Activities of Secretary-General in Argentina, 13-14 June

24 June 2011

Activities of Secretary-General in Argentina, 13-14 June

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, together with his wife, Madam Ban Soon-taek, arrived for an official visit to Argentina on Monday, 13 June.

He was scheduled to fly directly to the capital, Buenos Aires, but his flight was diverted to the city of Cordoba, hundreds of kilometres away.  The Secretary-General travelled through the night by bus to Buenos Aires.

His first meeting in the capital was with President Cristina Fernández, and they discussed how the United Nations and Argentina can strengthen their partnership.

The talks were followed immediately by a joint press stakeout, at which the Secretary-General said that Argentina is setting an example for the world through its groundbreaking progress in tackling impunity for human rights violations committed during the era of military dictatorship.

President Fernández hosted a lunch in honour of the Secretary-General and Madam Ban.  In the afternoon, the Secretary-General visited the Space for Memory and for the Protection and Defence of Human Rights and the International Centre for the Promotion of Human Rights, formerly a notorious detention centre.

In his remarks at the site, the Secretary-General said he was very humbled, very sad, and deeply moved by his visit.  “In that spirit, in this symbolic place, let us send a message of hope and encouragement to many people whose human rights, whose basic fundamental rights, are still being abused and oppressed, not only in Argentina but everywhere in the world,” he said.  (See Press Release SG/SM/13639.)

The first day of his visit ended at the country’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs, where he gave a speech entitled “ Argentina and the World”.  The Secretary-General said that Argentina is helping to lead the world from an era of impunity to an age of accountability, noting that the country’s weapons in this struggle have been truth, law and historical memory.  (See Press Release SG/SM/13640.)

On Tuesday, 14 June, the Secretary-General began his day with a meeting with the United Nations Country Team, followed by a town hall meeting with United Nations staff in Argentina.  He then visited the Joint Training Centre for Peacekeeping Operations (CAECOPAZ), where he laid a wreath at a monument for fallen peacekeepers and unveiled another monument in honour of Hédi Annabi, the fallen chief of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).

In remarks, the Secretary-General expressed his gratitude to the people and peacekeepers of Argentina, Chile and all other countries who pass through the Centre on the way to their vitally important engagements.  “We have utmost admiration for your work — here at these training grounds and, most of all, out in the proving grounds, where violence and disaster threaten our efforts to build a better world for all,” he said.  (See Press Release SG/SM/13641.)

He met with civil society representatives before holding talks with Foreign Minister Héctor Marcos Timerman, where the Secretary-General thanked him for Argentina’s support for peacekeeping operations and humanitarian efforts.

The Secretary-General departed Buenos Aires on the afternoon of 14 June by boat for Montevideo, Uruguay.

For information media. Not an official record.