United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Madam Ban Soon-taek arrived in Washington, D.C., on Thursday morning, 11 October.
The Secretary-General visited the United States National Archives and met Archivist Allen Weinstein who showed him the original United Nations Charter. The United States was assigned by the Charter to be the official repository of the document, in five languages, signed by 51 nations on 26 June 1945, in San Francisco.
Later that day, the Secretary-General and Madam Ban joined American Red Cross Chairman Bonnie McElveen-Hunter and President and Chief Executive Officer Mark W. Everson at the American Red Cross headquarters to discuss “the importance of international partnerships in alleviating human suffering”.
For the United Nations Secretary-General, the meeting was also an opportunity to reconnect with memories of his first visit to the United States as a Korean Red Cross youth volunteer in 1962.
Later that day, the Secretary-General spoke to members of the United States Chamber of Commerce on the “unprecedented threat of climate change”. “It is our shared interest,” he said, “to address the challenge of climate change with all the leadership, vision and resources we can muster”. He stressed the relationship between the business community and the United Nations, noting the role of the United Nations system in establishing the norms and infrastructure for international business, from international air and maritime travel to telecommunications and the protection of intellectual property rights. (See Press Release SG/SM/11217.)
In the evening, the Secretary-General was the keynote speaker at the National Association of Evangelicals, where he spoke of the need to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. “We need new approaches”, the Secretary-General said, to solving the problems that afflict … “the bottom billion of the world’s poor -- those who do not share at all in rising global prosperity and are kept down by bad governance, war and environmental or economic collapse”. (See Press Release SG/SM/11218.)
On Friday, 12 October, the Secretary-General went to the headquarters of the United States Peace Corps. In his remarks at a private meeting with staff there, he paid tribute to the “thousands of Peace Corps Volunteers who work around the world in 139 countries” and who have provided “invaluable critical support to the United Nations’ Volunteers”. Together, he said, “we can work towards results”.
At a press encounter afterwards, the Secretary-General answered some questions about the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007, awarded that day to former United States Vice-President Al Gore and to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). “This is clearly”, the Secretary-General said, “a recognition by the international community in general, and by the Nobel Committee in particular, of the urgency and significance of global warming … There is an unprecedented momentum in the world to take necessary action.”
Secretary-General and Madam Ban returned to New York on Friday afternoon.