United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, accompanied by Madam Ban Soon-taek, arrived in London from Addis Ababa on Wednesday, 2 February.
He met that day with David Cameron, the Prime Minister, and other United Kingdom dignitaries. During their meeting, the Secretary-General and the Prime Minister discussed events in Egypt, the Middle East peace process, Cyprus, Sudan, Darfur, Côte d'Ivoire, Afghanistan, United Nations reform and conflict prevention. The Secretary-General expressed appreciation for the United Kingdom Government’s pledge to increase overseas development assistance to 0.7 per cent of gross national income, despite budget constraints.
In comments to the press outside No. 10 Downing Street afterwards, the Secretary-General touched on the situation in Egypt, once again urging restraint on all sides. “It is important at this juncture,” he said, “that an orderly and peaceful transition should take place.” And he urged all parties to engage in such a dialogue without delay. He said the danger of instability across the Middle East should not be underestimated, and reiterated the readiness of the United Nations to provide assistance to reform efforts by Egypt and any Arab countries “to respect and reflect the will of the people”.
The Secretary-General met separately with William Hague, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, and Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for International Development. They discussed Egypt, Sudan, development assistance, United Nations reform, UN Women and Cyprus.
He also met Ed Miliband, Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition. They discussed climate change, sustainable development, development assistance, Egypt, the Middle East peace process, Sudan, Afghanistan and Myanmar.
On Wednesday, the Secretary-General also met with Barbara Stocking, Chief Executive of OXFAM GB.
He later delivered the Cyril Foster Lecture entitled “Human Protection and the Twenty-First Century United Nations” at the University of Oxford. He spoke more about the situation in the Arab world, and discussed the concept of human protection — a subset of the broader idea of human security that addresses more immediate threats to the survival of individuals and groups. He said that human protection would remain a hallmark of his administration, as the United Nations continuously strives to make our deeds match our words. “We the peoples expect and deserve nothing less,” he concluded. (See Press Release SG/SM/13385)
The Secretary-General later attended a dinner in his honour hosted by Paul Madden, Provost of Queen’s College, Oxford.
Mr. Ban started his day on Thursday with a breakfast meeting with Christopher Huhne, Secretary of State in the Department of Energy and Climate Change, as part of his continued close engagement with climate change officials around the world.
He later launched the Action Plan to promote the 2011 World Maritime Day theme — “Piracy: Orchestrating the Response” — at the headquarters of the International Maritime Organization. He discussed the problem of piracy off the coast of Somalia, saying that piracy seems to be outpacing the efforts of the international community to stem it. The only truly successful way to address the problem in the long term is through a strategy that focuses on deterrence, security, the rule of law and development. (See Press Release SG/SM/13386)
He then held a press conference at which he said that the protests in Egypt reflect the great frustration of the people there about the lack of change over the past few decades. This discontent calls for bold reforms, not repression, he said. The Secretary-General reiterated his concern about the growing violence at that point and urged all sides to exercise restraint, adding: “Violent attacks against peaceful protesters are completely unacceptable.”
On Thursday afternoon, following a luncheon hosted in his honour by the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization, Efthimios Mitropoulos, the Secretary-General departed the United Kingdom for Germany.