Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary-general, said that the tragedy of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 should serve as a reminder of the importance of all roles in the organisation.
Laying a wreath at UN headquarters in New York on Friday in memory of the 21 workers from UN agencies who died in Sunday's crash, Mr Guterres bowed his head as he and officials paid a silent tribute to all 157 people who were killed when the plane plummeted.
“The very nature of a tragedy such as this is something that we should be able to think about,” he said, noting how the UN workers were “in many ways a random group”, headed to the UN Environmental Assembly in Nairobi.
“They were from many agencies, with many areas of expertise, from the highest level in the hierarchy, to all kinds of functions in the UN.
“Yet together they were also a mirror of the United Nations: women and men, some in the beginning of their careers, others closing in on retirement but each on an individual mission, at the same time together, representing our larger quest – doing their part to build a better world, brick by brick, deed by deed, day in and day out.
“As we continue that mission, let us reflect on their lives, let us honour their service and let us be inspired by their extraordinary example.”