Activities of Secretary-General in Myanmar, 29 April — 1 May

7 May 2012

Activities of Secretary-General in Myanmar, 29 April — 1 May

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, accompanied by Madam Ban Soon-taek, arrived in Yangon, Myanmar, on the afternoon of Sunday, 29 April.

The Secretary-General met with the members of the United Nations country team and then held a town hall meeting with United Nations staff.

Before departing for the capital, Naypyitaw, he paid tribute to former United Nations Secretary-General U Thant at a memorial in Yangon.

The Secretary-General arrived in Naypyitaw in the evening and held two group interviews:  the first with local journalists and the second over dinner with a group of international journalists travelling with him.

He also met with Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

The following morning, Monday, 30 April, the Secretary-General attended an event confirming the United Nations’ assistance to the Government of Myanmar in carrying out the country’s first population census in more than 30 years.  (See Press Release SG/SM/14262)

He then held talks with President Thein Sein and the speakers of the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament.

The Secretary-General addressed the Joint Houses of the Parliament, being the first foreign dignitary to speak at the assembly.

He said that the “dramatic changes sweeping Myanmar have inspired the world”, and that he has “no doubt that Myanmar has within it a vast potential to become a twenty-first century model for peace, democracy and prosperity”.  (See Press Release SG/SM/14263)

The Secretary-General met with so-called “Peace Negotiators” — or the Parliamentary Union Peace Committee — over lunch.

He then flew by helicopter to the village of Kyauk Ka Char in Shan State’s Hopong Township.  There, he visited a United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) alternative development project for opium poppy farmers

The Secretary-General ended his day with a State dinner in his honour hosted by President Thein Sein.

The next morning, Tuesday, 1 May, the Secretary-General returned to Yangon.

His first appointment of the day was with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi at her residence.  After their meeting, they addressed the press together.  The Secretary-General told reporters that the people and Government of Myanmar “have embarked on a path of reform, democratization, and fuller participatory democracy.  They deserve our support.  They deserve the support of the whole international community.  The United Nations will continue to stand by the people in every step and in any way we can.”

He then attended an event introducing the Global Compact to Myanmar, urging businesses in the country to make the “right choices”:  to respect the rights of employees; ensure decent work conditions and empower women in the workplace; to safeguard the environment; and to practise business based on sound ethics, fair competition and good governance.  (See Press Release SG/SM/14267)

Following a meeting with Myanmar-based diplomats over lunch, he met with civil society and ethnic and opposition groups.

The Secretary-General then visited the UN House in Yangon, where he planted a tree sapling, unveiled a plaque commemorating his visit and inaugurated a new U Thant Conference Room in the complex.

His last event before departing Myanmar was a press conference, where he told media that he was leaving with “profound hope and expectation in the future of this great country”.  He noted that at every level, he “heard a genuine commitment for democracy, political reform and reconciliation”.

The Secretary-General arrived back in New York on Wednesday, 2 May.

For information media. Not an official record.