United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres arrived in Vienna on Monday, 14 May.
He first had a working lunch with Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, as well as meetings with President Alexander Van der Bellen and Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl.
In press remarks after meeting the Chancellor, the Secretary-General welcomed the recent announcement by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea of their intention to close their nuclear test site at Punggye-ri. He said that the irreversible closure of the site would be an important confidence-building measure that would contribute to further efforts towards sustainable peace and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. He looked forward to this positive momentum being consolidated at the summit between the leaders of the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The Secretary-General also said that he was particularly worried by the news that day about what was happening in Gaza, with a high number of people reported killed. Following his meeting with the Foreign Minister, the Secretary-General said that Israel must calibrate its use of force and minimize the use of live fire. Lethal force should be used only as a last resort, under imminent threat of death or serious injury. And he added that Hamas and the leaders of the demonstrations must keep protestors away from the Gaza fence and prevent all violent actions, provocations and attempts to breach the fence.
After his meeting with President Alexander Van der Bellen, the Secretary-General thanked Austria as an exemplary host of United Nations agencies. The Secretary-General then went to the United Nations headquarters in Austria at the Vienna International Centre, where he met with heads of the Vienna-based United Nations agencies and held a town hall meeting with staff.
The Secretary-General delivered remarks to the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. In speaking to Commission members, he commended their work and that of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in their efforts to combat the scourge of human trafficking, cybercrime and corruption, among others. (See Press Release SG/SM/19033.)
On Monday evening, the Secretary-General attended a high-level dinner hosted by Chancellor Kurz for the participants of the R20 Austrian World Summit on Climate, which the Secretary-General attended on Tuesday. The Summit brought together international leaders from the political, business and investment worlds, civil society, academia and start-ups to work together and show leadership on implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Secretary-General told the gathered leaders that of all the challenges he is faced with every day, few loom so large as climate change. If we failed to meet that challenge, he added, all other challenges would just become greater and threaten to swallow us. Acknowledging the Summit’s focus on subnational and local efforts, the Secretary-General underscored the need for financing to reach the people and places that need it most. He said that mobilizing and equipping local governments with the capacity and financing to accelerate climate action is necessary if we are to bend the emissions curve. (See Press Release SG/SM/19035.)
On the sidelines of the meeting, the Secretary-General had two separate bilateral meetings, with the Prime Minister of Denmark, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, and the Prime Minister of Norway, Erna Solberg.
He then flew to Brussels, Belgium, where he arrived early in the afternoon.