I would like to share a few reflections around what I would mean if I were to wish you all "Happy New Year".
What makes for a happy new year?
Obviously being able to be at peace with yourself, with your family, at peace with those close to you, your colleagues, your community, and yes, to be able to live in peace in your country. So the starting point is always with yourself.
Dag Hammarskjöld, our second Secretary General, said that "the longest journey is the journey inwards". We often find so many faults in others and have difficulties finding any weaknesses in ourselves. Still, to be at peace with yourself, you need to take that journey inwards. So many travel, move, shift, talk, change relationships, whatever, in search of something that perhaps can only be found in that longest of journeys: the journey inwards. So that may be a good first step towards a happy new year and being at peace with yourself.
As we advance on that, the longest of journeys, let us look at our surroundings. A few weeks ago, I visited the Swedish UNICEF Committee, meeting the colleagues who work day and night to get resources for our work, around a cup of coffee, and I asked them to ask me any questions and I would try to respond. Four of the five questions where about the referendum in South Sudan, and about what we are doing to make a difference there. The fifth question was: What is the meaning of life? I tried to answer with the brief version, given the shortness of time, and said: be at peace with yourself and live for something that makes a difference to the better for others.
Then we have the bigger surroundings, where we also would like to have peace if we are to have a happy new year.
I recall visiting the Berlin wall as it started breaking down. My daughters helped the breaking down with a few knocks so we could take some of the stones that made up that wall with us. That symbol of the "iron curtain" that divided the world, which seemed an impossibility to change, suddenly crumbled, and any child today would not understand how a wall that small could create such wall in the minds of so many millions. What does it take to change similar impossibilities? What does it take to reach communities that have never been reached? What does it take to stop the exclusion of children with mental conditions? What does it take to dream of a Sudan in peace? What impossibilities do you have around you? Are these impossibilities or are you just part of making that impossible possible?
UNICEF won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1965. It is interesting to read some of the reasons that the Nobel Committee considered when awarding UNICEF this prize, and Ms. Aase Lionaes, member of the Nobel Committee and member of the Norwegian Parliament, said in the award ceremony presentation speech: "It was a blessing for UNICEF and the millions of children it took to its heart that from the very first day of its existence it had a leader like Mr. Maurice Pate. He was UNICEF´s never slumbering conscience. He never allowed formalities to impede him in his work; in his opinion, the essential object was that good deeds should be carried out as swiftly and as effectively as possible. He recruited his fellow-workers from among those who were prepared uncompromisingly, to quote Björnson, to pursue 'the policy of compassion'. Maurice Pate was the head of UNICEF for eighteen years, up to his death this year. He was an unassuming person, but on the road that leads to peace, where politicians are still groping their way in the dark, Maurice Pate has lit many a candle."
As I look back on this past year and look forward to the next, I encourage myself, and us all, to pursue like never before "the policy of compassion" during 2011. It won us the highest peace prize in 1965. I hope we can do it again in 2011.
It is in this search for peace, in this journey into ourselves and this compassion for others, that I believe we can have a happy new year making a difference like never before. In that spirit I wish you: HAPPY NEW YEAR 2011!!!
Representative, UNICEF, Sudan