Ban Ki-Moon and the UN

2006-10-14

in Daily updates, Politics

Ivy and gate, Exeter College, Oxford

Happy Birthday Meaghan Beattie

As of today, the United Nations has a new Secretary-General Elect: Ban Ki-moon, a former South Korean diplomat. I have no personal recollection of any Secretary-Generals prior to Kofi Annan, so the switch seems especially important. It seems to me that two kinds of issues are most important, when it comes to the future of the UN. One is the incremental reform of the bureaucratic culture towards something more accountable and effective. Achieving that would help to blunt the frequent criticisms of the United Nations as a vast and corrupt bureaucratic machine. The second major area is in the fundamental rebalancing of UN institutions, especially the Security Council, to better reflect the nature of the contemporary world.

From what little I know of Mr. Ban, he seems better suited to the first task than to the second. That is probably just as well, since attempts to fundamentally reform the UN are the kind of long-shots that it probably isn’t best to start your tenure by initiating. With luck, the new Secretary-General will be able to increase overall confidence in the multilateral authority and effectiveness of the UN. Doubtless, as the world continues to develop during his tenure, Mr. Ban will find that he needs as much of each of those things as possible.

[Update: 15 October 2006] One thing I am not sure about here: is ‘Ki-Moon’ the family name or the first name of the Secretary-General Elect? I know it is common in Asia to put the former first (ie. Kim Jong Il).

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Brett October 15, 2006 at 10:02 am

I find it to be interesting timing with the whole North Korean crisis. Maybe Ban Ki-Moon can test his mettle and try reasoning with his northern brother Kim. I guess its worth a try anyways.

Lee October 15, 2006 at 5:33 pm

He has no mettle. The US seems to have pushed to have the least capable candidate appointed to the job.

B October 15, 2006 at 6:03 pm

One thing I am not sure about here: is Ki-Moon the family name or the first name of the Secretary-General Elect? I know it is common in Asia to put the former first (ie. Kim Jong Il).

Mr. Ban’s name is formulated in the standard Asian way.

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