Activities of Secretary-General in Egypt, 14-16 July

16 July 2009

Activities of Secretary-General in Egypt, 14-16 July

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on Tuesday, 14 July, in order to participate in the fifteenth Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement.

After arriving in Egypt, the Secretary-General met with Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi.  They discussed major challenges in Africa, including Sudan, Chad, Ethiopia-Eritrea, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Secretary-General on Wednesday morning addressed the high-level segment of the fifteenth Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement.  He told the assembled leaders that conditions have drastically changed since the Movement was founded, but the world again faces complex crises threatening development and security.  We need to look to the Non-Aligned Movement’s founding principles to address today’s challenges, he asserted.  (See Press Release SG/SM/12366)

The Secretary-General said that the Non-Aligned Movement’s commitment to peace naturally led it to place high value on a world free of weapons of mass destruction, and he urged the Movement to keep up that fight.

All countries are feeling the effects of the financial crisis, he added, but some developing countries are suffering most, including millions of people living in the Non-Aligned Movement States, particularly those emerging from conflict.  He stressed the need for truly free and fair trade to stimulate recovery and spur growth.

The Secretary-General also stressed the need to examine peacekeeping and peacebuilding holistically, which the United Nations is now doing as it presents its “New Horizons” peacekeeping review, as well as a peacebuilding report.  He emphasized the importance of mediation, as well.

Afterward, he met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, the incoming leader of the Non-Aligned Movement.  They discussed the way forward in the Middle East, climate change, Sudan and Somalia.

After that meeting, the Secretary-General spoke to the First Ladies Summit on women in crisis management, convened by Suzanne Mubarak.

He told the gathered first ladies: “We need to view women as agents of change.  This is what we are doing at the United Nations.  We advocate for women, but more than that, we involve women.”  He noted that under his tenure as Secretary-General, more women have been appointed to senior positions than ever before, nearly tripling their number in top managerial roles.  (See Press Release SG/SM/12367)

Accompanying the Secretary-General in Sharm el-Sheik, his wife, Madam Ban Soon-taek also participated in the First Ladies Summit.  In her remarks, Mrs. Ban stressed that when women have social equality and assurance to be able to make their own decisions, they can help solve the world’s many problems.  She added that women hold the key to tackling the financial crisis and the problem of hunger, but the question is how to turn that key and unlock the solution.

The Secretary-General in the afternoon proceeded to hold a number of meetings with the leaders gathered for the Summit, ranging from brief, informal one-on-one discussions to larger gatherings.

In a meeting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka, the Secretary-General raised the issue of improvements in the conditions in the internally displaced persons camps, and also brought up the arrests of United Nations staff.

He then met with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, with whom he discussed the recently formed commission looking into the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, which was visiting Pakistan that week, and upcoming meetings of the Group of Friends of Democratic Pakistan.

In the evening, the Secretary-General met for an hour with Cuban President Raul Castro, whose country had handed over the leadership of the Non-Aligned Movement to Egypt.  They discussed Cuba’s agricultural production and United States-Cuban relations.

The Secretary-General returned to New York the following day, 16 July.

For information media. Not an official record.