On Saturday evening, 28 January, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki‑moon, accompanied by Madam Ban Soon-taek, arrived in Addis Ababa from Zurich to attend the eighteenth ordinary session of the Assembly of the African Union.
On Sunday morning, the Secretary-General participated in a tree-planting ceremony in memory of Wangari Maathai at the African Union Commission conference and office complex.
Addressing the leaders at the opening ceremony afterwards, the Secretary-General said that for the first time in 17 years, the United Nations Political Office for Somalia returned to Mogadishu. He told leaders there had been operational and strategic differences in how the United Nations had addressed the situations in Côte d’Ivoire and Libya. He saw this as natural in an organization as varied in its membership as the United Nations, but that differences had been handled through dialogue, engagement and collaboration. (See Press Release SG/SM/14086)
With respect to human rights, he noted that one form of discrimination has been ignored or even sanctioned by many States for far too long — discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. This has prompted some Governments to treat people as second-class citizens, or even criminals. Confronting this discrimination is a challenge, he said, but we must live up to the ideals of the Universal Declaration.
Following a luncheon hosted by President Mwai Kibaki, President of Kenya, in commemoration of the fortieth anniversary of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Secretary-General held a press conference with his senior advisers.
The Secretary-General also held a series of bilaterals with African leaders, in the following order: President Salva Kiir of South Sudan; President Kibaki of Kenya; Abdurrahim el-Keib, Prime Minister of Libya; President Moncef Marzouki of Tunisia; President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea; Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Júnior of Guinea-Bissau; President François Bozizé of the Central African Republic; President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria, and President Idris Deby Ibno of Chad.
On Monday, 30 January, the Secretary-General held further bilaterals with leaders, in the following order: President Alassane Ouattara of Côte d’Ivoire; William Burns, Deputy Secretary of State of the United States; President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi; Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Ali Amr of Egypt; President Jacob Zuma of South Africa; Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS); President Al Hadji Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh of Gambia; President Michael Chilufya Sata of Zambia; President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda; Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia of Algeria; President Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia; President Boni Yayi of Benin; and General Sékouba Konaté, African Union High Representative for the African Standby Force.
The Secretary-General also participated in the launch of the report of the Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on Global Sustainability. He thanked the Panel’s co-Chairs, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa and President Tarja Halonen of Finland, and said that sustainable development is a top priority for his second term. He reported immediate action on two of the panel’s recommendations: strengthening the sustainable development strategy for the United Nations system, and launching the Sustainable Energy for All initiative. (See Press Release SG/SM/14087)