UN Chief Defends His Global Mission
As U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reaches the halfway point of his tenure this week, he will find his name is on the lips of critics for reasons he would perhaps rather avoid.
Foreign Policy, the U.S.-based bimonthly magazine, and the U.K.-based Economist have criticized him for his alleged poor management of the 64-year-old international organization.
In an ironic play on words, Jacob Heilbrunn of Foreign Policy wrote in ``Nowhere Man: Why Ban is the world's most dangerous Korean" that ``At a time when global leadership is urgently needed, when climate change and international terrorism and the biggest financial crisis in 60 years might seem to require some ― any ― response, the former South Korean foreign minister has instead been trotting the globe collecting honorary degrees, issuing utterly forgettable statements, and generally frittering away any influence he might command."
The Economist accused him of a lack of communication with senior staff.
``He is not a good listener, it is hard to harness their expertise. What is needed is some leadership from Ban and some clear goals to aim at," it said.
Yet, those who are in favor of Ban gave the U.N. chief credit for what he did for Myanmar after the cyclone Nargis hit the country.
In response to the criticism, Ban said, ``It's not easy to undertake reform of the decades-old systems of the U.N. I will keep my patience and continue efforts to reform the U.N. and to shore up support from member states for that," Yonhap News quoted him as saying.
He also fired back at the Foreign Policy accusations. ``Kofi Anan received 50 honorary degrees. Wherever I go, I do get offers of honorary degrees, most of which I reject," he said.
In response to ``forgettable statements," Ban reminded of the nature of the organization. ``The United Nations isn't a government. Interests among the parties in the conflict-ridden regions vary, and it makes it hard for the U.N. to intervene."
Calling it ``the most difficult job on Earth," Ban set out on his term of office by proclaiming to spearhead U.N. system reformation, and yet had to face resistance even from within itself.
One of his first initiatives was to make public his financial statements in an effort to upgrade transparency in the secretariat and senior offices. However, his efforts met with cold negligence among senior officers, and none followed him.
With regards to his re-appointment, Ban said it's too early to say ― but he hopes for an extension.
On Tuesday, he will be in Japan to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso and Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone. They will discuss climate change and the current escalation in tensions with North Korea.
Ban said the United Nations was considering the dispatch of a special envoy to North Korea, if all existing attempts, such as the six-party talks, are unsuccessful.
In August, Ban will be back in Korea on business and for vacation.