United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, accompanied by Madam Ban Soon-taek, arrived in the Republic of Korea on Sunday evening, 28 October, after a flight from New York which left on Saturday afternoon.
On Monday morning, the Secretary-General first met Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan and then spoke at a conference on the role of sports in promoting peace, development and human rights. (See Press Release SG/SM/14608.)
That evening, the Secretary-General was awarded the Seoul Peace Prize. In his acceptance speech, the Secretary-General said he saw the award as a tribute to the United Nations, its work for peace across the world, and the diverse and talented staff who bring the United Nations Charter to life. (See Press Release SG/SM/14609.)
The Secretary-General said that the human family was at a critical juncture and that the world was going through a great transition encompassing economic, developmental and political changes. He made a special plea about the threat of nuclear weapons, stressing that it was an illusion that atomic weapons provide security. The Secretary-General said that it was difficult to explain why in a post-cold-war world, amidst a global financial crisis, the nuclear weapon States seem intent on modernizing their arsenals for decades to come.
The Secretary-General said at a reception that he planned to donate the prize money to the fund for fallen United Nations colleagues and a fund for United Nations mediation efforts.
On Tuesday, 30 October, the Secretary-General visited the National Assembly, where he became the first United Nations Secretary-General to addressthe Parliament of the Republic of Korea. He also held talks with the Speaker of the National Assembly, Kang Chang-hee, and other parliamentary leaders. (See Press Release SG/SM/14610.)
In his remarks to the National Assembly, the Secretary-General said the Republic of Korea had unique lessons to share on all three pillars of the United Nation's work — peace and security, development and human rights — and could be an active catalyst in bringing the world together on these topics. He noted that the Republic of Korea evolved from a developing to a developed country within the span of a single generation.
On Syria, the Secretary-General said he was appalled that the recent call to suspend the fighting there was ignored and violated by both sides. He said it was clear that the Syrian people needed to see transition and real change in their country. Violence, however, was not the way to promote that change or stop it, he said.
Later, the Secretary-General travelled to Incheon's Songdo City, where he met United Nations staff based in Korea and then attended the opening of the Rehabilitation International World Congress. He said that the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities had marked a major step forward, but the challenge was bridging the gap between policy and practice. “We all know this situation has to change — for persons with disabilities and for our world,” the Secretary-General said. “When we empower persons with disabilities, we strengthen human solidarity for everyone.” (See Press Release SG/SM/14611.)
At the start of his address, the Secretary-General said that his thoughts were with those in the United States and the Caribbean who were being affected — or already had been — by Hurricane Sandy.
On Wednesday, 31 October, the Secretary-General addressed the opening of the 2012 Council meeting of the WorldBusiness Council for Sustainable Development. In his remarks, he said the role of business at June's Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development was significant and in contrast to the Earth Summit of 1992 when companies were hardly present. He said the corporate world did not just come to Rio with open minds; it brought concrete commitments too. It was plain that business could spur a revolution in sustainability. However, he noted that, despite plain evidence that business for the common good means good business, the case has not yet been thoroughly accepted either by the business community or among Governments. This needed to change, he said. (See Press Release SG/SM/14612.)
Later that day the Secretary-General met President Lee Myung-bak at the Presidential Blue House.
The Secretary-General also had separate meetings on Wednesday with the President of the Korean Red Cross, the Education Minister, and the Board of United Nations Academic Impact — Korea.
On Wednesday evening, the Secretary-General, accompanied by Madam Ban, flew to New York where he arrived that same evening.