United Nations Secretary‑General António Guterres travelled from Geneva, Switzerland to Rome, Italy, on Tuesday evening, 17 December 2019.
On Wednesday morning, 18 December, during a special session organized at Palazzo Madama, the Italian Senate, by the President of the Senate and the President of the Chamber of Deputies, the Secretary-General delivered a keynote speech on “Multilateral solutions to global challenges”. He called for climate ambition to remain at the top of the international agenda in the crucial next 12 months. He also called for more support and solidarity for Mediterranean countries that receive refugees and migrants. [See Press Release SG/SM/19916.]
Following the session, the Secretary-General visited Rome’s Museo MaXXI.
He also participated in an official lunch hosted by the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, with the participation of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Luigi di Maio.
In the afternoon, the Secretary-General had additional meetings with the leaders of the Rome-based food agencies and also met with leaders of the community of Sant’Egidio to discuss their work, notably their assistance programmes for refugees and migrants. He also met some of the refugees assisted by the community.
On Wednesday, 19 December 2019, the Secretary-General travelled to Brindisi with Italy’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Luigi di Maio, to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the United Nations Global Service Centre.
In a tour of the United Nations facilities, he saw the wide scope of services provided by the United Nations in Brindisi, from telecommunications to humanitarian services, as well as an innovative pilot project to reduce the United Nations carbon footprint in the field.
During the ceremony to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary, the Secretary-General highlighted the vital role of the Global Service Centre to support some of the most difficult peacekeeping operations and other United Nations endeavours. He noted the strong commitment of the Italian Government to the United Nations and multilateralism, as well as the United Nations’ remarkable presence in Brindisi, and throughout Italy. [See Press Release SG/SM/19917.]
Speaking to the press at the end of his visit, the Secretary-General reiterated his gratitude to the Italian Government and people for their support, as the United Nations strives to advance peace around the world.
Back in Rome, the Secretary-General had a bilateral meeting with Robert Fico, President of the Chambers of Deputies.
On Friday, 20 December 2019, at the Holy See, the Secretary-General had a private audience with His Holiness, Pope Francis. During their meeting, they discussed a wide range of issues, including the climate crisis, poverty and inequality, multilateralism, the protection of refugees and migrants, disarmament and the freedom of religion. Pope Francis also tweeted about their meeting.
Following the audience, the Pontiff and the Secretary-General recorded a video message together. The Secretary-General thanked the Pontiff for his exceptional global engagement and strong support for the work of the United Nations.
“You are a messenger for hope and humanity — for reducing human suffering and promoting human dignity,” the Secretary-General said, adding that our world needs that more than ever.
He also expressed his deep appreciation for the Pontiff’s extraordinary service in promoting interfaith relations. We need to do more to promote mutual understanding and tackle rising hatred, the Secretary-General said. [See Press Release SG/SM/19918.]