NEW YORK, DECEMBER 30 – “Stand up for the voiceless”, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a packed room of UN staff on his last day at the Secretariat: “Stand for those who are left behind. raise voice for their dignity. During the last ten years I have been working as the voice of the voiceless, defender of the defenseless people. You have to continue to do that”.
December 30 was not the last day of work for the Head of the United Nations who has been chosen to be the special guest of Times Square New Year celebrations, joining New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to push the Waterford crystal button and lead the sixty second countdown to the New Year. Approximately one million revellers are expected to fill the fabled Square, joined by over 198 million Americans and more than one billion television viewers worldwide who will ring in the New Year watching the historic Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball Drop, according to the event organizers: a unique opportunity to promote the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the 70th General assembly in September 2015.
“As I leave the United Nations my heart will always be with the United Nations because I am a child of the United Nations”, Ban said in his message to the staff. After two terms as United Nations Secretary General – he was inaugurated on January 1, 2007 – the former South Korean Minister for Foreign Affairs will be mainly remembered for raising awareness on climate change (COP21 and the Paris Agreement are among his main achievements) and the plight of migrants and refugees. He also promoted women empowerment at the UN appointing several female candidates to positions of high responsibility. On his last day at UN Headquarters Ban met the diplomatic corp as well. Permanent Representative Inigo Lambertini on behalf of Italy was among the ambassadors who lined up to bid farewell.
Antonio Guterres, the incoming United Nations Secretary-General, will take charge of UN on January 1, 2017 in a moment in which the future of the U.S. relationship with the UN is in doubt. The former Portuguese Prime Minister and former High Commissioner for Refugees, who is the first onetime head of government to lead the UN, said that he is eager to meet US president-elect Donald Trump who criticized the United Nations in recent messages on Twitter: “It is certainly in my interest to visit him as soon as possible.” (@OnuItalia)