As the United Nations General Assembly wrapped up the last day of its General Debate at UN Headquarters in New York today, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon discussed a range of issues on the international agenda in meetings with foreign ministers from around the world.
In his meeting with Syria’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Walid Al-Moualem, the Secretary-General raised, in the strongest terms, the continued killings, massive destruction, human rights abuses, and aerial and artillery attacks committed by the Government.
He stressed that it was the Syrian people who were being killed everyday, and appealed to the Government of Syria to show compassion to its people. More than 18,000 people, mainly civilians, have been killed in the Middle Eastern country since an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad erupted some 19 months ago.
Mr. Ban noted that a reduction in the level of violence could prepare the Syrian Government for a political process, and expressed deep frustration that, after 19 months of repression and fighting, the situation was still getting worse.
The Secretary-General and Foreign Minister also discussed the growing humanitarian crisis inside Syria, as well as its spill-over into neighbouring countries. The UN estimates that a further 2.5 million Syrians urgently need humanitarian aid.
In the meeting between the Secretary-General and Djibouti’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mahamoud Ali Youssouf, the two men discussed key peace and security challenges in the Horn of Africa region, especially the importance of furthering the security and stabilization process of Somalia, including by the provision of sustained international support.
They also discussed Djibouti’s forthcoming Parliamentary elections, and the UN chief encouraged Mr. Youssouf to continue to engage the United Nations on all matters relevant to Djibouti.
In their meeting, the Secretary-General and Sri Lanka’s Minister for External Affairs, G. L. Peiris, exchanged views on the post-conflict situation in the Asian nation and cooperation with the United Nations.
Mr. Ban noted the Sri Lankan Government’s latest efforts to implement the recommendations of its Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, as well as the steady progress and remaining tasks on resettlement efforts in the country’s north. He also emphasised the need to find a political solution without further delay to the underlying factors of the country’s past conflict.
The meeting between the Secretary-General and Armenia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Edward Nalbandian, saw the pair exchange views on a range of issues, including the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process.
They also discussed cooperation between the Armenian Government and the United Nations, as well as the importance of Member State support to UN reform, tackling climate change and the post-2015 development agenda.
Emphasizing the importance of the respect for human rights for peace and development, Mr. Ban encouraged Armenia to move forward on recommendations made to the country under the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council.
The situation in the Republic of Congo, including the recent legislative elections and its Government’s efforts to address the aftermath of the 4 March 2012 ammunition explosion with UN support, were among the topics discussed between the Secretary-General and the African nation’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Basile Ikouebe.
They also exchanged views on ways to promote good neighbourly relations among all States in the Central African region, as well as the deployment of a neutral international force in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which has experienced a renewal of violence in recent months.
In addition, Mr. Ban encouraged the Republic of Congo to ratify the Kinshasa Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons in Central Africa.
On Saturday, the Secretary-General met with Mozambique’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Oldemiro Marques Balói. They discussed political developments in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, including in the DRC, Malawi, Swaziland and Zimbabwe, as well as the crisis in Guinea-Bissau and the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The Secretary-General also met with the Vice President of the European Parliament, Othmar Karas, on Saturday. They spoke about the need to support the strengthening of democracy and the rule of law, particularly in countries in transition, and building greater linkages to parliaments and citizens to this end.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Othmar Karas, Vice-President of the European Parliament. UN Photo/E. Schneider
They also discussed a recent high-level meeting on the rule of law and highlighted the key role that national parliaments and the Inter-Parliamentary Union could have in the follow-up to this event.
Additionally, they discussed the role of the United Nations in global governance as well as the importance of a parliamentary dimension for global governance structures, with Mr. Ban acknowledging and commending the strong partnership between the United Nations and the European Union.
In his meeting on Saturday with Algeria’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mourad Medelci, the Secretary-General welcomed the North African country’s contribution to the post-2015 development agenda and hoped that the Group of 77 (G77) would support his reform proposals on staff mobility and the establishment of a partnerships facility.
The two men also discussed the need to accelerate the Western Sahara negotiation process, and exchanged views on the crisis in Mali and its impact on security in West Africa’s Sahel region.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Jean Ping, outgoing Chairperson of the African Union Commission. UN Photo/JS Altman
Also on Saturday, the Secretary-General met with the outgoing Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Jean Ping. Mr. Ban commended Mr. Ping for his stewardship and leadership at the helm of the African Union over the last four years.
The two men also discussed recent developments in Somalia, as well as the negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan, in addition to discussing the need for a broad approach to the complex crisis in Mali and the Sahel.
Mr. Ban also thanked Mr. Ping for his support to the work of the United Nations.