Ban Ki-moon bade goodbye to staff and delegates at the United Nations headquarters on 31 December, 2016, after spending ten years with the intergovernmental organization.
The South Korean diplomat served as the UN Secretary-General between 1 January 2007 – 31 December, 2016.
In his farewell speech to the staff and Permanent Representatives at the event held in New York, Mr Ban said he had delivered many long speeches over the years, and had nothing to say except two important words: “Thank You.”
The former South Korea’s foreign minister (January 2004 – November 2006) expressed gratitude to all attendees for their “hard work and leadership for humanity.”
In his words: ‘I have been motivated by this commitment and I’m proud to call you my colleagues.’
According to a UN.org report, the outgoing leader reminded his audience that “sustainable development, climate change, gender empowerment and youth,” are among the top goals he has pursued in the ten-year service. He also urged the cheering crowd to have faith in themselves and never relent in their selfless services to mankind.
Mr Ban advised the excited gathering to ensure that all hands must be on deck, in pursuit of the UN’s noble goals as a “voice for the voiceless.”
“It has been a privilege to serve the world’s people. And it has been an honor to serve with you and all our partners – including Member States, civil society, and many more,” he stated.
“I feel a bit like Cinderella. Tomorrow at midnight [before the new year], everything changes!” he joked.
“On the eve of the New Year, I will be in Times Square for the ball drop — millions of people will be watching as I lose my job!” the outgoing UN leader said.
Former Portuguese prime minister Antonio Guterres, 67, takes over from Ban today 1 January, 2017.
As part of his farewell obligations, Mr Ban was scheduled to serve as a special guest today at the annual New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square, joining New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to push the Waterford crystal button and lead the sixty second countdown to the New Year.
The 72-year-old was elected as UN Secretary-General by the United Nations General Assembly on 13 October 2006.
Mr Ban took over reigns from Kofi Annan on 1 January 2007, and has been responsible for some major reforms on peacekeeping as well as the UN’s recruitment procedures.