UNITED NATIONS APPOINTS REPUBLIC OF KOREA’S BAN KI-MOON AS NEXT SECRETARY-GENERAL;
BAN, DEEPLY TOUCHED AND INSPIRED, VOWS TO ‘BUILD BRIDGES, BRIDGE DIVIDES’
Acting on the Security Council’s recommendation, the Assembly adopted a resolution formally appointing Mr. Ban to a five-year term. Diplomats and United Nations staff in the packed chamber cheered the decision. Mr. Ban becomes the eighth Secretary-General in the United Nations’ 60-year history, and will oversee an Organization with nearly 100,000 peacekeepers in 18 countries around the world, and a $5 billion annual budget.
Mr. Ban will succeed 2001 Nobel Peace Prize winner Kofi Annan, of Ghana, who will retire at the end of December, after leading the 192-member world body for a decade. Earlier in his 40-year diplomatic career, Mr. Ban, 62, served in his country’s Mission to the United Nations and, in 2001, was Chef de Cabinet to then-Assembly President Han Seung-soo, of the Republic of Korea. Mr. Ban will be the first Asian to lead the Organization since U Thant, who held the post from 1961 to 1971.
“I stand before you deeply touched and inspired,” Mr. Ban told the Assembly. As Secretary-General, he vowed to work “diligently to materialize our responsibility to protect the most vulnerable members of humanity, and for the peaceful resolution of threats to international security”. He added that: “The true measure of the success of the UN is not how much we promise, but how much we deliver for those who need us most… We need not shout [the Organization’s] praises or preach its virtues. We simply need to live them every day: step by step, programme by programme, mandate by mandate,” he said.
Pledging to carry out reforms, building on Mr. Annan’s legacy, the Secretary-General-designate said: “My tenure will be marked by ceaseless efforts to build bridges and close divides.” He declared that his leadership would be one of harmony, foreswearing division.
“Let us remember that reform is not to please others, but because we value what this Organization stands for,” he said, laying out his vision of a truly reformed United Nations that could effectively meet the challenges of the twenty-first century. “We need reform because we believe in the future. To revitalize our common endeavour is to renew our faith not only in the UN’s programmes and purposes but also in each other. We should demand more of ourselves, as well as of our organization,” he said.
Mr. Annan praised Ban as “a future Secretary-General who is exceptionally attuned to the sensitivities of countries and constituencies in every continent -- a man with a truly global mind at the helm of the world’s only universal organization”.
He recalled that, more than 50 years ago, the first Secretary-General, Trygve Lie, had used the following words in greeting his successor, Dag Hammarskjöld: “You are about to take over the most impossible job on Earth.” Mr. Annan said that, while that might be true, he would have to add: “This is also the best possible job on Earth.”
Welcoming Mr. Ban, General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Al Khalifa of Bahrain said his appointment came at a time when the United Nations was deeply engaged in a wide-ranging reform process. “We are grateful to Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who has played a major role in shaping a clear and comprehensive vision to address the many global challenges confronting us,” she declared. She was confident that the Organization would build upon its past achievements and move ahead to become an even more effective body under Mr. Ban’s leadership.
Kenzo Oshima of Japan, whose delegation holds the Security Council’s rotating Presidency for the month, presented the work undertaken by that 15-nation body leading to Mr. Ban’s appointment by the Assembly. The chairpersons of the United Nations five regional groups, and representatives of the European Union and the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, as well as of the host country, each took the podium, praising the Secretary-General-designate for his diplomatic skills and personal qualities. They said the world body would be in able hands, as it faced the challenges to come. The speakers also paid tribute to Mr. Annan for his work in steering the United Nations through 10 difficult years.
Outgoing United Nations Secretary-General, KOFI ANNAN, congratulated his successor and said he was pleased his election had been “early and orderly”. He believed everyone recognized the depth of Mr. Ban’s experience, the breadth of his connections, and his ability to operate effectively at the highest levels.
“But as someone who has known and worked with you several years, I think they will soon discover something more, if they do not see that already: a future Secretary-General who is exceptionally attuned to the sensitivities of countries and constituencies in every continent. A man with a truly global mind at the helm of the world’s most universal Organization,” Mr. Annan said.
Mr. Ban’s early election will give the United Nations community a head start in ensuring the smoothest possible transition, said Mr. Annan, giving the new United Nations chief one piece of advice: “Try to make full use of the unparalleled resource you will find in the staff of the Organization. Their commitment is the United Nations’ greatest asset, and has been the surest source of strength for me in my work as Secretary-General.”
He said that, more that 50 years ago, the first Secretary-General of the United Nations, Trygve Lie, greeted his successor, Dag Hammarskjold, by saying: “you are about to take over the most impossible job on Earth.” And, while that might be true, Mr. Annan said he would now add “this is also the best possible job on Earth”.
