Continuing his visit to Germany, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today celebrated the 20th anniversary of the United Nations offices in Bonn, praising the work of the Organization’s agencies based there, and discussed a range of issues with the country’s leaders, including the challenges associated with mass migration.
“It takes a lot of vision, courage and stamina to develop a global centre like this,” Mr. Ban told UN personnel and delegates attending the event in the German city. “I congratulate all the people who have been involved in this great job.”
UN offices in Bonn include the Secretariats of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the UN University in Bonn, and UN-SPIDER which provides know-how in using satellite-derived data.
Mr. Ban noted that despite problems and divisions, world leaders managed “to come together” last year for two major agreements with the potential to set the world on a safer, better and prosperous path, referring to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change, which was shaped in Bonn.
He also drew attention to his travels over the past couple of weeks to some of the front lines of armed conflict and humanitarian need. “Across East, West and Central Africa, I saw the impacts of climate change and desertification. I saw widespread fragility. I felt the yearning of people for stability, opportunity and dignity. And I sensed very strongly the urgency of the work you do here in Bonn,” he said.
While preparing for his visit to Bonn, Mr. Ban said, he heard about a line from the German poet Erich Kästner. “Es gibt nichts gutes, außer man tutes. In English, that means, ‘there is no good, unless someone does it,’” he shared, noting that this is what the UN is doing in Bonn.
Earlier today, the UN chief held a press conference in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, at which he said they talked at length about the massive movements of people who are fleeing conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere and arriving in Europe.
“Chancellor Merkel has shown great statesmanship and compassion in trying to ensure an effective, rights-based approach to this challenge,” he told reporters. “I am concerned that many European countries are adopting increasingly restrictive asylum policies. Extreme right-wing and nationalistic political parties are inflaming the situation when we need to be seeking solutions – harmonious solutions based on shared responsibility.”
He highlighted the summit that he will convene on 19 September aimed at bringing countries together behind a more humane and coordinated approach.
“I am asking world leaders to keep acting responsibly based on international human rights and international humanitarian law, and based on shared responsibility. I am urging them to show their compassionate leadership as global leaders of this time,” he stressed.
During his ninth visit to Germany as Secretary-General, Mr. Ban also met with Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Minister for Foreign Affairs; Norbert Lammert, President of the Parliament; and Norbert Röttgen, Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs.