Secretary-General convenes senior UN staff retreat in Italy

29 August 2008

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened a retreat today in Turin, Italy, for dozens of senior United Nations officials to discuss how the Organization can best tackle key global challenges, including climate change, the food crisis, human rights and staff safety.

Under-Secretaries-General and Assistant Secretaries-General from Headquarters and other duty stations will be attending the two-day gathering, will also assess the world body’s performance over the past 20 months.

“The working sessions will also address organizational matters of accountability, teamwork and building a modern, mobile and efficient workforce within the UN system,” spokesperson Marie Okabe told reporters.

This year’s retreat – organized by the Turin-based UN staff college, the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and the UN Department of Management – marks the second in a row to be held in the northern Italian city.

It kicked off this morning after the swearing-in of two new senior staff members: Navanethem Pillay, High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Peter Taksøe-Jensen, Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs.

Following the end of the retreat, Mr. Ban will travel to Geneva, where he will address the latest session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on 31 August, coinciding with the body’s 20th anniversary.

On Monday, at a memorial ceremony for the 19 August 2003 bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad, he will lay a wreath for the fallen staff and meet with survivors and the families of victims in Geneva.

The Secretary-General is also expected to witness the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Iraq and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) on science and technology cooperation.

The trip will wrap up in Spain, where he will give a speech at Exposition Zaragoza 2008 about the importance of water for social, economic and political security and meet with Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos. He will also stop in the capital Madrid for talks with Prime Minister José Luis Zapatero.


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News Tracker: Past Stories on This Issue

Five senior UN officials sworn in today by Secretary-General

Five high-ranking United Nations officials took their oaths of office today at a swearing-in ceremony in New York before heading to Turin for a two-day retreat for senior managers at the end of the week.