Ban Ki-moon is the eighth and current Secretary-General of the United Nations, after succeeding Kofi Annan in 2007. Before becoming Secretary-General, Ban was a career diplomat in South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the United Nations. He entered diplomatic service the year he graduated from university, accepting his first post in New Delhi, India. In the foreign ministry he established a reputation for modesty and competence.
Ban was the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea from January 2004 to November 2006. In February 2006, he began to campaign for the office of Secretary-General. Ban was initially considered to be a long shot for the office. As foreign minister of Korea, however, he was able to travel to all of the countries that were members of the United Nations Security Council, a maneuver that turned him into the front runner.
On 13 October 2006, he was elected to be the eighth Secretary-General by the United Nations General Assembly. On 1 January 2007, he successfully succeeded Annan, and led several major reforms regarding peacekeeping and UN employment practices. Diplomatically, Ban has taken particularly strong views on Darfur, where he helped persuade Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to allow peacekeeping troops to enter Sudan; and on global warming, pressing the issue repeatedly with former U.S. President George W. Bush. Ban has received strong criticism from OIOS, the UN internal audit unit, stating that the secretariat, under Ban’s leadership, is “drifting into irrelevance
When Ban became Secretary-General, The Economist listed the major challenges facing him in 2007: “rising nuclear demons in Iran and North Korea, a haemorrhaging wound in Darfur, unending violence in the Middle East, looming environmental disaster, escalating international terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the spread of HIV/AIDS. And then the more parochial concerns, such as the largely unfinished business of the most sweeping attempt at reform in the UN’s history.” Before starting, Kofi Annan shared the story that when the first Secretary-General Trygve Lie left office, he told his successor, Dag Hammarskjöld, “You are about to take over the most impossible job on earth.”
On 23 January 2007 Ban took office as the eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations. Ban’s term as Secretary-General opened with a flap. At his first encounter with the press as Secretary-General on 2 January 2007, he refused to condemn the death penalty imposed on Saddam Hussein by the Iraqi High Tribunal, remarking that “The issue of capital punishment is for each and every member State to decide”. Ban’s statements contradicted long-standing United Nations opposition to the death penalty as a human-rights concern. He quickly clarified his stance in the case of Barzan al-Tikriti and Awad al-Bandar, two top officials who were convicted of the deaths of 148 Shia Muslims in the Iraqi village of Dujail in the 1980s. In a statement through his spokesperson on 6 January, he “strongly urged the Government of Iraq to grant a stay of execution to those whose death sentences may be carried out in the near future.” On the broader issue, he told a Washington, D.C., audience on 16 January 2007 that he recognized and encouraged the “growing trend in international society, international law and domestic policies and practices to phase out eventually the death penalty.”
On the tenth anniversary of Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot’s death, 15 April 2008, Ban Ki-moon appealed for the senior leaders of the regime to be brought to justice. The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia-tribunal, which was established by both the United Nations and Cambodia and which became operational in 2006, is expected to continue until at least 2010.
In early January, Ban appointed the key members of his cabinet. As his Deputy Secretary-General, he selected Tanzanian foreign minister and professor Asha-Rose Migiro – a move that pleased African diplomats who had concerns of losing power without Annan in office.
The top position devoted exclusively to management, Under-Secretary-General for Management, was filled by Alicia Bárcena Ibarra of Mexico. Bárcena was considered a UN insider, having previously served as Annan’s chief of staff. Her appointment was seen by critics as an indication that Ban would not make dramatic changes to UN bureaucracy. Ban appointed Sir John Holmes, the British Ambassador to France, as Under-Secretary-General for humanitarian affairs and coordinator of emergency relief.
Ban initially said that he would delay making other appointments until his first round of reforms were approved, but he later abandoned this idea after receiving criticism. In February he continued with appointments, selecting B. Lynn Pascoe, the U.S. ambassador to Indonesia, to become Under-Secretary-General for political affairs. Jean-Marie Guéhenno, a French diplomat, who had served as Under-Secretary-General for peacekeeping operations under Annan, remained in office. Ban selected Vijay K. Nambiar as his chief of staff.
The appointment of many women to top jobs was seen as fulfilling a campaign promise Ban had made to increase the role of women in the United Nations. During Ban’s first year as Secretary-General, more top jobs were being handled by women than ever before. Though not appointed by Ban, the president of the General Assembly, Haya Rashed Al-Khalifa, is only the third woman to hold this position in UN history.
During his first month in office, Ban proposed two major restructurings: to split the UN peacekeeping operation into two departments and to combine the political affairs and disarmament department. His proposals were met with stiff resistance from members of the UN General Assembly who bristled under Ban’s request for rapid approval. The proposed merger of the disarmament and political affairs offices was criticized by many in the developing world, partially because of rumours that Ban hoped to place American B. Lynn Pascoe in charge of the new office. Alejandro D. Wolff, then acting American ambassador, said the United States backed his proposals.
After the early bout of reproach, Ban began extensive consultation with UN ambassadors, agreeing to have his peacekeeping proposal extensively vetted. After the consultations, Ban dropped his proposal to combine political affairs and disarmament. Ban nevertheless pressed ahead with reforms on job requirements at the UN requiring that all positions be considered five-year appointments, all receive strict annual performance reviews, and all financial disclosures be made public. Though unpopular in the New York office, the move was popular in other UN offices around the world and lauded by UN observers. Ban’s proposal to split the peacekeeping operation into one group handling operations and another handling arms was finally adopted in mid-March 2007.
A new agenda for negotiations on UN reform was approved by the General Assembly in April 2007, covering a number of loosely related initiatives to improve the coherence of the UN system. Most proposals required the approval of member states; others provided further impetus to already initiated reform measures. Ban Ki-moon supported the ongoing negotiations on the consolidation of UN activities at the country level under the ‘Delivering as One’ initiative through the implementation of the ‘One UN’ pilot projects and the harmonization of business practices in the UN system. He also gave strong support to the proposal on establishing a unified gender organisation. Whereas little was achieved on most of the controversial issues, the General Assembly approved in September 2010 the establishment of ‘UN Women’ as the new UN organization for the empowerment of women and gender equality. UN Women was established by unifying the mandates and resources for greater impact of four small entities and its first head is Ms Michelle Bachelet, former President of Chile.
source : wikipedia
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