Ambassador Glyn Davies
September 12, 2011
Vienna International Centre
Directors General Fedotov and Amano, Executive Secretary Toth, and indeed all the heads of the international organizations who are present this afternoon, I thank you for participating in this commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States. Mr. Yumkella, Dr. Othman, welcome.
And, to all of you: Excellencies, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends, thank you all for taking the time today to join us for this simple, solemn event. Ten years ago yesterday, nearly three thousand people from more than ninety countries died in New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. We come together today to honor their memory.
We also assemble today to remember and honor the victims of terrorism everywhere in the world. We gather to mark our unity of purpose in confronting and countering any and all who seek to achieve political or religious ends through the senseless slaughter of innocent men, women, and children.
New York, and America, were struck ten years ago, but terrorism affects us all. The list of nations recovering from terrorist attacks is long. I say “recovering”, for indeed we, the nations and people of the world, have proven resilient. What terrorists destroy, we rebuild, we reconsecrate, we rededicate.
After the 2002 Bali bombings, Indonesia demonstrated its resilience by holding a festival to commemorate the victims on the very beach where so many were slaughtered. Madrid re-built its train station after the 2004 atrocities that killed nearly 200 injured more than 1000. By the first anniversary of the London transit attacks that killed 52 in 2005, the transit system had been fully returned to normal. In the United States, the collapse of the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center laid waste to a large swath of Lower Manhattan. And yet, by May of 2002, mere months later, the clean-up of the site was completed. Today, a shining new edifice, One World Trade Center, is reaching up into New York’s skyline, and will soon claim its rightful place as the tallest building in North America.
But of course this isn’t about buildings, it’s about the people. The children of those who died on September 1, 2001, are growing up. Families have found the strength to cope with their grief, and indeed have formed networks to assist one another and other victims of terrorism. And just as communities have come together to support those in need following terrorist attacks, the same is happening around the world.
From Bali to Beslan, Athens to Amman, Kigali to Kampala, people of all faiths from the four corners of the globe have united in their resolve to condemn terrorism and to offer support to victims. In 2009 a suicide bomber killed five Pakistani staff members at the United Nations World Food Program in Islamabad. One victim’s husband reached out to friends and survivors of violence to establish the Pakistan Terrorism Survivors Network, which works to help the wounded and family members overcome trauma and rebuild their lives.
And the solidarity, the strength displayed after terrorist attacks is not just local, it is global. We all stood united with India after the cowardly attacks across Mumbai. We all rejoiced when hostages held by the FARC in Colombia were rescued after six long years of captivity. We grieved as one for the many thousands of civilians lost to car bombings in Iraq. And after the deadly havoc wrought by one man recently in Norway, we rallied to stand by our Norwegian colleagues and renewed our common commitment to stand up to any and all who would use such appalling means to achieve political ends.
So how fitting that we mark 9/11’s ten-year anniversary in this place, this great rotunda of the Vienna International Centre, home to so many vital multilateral organizations whose work touches directly or indirectly on the challenge of countering terrorism. For international organizations are indispensable partners in this effort, and international public servants have often borne the brunt of terrorist attacks. We all well remember the terrorist attack on United Nations offices in Iraq in 2003, which killed 22 people, including UN envoy Sergio de Mello. And only a few days ago United Nations offices were attacked in Nigeria. One of the UNODC’s own – Ingrid Midtgaard – lost her life, along with at least 22 others, in this most recent act of violence, and we offer our condolences. The very nature of the UN’s work as a champion of freedom and international cooperation puts all who dedicate their lives to serving humanity at direct odds with terrorists.
But you are not alone. Even before the death of Usama Bin Laden, the overwhelming majority of people saw that the murder of innocents did not bring about a better life for anyone. People across the Middle East and North Africa continue to reject extremism, and are charting a path of peaceful progress based on universal rights and aspirations.
So, from Mumbai to Manila, Lahore to London, New York to Nairobi, we have witnessed resilience and solidarity. Terrorism remains a threat, but our common human spirit has endured and emerged, stronger than ever. We have not succumbed to the grief and fear that terrorists seek to spread.
On the contrary, since September 11, 2001, countries across the globe have responded collectively to reduce the threat of terrorism. We have sharply diminished the capabilities of terrorist groups through the combined, collaborative efforts of the international community. Together, we have answered the terrorists’ attempts to weaken or destroy our societies. Our message of hope, of support for peace, security, and universal human rights is far more compelling than any message of hate, discrimination, and death.
The tenth anniversary of September 11 is an especially moving moment for Americans. We are ten years on, but the pain and grief has hardly abated. And that compels me to thank all of you profoundly for coming here today and joining us in this simple event.
Here, gathered as the missions and the staff of the United Nations and the international organizations headquartered in Vienna, here in this great international city, I can think of no more appropriate charge to all of us than that voiced by UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold: “No peace which is not peace for all, no rest until all has been fulfilled.”
And that is the thought I wish to leave you with. We gather today to share our common commitment to peace for all, and our common determination not to rest until terrorism is defeated. We gather to make known our unified message: Terrorism will not prevail. We are vigilant. We remember and honor those we have lost. And we pursue our lives with confidence, not fear.
Thank you again from the bottom of my heart for joining us here today.