United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Madam Ban Soon-taek arrived in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday, 4 July, following an official visit to Italy. That evening, the Secretary-General attended a reception hosted by the President of the Swiss Confederation, Micheline Calmy-Rey, for the participants of the United Nations Global Compact Leaders Summit and the Economic and Social Council high-level segment.
The following morning, the Secretary-General had a working breakfast meeting on climate change at the Palais des Nations hosted by the President of the Economic and Social Council.
Later, he opened the Global Compact Leaders Summit, which brought together some 1,000 chief executive officers, ministers and heads of labour and civil society organizations. The Secretary-General said: “For business to enjoy sustained growth, we need to build trust and legitimacy.” He added: “For markets to expand in a sustainable way, we must provide those currently excluded with better and more opportunities to improve their livelihood.” (See Press Release SG/SM/11078.)
He called on business leaders to embrace the Global Compact as an organizing tool for their global operations and urged Governments to sustain the Compact as an initiative complementing their role.
The Secretary-General also spoke at the opening session of the Development Cooperation Forum of the Economic and Social Council, which brings together Governments, non-governmental organizations, philanthropic foundations, civil society and the private sector. He called on all countries in the Doha Development Round to rekindle the spirit of cooperation and conclude the trade negotiations in a way that benefits those who need it most. (See Press Release SG/SM/11079.)
Speaking at a press conference afterwards, the Secretary-General said that the Global Compact’s growth has been remarkable, with the initiative today including more than 4,000 companies and stakeholders in every region of the world. He said he would continue to support the Compact to the fullest extent possible.
On the margins of the Summit, he met with R. K. Pachauri, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Pascal Lamy, Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), and Juan Somavia, Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO). He then conducted bilateral meetings in the afternoon with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and with Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan.
Later that evening, he participated in a Global Compact Leaders Summit gala dinner, with several speakers sharing their experiences on specific partnerships and initiatives undertaken.
On Friday, after a “climate change breakfast” with the Chinese delegation, the Secretary-General visited the Geneva-based headquarters of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the International Telecommunications Union. It was the first visit of a Secretary-General to the oldest United Nations agency, and he emphasized the unique role it plays in connecting the populations of the world and helping developing countries to bridge the technology gap.
In the afternoon, the Secretary-General brought the Global Compact Leaders Summit in Geneva to a close, saying he was heartened to see leaders from business, Government, civil society, labour and academia display such a deep and broad commitment to the Compact’s principles. (See Press Release SG/SM/11080.)
As the Summit closed, business leaders from developed and developing countries pledged to comply with labour, human rights, environmental and anti-corruption standards. They agreed on the text of the Geneva Declaration, which expresses the belief that “globalization, if rooted in universal principles, has the power to improve our world fundamentally -- delivering economic and social benefits to people, communities and markets everywhere”. The Declaration spells out actions to be taken by the now roughly 4,000 companies participating in the Global Compact.
The Secretary-General said the Summit’s more than 1,000 participants clearly emphasized the links between market leadership and development. This relationship, he said, “will help us build the supportive measures needed to create more sustainable markets. And it will ultimately help to improve the lives of many people around the world.”
The Secretary-General called on business leaders to “ensure that the Global Compact is implemented more fully with their organizations and through their suppliers and partners”. He also urged civil society and labour leaders “to remain vigilant and engaged, and to continue to hold business accountable for their commitments”.
He said the participants at the Summit would plan to meet again in three years, and urged them all to do their part in giving practical meaning to the Declaration.
The Secretary-General also paid his first visit to the Geneva headquarters of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Addressing the senior staff of the Federation, the Secretary-General spoke of his early ties as a young man in the Republic of Korea to the Red Cross, and his wife’s volunteer work of many years with the organization.
The Secretary-General left Geneva on Saturday, 7 July, for an official visit to Portugal.