United Nations Secretary-General pays his first visit to UNESCO

United Nations Secretary-General pays his first visit to UNESCO
  • © UNESCO/A. Wheeler

On Friday 3rd April 2009, Mr Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, paid his first visit to UNESCO Headquarters, where he held bilateral discussions with UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura and a meeting with UNESCO Permanent Delegates and staff.

The Secretary-General was in Paris to attend the spring session of the bi-annual meeting of the UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) hosted by UNESCO on 4-5 April (see Flash Info N°057-2009*).

Welcoming the Secretary-General, the Director-General of UNESCO, thanked Mr Ban Ki-moon for finding time to address UNESCO’s Permanent Delegates and staff. “I know I speak for everyone in saying what a great honour this is for UNESCO, and how much we all look forward to your statement – in particular, coming as you do from yesterday’s historic G20 Summit in London.” Mr Matsuura said. In a warm tribute to Mr Ban’s remarkable career “which brought a young boy from a small village in post-war South Korea to the most important position within the UN system, Mr Matsuura observed that : “As Secretary-General, Mr Ban has led bold efforts to forge a stronger UN better attuned to the needs of today’s world. These have not been easy times for the multilateral system. And yet, under Mr Ban’s stewardship, significant progress has been made in terms of improving the coherence and impact of the UN’s work, and establishing better coordination between UN Funds and Programmes and Specialized Agencies. Mr Ban has also made a remarkable contribution to galvanizing global action on poverty, climate change, and the world food crisis [as well as] to the unprecedented economic turmoil that is engulfing the world. At times of crisis like this the UN needs a strong leader, and we are very lucky to have Mr Ban at the helm.”

Noting that “G20 leaders have reaffirmed their commitment to meeting the Millennium Development Goals; pledged funds to support social protection in low income countries; and committed to boost employment through investment in education and training,” the Director-General concluded that these commitments should receive an immediate follow-up from the UN as a whole, including the call for an effective mechanism to monitor the impact of the crisis on the most vulnerable.

In his address, Mr Ban Ki-moon recalled that he had come to Paris directly from the G-20 Summit in London and that his next stop would be in Istanbul, where he would be attending the Second Alliance of Civilizations Forum. This series of events, he said, was not a coincidence but a continuum, in which UNESCO had a central role to play. Applauding UNESCO’s pioneer work in promoting intercultural dialogue in recent decades, Mr Ban spoke of his warning to the G-20 leaders that the economic crisis could give rise to global instability, and the need to protect all people, but especially those in the world’s most vulnerable countries and in the emerging economies. This call for global solidarity was complemented by a call for green growth, and greater emphasis on science and education. The Secretary-General acknowledged UNESCO’s considerable work in these fields and offered his full support to these valuable activities.

The President of UNESCO’s General Conference, Mr George Anastassopoulos and the Chairman of UNESCO’s Executive Board, Mr Olabiyi Babalola Joseph Yaï also addressed the assembly and welcomed the Secretary-General in the name of Member States and members of the Organization’s Executive Board.

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokesperson
  • Source:Flash Info N° 056-2009
  • 07-04-2009
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