chapter  3
45 Pages

Multilateral counter-terrorism and the United Nations after 9/11

The eleventh of September, 2001, was the second Tuesday of the month. That day had traditionally been set aside to celebrate the International Day of Peace, which is commemorated at UN Headquarters in New York City by a ceremony featuring the ringing of the “peace bell.”1

The 2001 ceremony was postponed. When it was held three days later, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan observed that, “We ring this peace bell in solidarity with the people and Government of the United States, at this moment of immense suffering and bereavement … We have lost family, friends and colleagues.”2 As his comments reflect, the attacks of 9/11 were in many ways a deeply personal experience for diplomats and staff at the UN, not least because of a fear that the organization itself might be targeted. Consequently, the initial response of the UN community to the attacks included solemn memorial and prayer services, a blood drive overseen by the UN Medical Service and fundraising for victims of the attacks. As one delegate noted in the General Assembly on 12 September, “We, the United Nations diplomatic community, are not only parking rule violators-we do love this city, we love New York, and we want to help it.”3