Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today commended Iceland for its contributions to the international community in such critical areas as international criminal justice, gender equality and regulation of the use of the world’s oceans.
“We have gained significantly from Iceland’s support in critical areas such as international criminal justice, human rights, gender equality and humanitarian assistance,” Mr. Ban told members of the foreign affairs committee of the Icelandic Parliament in Reykjavik, the capital.
“As one of the first countries to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Iceland has claimed its place at the forefront of the advancement of international justice. And your parliament, of course, is among the world leaders in women’s representation,” Mr. Ban said.
Mr. Ban also noted Iceland’s lead role in advancing the international agenda on oceans and the law of the sea, as well as the country’s commitment to international cooperation.
He stressed that these contributions will be increasingly important as the world seeks to accelerate progress on the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and sets a post-2015 development agenda.
“The Millennium Development Goals have been the most successful anti-poverty push in history. Now, with less than 1000 days left until the end of 2015, the agreed deadline, I am pressing for accelerated efforts to finish the job,” Mr. Ban said.
“2015 is […] the year when Member States must make good on their promise to reach a legally binding agreement on climate change,” he added, stressing that achieving sustainable development is one of his main priorities during his second term.
Other important areas to focus on will be the empowerment of women and youth, disaster risk reduction, helping countries in transition and building amore secure world through effective peacekeeping and nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, Mr. Ban said.
“While Iceland may seem somewhat alone up here near the top of the planet, the country is outward-looking, fully engaged with the world across a full spectrum of human need,” Mr. Ban said later in his address at the University of Iceland.
“Even at a time when Iceland was enduring its own deep economic distress, you strived to uphold your commitments to help the world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries,” he said, referring to the country’s financial crisis which began in 2008.
Mr. Ban underlined that dramatic changes in the global landscape, including financial, food and environmental crises, will require world leaders to work together.
“This is a moment that cries out for good international solutions, and for effective multilateralism. No nation, on its own, can address today’s serious and multiple threats. Every nation can gain by working with others.”
While in Iceland, the Secretary-General will meet with President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson as well as with other senior officials. He will also visit a geothermal power plant and the Thingvellir National Park, designated a World Heritage site by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).