United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, accompanied by Madam Ban Soon‑taek, arrived in Los Angeles, California, in the afternoon of Sunday, 28 February.
Upon arrival, the Secretary-General was interviewed by NPR (National Public Radio) journalist Patt Morrison, during which he explained that the visit to Hollywood is part of his outreach to the entertainment industry to help spread the message on the work of the United Nations, from protecting human rights to securing peace, empowering women and addressing climate change. Highlighting his main message that the Organization needs Hollywood, the Secretary-General stressed that the creative community has an important role to play in shaping world opinion on global issues.
In the evening, the Secretary-General held a private meeting with award-winning actor Michael Douglas, currently serving as a United Nations Messenger of Peace. The two discussed the agendas for the Global Creative Forum to take place the following day. He also met with Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO).
Early on Monday morning, the Secretary-General and Madam Ban attended a breakfast meeting with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor of the State of California, and his wife Maria Shriver, at the Governor’s residence.
The Secretary-General and Madam Ban then attended the opening of the Global Creative Forum at the Armand Hammer Museum. There, he participated in the opening session titled “In Conversation with the Secretary-General”, hosted by Messenger of Peace Douglas.
During the 45-minute discussion and question-and-answer session, the Secretary-General reiterated his call for the United Nations and the entertainment community to be even closer partners in generating worldwide public awareness to address various global challenges, including empowering women, universal human rights, climate change, AIDS and the nuclear threat. He said Hollywood can have an impact through skilful storytelling, which can be a powerful tool in changing attitudes and increasing awareness of global issues. The Secretary-General added that Hollywood can create films and shows that spread the word about what is going on in the world and about the work of the United Nations to new audiences, young people in particular. He also acknowledged the important contribution of the creative community’s philanthropic work and commitment to social change.
The Secretary-General then met with disadvantaged students from the Global Classroom and commended them for their interest and engagement in United Nations issues and activities.
Wrapping up the morning events, the Secretary-General held a meeting on the topic of women and girls with several key players of the creative community, including Bill Rouhana, Chairman of the Global Creative Forum, and Jane Fleming, President of Women in Film. He was accompanied by senior officials and heads of relevant United Nations agencies, including WHO Director-General Chan and Ann Veneman, Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
He then met with executives from the Motion Picture Association of America and several of its member companies at a private luncheon to discuss issues regarding intellectual property protection and the significant contributions of the motion picture industry to the global economy.
In the afternoon, the Secretary-General held private meetings with key players in the creative community to discuss and share ideas on addressing various issues on the United Nations agenda. On the issue of Haiti, he met with actors Sean Penn and Maria Bello, followed by a meeting with actress Demi Moore on the issue of human trafficking. He also met with Hollywood celebrities Anne Hathaway, Mira Sorvino and Stevie Wonder, among others, to discuss stories to be told about the United Nations on the frontlines of global issues.
That evening, the Secretary-General and his delegation attended the Global Creative Forum reception and dinner hosted by Richard Sneider at his residence. The reception was also attended by Bill Clinton, United Nations Special Envoy for Haiti and former President of the United States, as well as many Hollywood celebrities and philanthropists, including Michael Douglas, Stevie Wonder, Demi Moore, Kiefer Sutherland, Orlando Bloom and Samuel L. Jackson.
In a toast, the Secretary-General thanked Hollywood for the great deal done to help Haiti and its people in the aftermath of the worst earthquake in the region in over 200 years. He said he was impressed by the enormous personal commitment of so many members of the creative community to address global challenges and to bring public awareness. He said: “When you make a movie, you reach millions. You can throw a spotlight on the world’s challenges and on this noble work. You can help people understand what the UN does and why it matters. More, you can engage them […] inspire them to join us in working for a better world.”
On Tuesday morning, the Secretary-General visited the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Burkle Center for International Relations, where he delivered the 2010 Bernard Brodie Distinguished Lecture on the Conditions of Peace. There, he also received the UCLA Medal, the highest honour bestowed by the University on those who have made extraordinary and distinguished contributions to their professions and society. (See Press Release SG/SM/12772)
In his one-hour lecture under the theme “Mobilizing the Global Citizenry: the United Nations in a Changing World”, the Secretary-General focused on three specific challenges: the climate change threat; achieving the Millennium Development Goals; and the empowerment of women. He said his main message focuses on young people, who are the future and owners of this world. He called on each and every one to take interest in global issues and to enlist in the mission of helping to transform the world. “Be a global citizen. Help us mobilize the global citizenry. Help us build the conditions for peace. […] I ask you to work with us for common prosperity, and for security and peace for all human beings.”
The Secretary-General then visited City Hall and met with Antonio Villaraigosa, Mayor of the City of Los Angeles.
The Secretary-General departed Los Angeles around noon on Tuesday, 2 March, for New York.