United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, accompanied by Madam Ban Soon-taek, arrived in Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday, 16 June, having departed Bolivia the day before, with brief stopovers in Lima and Madrid.
On Tuesday morning, 17 June, after a meeting at his hotel with High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres and Ambassador Choi Seokyoung, Chairperson of the Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations in Geneva, the Secretary-General headed the Palais des Nations to take part in the Special Session of the Trade and Development Board of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in celebration of its fiftieth anniversary.
Prior to addressing the assembly, the Secretary-General met with Mukhisa Kituyi, the Secretary-General of UNCTAD.
In his remarks to the Assembly, the Secretary-General saluted UNCTAD’s work over the past five decades. “In the process”, Ban said “the contribution of UNCTAD to the United Nations development work has been — and continues to be — crucial.” (See Press Release SG/SM/15952.)
He added that if we are to succeed in the quest for sustainable development, “we will have to strengthen multilateral cooperation and global partnership”.
The Secretary-General then held a press conference at the Palais des Nations press room. He expressed his deep concern at the deteriorating security situation in Iraq, including the reports of mass summary execution by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. In answer to a question about the political situation in Iraq, the Secretary-General said: “Inclusive dialogue is the key essence of good governance and leadership in any country.”
Asked about the risks of Iraq breaking up into three federal States, the Secretary-General answered that what is important is that the “Iraqi Government should have one State, whether they are Sunnis or Shi’ites or Kurds; they should be able to harmoniously live together, respecting and upholding human rights and values of the United Nations. When any part of this is lacking, it only creates a problem like we are seeing.”
Following the press conference, the Secretary-General and Madam Ban visited the Emergency Relief Coordination Centre of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, located at the Palais des Nations and was shown a demonstration of how the centre works. He congratulated the staff on the rapid and creative work that they do every time disaster strikes.
Earlier that day, Madam Ban visited the newly renovated Red Cross Museum, accompanied by Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and his spouse.
In the afternoon, the Secretary-General travelled to Lausanne to visit the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee and to tour the recently renovated Olympic Museum. Alongside Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee (OIC) he spoke to the press.
On Wednesday, 18 June, he spoke at an International Labour Organization (ILO) event on youth employment, and he said that an epidemic of youth unemployment is a great test of our time. Half of the world’s young people in the labour force are either working poor or unemployed. He said that working with and for women and young people is one of the top five priorities of his second term as Secretary-General. (See Press Release SG/SM/15955.)
The Secretary-General noted that the United Nations system is implementing a system-wide action plan on youth. And he called on Governments to invest more in youth employment initiatives and promote decent work.
While in Geneva, the Secretary-General met with Nabil Elaraby, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States. They discussed all dimensions of the Syrian issue, including the current priorities, which include humanitarian access and bringing the fighting to a halt. They discussed the current search for a successor of Lakhdar Brahimi and agreed to continue these consultations. They also exchanged views on the current state of the Middle East peace process, as well as on the crises in Iraq, Libya and Somalia.
The Secretary-General returned to New York that afternoon.