nepal – particularly during its 2008 election, as well as creating greater stability in Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia.

My deepest regret on leaving office is the continuing nightmare in Syria

He also highlighted a stronger partnership with the African Union and mainstreaming women, peace, and security into the Council’s agenda – particularly with regards to its decision to address sexual violence in conflict.

“I encourage the Council to continue its very important work in this regard and I know that my successor, António Guterres, will be a most determined ally,” said Mr. Ban, who will step down on 31 December.

He emphasized that “the Council is strongest when it is united,” citing examples of successful initiatives including the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria and the UN’s emergency response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

Mr. Ban noted, however, that a lack of unity has proven to be profound, even catastrophic in the case of South Sudan.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon unveils portrait of himself at the UN Headquarters in New York. Credit: UN News Centre

“However,” he said, “my deepest regret on leaving office is the continuing nightmare in Syria. I once again plead with all of you to cooperate and fulfil your collective responsibility to protect Syrian civilians.”

Throughout the day, Mr. Ban participated in events to commemorate the end of his tenure, including a town hall meeting with UN staff from around the world, and the unveiling of his portrait by the Korean artist Lee Won-Hee that will hang alongside those of his predecessors in the Secretariat lobby.

“I have come to understand our values as a unique and precious well – the more one draws from it, the deeper it gets. Above all, I thank all the partners who have made the past ten years full of meaning and purpose. I salute each and every one of them for the picture they are painting every day – of a world with more justice, more dignity, and more opportunity for all,” he said during the unveiling of his portrait.


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