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Alumnus Ban Appointed U.N. Secretary General

  • October 17, 2006
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Applauding in acclamation, the United Nations General Assembly on Oct. 13, 2006 appointed Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon of the Republic of Korea as the world body's next Secretary-General, to succeed Kofi Annan when he steps down on Dec. 31, 2006.

Smiling, waving and nodding to the applauding members of the 192-nation body, the man who will become the world's top diplomat for five years on 1 January, was escorted by the UN Chief of Protocol through the Assembly central aisle to the podium.

Mr. Ban is no stranger to the world body. Earlier in his diplomatic career he served in his country's mission to the UN and in 2001 was Chef de Cabinet to then General Assembly President Han Seung-soo of the Republic of Korea.

Welcoming Mr. Ban, President Sheikha Haya Al Khalifa of Bahrain said his appointment comes at a time when the UN is 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."I am confident that the Organization will build upon its past achievements and move ahead to become an even more effective body under the leadership of Secretary-General designate Ban Ki-Moon."
Mr. Annan hailed Mr. 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.

"More than 50 years ago, the first Secretary-General of the United Nations, Trygvie Lie, used the following words in greeting his successor, Dag Hammarskj, and I quote: ‘You are about to take over the most impossible job on Earth,' end quote. While that may be true, I would say: this is also the best possible job on Earth," he added.

After being formally appointed as the next U.N. secretary-general, South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon supported moves by the U.N. Security Council to sanction North Korea over its reported nuclear test, saying the body should pass a"clear and strong resolution."

"I hope the Security Council will adopt a clear and strong resolution," Ban told a press conference, after winning the U.N. General Assembly's approval of his appointment to head the world body from Jan. 1.

"It is absolutely necessary that the international community should again send out a very strong, unified and clear message so that North Korea will not have any temptation to engage in any further negative activities."

Ban, however, stressed international diplomacy should be continued at the same time, saying the global community should combine a"strong and united message" with"room for dialogue."
There have been several rounds of international talks on the North's nuclear program but no major breakthrough has been made. The North has boycotted the negotiations for almost one year, citing U.S.-imposed sanctions for its alleged counterfeiting and other financial crimes.
Later in the day, Ban also said he intends to appoint a special envoy on North Korea to draw more U.N. attention to the communist country.

Dealing with North Korea's nuclear threat is expected to be one of the top main tasks for Ban, who has led Seoul's diplomatic efforts to persuade the North to give up its nuclear weapons program since he became South Korea's foreign minister in January 2004.

A four-year international standoff over the North's nuclear activities took greater urgency Monday after Pyongyang said it carried out its first-known nuclear test, triggering worldwide condemnation. The Security Council is expected to adopt a resolution launching non-military sanctions on North Korea on Saturday.

During campaign speeches and media interviews prior to Friday's appointment, Ban said he would make use of his experiences in dealing with North Korea to settle the standoff, adding he has a special sense of responsibility as a Korean.

"As I have gained a much deeper understanding and experience in the inter-Korean relationship, including North Korea, I think I will be in a much better position to handle this issue as secretary general," Ban said in an interview with the Financial Times earlier this month.

Ban also said he intends to visit North Korea to engage its reclusive regime, something that current U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has never done.

Alumnus Ban majored International Relations and received B.A. from SNU in 1970

October 15 2006
Seoul Times
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