7 February 2011

Activities of Secretary-General in Ethiopia, 29 January - 1 February

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, accompanied by Madam Ban Soon‑taek, arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Saturday evening, 29 January.

Upon his arrival, the Secretary-General met with a delegation of the Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS), comprising Henry Ajumogobia, Foreign Minister of Nigeria, and James Victor Gbeho, President of the ECOWAS Commission.  The Secretary-General underlined his deep concern about the continuing post-election crisis in Côte d’Ivoire, and its impact on security and development prospects.  He commended the Commission’s efforts to find a peaceful solution to the crisis and thanked ECOWAS for its leadership in that regard.  The Secretary-General stressed the importance for the United Nations, ECOWAS and the African Union to preserve their principled and unified position.  He also welcomed the decision by the African Union Peace and Security Council to reaffirm previous decisions of ECOWAS and the African Union, and reiterate its support to the United Nations work.  The Secretary-General expressed willingness to work closely with a high-level panel for the resolution of the crisis to be established by the African Union.

The Secretary-General then co-chaired a high-level meeting on Côte d’Ivoire on the margins of the African Union Summit.  In his remarks, he said: “Our first duty is to the people of Côte d’Ivoire.  We must preserve our unified position, act together, and stand firm against Mr. [Laurent] Gbagbo’s attempt to hang on to power through the use of force.”  He added that the solutions must be grounded in principle and promote shared values.  (See Press Release SG/SM/13375)

The Secretary-General started his day on Sunday with a bilateral meeting with Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France.  The Secretary-General reaffirmed the commitment of the United Nations to work closely with the Group of 20 (G-20), in particular with regards to generating innovative financing for development.  Regarding the situation in Côte d’Ivoire, the Secretary-General and President Sarkozy welcomed the decision of the African Union Peace and Security Council of 28 January.  The Secretary-General expressed the hope that a peaceful solution would be found soon, respecting the will of the people and the principles of the United Nations Charter.  Commenting on the developments in Lebanon, the Secretary-General voiced his concerns about the rising tensions and the threats against the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.  He stated that the activities of the Special Tribunal should continue unimpeded, as it is carrying out an independent judicial process that cannot be stopped.  Finally, regarding Haiti, the Secretary-General expressed his strong hope that the Government would accept the recommendations of the Organization of American States (OAS) regarding the presidential elections.  He also assured the President that the United Nations was working hard to stem the cholera epidemic.

The Secretary-General then delivered opening remarks at the Sixteenth Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union.  He said that Africa was on the move and that “as partners of Africa, our challenge is to maintain and increase this momentum”.  He added that the Charter of the United Nations and the Constitutive Act of the African Union share the same principles and goals and values: peace, security, stability, human rights, good governance and the rule of law, dignity and economic development, social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.  (See Press Release SG/SM/13376)

The Secretary-General had a meeting with Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, in which he welcomed the collaboration among neighbouring States to bring an end to violence in the region.  The Secretary-General and the President also discussed and agreed on the need for effective measures to bring an end to gender-based violence in conflict situations.

He also met with the President of Gabon, Ali Bongo Ondimba, and discussed the cooperation between the United Nations and Gabon in addressing regional peace and security issues in Africa, including the situation in Côte d’Ivoire.  They also discussed the support of Gabon to the newly established United Nations Office in Central Africa, and its potential benefits to preventive diplomacy efforts in the subregion.

In the afternoon, after taking part in a meeting of the Dryland Policy Alliance (see Press Release SG/SM/13377), the Secretary-General participated in the launch of UN Women’s presence in Africa.  He said: “We need to empower African women who produce food, raise children and drive the economy here.  When those women take their rightful place at the negotiating table, in the Parliament and in leadership positions across society, we can unleash Africa’s enormous potential.”  (See Press Release SG/SM/13378)

The Secretary-General also held a press conference with his Special Representatives and Under-Secretaries-General present in Addis Ababa.  “What you see around this table is a reflection of the United Nations commitment to serve Africa on all fronts and to advance our interlinked agendas on peace, development and human rights,” he told reporters.  He said the African Union Summit was taking place at a particularly critical time for Africa, and pointed to such issues as Côte d’Ivoire, Sudan and Somalia.  He also expressed concerns about fast-changing situations, including in Egypt, and said their overriding theme was the need to listen and to deliver on the people’s legitimate aspirations for a better standard of living and a decent quality of life.

Before attending a banquet hosted by the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi, the Secretary-General met with the President of Angola, José Eduardo dos Santos, and discussed with him the cooperation between the United Nations and Angola in addressing regional peace and security issues in Africa, including the situations in Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea-Bissau.

