United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his delegation arrived in Paris from Marrakesh, Morocco, on Thursday afternoon, 17 November.
Later in the evening, in the Salle d’Or at the Elysée Palace, the Secretary-General was awarded the “Grand Chevalier de la Legion d’honneur” by President François Hollande.
In remarks delivered at the ceremony, the Secretary-General thanked the President for bestowing this honour which he accepted on behalf of the whole United Nations. He voiced his appreciation of the essential role that France plays in the work of the United Nations in the areas of human rights, climate change, the promotion of peace and security and sustainable development. (See Press Release SG/SM/18276.)
Prior to the ceremony, the Secretary-General had a bilateral meeting with the President.
He then paid a farewell visit to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), where he thanked its staff for their hard work in preserving the world’s global cultural heritage in the face of increasing attacks.
He also noted that the first books he studied as a child growing up in the aftermath of the Korean War were provided by UNESCO, adding that he learned more than reading and math; he learned solidarity.
The Secretary-General held a working lunch with French Foreign Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault.
Speaking to the press afterwards with the Foreign Minister, the Secretary-General thanked France for its support of the United Nations throughout his tenure. He voiced confidence that the Government and the people of France will continue to support the work of the United Nations, as well as his successor, António Guterres, in its mission to build a better world for all.
The Secretary-General returned to New York later on Friday, 18 November.