“As you ready yourself to take over, I wish you strength and courage. You will need those attributes, but equally, you will need a healthy sense of humour -– which I know you posses in abundance, so don’t forget to have fun along the way,” said Mr. Annan, in closing.
BAN KI-MOON, United Nations Secretary-General-designate, said he stood before the Assembly “deeply touched and inspired”. He followed a line of remarkable leaders, each of whom had faced this moment at a critical juncture in the Organization’s history. In particular, outgoing Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who had astutely guided the United Nations into the twenty-first century. “You have defined an ambitious agenda that has made the United Nations truly indispensable to peace, prosperity and human dignity around the world. Our debt to your courage and vision is immeasurable. I resolve to build on your legacy,” he told Mr. Annan.
He said that his own rapid election by the Assembly had provided him with an unprecedented opportunity: never in the history of the Organization had an incoming Secretary-General been given sufficient time to prepare for the job. He would use the next two months to consult widely on how to proceed with the Organization’s common agenda of reform and revitalization. “I will listen attentively to your concerns, expectations and ambitions,” he said. Proud to be the second Asian to lead the Organization -- following U Thant -- he said his dynamic and diverse region aspired to take greater responsibilities in the world.
He was from a part of the world where modesty was a virtue, but that was about demeanour, not vision and goals, he explained. The Asian region also exemplified “quiet determination in action to get things done without so much fanfare,” adding that that “might be the key to Asia’s success, and to the United Nations’ future.” He said: “We should be modest in our words, but not in our performance. The true measure of the success of the UN is not how much we promise, but how much we deliver for those who need us most…We need not shout [the Organization’s] praises or preach its virtues. We simply need to live them every day: step by step, programme by programme, mandate by mandate.”
The United Nations was needed now more than ever, Mr. Ban said. In the previous century, the Organization’s core mission was to keep countries from fighting each other; in the new century, the United Nations’ defining mandate was to strengthen the inter-State system, so that humanity might be better served amid new challenges.
“From the Balkans to Africa, from Asia to the Middle East, we have witnessed the weakening, or absence, of effective governance, leading to the ravaging of human rights and the abandonment of longstanding humanitarian principles,” he said, stressing that the international community needed “competent and responsible States” to meet the needs of the people for whom the United Nations was committed. “And the world’s people will not be fully served unless peace, development and human rights -- the three pillars of the United Nations -- are advanced together with equal vigour,” he added.
He said that “the road we must pave toward a world of peace, prosperity and dignity for all has many pitfalls”. As Secretary-General, he would make the most of the authority vested in his Office by the Charter and the mandate given to him by the member States. He would work with dignity to make real the responsibility to protect the most vulnerable members of humanity and for the peaceful resolution of threats to international peace and security.
Turning to Organizational reform, he said that the thorough-going exercise had taxed the attention and energies of both delegations, and the Secretariat. “But, we must stay the course,” he said, calling on the United Nations family to muster the human, institutional and intellectual resources required for the task, and organize them properly.
“We should do our part in meeting the Millennium Development Goals, expanding peace operations, threats posed by terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, HIV/AIDS and other pandemics, environmental degradation and the imperatives of human rights,” he said.
At the same time, he went on, the United Nations was not reforming to please others. “We reform because we value what the Organization stands for. We reform because we believe in its future.” He urged the member States to demand more of each other, and of the Organization. To cut through the “fog of mistrust,” however, was going to take more intensive dialogue. “We cannot choose everything at once, but if we choose wisely, and work together transparently, flexibly and honestly, progress in a few areas would lead to progress in many more,” he promised.
He pledged to build bridges, in order to bridge gaps, to foreswear divisions, and to remain faithful to his constituency. He would also take full responsibility for Secretariat management.
He was proud to join the ranks of the world’s premier Secretariat, and pledged his utmost support, dedication and solidarity to the able and courageous men and women who served the Organization, he said. The aim of Secretariat reform was not to penalize, but to reward, so that talent and skill, experience and dedication might be fully mobilized and utilized. Calling for the Secretariat’s unsparing support as he took up the helm of the Organization, he pledged to seek excellence with humility, and to lead by example. Promises should be kept, and he pledged to work with all stakeholders for a United Nations that delivered on its promises.
“I earnestly hope that the young boys and girls of today will grow up knowing that the United Nations is working hard to build a better future for them. As Secretary-General, I will embrace their hopes and hear their appeals. I am an optimist, and I am full of hope about the future of our global Organization. Let us work together for a United Nations that can deliver more and better,” he said.
Copyright © Demetrios the Traveler