15 January 2006

This is the Secretary General's final year. For his own legacy and for a revived United Nations, we wish Kofi Annan an inspiring and successful 2006.

No need to mention how critical we were -- and continue to be -- of specific actions or inaction within the Secretariat. We are not intimidated from speaking out. Nor are we afraid to openly hope for the best possible performance by the Secretary General. In people's minds around the world, he symbolizes the United Nations. We need that symbol to shine. Despite disappointing setbacks, we want to be proud of him. Our colleague who rose through our ranks deserves our understanding as much as he needs our honest assessment. Your best friend is your most loyal mirror. It is often tempting to look through an ever rosy screen, especially when power surrounds you with opportunistic incense burners who disappear when you need real support. Your mirror remains. So do your real friends who were with you all along.

A spotless U.N. is worth fighting for. We recall many of our colleagues who devoted their lives to uphold U.N. principles. We always remember those of them who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Their names, their faces, their dedication remains with us. More than most, we recognize the shortcomings of our Organization -- and we point them out. But we also know its great potential as the only inclusive instrument of human survival, human development and human dignity. We will not allow transient opportunists to degrade it, nor small-time operators to pull it down.

This new year, 2006, will be a crucial one for the U.N. Budgetary maneuvers, politicking over reform proposals, mishandling of peacekeeping, and the race for Secretary General will add layers of challenges to an already charged agenda of a troubled world. What kind of U.N. will eventually emerge will depend on what year 2006 turns out to be. Let's hope for the best. Let us hold on to the dream. Perhaps Kofi Annan will surprise us all.