United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, accompanied by Madam Ban Soon-taek, arrived in Dili, the capital of Timor-Leste, around midday on Wednesday, 15 August, after a flight from Jakarta, where they had spent the night after leaving the Republic of Korea on Tuesday afternoon.
The Secretary-General first held talks with the President, Taur Matan Ruak, and then gave a joint press conference with the President at which he underscored the progress Timor-Leste had made in many spheres in the decade since regaining independence.
Later in the day, he also met the leader of the political opposition, Mari Alkatiri.
The Secretary-General also spoke at the Fragility Assessment Workshop hosted by the Finance Ministry (see Press Release SG/SM/14466), and visited the Police Training Centre, where he met newly trained police officers, police trainers and officers from the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT). (See Press Release SG/SM/14467.)
On the Thursday morning, 16 August, the Secretary-General wrapped up his second day in Timor-Leste by focusing on education, and a new global initiative he plans to launch formally on 26 September in New York during the general debate.
The Secretary-General first visited a rural primary school at Cassait in Liquica District along the coast from Dili. He met children, teachers and parents, as well as representatives of donor countries and United Nations bodies involved in work at the school.
He said he had chosen to highlight his Education First initiative in Timor-Leste because the country had made tremendous progress in the short years since regaining independence, but needed further assistance to ensure it would reach the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education by the end of 2015. (See Press Release SG/SM/14468.)
The Secretary-General then returned to Dili, where he delivered a lecture to students from the University of Timor-Leste and other students. He said Timor-Leste had recognized that in its move from conflict to stabilization, education holds the keys to future prosperity and well-being. He said this held true for every country.
He said the world needed a bold new push for education. We must widen access to all boys and girls, improve the quality of learning, and strengthen values-based education to make young people global citizens. (See Press Release SG/SM/14470.)
The Secretary-General was joined in Timor-Leste by the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova, and his newly appointed Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, the former British Prime Minister.
The Secretary-General also visited the headquarters of UNMIT to thank national and international staff for their hard work over the years, which he said had been crucial for the country’s development. The Mission is scheduled to wind down by the end of the year, although the broader United Nations family will remain active in the country.
The Secretary-General left Dili on the afternoon of Thursday, 16 August, to fly back to New York via Singapore and Frankfurt. He arrived back in New York around midday on Friday, 17 August.