United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres arrived in Geneva on Thursday, 24 May in the morning. That afternoon, he launched his “Agenda for Disarmament” at the University of Geneva. The event had been organized by the University in cooperation with the United Nations Office at Geneva and the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, with media relations support from the United Nations Information Service.
The event was opened by François Longchamp, President of the State Council of the Republic and Canton of Geneva, who praised the choice of the Secretary-General to make a major speech at the University — an institution dedicated to the elevation of humanity — and in Geneva, where the multilateral sector plays a key role. Yves Fluckiger, Rector of Geneva University, also welcomed the Secretary-General and expressed his satisfaction to host him for such an important presentation.
The Secretary-General started his speech by expressing his deep regret for the recently announced cancellation of the Summit between the President of the United States and the leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and urging the parties to continue their dialogue to find a path towards the peaceful and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. (See Press Release SG/SM/19053.)
Then the Secretary‑General described the current challenges to peace and outlined three priorities of his agenda. First, disarmament to save humanity, which aimed to reduce and eliminate weapons of mass destruction — nuclear, chemical and biological; second, disarmament that saved lives, which sought to reduce and mitigate the impact of conventional weapons; and third, disarmament for future generations, which sought to prevent technological advances like artificial intelligence from being used for malicious purposes. The Secretary‑General stressed that “we cannot create a safer world for all through uncoordinated action. Disarmament works best when we work together: Governments, experts, civil society and individuals.” He also stressed the importance to open disarmament processes to diversity, and in particular to enhance the role of women for global peace and security. He concluded by exhorting young people to volunteer and work through civil society organizations, and to use social media to make their voice heard. “The United Nations would like to work with you to help you acquire the knowledge and skills to amplify your voices and lead the change we need,” he said. “I hope you will use your power and your connections to advocate for a peaceful world, free from nuclear weapons, in which weapons are controlled and regulated, and resources are directed towards opportunity and prosperity for all.”
The speech was followed by a question‑and‑answer session with three University students and moderated by Micheline Calmy-Rey, Professor at Geneva University and former President of Switzerland.
The Secretary-General also gave a press stakeout where he reinforced his message on the need for comprehensive and inclusive disarmament, at a time when conflicts multiply and increasingly become the source of dramatic impact on civilian populations.
The Secretary-General continued his visit to Mont Pèlerin accompanied by the Deputy Secretary‑General for the fourteenth seminar for his current Special and Personal Representatives and Envoys.
The Secretary-General left Switzerland on Friday, 25 May.