United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said goodbye to staff and Caribbean and other Permanent Representatives at UN Headquarters in New York on Friday.
Stating that though he had delivered many speeches over his decade in office, Ban said he had but two important words for those gathered to wish him well: “Thank you.”
Thanking staff and delegations for their “hard work [and] leadership for humanity,” Ban said that he had been motivated by this commitment and that he was “proud to call you my colleagues.”
Citing sustainable development, climate change, gender empowerment and youth, among the issues, which had been at the top of his agenda, Ban urged the enthusiastic gathering to “keep believing [and] working hard” to achieve the noble goals of the UN, and to be a “voice for the voiceless.”
“It has been a privilege to serve the world’s people. And it has been an honor to serve with you and all our partners — including member states, civil society, and many more,” he said.
For his last day in office, the UN said Ban was expected to serve as a special guest on Saturday at the annual New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square in Manhattan, joining New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to push the Waterford crystal button and lead the 60-second countdown to the New Year.
About one million revelers were 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.
The UN said Ban’s last day in office was the culmination of a decade of service at the helm of the global body, “during which he sought to mobilize world leaders around a set of new global challenges, from climate change and economic upheaval to pandemics and increasing pressures involving food, energy and water.”
In addition, the UN said Ban had “sought to be a bridge-builder, to give voice to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, and to strengthen the organization itself.”
Ban began his first term as Secretary-General on Jan. 1, 2007, and was unanimously re-elected by the General Assembly to a second term on June 21, 2011.
The UN said he will be succeeded on Jan. 1, 2017 by António Guterres, of Portugal, who was formally appointed by the UN General Assembly on Oct. 13.