Activities of Secretary-General in Switzerland, 10-11 May

13 May 2011

Activities of Secretary-General in Switzerland, 10-11 May

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Geneva from Istanbul on the morning of Tuesday, 10 May.

At noon, he attended a round table discussion on strengthening preparedness for nuclear accidents.  (See Press Release SG/SM/13557)

Following a luncheon hosted by Kassym Jomart Tokayev, Director General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, the Secretary-General attended the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction.

He told the meeting that, as we have learned repeatedly, no country or city, rich or poor, is immune from disaster.  But alongside the dangers from disaster itself, there is the dangerous myth that acts of nature are just that — unavoidable and inevitable.  (See Press Release SG/SM/13558)

The Secretary-General said that, by our actions, we can either compound disasters or diminish them.  The difference lies in preparedness, he said, adding that it is crucial to accelerate our efforts, to broaden the coalition for action and to better connect risk reduction and sustainable development. 

He also attended a high-level plenary session on “Increased Investment in Local Action” and participated in a press conference [] with Margareta Wahlström, Assistant Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction.

On the margins of these events, the Secretary-General met with Gjorge Ivanov, President of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia; Shozo Azuma, Senior Vice-Minister of State for Disaster Management of Japan; John Carter, Minister for Civil Defence, Senior Citizens and Racing of New Zealand; and Marcelo Ebrard, Mayor of Mexico City.

He also spoke by phone that day with Libyan Prime Minister Al Baghdadi Ali Al-Mahmoudi.

The Secretary-General attended a dinner that evening hosted by Dante Martinelli, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva.

On Wednesday morning, the Secretary-General attended the opening session of the second International Forum on Sport for Peace and Development.  (See Press Release SG/SM/13564)

He also met with Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee.

At a press conference before departure to New York, the Secretary-General told reporters that in his phone call with Libyan Prime Minister Al-Mahmoudi he had said that the Libyan authorities must stop attacking civilians.  The Secretary-General said there must be an immediate, verifiable ceasefire, negotiations towards a peaceful resolution of the conflict and unimpeded access for humanitarian workers.  The Prime Minister agreed to receive the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Libya, Abdul Ilah al-Khatib, who would travel to Tripoli as soon as possible.

On Syria, the Secretary-General said President Bashar al-Assad must heed the calls of the people for reform and freedom, and desist from excessive force and mass arrest of peaceful demonstrators.  He said that he was disappointed that the United Nations humanitarian assessment team has not yet been given the access it needs — and was promised by — the Syrian authorities.  He again urged Syria to cooperate with the Human Rights Council-mandated mission and grant access to human rights monitors.

The Secretary-General added that he was disturbed by the recent violence between Muslims and Copts in Egypt.  After the prolonged display of national unity that led to the peaceful transition of power, it is critical that the Egyptian people maintain that unity of purpose to achieve their democratic aspirations.  He said he was also concerned about recent tensions in Tunisia.

He arrived back in New York in the early afternoon of Wednesday, 11 May.

For information media. Not an official record.