WCC congratulates Kofi Annan and UN on Nobel Peace Prize award
(16 October 2001)

Following the announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize award to the United Nations and to its Secretary-General, the World Council of Churches (WCC) on 16 October addressed a congratulatory letter to the organization and to its head. In the letter, addressed to Kofi Annan and to UN Staff Committee President Rosemarie Waters, the acting general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), Georges Lemopoulos, lauds Kofi Annan for his "wise leadership" and skills as a "global mediator, negotiator, peacemaker and guardian of the international rule of law". The letter of congratulations also thanks UN staff at all levels for their dedicated work and for their part "in seeking to embody and give life to the aspirations of the Peoples of the United Nations". The full text of the letter follows:

"The World Council of Churches sends its hearty congratulations for the award to you of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2001.

Mr Secretary-General, this prize justly recognizes the roles of global mediator, negotiator, peacemaker and guardian of the international rule of law that you have performed so brilliantly during your first term in office. Coming as it does when you have been elected to a new term of office, this award is a welcome reflection of the broad international support you have for the wise leadership you have provided as the leader of the United Nations.

The purpose of this award was also to recognize the whole of the United Nations. Though the UN is not only its staff, we are especially delighted that this extraordinary body of far-flung, greatly talented, deeply committed international civil servants who provide leadership to the United Nations in every corner of the world has also been recognized. You have come up through these ranks. You know the qualities of these people. You are at one with them.

Mme President, through you we would like to address directly the members of the United Nations staff in New York and around the world, from the 38th floor to the sub-basements of UN Headquarters, and from the chambers of the Security Council to the refugee camps and impoverished local villages. You are the too-often unsung heroes of the world. You are in the backrooms and on the frontlines of the efforts of the United Nations to address the most challenging and complex agenda ever confronted by humanity.

We have been with you from San Francisco to Lake Placid to Turtle Bay; at the Palais des Nations; and in Paris, Rome, Vienna and Nairobi. We have worked with you at the General Assembly and in commissions and committees for more than half a century. Perhaps more importantly, we have been alongside you as you have undertaken complex negotiations for peace and respect for human rights, and as you have sought to bring sanitation, health services and protection to the poorest and most vulnerable of the world’s people. We are painfully aware of the human costs of this engagement, including the large number of UN staff who have given their lives in the pursuance of their duties.

The occasion of the granting of the Nobel Prize for peace to you offers us the opportunity to thank you all for your part in seeking to embody and give life to the aspirations of the Peoples of the United Nations expressed in the Preamble to the Charter. Our prayers are with you particularly in this, perhaps the most challenging moment in recent years, as you pursue your weighty responsibilities on behalf of us all."

The WCC and the United Nations
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