He also met with the President of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, and discussed the cooperation between the United Nations and that Government, and the challenges ahead, including the completion of the transition.  They discussed the need for the Transitional Federal Government to accelerate the outreach and reconciliation efforts, intensify constitution-making efforts and work on a security strategy that would allow a better and secure delivery of basic social services to the population.  The Secretary-General and President Sheikh Sharif also discussed the humanitarian situation and the protection of civilians in Somalia.

The following day, the Secretary-General spoke at a high-level meeting on Sudan, saying that country had reached a historic point.  All reports were indicating a generally peaceful referendum process with a large turnout.  He added that, as we reach the final days of the referendum, it is critical that all stakeholders exercise restraint and avoid provocative action.  (See Press Release SG/SM/13379)

He also co-chaired a high-level meeting on Somalia [] and said that the challenge with that country was to make up for lost time, and move decisively with implementation of the priority transitional tasks.  Those include helping the Transitional Federal Government to accelerate the outreach and reconciliation efforts towards all Somali political organizations and armed groups that renounce violence.  (See Press Release SG/SM/13380)

The Secretary-General then held a series of bilateral meetings.  With James Steinberg, Deputy Secretary of State of the United States, he discussed the situation in Côte d’Ivoire and welcomed the decision of the African Union Peace and Security Council of 28 January.  The Secretary-General was hopeful that a peaceful solution, reflecting the will of the people and the principles of the United Nations, would be found soon.  On Sudan, the Secretary-General expressed his strong hope that the positive trend generated by the peaceful conduct of the referendum would lead to renewed focus on resolving post-referendum issues and helping Southern Sudan establish strong democratic institutions.  Commenting on the situation in Somalia, the Secretary-General appreciated the support provided to the troop-contributing countries by the United States, as well as efforts to enhance the capacity of the Transitional Federal Government.

The Secretary-General then met with Alpha Condé, President of Guinea, and congratulated him for his election and for the peaceful transition to democracy that took place in Guinea.  He assured the President of United Nations support for his agenda on economic development, on national reconciliation and on security-sector reform.  The Secretary-General welcomed the initiatives of the President to collaborate with neighbouring countries to fight drug and weapons trafficking, and to promote regional cooperation, peace and stability.

In a meeting with Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, President of Nigeria, the Secretary-General appreciated the leadership provided by President Jonathan on issues facing Africa.  Regarding the situation on Côte d’Ivoire, the Secretary-General discussed how to follow up on the decision of the African Union’s Peace and Security Council of 28 January.  While appreciating President Jonathan’s continued leadership on the issue, the Secretary-General emphasized the need that an early solution to the impasse be found in a manner consistent with the expressed will of the Ivorian people.  The Secretary-General thanked President Jonathan for Nigerian contributions to peacekeeping operations.

The Secretary-General also met with Vice-President George Kunda of Zambia.  As Zambia was assuming the chairmanship of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, they discussed United Nations and SADC cooperation on several regional issues, including the situations in Madagascar, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the illegal exploitation of natural resources.

After speaking at an African Leaders Malaria Alliance (see Press Release SG/SM/13381), the Secretary-General held a meeting with Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, newly elected Chairperson of the African Union and President of Equatorial Guinea.  The Secretary-General congratulated the President for his election to the African Union Chairmanship and assured him of the continued support of the United Nations for the African Union.  The Secretary-General highlighted a number of joint African Union-United Nations initiatives on which he hoped to work closely with President Obiang, including the Millennium Development Goals process, the fight against malaria, climate change and sustainability.

The Secretary-General also met with Salva Kiir Mayardit, Vice-President of Sudan, and with Gilbert Balibaseka Bukenya, Vice-President of Uganda.  With Mr. Bukenya, the Secretary-General expressed his gratitude for the Ugandan contribution to peacekeeping operations, particularly in Somalia.  During the meeting, the Secretary-General raised several issues with the Vice-President, such as the upcoming elections in Uganda, the situations in Sudan and Somalia, human rights, including the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Uganda, and operations against the Lord’s Resistance Army.

At the end of the day, the Secretary-general held a joint press conference with his Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Margot Wallström.  He said leaders need to speak out because sexual violence thrives on silence and impunity.  Noting that this crime was not inherent to any one culture or continent, he said the challenge was to prevent the cycle of violence and vengeance, discrimination and disempowerment, rage and recrimination that give rise to rape as a tactic of war.

On Tuesday 1 February, the Secretary-General held a meeting with Jean Ping, Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union.  The Secretary-General welcomed the cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations, in particular on peace and security issues in Sudan, Somalia and Côte d’Ivoire. For the coming year, he looked forward to work even more closely with the African Union, the Chairperson and the Commissioners on matters such as sustainable development, women’s empowerment, fighting sexual violence in conflict, security-sector reform, conflict prevention and mediation.

He also met with Prime Minister Meles before leaving Addis Ababa on Tuesday evening, 1 February, for London, England.

For information media. Not an official record.