United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Saint Petersburg late on Wednesday morning, 4 September, to attend the G-20 summit after an overnight flight from New York, with a transfer in Moscow.
That afternoon, he delivered a lecture at Saint Petersburg State University and answered questions from the students there.
He said the international community was facing great trials and tests. Around the world, human rights are at risk. Democracies are threatened. Legitimate voices and movements of dissent are being stifled. He said people are worried about the future and wonder whether institutions and decision makers will hear their pleas and act on them. The Secretary-General said he firmly believed the international community had a duty to address the immediate crises in our world, notably Syria. But he said that, at the same time, we must look to a wider time horizon and act now to take on the longer-term challenges — including strengthening global economic recovery and working to ensure sustainable development. He said he had brought three interlinked messages for the G-20 leaders from the world’s major economies: the need to accelerate work on the Millennium Development Goals; to craft the post-2015 development agenda; and to tackle climate change. He also said he was sure that G-20 leaders would be heavily engaged in tackling the crisis in Syria. (See Press Release SG/SM/15253.)
On the morning of Thursday, 5 September, the Secretary-General first met with the Russian Federation’s Human Rights Ombudsman, Vladimir Lukin.
He had a range of meetings with world leaders throughout the day, including with the President of the Republic of Korea, Park Geun-hye, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, and the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev.
That afternoon and evening, the Secretary-General attended the opening sessions of the G-20 Summit at the Konstantinovsky Palace in Saint Petersburg. At the working dinner, the Secretary-General briefed world leaders on developments in Syria and outlined the work of the United Nations chemical weapons investigation team. He also explained that he had asked Lakhdar Brahimi, the Joint Special Representative for Syria, to join him in Saint Petersburg to help push for an international conference on Syria in Geneva. (See Press Release SG/SM/15257.)
The Secretary-General said earlier that, while the world is focused on concerns about the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria, it is crucial to push even harder for the international conference on Syria to take place in Geneva. He said a political solution is the only way to end the bloodshed in Syria. Separately, the Secretary-General underscored the importance of sustainable development for a global economic recovery. (See Press Release SG/SM/15273.)
On Friday, 6 September, the Secretary-General first attended a meeting organized by British Prime Minister David Cameron on the margins of the summit to highlight the need for more funding for aid for the humanitarian crisis in Syria. (See Press Release SG/SM/15258.)
Among the leaders the Secretary-General met that day were the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. The Secretary-General was accompanied at most of his meetings by the Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi.
In the afternoon, the Secretary-General took part in G-20 sessions that focused on growth, jobs and investment and trade.
The Secretary-General left Saint Petersburg early on Saturday, 7 September, and arrived in New York the same day.