Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today praised the work of his personal representatives and special envoys for directing the life-saving and rebuilding work of the United Nations around the world.
“It is you, on the ground, who know best when our posture needs to evolve in response to quick-changing events,” Mr. Ban told the senior officials gathered for an annual seminar in the city of Mont Pelerin, Switzerland.
“You are in charge of a remarkable number of working parts,” he said in his remarks via teleconference, commending the envoys for “keeping them all moving in a coherent, productive direction.”
Mr. Ban committed to filling vacancies, speeding up the appointment process and ensuring that there are no leadership vacuums to help the high-level appointees fulfil their tasks.
He also pledged to promptly pursue investigations into sexual abuse and other infractions, given the “cloud” such accusations can cast over a mission.
In addition, he stated that the security of UN personnel is a top priority, “not just because of recent attacks in Kabul and Islamabad but because this has always been essential for doing our work,” noting that he has requested more funding for the next biennium to better screen and protect access to vulnerable UN locations.
Using the gathering to outline issues topping the world body’s agenda for the coming year, the Secretary-General said that climate change will remain at the head of the list for the months to come regardless of what happens at next month’s conference in Copenhagen, where countries are aiming to reach agreement on a new pact to combat global warming.
“You may have seen news reports suggesting it is destined by be a disappointment,” said Mr. Ban. “To the contrary, momentum is building. I believe we will reach a deal that sets the stage for a binding treaty next year.”
The annual seminar, organized by the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), brings together the heads of UN peacekeeping operations from around the world with senior Secretariat staff, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the High Commissioner for Refugees and other leading agency staff to examine how to strengthen UN operations and efforts on the ground.