United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, accompanied by his wife, Ban Soon-taek, arrived in San José, Costa Rica, on the morning of Wednesday, 30 July, on his first official visit to the Central American country.
The Secretary-General and Madam Ban were greeted by President Luis Guillermo Solis and First Lady Maria Mercedes Peñas Domingo at the airport.
Speaking to the press at an official welcome ceremony, the Secretary-General noted how Costa Rica, a founding member of the United Nations, serves as an example to other countries. He cited how Costa Rica, which does not maintain an army, is a leader in disarmament efforts, as well as in climate change, with a citizen of the country, Christiana Figueres, serving as the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The Secretary-General also spoke out against what he called an “outrageous” and “unjustifiable” attack on a United Nations school in Gaza sheltering thousands of Palestinian families. “Nothing is more shameful than attacking sleeping children,” he said.
The Secretary-General then gave a lecture at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, headquartered in the Costa Rican capital, to judges, diplomats, journalists and others. He said that for decades, the Court has “advanced justice by ensuring accountability, fighting impunity and protecting human rights defenders. The United Nations will continue strengthening our valuable cooperation.” (See Press Release SG/SM/16058.)
The Secretary-General took part in a short bicycle ride with Foreign Minister Manuel González Sanz and members of a group known as the Environmental Network of Urban Mobility to promote environmentally friendly modes of transportation.
He then held a meeting with Mr. González Sanz, followed by a joint press conference.
Speaking to reporters, the Secretary-General applauded Costa Rica’s leadership in fostering peace, sustainable development and social inclusion. He said that he is also “heartened” by the Government’s recent efforts to end discrimination, welcoming steps taken to promote intercultural dialogue with indigenous peoples.
The Foreign Minister hosted a luncheon in honour of the Secretary-General and Madam Ban.
In the afternoon, the Secretary-General met with dozens of representatives of indigenous groups, before participating in a tour of the Museo del Jade Marco Fidel Tristán Castro, an archaeological museum with an extensive collection of pre-Colombian artefacts.
The Secretary-General was interviewed by the Costa Rican newspaper, La Nacion, and then met with United Nations staff working in the country.
His evening wrapped up with a dinner hosted by the President and the First Lady.
The Secretary-General’s official visit to Costa Rica ended that evening, Wednesday, 30 July.