Standing and applauding, the 192-member United Nations General Assembly today paid a thunderous and prolonged tribute to Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the end of his 10-year tenure before swearing in his successor Ban Ki-moon, who takes over as the world’s top diplomat on 1 January. Both Mr. Annan and Mr. Ban stressed the indissoluble links uniting security, development and human rights as the three pillars of the UN, without any one of which world peace will not be achieved.Earlier, by acclamation the Assembly adopted a resolution of tribute for Mr. Annan who, in the words of Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed al-Khalifa, has devoted his life to the world body.“His career has been unique,” she said. “He has risen through the ranks of the United Nations and devoted his life’s service to the Organization. So, today we are not only bidding farewell to the current Secretary-General, but also to one of the longest-serving officials of the United Nations.” She stressed that Mr. Annan has stood at the helm as the UN has become a more effective global actor and demands for its services have grown over the past 10 years.“We are grateful to Kofi Annan for having set out a far-reaching reform framework to make the Organization more relevant to the people of the world: a United Nations that lives to serve humanity and the principles of multilateralism,” Sheikha Haya declared.“Kofi Annan will leave a lasting legacy. He has guided the United Nations into the 21st century with vision and leadership. As a result the multilateral system is stronger,” she added.Her words were echoed by the representatives of the various regional groups, who praised Mr. Annan’s role in facing the many challenges confronting the world at large and the UN itself by promoting peace, humanitarian aid, human rights, development for the poor, and wide-ranging reform for the Organization as epitomized by his 2005 report, In Larger Freedom.In response Mr. Annan noted that despite many difficulties and some setbacks in the past decade “we have achieved much that I am proud of,” citing UN reforms in particular.The Organization “became more transparent, accountable and responsive,” he said. “It began to better address the needs of individuals worldwide. It faced emerging threats, as well as familiar ones, head-on.“And it internalized the notion that development, security and human rights must go hand in hand; that there can be no security without development and no development without security, and neither can be sustained in the longer term without being rooted in the rule of law and respect for human rights,” he added.“I depart convinced that today’s UN does more than ever before, and does it better than ever before. Yet our work is far from complete – indeed, it never will be.” The Assembly rose in prolonged applause at the end of Mr. Annan’s speech.