10 September 2009 | Vienna, Austria
IAEA Board of Governors
Remarks in the Board of Governors Under Agenda Item 8
by IAEA Director General Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei
Let me say how humbled, grateful and honoured I was with every word I heard from you today. As some of you have said, this has not been an easy task. However, listening to what you have been saying today gives me a lot of strength for the remaining part of my tenure and for the days to come, knowing that we are, as partners in our human journey, absolutely on the right track. We know the difference between what´s right and what´s wrong and we are all committed - meaning all of you - and we are absolutely determined to make sure that we do our utmost for the benefit of humanity.
I believe in two basic values: one, that we are one human family, irrespective of colour, religion, ethnicity. That is something I experience every day with my colleagues in the Secretariat, with you. I believe therefore that every one of us is entitled to the right to live in peace, dignity and freedom.
The other basic value I share is that we can go to new heights as human beings, but we can also stoop very low. I have seen the wonderful achievements we have made as human beings in the area of biotechnology, information technology, going to the moon. I have seen the example of great figures such as Gandhi, Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela. But I´ve also seen the Apartheid Museum, I´ve also seen the Hiroshima Museum, I´ve also seen the Holocaust Museum. I know that the difference lies in the kind of environment we create for ourselves and that´s precisely what we are trying to do here at the Agency as a multinational institution: working together knowing that, as a human family it is not a zero sum game - we are either going to win together or fail together.
International institutions right now are absolutely indispensable. I can´t think of any single challenge or crisis that can be resolved by any one country alone, no matter how powerful it is. I have been saying that for years, whether it´s arms control, whether it´s climate change, whether it´s communicable diseases, whether it´s distorted ideologies; whatever one can think of, there is not one of our problems that we can resolve alone, as a nation, as a people. The IAEA is no exception. We can only succeed if we are able to work together. We have gone through a lot of challenges, we still have a lot of challenges and we will have more challenges in the future. And more opportunities.
The key is how to maximize the opportunities and minimize the challenges. The only way to do that is to work together. Some of you mentioned that dialogue is absolutely essential. As I said yesterday - talking to each other and not at each other. Applying basic core values that we all share - fairness, equity, human solidarity; and I emphasize human solidarity. That means the priority of every one of us should be the priority of all of us and what is good for all of us is good for every one of us. That is real multilateralism and that is the core of international cooperation.
The Agency has gone through what I call a metamorphosis - it has become a major player in the international community. A major player facing challenges that can make the difference between our survival and our extinction. So we carry a heavy responsibility on our shoulders, but we can only bear it together.
We are partners; I never thought of you other than as my bosses but also as my partners. I am accountable to all of you, but I am not accountable to any one of you. That is the difference between being a national civil servant and international civil servant. I, and my colleagues, continue to remind you of the values to which you have subscribed. Some people call it a messianic mission - well, I am proud to carry that mission because that mission is the key to our survival and our establishing a world that is sane and secure.
I would urge you as I am about to leave to empower this institution. It is key to the welfare and security of every one of you. It is implementing, actually, your national policies which you cannot implement alone. That is something people need to understand. International organizations are in fact implementing national policies, but you cannot do it on your own because you need international cooperation.
The Agency hinges on one key element, namely credibility, and that is based on independence and impartiality. Impartiality does not mean neutrality. It means that we stick to what we believe is right, it means what is enshrined in our Statute, what is enshrined in the UN Charter.
It is very important that we look at the big picture. That is what I have been trying to do for many years - to stress the linkage between poverty and violence, the linkage between non-proliferation and disarmament. These are important in understanding the root causes of some of the symptoms we are facing.
I am, I can tell you, delighted and relieved, as I am about to leave, to see these very values being shared right now in many, many countries at the highest level. When I see the Presidents of Russia and the USA committing themselves to nuclear disarmament, when Barack Obama says that only through disarmament will you have the moral authority to talk about non-proliferation. When I see him talking about the linkage between poverty and violence, I feel that we are on the right track.
We have gone through an aberration but we are coming back to where we should be - working together as a human family, as one human family, understanding that we still have a lot of challenges ahead of us. We still have one third of humanity living on under $2 a day. I see these people every time I travel. I see people who have been denied basic needs: food, shelter, health care. I see that we spend on peacekeeping 2% of what we spend on armaments; that we spend 8% on development assistance in comparison to what we spend on armaments. So our priorities are still not necessarily the right priorities and every one of you has to continue to talk about these issues, to act on these issues, because these are, as I said, the key to our survival and the key to the kind of world we would leave to our children and our grandchildren.
I should end by saying that I would not be here today had it not been for the wonderful people we have - the staff of this organization, who have spent a lot of time working with the utmost professionalism, dedication and loyalty to this organization. Acting as one. You have always asked us to act as one. We have 100 nationalities but we act, as much as we can, as one, and it would be ideal if Member States could also act as one. As I said, that is really the key. And you can. We have managed to do it in the Secretariat by subscribing to the higher values that connect us all.
You are left in the good hands of my successor, Yukiya Amano, who I am sure will continue to provide stewardship of this organization with competence, courage and vision.
I am short of words how to express my gratitude, my appreciation to all of you, every one of you and your predecessors for the support you have given me, for the great confidence with which you have entrusted me.
God bless you all.