On his first official visit, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon lauded Costa Rica as a “model country” in sustainable development and protecting human rights.
Speaking to reporters ahead of his address to Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Mr. Ban said that Costa Rica led by example on many international issues including environmental sustainability, and highlighted its clean air and preserved forests. The Central American nation is also a trail blazer in peace and security due to its disarmament policy, he said.
“You are one of the few countries which does not maintain an army. You are one of the few countries in the region where people can freely walk around without feeling any fear of danger or threats,” Mr. Ban added, emphasizing how essential political stability is for development.
“You have also shown strong leadership in meeting the Millennium Development Goals and you have shown your leadership in shaping the future development agenda, post-2015 development agenda for the sustainable future of our world -social, economic and environmental dimensions.”
He welcomed UN efforts on climate change led by a fellow Costa Rican citizen, Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Costa Rica must send a strong and ambitious message during the climate change summit meeting on 23 September.
On other matters, Mr. Ban condemned the attack in Gaza on yet another UN school sheltering thousands of Palestinian families saying that “nothing is more shameful than attacking sleeping children.” At least 16 civilians were killed in that attack. The total human toll in Gaza now stands at almost 1,300 people, and almost 6,000 people have been wounded.
The precise location of this Jabalia Elementary Girls School had been communicated to the Israeli military authorities 17 times - as recently as last night, just a few hours before the attack. Israeli forces were aware of the coordinates and exact locations where these people are being sheltered, Ban said. The UN is currently hosting 140,000 displaced persons in its facilities.
Later in the day, at a joint press conference with Manuel Gonzalez Sanz, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Ban told reporters that he had also met with President Luis Guillermo Solís. The officials discussed security in Central America, the Millennium Development Goals, the post-2015 development agenda, climate change, and many other issues relating to disarmament and peace and security. “We also discussed the plight of migrants, especially unaccompanied children. Beyond Costa Rica, tens of thousands of Central American children are vulnerable and suffering at the hands of traffickers, said the UN chief, adding: “On this World Day against Trafficking in Persons, I repeat my call on countries of origin, transit and destination to urgently protect the lives and safety of migrant children.”
He went on to laud the Government’s recent efforts to end discrimination and welcomed steps taken to promote intercultural dialogue with indigenous peoples.
“I praise moves towards recognizing the equal rights of all people regardless of ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or other differences,” said the Secretary-General, adding that he was also pleased to learn that recently, President Solís raised the diversity flag for the first time in the Presidential House.
“I also encourage a stronger push to end violence against women – building on the impressive successes in ensuring their equal participation in decision-making.”
Mr. B also noted that he would meet with indigenous representatives today. “Their full participation in decision-making is essential. The United Nations is working closely with Costa Rica for greater progress,” he added.