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Friday, December 15, 2006

Secretary General of the United Nations

Ban Ki-moon was sworn in Thursday as the new Secretary Generalof the United Nations and he has a difficult job before him to clean up the mess that Kofi Annan left behind. Kofi Annan will be known as the head of the UN during the most corrupt an scandalous time in history to date.

Dec. 14, 2006— Ban Ki-moon of South Korea was sworn in Thursday as the next secretary general of the United Nations, and he pledged to rebuild faith in an organization that has been tarnished by scandal and riven by disputes between rich and poor nations.

“You could say that I am a man on a mission, and my mission could be dubbed ‘Operation Restore Trust’: trust in the organization, and trust between member states and the Secretariat,” he said.

He added, “I hope this mission is not ‘Mission: Impossible.’ ”

Ban Ki-Moon's Career:

Ban joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in May 1970 and worked his way up during the years of the Yusin Constitution.

His first overseas posting was to New Delhi, after which he worked in the United Nations Division at the foreign ministry's headquarters. At the time of Park Chung Hee's assassination, Ban had climbed to the position of First Secretary at South Korea's Permanent Observer Mission to the UN in New York City (South Korea only became a full UN member state on September 17, 1991). He subsequently assumed the post of Director of the United Nations Division. He has been posted twice to the Republic of Korea (ROK) Embassy in Washington, D.C. Between these two assignments he served as Director-General for American Affairs in 1990–1992. He was promoted to the position of Deputy Minister for Policy Planning and International Organizations in 1995. He was then appointed National Security Advisor to the President in 1996, and assumed the office of Vice Minister in 2000. His most recent post was as Foreign Policy Advisor to the President Noh Moo-hyun.

While serving as Ambassador to Austria, Ban was elected as Chairman of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO PrepCom) in 1999. During the ROK's Presidency of the 56th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (GA) in 2001, he worked as Chef de Cabinet of the President of the GA.

Ban has been actively involved in issues relating to inter-Korean relationships. In 1992, he served as Vice Chairman of the South-North Joint Nuclear Control Commission, following the adoption by South and North Korea of the Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. In September 2005, as Foreign Minister, he played a leading role in the diplomatic efforts to adopt the Joint Statement on resolving the North Korean nuclear issue at the Fourth Round of the Six-Party Talks held in Beijing.

Ban's Awards:

Ban has twice been awarded the Order of Service Merit in 1975 and 1986 by the Government of the Republic of Korea. For his accomplishments as an envoy, he received the Grand Decoration of Honour from the Republic of Austria in 2001. A year later, the government of Brazil bestowed the Grand Cross of Rio Branco upon him.

In September 2005, the Korea Society in New York honoured him with the James A. Van Fleet Award for his contributions to friendship between the United States and the Republic of Korea.

Addressing the packed General Assembly hall after taking the oath, Mr. Ban heaped praise on Mr. Annan, who received two standing ovations, as a man of “high ideals, noble aspirations and bold initiatives.”

But in a subsequent news conference, he distanced himself from Mr. Annan’s plea Monday that the United States return to a more multilateral foreign policy grounded in respect for international law.

“That, I think, was his own personal assessment and insight, which he gained during his tenure,” he said.

Mr. Ban, who had strong United States backing, acknowledged that the relationship between the United Nations and the United States had become strained.

“But even in such a case,” he said, “it is very important to discuss, to resolve the difference of opinions, and I, as secretary general, will try to harmonize so that we can expect constructive contribution and participation of the United States.”

Mr. Ban was emphatic in answering questions about the campaign in Iran to cast doubt on the Holocaust and about statements by Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that Israel should be wiped off the map.

He said denying the Holocaust was “not acceptable,” as was urging the elimination of a nation or people.

I wish him well and good luck in this new position. Cleaning up the UN after the unchecked corruption under Kofi Annan's reign, will not be an easy task, but hopefully Ban Ki-moon is up to the challenge. He cannot do any worse.

Oil for Food:

When Mr. Annan was named Secretary General 10 years ago, he did so as the U.S.-backed candidate of reform. Jesse Helms, then-chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told Mr. Annan that "if you choose to be an agent of real and deep-seated change, you will find many supporters--and even allies--here in the U.S. Congress."

Senator Helms's expectations were not met. Seven years later--thanks to U.S. military action that Mr. Annan did everything in his power to prevent--we learned that he had presided over the greatest bribery scheme in history, known as Oil for Food. We learned that Benon Sevan, Mr. Annan's trusted confidant in charge of administering the program, had himself been a beneficiary of Iraqi kickbacks to the tune of $160,000. We learned that Mr. Annan's chief of staff, Iqbal Riza, had ordered potentially incriminating documents to be destroyed. We learned that Mr. Annan and his deputy, Louise Frechette, were both aware of the kickback scheme but failed to report it to the Security Council, as their fiduciary duties required. However, we haven't yet learned whether the senior Annan illegally helped his son Kojo obtain a discounted Mercedes, an issue on which the Secretary General has stonewalled reporters.

Earlier this year, Mr. Annan was also forced to place eight senior U.N. procurement officials on leave pending investigations on bribery and other charges. Vladimir Kuznetsov, the head of the U.N. budget-oversight committee, was indicted this year on money-laundering charges. Alexander Yakovlev, another procurement official, pled guilty to skimming nearly $1 million off U.N. contracts. The U.N.'s own office of Internal Oversight found that U.N. peacekeeping operations had mismanaged some $300 million in expenditures.

Mr. Annan's response to all this has been a model of blame-shifting, obfuscation and patently insincere mea culpas, apparently justified by his view that a Secretary General has more important things to do than administer his own organization. But allow the Secretary General the conceit that his real job is acting as the world's most important diplomat. How has he performed in that task?

Mr. Annan came to office after a stint as head of U.N. peacekeeping operations. The period corresponded with the massacre in Srebenica of 7,000 Bosnians and the genocide of 800,000 Tutsis in Rwanda, both of which were facilitated by the nonfeasance of peacekeepers on the ground. It was later revealed that Mr. Annan's office explicitly forbade peacekeepers from raiding Hutu arms caches in Rwanda just four months before the genocide.

The world's worst man-made humanitarian catastrophes have since taken place in Zimbabwe, North Korea, Congo and Darfur. Mr. Annan has been mostly silent about the first two, perhaps on the time-honored U.N. principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of member states other than the U.S. In the Congo, U.N. peacekeepers haven't stopped the bloodshed, but they have made themselves notorious as sexual predators.

By contrast, Mr. Annan has been voluble on Darfur: In his speech at the Truman Library, he argued that the lesson of Darfur is that "high sounding doctrines like the 'responsibility to protect' will remain pure rhetoric unless and until those with the power to intervene effectively--by exerting political, economic, or, in the last resort, military muscle--are prepared to take the lead." Nice words.

However, it is amazing that Mr. Annan should utter them, given his own role in obstructing "those with the power to intervene effectively"--namely the U.S.--in other situations. Mr. Annan's first great solo diplomatic venture came in early 1998, when he ran interference for Saddam Hussein to forestall military strikes by the Clinton Administration. Saddam, he said at the time, was a man with whom he could "do business." He did the same in the run-up to the Iraq War and did the terrorist insurgency a moral service by pronouncing that war "illegal." Given that Saddam was killing his own people at an average rate of 36,000 a year, what does this say about Mr. Annan's solicitude for the oppressed?

Read the rest here.

We also have had multiple sex scandals in the UN under Kofi's reign: CLASSIFIED UNITED Nations report prompted Secretary General Kofi Annan to admit that U.N. peacekeepers and staff have sexually abused or exploited war refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The worst of the 150 or so allegations of misconduct--some of them captured on videotape--include pedophilia, rape, and prostitution. While a U.N. investigation into the scandal continues, the organization has just suspended two more peacekeepers in neighboring Burundi over similar charges. The revelations come three years after another U.N. report found "widespread" evidence of sexual abuse of West African refugees.

Perhaps under Ban Ki-moon's leadership the United Nations can become an organization that can be trusted and helpful, instead of what it has become under Kofi's rule, which has been a facilitator to dictatorships and corruption, sex scandals and in which anti-semiticism runs rampant and unchecked.

Captain Ed notices that Ban Ki-moon might also be far less anti-America oriented that Kofi Annan was:

After praising Annan for his work at Turtle Bay, Moon noted that Annan's remarks about American foreign policy reflected Annan's own personal opinion and should not be considered part of the UN's approach to the US. In fact, he acknowledged that the UN and the US had worked at cross purposes and that he needed to rebuild trust with the American people.

It's not a bad start for the new leader of the UN. He seems to have more of a sense of humor than Annan; Fox News had a clip of him from a reception earlier this month spoofing himself by singing "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" but replacing Santa's name with his own. A man who does not take himself with deadly seriousness is one with more potential to handle criticism and accountability.

As Stop the ACLU and LGF points out, Ban's speaking out against Iran's holocaust denial is a good start as well.

I may be naive here, but I truly hope with Kofi's departure and Ban's arrival we will have a better UN and I again wish Ban Ki-moon the best of luck.