The Secretary-General arrived in Geneva on Sunday, 18 July. That afternoon, he visited the League of Nations Museum, at the Palais des Nations. The following day, he held a breakfast meeting with the heads of the United Nations organizations based in Geneva.
The Secretary-General then met with Wu Bangguo, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China. They discussed the role of parliamentarians in addressing global challenges. They particularly focused on the Millennium Development Goals, including the upcoming Millennium Development Goals Summit in September in New York. The Secretary-General stressed the need to make progress on maternal and child health. He also underlined the importance of gender equality and women’s empowerment and noted the recent establishment of UN Women. The Secretary-General and the Chairman also discussed China's role in maintaining peace and stability globally and in the Korean peninsula. They talked about the cooperation between China and the United Nations, including the Chinese participation in United Nations peacekeeping and in other areas on the international agenda.
The Secretary-General then opened the Third World Conference of Speakers of Parliament of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). In his address, he told the more than 140 gathered speakers that they were the ones who had to act on the great challenges of our times, since they must ratify treaties on climate change, nuclear non-proliferation and economic development, and also fund these commitments. On non-proliferation, he called on them to “keep up the pressure for change”. (See Press Release SG/SM/13019)
The Secretary-General then met with Park Hee Tae, Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea. They discussed the key role played by parliamentarians in the democratic process. They also talked about the contribution of the Republic of Korea to the work of the United Nations, especially with regard to the Millennium Development Goals and climate change.
He also held a meeting with Ali Larijani, Speaker of the Parliament of Iran. They discussed the Iranian nuclear issue. The Secretary-General stressed the importance of an early resolution to this issue, through dialogue and full compliance with all relevant Security Council resolutions. They also discussed the situation in Iraq, in Afghanistan and in Gaza, as well as combating terrorism and drug trafficking. The Secretary-General underlined the importance of the role of parliamentarians in the democratic process.
The Secretary-General then met with Takahiro Yokomichi, Speaker of the House of Representatives of Japan, and talked about nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, ahead of the Secretary-General's trip to Hiroshima and Nagasaki next month to attend the sixty-fifth anniversary commemoration of the atomic bombings. They also discussed the situation in Afghanistan, in the Korean peninsula as well as the concept of human security. The Secretary-General noted the important role of parliaments in the democratic process. He also welcomed Japan's financial and other contributions to the work of the United Nations, including in peacekeeping operations such as the one in Haiti.
The Secretary-General then held a joint press stakeout with Theo-Ben Gurirab, the President of IPU. He told reporters that “as the voice of the people and as guardians of democracy, parliamentarians have a key role to play in the work of the United Nations”. He added that his attendance at the conference reflected the constructive and strategic partnership between IPU and the United Nations. Asked about the freeing of a number of Cuban prisoners, the Secretary-General said it was “welcomed news and encouraging”. He said he expects more measures taken by the Cuban authorities to achieve reconciliation.
In the early afternoon, the Secretary-General left Geneva for Kabul, Afghanistan.