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Ban ends two-day Swiss visit by spotlighting UN role in facing global challenges

Ban ends two-day Swiss visit by spotlighting UN role in facing global challenges

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wrapped up a two-day visit to Geneva today by meeting staff of the United Nations World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and inaugurating the Human Rights and Alliance of Civilization room at the UN complex in the Swiss city.

Focussing on the importance of intellectual property in encouraging investment in new technology and in stimulating economic development, Mr. Ban commended the work of WIPO and the dedication of its staff at a town-hall meeting with the agency’s personnel.

“WIPO can be a champion in helping to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); a champion in joining the global efforts to combat climate change; a champion in helping to tackle high food and energy prices,” said the Secretary-General.

In his address to WIPO staff, Mr. Ban noted the limited resources available to the UN while highlighting the challenges facing the world, including regional conflict, human rights abuses, abject poverty and death from rampant diseases, and said that the expectation invested in the UN to find solutions was humbling.

“We have to pool our resources, pool our wisdom, and act as One United Nations,” Mr. Ban told staff. “In this time of economic crisis it is a practical imperative, as much as a moral one.”

Mr. Ban later attended the inauguration of the newly renovated Human Rights Council and Alliance of Civilizations Room at the Palais des Nations, the UN complex in Geneva, along with Spain’s King Juan Carlos II, Queen Sofia and Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Speaking at the event, Mr. Ban said that respect for human rights is the indispensable foundation for lasting peace and sustainable development.

“I am pleased to be inaugurating this room on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights,” he told the ceremony.

He underscored the importance of the Alliance of Civilizations – a campaign launched by the UN in 2005 to help overcome prejudices between nations, cultures and religions – as a practical initiative linked directly to human rights, and which has already succeeded in overcoming barriers of mistrust.

Remarking on the design of the room, Mr. Ban said: “The colours look different depending on where you are seated. That reminds me of an old saying about politics. Where you stand, depends on where you sit.”

Meanwhile, the Secretary-General has pressed world leaders to attend the up-coming conference on financing for development in Doha, beginning on 28 November. The meeting is a full-fledged summit, with some 40 heads of state or government from the developed and developing world arriving to discuss the global financial crisis.

Mr. Ban intends to broaden the debate beyond the need for a global stimulus package to include protecting the needs of developing nations, minimizing the negative impact on global security and well-being of people, promoting “green jobs” and a “green economy” as an integral element in any stimulus package, and ensuring that any institutional financial reform is inclusive and involves a multilateral decision-making process.