South Korean Diplomat nominated as U.N Secretary General
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) — South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon was formally nominated as U.N. secretary-general on Monday, only hours after North Korea defied the world body by announcing a nuclear test.
The U.N. Security Council voted by acclamation, thereby effectively anointing Ban as successor to Secretary-General Kofi Annan, whose 10 years in office expire on December 31, said Japan’s U.N. Ambassador, Kenzo Oshima, this month’s council president.
Six other candidates for the job had withdrawn, leaving members to vote only for Ban.
The 192-member U.N. General Assembly must give final approval to Ban’s nomination, which usually follows within a week or two. That vote is expected to be positive.
Some diplomats, including Oshima, have speculated that North Korea’s announcement on October 3 of plans to carry out the underground nuclear test was timed, in part, to coincide with Ban’s candidacy in an effort to get world attention.
Shortly after the vote for Ban, Security Council members went into closed consultations on North Korea’s to see what action could be taken. The council on Friday urged North Korea not to carry out a test, warning Pyongyang of unspecified consequences if it did.
Ban, 62, would be the eighth secretary-general in the world body’s 60-year history. He will inherit a bureaucracy of 9,000 staff, a $5 billion budget and more than 90,000 peacekeepers in 18 operations around the globe that cost another $5 billion.
Contrast to Annan
It remains to be seen how he might deal with the North Korean nuclear issue — to say nothing of the many other conflicts he will be involved in mediating and which few others want to solve.
The low-keyed Ban will be a contrast to Annan, a Ghanaian who in his first five years won a Nobel Peace Prize and was sometimes dubbed a diplomatic rock star, before financial scandals took over the headlines over the past few years.
But some diplomats, particularly U.S. Ambassador John Bolton, would like to see a secretary-general be an administrator and have a lower profile around the world.
Among his colleagues in Seoul, everyone seems to agree that Ban is very pleasant and hard-working.
Jang Sung-min, a former presidential aide and member of parliament said, “He probably won’t do a bad job. It is really hard to think of a problem with Ban. Maybe that’s his strong point — that there’s nothing peculiar about him.”
Although Annan was criticized regularly in the United States, Europeans viewed him more favorably and many so far have ignored the imminent arrival of Ban.
Ban won’t be “the sort of activist diplomat, ready to seize the initiative, which we saw in Kofi Annan,” said Dick Leurdijk, U.N. expert at the Netherlands Clingendael Institute of International Relations.
“I think he will be more like his Asian predecessor U Thant, who just took care of the shop,” he said, referring to the Burmese diplomat who held the post from 1961-71.
At the United Nations, a senior diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said of Ban, “I think he will bring genuinely a huge amount of diplomatic experience.
But he said, “He will not be instantly friendly to a U.S. audience. He will need to learn how to handle the media.”