United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, accompanied by Madam Ban Soon-taek, arrived in Zurich from Rome on the afternoon of Thursday, 19 April, to begin a three-day visit to Switzerland.
From Zurich, he took a helicopter to Bern, where he met with President Micheline Calmy-Rey and members of her Cabinet at the Bernerhof.
At a joint press conference with the President following their meeting, the Secretary-General said he was very “grateful to Switzerland’s Government for hosting so many UN offices and agencies”.
He also said: “I fully appreciate and commend the very generous and active participation and contribution of Switzerland’s Government to peacekeeping operations; financially, and … by sending troops. It is my sincere hope that, considering its national strength, the policies of the Swiss Government to want to see peace and security in the world will continue to strengthen the Swiss Government’s contribution to peacekeeping operations and increase its participation.”
The Secretary-General continued discussions with the President over a working dinner before departing Bern by car for Geneva late Thursday.
On Friday morning, the Secretary-General attended a breakfast hosted by Charles Beer, President of the State Council of Geneva, during which he expressed his appreciation for the Council’s commitment to the United Nations and applauded the fact that the city hosted 22 international organizations and more than 35,000 international civil servants and their families.
He then departed for the Palais des Nations where he met with the United Nations staff in Geneva.
From there, he went to the headquarters of the International Labour Organization (ILO) to open his first session of the Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) of the United Nations system. After attending a luncheon hosted by ILO Director-General Juan Samovia, he travelled by car to Mont-Pèlerin to chair a weekend retreat of CEB.
The Secretary-General said the Board agreed to restructure arrangements for cooperation among United Nations organizations to ensure a more transparent, cost-effective and coherent approach to developing common programmes. It will meet again in six months to complete the new arrangements.
The Board also decided to develop a coherent approach to support the Aid-for-Trade initiative launched at the Hong-Kong ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization to build capacity to underpin the efforts of developing countries to benefit from the changing international trade regime.
The Board also adopted a common approach to generating employment and decent work as a central plank in poverty reduction strategies.
The Board members also discussed and will focus future work on addressing the challenge of climate change and achieving the Millennium Development Goals, with a special focus on African development.
Back in Geneva, the Secretary-General had meetings with Carlos Lopes, Executive Director of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, then with World Trade Organization Director-General Pascal Lamy, and Adolf Ogi, Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace.
On Saturday evening, he attended a dinner hosted by the Association of Correspondents Accredited to the United Nations in Geneva.
He wrapped up his visit to Switzerland on Sunday morning, when he left Geneva and travelled to Doha, Qatar.