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Annan: Transcript of press conference (29/07/2002)

29th July 2002

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TRANSCRIPT OF PRESS CONFERENCE BY SECRETARY-GENERAL KOFI ANNAN AT UN HEADQUARTERS, 29 JULY 2002


Mr. Eckhard:  Sorry for the delay.  The Secretary-General’s last appointment ran about 15 minutes late.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Secretary-General of the United Nations and his guest.

The Secretary-General:  Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.  This morning, I should like to introduce the next High Commissioner for Human Rights.

I think you all know Sergio Vieira de Mello very well.  He is taking on one of the most difficult challenges in the system, but challenges are nothing new to him.  As you know, he has just completed his difficult assignment in East Timor, which he accomplished brilliantly.  We look forward to having an outstanding High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Mrs. Mary Robinson, who stands so much for the Organization and for the cause of human rights, will be leaving us next month.  Hers will be a tough act to follow, but I am sure Sergio will not let us down.

Mr. Vieira de Mello:  Thank you, Mr. Secretary-General.  This, as I told you on the way down, is not the first time you have introduced me; it is becoming a habit.  Thank you for another smooth-sailing assignment, after the one with which you entrusted me in East Timor.

Needless to say, I shall be very brief.

First, I would like to pay very warm tribute to Mary Robinson.  Her act will be very difficult to follow, as the Secretary-General just indicated.

Secondly, I will do my best, in very close consultation and partnership with the Secretary-General, the United Nations system, the non-governmental community, other representatives of what we now call civil society -- and there are many of them -- and with you, the Fourth Estate, the media -- to build upon the legacy of my two predecessors to transform human rights into a source of unity, not of division, and what governments and non-State actors should see as a bonus, and not just as an onus on them -- something that is truly consubstantial with our lives as individuals and as societies, and not something exogenous or extraneous to our lives, an abstract agenda -– which it is not.

Once again, the Secretary-General and all of you can count on the enthusiastic commitment of a person who has served this Organization and no one else, and who believes like he does in what we still refer to as the Hammarskj
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