United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Madam Ban Soon-taek arrived in Geneva on Sunday, 1 July, and visited the monument to Sergio Vieira de Mello and to the 21 other United Nations staff who were killed in Baghdad on 19 August 2003. Meeting with Annie Vieira de Mello and with Laurent and Adrien, sons of Sergio de Mello, as well as with Laura Kanaan, widow of Jean Selim Kanaan and their son Mathias, the Secretary-General said: “The only way we can pay an active tribute to our fallen heroes and to their relatives and friends is to demand that the perpetrators be brought to justice and that we, as members of the United Nations family, reaffirm our determination to serve and defend our common values.” He also paid tribute to the survivors whose “continued service to the Organization is a tremendous inspiration to all of us”. Among the survivors present were Gabriel Pichon, Romain Baron and Mohamed Haider, who were part of the United Nations security team in Baghdad in August 2003.
The Secretary-General spoke the following morning at the High-level Segment of the Economic and Social Council.
In a keynote addresson the “Eradication of Poverty and Hunger”, the Secretary-General underlined the need for a strong, sustained effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. It can mean, the Secretary-General said, “the difference between the success and failure of our grand endeavour. Needless to say, millions of lives quite literally hang in the balance.” (See Press Release SG/SM/11070.)
He welcomed the focus of the meeting on two of the Millennium Development Goals: cutting extreme poverty and hunger in half, and building the global partnership for development.
Speaking later at a press conference, he added: “The Goals are achievable if countries commit themselves to sound governance and accountability, and receive adequate financial and technical assistance from the developed countries.”
Turning to Darfur, the Secretary-General stated that it has been the highest priority on his agenda, and said that, “during the last six months, we have made slow, but credible and considerable progress. The people in Darfur have suffered too much and the international community has waited too long. It is now high time for us to take the necessary action, and I hope that the Sudanese Government will implement faithfully the commitments they have made.” It is vital, he added, that the African troops now deployed on the ground until December receive the financial resources so badly needed to protect and assist the people of Darfur.
On climate change, Mr. Ban emphasized the need to galvanize “political will and coordinate concrete action before the Bali negotiations in December. Time is of the essence.”
At the Palais des Nations, the Secretary-General presented a Special Citation of the Habitat Scroll of Honour to the Prime Minister of Bahrain, Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al Khalifa, and visited the Economic and Social Council’s Innovation fair, meeting representatives of United Nations agencies, as well as non-governmental organizations and the private sector.
That day, the Secretary-General also met with Jean Louis Schiltz, Minister for Cooperation and Humanitarian Action of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
From Geneva, the Secretary-General travelled to Italy in the morning of 3 July.