“For a long time, Geneva has taken part in the hopes and sufferings of the world,” Mr. Annan told participants attending an awards dinner where he received the Bourgeoisie d’Honneur from Micheline Calmy-Rey, the President of the State Council of the Republic and Canton of Geneva.Geneva, he noted, “is the birthplace of the Red Cross, which today comprises one of the most important humanitarian networks in the world.” He also recalled that following the First World War, States decided to locate the headquarters of the UN’s predecessor – the League of Nations – in Geneva.While playing an essential role in the UN system, Geneva continues to host numerous other organizations whose activities were “crucial for humanity,” he said. Mr. Annan also highlighted his personal ties to Geneva, where he had been a student, had begun his UN career and met his future wife. “I naturally feel a bit at home here,” he said.Earlier in the day, the Secretary-General met privately with Ruud Lubbers, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Mr. Annan arrived in Geneva from Moscow, where he had a dinner yesterday with Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Valentina Matvienko.

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