Uruguay’s support for the re-election of Mr Ban Ki-moon as Secretary General is based on his decisive efforts to impulse multilateralism since taking office in 2007, said Uruguayan Foreign Affairs minister Luis Almagro.
“Mr Ban KI-moon has been committed to multilateralism as the most genuine mechanism to address the current challenges of the international community”, added Almagro. The UN head is on a South American tour looking for support for his second mandate that if voted begins next January.
Almagro said that talks with Ban Ki-moon centred on peace and human rights policies and the world anti-tobacco campaign given the fact that Uruguay is the main contributor per capita to the peacekeeping forces and as of next month will be presiding over the UN Human Rights Council with seat in Geneva.
Uruguay also faces a major multi-million dollar claim from the giant Philip Morris which alleges the country’s legislation is commercially damaging to the company. Philip Morris Corporation has filed a claim at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), a World Bank branch.
Four years ago Uruguay banned smoking in public buildings and advertising is also banned and cigarettes' packets must carry large health warnings. The rules, which also prevent the sale of products branded as “light”.
In Montevideo the UN Secretary-General called on Latin American countries to participate more actively at the UN and hailed the region's transition from decades of violent conflicts to an era of peace and stability.
My visit to South America has come at a moment of opportunity, hope and change, Ban said, adding that many Latin American countries have fulfilled a successful transition towards democracy despite the very difficult periods for decades.
”I am convinced that the region could perform a bigger role in the UN and the UN can play an even bigger role in the region” said Ban Ki-moon.
Ban Ki-moon praised Uruguay, Colombia, Argentina and Brazil for the advances achieved in peace, stability, development, human rights, integration and south-south cooperation.
He added that the “majority of medium income countries, including Uruguay are complying with the millennium objectives”.
While in Uruguay Ban Ki-moon visited a campaign exhibition against domestic violence, “Unite against violence”, which has become an area of special interest for the Secretary General.
Ban Ki-moon also met with Interior Minister Eduardo Bonomi to discuss about the penitentiary system in Uruguay, which only recently received lapidary observations from a UN human rights rapporteur
“We want our jails in the framework of international organizations standards. We have the resources, but we want advisors from the UN to help us implement the system”, said Minister Eduardo Bonomi.
Currently Uruguay is participating of a UN project known as “Support for the reform of institutions for persons deprived of freedom”
“Uruguayans should know that the European Union and the United Nations are backing our efforts to improve conditions in jails. We want to abide with the requisites from the UN rapporteur Manfred Nowak report”, said Bonomi.