|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
ACTIVITIES OF SECRETARY-GENERAL IN SWITZERLAND, 28-31 JANUARY
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, accompanied by Madam Ban Soon‑taek, arrived in Davos from Madrid in the early evening of Wednesday, 28 January.
He met that evening with Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister of the Russian Federation. They discussed climate change and the Middle East peace process.
A meeting with former United States President Bill Clinton focused on Haiti.
On Thursday morning, the Secretary-General announced an appeal for $613 million to cover the immediate recovery needs of the people of Gaza for the next six to nine months. In a joint press conference with Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes, the Secretary-General said “help is urgently needed”, including food, clean water, shelter, medicine and the restoration of basic services. He told reporters: “When I saw the people in Gaza, the destruction and severity of the challenges were beyond description.” He urged the international community to contribute generously to the appeal and stressed the need for a durable ceasefire and for a viable peace process.
He was asked about the violence reported over the past few days in Gaza, and replied: “The incident which took place two days ago clearly shows us that this ceasefire is very fragile. Therefore, this ceasefire must be translated into a durable and sustainable one, which can be respected by all the parties concerned.”
Later that day, the Secretary-General raised the same points when he participated in a plenary session of the World Economic Forum on “ Gaza, the case for Middle-East peace” with Israeli President Shimon Peres, Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and Amre Moussa, Secretary General of the League of Arab States.
In a separate event, he marked the tenth anniversary of the United Nations Global Compact. He said that, 10 years on, it stands as the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative, with more than 6,000 business participants in more than 130 countries. The Global Compact, he said, has become a byword for corporate responsibility. He stressed the importance of dealing with climate change, which he defined as a true existential threat to the planet. “We stand at a crossroads,” he added. “We can choose short-sighted unilateralism and business as usual. Or we can grasp global cooperation and partnership on a scale never before seen.” (See Press Release SG/SM/12073)
On Thursday, the Secretary-General also participated in several side events, on climate issues -- one under the World Food Programme tent in Davos on “managing our future water needs”. At another private session in Davos, he pushed for a Climate Change communication initiative that will explain, educate and ask for global engagement, leading to success at the December summit in Copenhagen. (See Press Releases SG/SM/12071 and SG/SM/12072)
The Secretary-General also participated in a “Refugee Run” an event hosted by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). For half an hour, the Secretary-General and guests experienced a tiny bit of what life is like for the millions of people forcibly uprooted from their homes by persecution, warfare or natural disaster. Scenarios included fleeing a rebel attack, navigating a minefield, dealing with corrupt border guards, struggling with language, surviving on the black market and living in a refugee camp. The ultimate aim of the Refugee Run in Davos was to raise awareness among some of the world’s most influential people about the plight of refugees and internally displaced persons, and to seek funds for UNHCR operations worldwide to help them. After taking part in the Refugee Run on Thursday, Mr. Ban described it as “a profound experience that reminds us of the plight of millions of forcibly displaced people”.
He also held a number of bilateral meetings. In a bilateral with the President of Mexico, Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, issues of climate change, food security, the Millennium Development Goals and Haiti were discussed. He also met with Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum; with Guy Ryder, General-Secretary, International Trade Union Conference (ITUC), with Al Gore, the 2008 Nobel peace prize winner, with Micheline Calmy-Rey, Federal Councellor, Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, and with Han Seung-soo, Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea.
On Friday morning, the Secretary-General had a breakfast meeting with the Prime Minister of Denmark, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, with whom he had constructive discussionsonhow a successful deal on climate change could be reached in Copenhagen later in the year. The Secretary-General has identified climate change as his key priority for 2009.
Later that morning, the Secretary-General made an appeal for new partnerships “for development, for growth, for global health” to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. The call to stand in solidarity with the poorest came in Davos during a joint press conference by the Secretary-General and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The Secretary-General later met Mr. Brown in a bilateral meeting where they discussed Gaza and the Middle East peace process, the next G-20 gathering in London, climate change, Zimbabwe, Myanmar and Sudan.
In his next meeting, with Pascal Lamy, Director-General of the World Trade Organization, the Secretary-General received an update on the prospects for concluding the Doha Round of trade talks in 2009. The Secretary-General and the Special Envoy of the Quartet on the Middle East, Tony Blair, also met that day to discuss how best to make progress in the Middle East peace process; first in making sure that humanitarian and early recovery needs are met, and then laying the ground for a durable ceasefire acceptable to both sides. They discussed long-term reconstruction in Gaza and a political resolution of the Middle East conflict. The Secretary-General also met with Bill and Melinda Gates to discuss global health, particularly polio eradication, the Millennium Development Goals and the issue of food security.
The Secretary-General departed Davos for Zurich that evening and left Switzerland early on Saturday morning.
* *** *For information media • not an official record