Montevideo, Uruguay

14 June 2011

Secretary-General's press conference after meeting with President Jose Mujica of Uruguay

Buenas noches. Muchas gracias por su hospitalidad.

It is a pleasure to be here in Uruguay. This is my first visit as the Secretary-General. I am very grateful for such great hospitality and warm welcome. In fact, I have been looking forward to visiting this great country for a long time.

I have just concluded a productive meeting with President [José ] Mujica and Minister [Luis] Almagro and other senior officials.

I want to salute President Mujica for his leadership and lifelong commitment to social justice and democracy and a better life for all Uruguayans.

The reason I am so proud to be in Uruguay is simple –because Uruguay is so proudly serving around the world.

Tomorrow, I will address the Parliament.

I will speak of Uruguay's outsized contributions to United Nations peacekeeping. Adjusted for population, Uruguay is the world's number one contributor to United Nations peacekeeping operations. Now Uruguay is second largest troop contributor to MINUSTAH [United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti], which is in your region.

I will speak of your role as a model of UN efforts to be more efficient and effective on the ground by Delivering as One –Unidos en Accion.

I will highlight your strong voice in the area of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

And next week, Uruguay will assume the President of the Human Rights Council, which for the first time will have a female President.

Closer to home, Uruguay's deepening of democracy and progress on human development is a true inspiration. I will cite your progress on not only meeting the MDGs, but setting even higher, more ambitious targets for development –“MDG Plus.”

Let me just say in a larger sense, my visit to South America comes at a time of opportunity, hope and change.

I am convinced that the region can play an even bigger role in the United Nations, and the United Nations can play an even bigger role in the region.

Uruguay's contributions have been decisive. I once again thank the President and the Uruguayan people.

And finally, I am honoured by such strong support for my re-election as Secretary-General of the United Nations. From the beginning of this process, Uruguay has been a strong supporter of my role as Secretary-General and I'm deeply honoured and grateful to President Mujica and his government for such strong support. With the support of the Uruguayan government, I hope I will be able to continue to contribute to peace and security and development and promotion of human rights all around the world to make this world a better place for all.

Muchas gracias.

Q: [in Spanish on the role of Latin America]

SG: Many of Latin American countries have gone through very difficult periods [lasting decades]. Most of the Latin American countries have been successfully transitioning to democracy. And most of them are middle-income countries, including Uruguay. And they are meeting the targets of the MDGs. They are also empowering women and they are making good progress in women's status and women's health. They are also furthering regional integration, solidarity for the regional cooperation, many countries in Latin America including Uruguay, Colombia, Argentina and Brazil. As well, they are taking a great leadership role in South-South cooperation, which is a very important, and they are changing this dimension of econ cooperation as not only this one-sided cooperaton from the developed to the developing world. The portion of South-South cooperation, economic cooperation, is taking a greater role. And in that regard, with regional integration and solidifying their democratic institutions, we can see greater hope and further progress in terms of peace and security, stability, development and human rights. President Mujic, as you know very well, has spent his life defending the freedom and democracy of this great country. Now sitting as the President of this great country, you can expect that further progress and promotion and protection of human rights, which can set a very good example to other parts of the world.