United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Geneva from Turin in the morning of Sunday, 31 August.
That day, he first visited staff of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
Following a luncheon hosted by the Federal Councillor of the Swiss Federation, Moritz Leuenberger, in honour of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), he addressed the opening of the twenty-ninth session of IPCC, marking the twentieth anniversary of the Panel. The Secretary-General paid tribute to the accomplishments of IPCC, co-recipient of last year's Nobel Peace Prize. He hailed the Panel's numerous achievements, such as its groundbreaking Second Assessment Report in 1995, which provided the foundation for the Kyoto Protocol, the legally binding regime for reducing greenhouse gas emissions whose first-round commitments end in 2012. “Most recently,” he said, “last year's Fourth Assessment Report…established that climate change is real, it is happening, and that human activity is the primary driver of this phenomenon.” Praising the Panel’s “rigorous scientific tradition”, the Secretary-General credited the study with elevating the issue to the “highest levels of political and public consciousness” and for leading to the breakthrough climate talks in December 2007 in Bali, where global leaders agreed on a road map to address the issue. (See Press Release SG/SM/11767.)
Later, at a joint press conference with Swiss Federal Councillor Moritz Leuenberger and the Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Rajendra Pachauri, the Secretary-General underlined the responsibilities of the world’s political leadership: “We have the technology, we have the financing, we have the resources, we have the scientific findings; what is largely lacking is political will to address this issue. This is definitely a global challenge, a global crisis, which requires a global response through global partnerships.” Later that afternoon, he travelled to the border of France and Switzerland to visit the world’s largest particle physics laboratory, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) project facility, run by the European Organization for Nuclear Research.
On Monday morning, the Secretary-General witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding in the areas of trade, investment and enterprise policies, between the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Supachai Panitchpakdi, and Raed Fahmi, Iraq's Minister for Science and Technology, at the Palais des Nations. “We should never forget that Iraq is blessed with exceptional human and natural resources,” Mr. Ban said at the signing. “The mission of the United Nations is to support Iraq fulfilling its own potential for development and stability.” (See Press Release SG/SM/11768.)
He visited the site where the remains of the United Nations flag retrieved from the December 2007 attack on a United Nations office in Algiers hangs and proceeded to the Ariana Park outside the Palais des Nations to lay a wreath at the Memorial dedicated to those who gave their lives for peace. In the “Salle des pas Perdus”, he met with the survivors and the families of the victims of the 19 August 2003 bombing of the Canal Hotel in Baghdad that claimed the lives of 22 staff and wounded more than 150.
During a special ceremony to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the bombing, he reiterated his pledge to protect United Nations staff around the world. “I am determined to do all we can to prevent such tragedies from happening again. No words can do justice to what they gave us. No acts can right the injustice of their deaths,” the Secretary-General told those gathered in Geneva, adding that the only way to honour their legacy is to ensure that the United Nations continues to help the Iraqi people while protecting its staff -- there and everywhere. (See Press Release SG/SM/11769.)
Secretary-General Ban departed Switzerland for Spain at midday on Monday.