|English: Ban Ki-moon
Ban was the foreign minister
of South 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 South 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 11 October 2006, he was elected to be the eighth Secretary-General by the United Nations General Assembly
and officially succeeded Annan on 1 January 2007. Ban has 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 enterSudan
; 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”.
In 2011, Ban ran unopposed for a second term as Secretary-General. On 21 June 2011, he was unanimously re-elected by the General Assembly and therefore will continue to serve until 31 December 2016.
Ban was born in a small farming village in North Chungcheong Province
, in June 1944. His family then moved to the nearby town of Chungju
, where he grew up.
During Ban’s childhood, his father had a warehouse business, but the warehouse went bankrupt and the family lost its middle-class standard of living. When Ban was six, his family fled to a remote mountainside for much of the Korean War
After the war ended, his family returned to Chungju
. Ban has mentioned meeting American soldiers
at this time.
In secondary school (Chungju High School
), Ban became a star student, particularly in his studies of the English language
. In 1952, he was selected by his class to address a message to then UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld
, but it is unknown if the message was ever sent. Dag Hammarskjold
did not become Secretary-General until 1953. In 1962, Ban won an essay contest sponsored by the Red Cross
and earned a trip to the United States
where he lived in San Francisco
with a host family for several months.
As part of the trip, Ban met U.S. President John F. Kennedy
When a journalist at the meeting asked Ban what he wanted to be when he grew up, he said, “I want to become a diplomat.”
In addition to his native Korean
, Ban speaks English and French
. There have been questions, however, regarding the extent of his knowledge of French, one of the two working languages of the United Nations Secretariat
Ban Ki-moon met Yoo Soon-taek in 1962 when they were both high school students. Ban was 18 years old, and Yoo Soon-taek was his secondary school’s student council president. Ban Ki-moon married Yoo Soon-taek in 1971. They have three adult children: two daughters and a son. His elder daughter, Seon-yong, was born in 1972 and now works for the Korea Foundation
in Seoul. She is married to an Indian.
His son, Woo-hyun was born in 1974 in India.
He received an MBA from Anderson School of Management
at University of California, Los Angeles
, and works for an investment firm in New York.
His younger daughter, Hyun-hee (born 1976), is a field officer for UNICEF
After his election as Secretary-General, Ban became an icon in his hometown, where his extended family still resides. Over 50,000 gathered in a soccer stadium in Chungju for celebration of the result. In the months following his election, thousands of practitioners of geomancy went to his village to determine how it produced such an important person.
Ban himself is not a member of any church or religious group
and has declined to expound his beliefs: “Now, as Secretary-General, it will not be appropriate at this time to talk about my own belief in any particular religion or god. So maybe we will have some other time to talk about personal matters.”
His mother is a Buddhist
During his tenure at the South Korean Foreign Ministry, Ban’s nickname was jusa
, meaning “the Bureaucrat” or “the administrative clerk”. The name was used as both positive and negative: complimenting Ban’s attention to detail and administrative skill while deriding what was seen as a lack of charisma and subservience to his superiors.
The South Korean press corps calls him “the slippery eel”, for his ability to dodge questions.
His peers praise his understated “Confucian
and he is regarded by many as a “stand-up guy”
and is known for his “easy smile”.
- This article incorporates information from the German Wikipedia.
- This article incorporates information from the equivalent article on the Italian Wikipedia.
- This article incorporates information from the equivalent article on the Russian Wikipedia.
According to The Washington Post
, “some U.N. employees and delegates” expressed resentment at Ban’s perceived favoritism
in the appointment of South Korean nationals in key posts. Previous U.N. chiefs such as Kurt Waldheim
(Austria), Javier Pérez de Cuéllar
(Peru) and Boutros Boutros-Ghali
(Egypt) brought small teams of trusted aides or clerical workers from their country’s Foreign Ministry. But according to “some officials” in the Post
story, Ban has gone further, boosting South Korea’s presence in U.N. ranks by more than 20 percent during his first year in office. In response, Ban and his aides have claimed that allegations of favoritism are wrong, and that some of the harshest criticisms against him have undercurrents of racism
He said that the South Korean nationals he had appointed — including Choi Young-jin
, who has served as a high-ranking official in the United Nations’ peacekeeping department — are highly qualified for their positions. Others such as Donald P. Gregg, a former U.S. ambassador to South Korea say the complaints are driven by envy, “I think being from South Korea, and people have growing respect for South Korea, that’s a great enhancement for the secretary general. If he brings along talented people who (whom) he knows very well, I think that’s also a plus.” U.N. records show that South Korea, the organization’s eleventh-largest financial contributor, had 54 South Korean nationals assigned to its mission six months before Ban took over the top U.N. post.
Former U.N. Under Secretary General for Oversight Services Inga-Britt Ahlenius
denounced Ban Ki-moon after resigning her post in 2010, calling him reprehensible.
Ms. Ahlenius’s critique was based on the grounds that the Secretary-General consistently made efforts to undermine the Office of Internal Oversight Services mandate and challenge its operational independence.
In particular, the two disputed Ahlenius’s plans to hire a former prosecutor, Robert Appleton, who had carried out aggressive investigations into corruption in U.N. peacekeeping missions from 2006 to 2009.
Ban’s staff explained that Appleton’s appointment was rejected because female candidates had not been properly considered, and said that the final selection should have been made by Ban, not Ahlenius.
However, Ahlenius countered in her End of Assignment memo that “for the Secretary-General to control appointments in OIOS is an infringement of the operational independence of OIOS,” and further stated, “There is no transparency, there is lack of accountability. Rather than supporting the internal oversight which is the sign of strong leadership and good governance, you have strived to undermine its position and to control it. I do not see any signs of reform in the Organization.”
Former U.N. corruption fighter, James Wasserstrom
has also been critical of Ban Ki-moon for attempting to limit the jurisdication of the U.N. dispute tribunal
following his dismissal from his post in Kosovo and lengthy appeal.
Ban had refused to hand over confidential documents relating to the case to the U.N. personnel tribunal, despite repeated orders by the court to do so. In relation to another case, Ban was admonished by Judge, Michael Adams for “wilful disobedience” for again failing to hand over key documents in an internal promotions dispute.
During the ROKS Cheonan sinking
events, he took the step of demanding action against North Korea for the alleged sinking of a vessel from his country. This was reported by U.N. Dispatch as being unusual, because it is rare for any Secretary-General—and particularly Ban Ki-moon—to comment on the Security Council taking action on an issue as his office had tended to be extremely deferential to the Security Council.