Following are Secretary-General Kofi Annan's remarks on ringing the Peace Bell in New York, 21 September:
Good morning, and thank you all for coming. Let me say a special welcome to our friends from Japan, as well as the Messengers of Peace and the young people who have joined us today.
The ringing of the Peace Bell is always a special occasion, but today it is even more so -- for this year marks the bell's fiftieth anniversary.
It was in 1954 that this bell, cast from coins collected by children from 60 different countries, was presented to the United Nations by the UN Association of Japan. For half a century, the bell has sent a powerful message around the world about mankind?s aspiration for peace.
Throughout that time -- from the height of the cold war to the rise of intrastate conflicts, from the spread of the AIDS crisis to the escalation of terrorism -- the call of the bell has remained constant, clear and true.
Today, we listen to the ringing of the bell as solace while we contemplate the tribulations of the past year, and as a source of strength as we prepare to take on the trials ahead.
As the world's countries gather this week for the fifty-ninth General Assembly, we know there will be many challenges before us. To meet them effectively, I believe a number of fundamental priorities merit a special claim to our attention.
We need to keep working to strengthen the system of collective security, and to make sure it is up to the task of meeting the threats of the twenty-first century. The High-Level Panel I appointed late last year is working hard to give us the ideas to do just that.
We need to build greater international solidarity in tackling grave humanitarian emergencies, such as the one in Darfur.
We need to do better in forging a true global partnership for development, to fight hunger, ignorance, poverty and disease and meet the Millennium Development Goals -- agreed by all Member States as a blueprint for building a better world in the twenty-first century.
And we need to promote greater tolerance and understanding among the peoples of the world. Nothing can be more dangerous to our efforts to build peace and development than a world divided along religious, ethnic or cultural lines. In each nation, and among all nations, we must work to promote unity based on our shared humanity.
Today, let the sound of the bell inspire us in our work towards those goals. Let the call of the bell ring loud, clear and true around the world.