United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, accompanied by Madam Ban Soon‑taek, visited Switzerland on an official visit, arriving in Bern on Sunday, 16 October.
On the first day, after observing by helicopter the decreasing volume of the Swiss glaciers, the Secretary-General and the President of the Swiss Confederation, Micheline Calmy-Rey, exchanged views during a working lunch in Pohlern on climate change, sustainable development and the importance of upcoming climate negotiations in Durban. They also discussed various regional situations and issues linked to immigration and globalization.
In the afternoon, the Secretary-General met with several members of the House of Representatives of Australia, including Harry Jenkins, Speaker of the House. They discussed the value of preventive diplomacy efforts undertaken by regional organizations and Australia’s support for such initiatives. They also reviewed progress towards the Millennium Development Goals and the strengthening of the United Nations-Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) partnership following the recent PIF Summit in Auckland.
The Secretary-General also met with Tibor Tóth, Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization. They discussed the importance of achieving progress towards the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and its practical value for Member States.
The Secretary-General later met with five young people from Egypt, Libya, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen, who have been playing an important part in the “Arab Spring”. They discussed the need to transform aspirations for change into sustainable and inclusive democratic governance as well as the role which the United Nations can play in assisting countries in this process. The Secretary-General commended the young people for their commitment and vision and encouraged them to pursue their political engagement.
In the evening, the Secretary-General addressed some 1,200 parliamentarians from 130 countries attending the inaugural ceremony of the 125th session of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). The Secretary-General stressed the responsibility which the world’s major economies must shoulder to restore global financial stability, urging them to follow the model of the 2009 London Summit of the Group of 20. He also underlined the need to expand women’s participation in all spheres of life, including in parliaments. (See Press Release SG/SM/13880.)
On the second day of his visit, the Secretary-General met in the morning in Bern with President Calmy-Rey and other members of the Swiss Government. They discussed sustainable development and climate change, global health issues, including follow-up to the September Summit on Non-communicable Diseases, and conflict prevention and mediation efforts. Regional issues, including the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as in the South Caucasus, were also discussed. The Secretary-General thanked the President for Switzerland’s important contributions to the work of the United Nations in all these fields and as host country to many United Nations entities. He expressed particular appreciation for Switzerland's support for the Strategic Heritage Plan and the renovation of the Palais des Nations.
In Geneva, the Secretary-General met with Lord Michael Bates, Member of the House of Lords of the United Kingdom. The Secretary-General and Lord Bates discussed the Olympic Truce resolution and the power of sports to unite people and promote peace.
Later, the Secretary-General met with representatives of the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue at their headquarters. They discussed the United Nations role in preventive diplomacy and the work of the Centre in promoting dialogue and mediating conflicts in various countries around the world.
On Tuesday morning, the Secretary-General addressed the Executive Committee of the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), when he highlighted the many tangible results ECE has delivered over the years, making it a go-to source for improving global public goods and services. (See Press Release SG/SM/13885.)
Mr. Ban returned to New York on Tuesday afternoon.