- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 22, 2011

UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. General Assembly voted unanimously to give Ban Ki-moon a second term as secretary-general Tuesday, praising him for strengthening the world body’s role and visibility in difficult circumstances.

The 192-member assembly applauded loudly as it adopted a resolution giving the 67-year-old South Korean diplomat another five years at the helm of the United Nations.

Assembly President Joseph Deiss banged his gavel and proclaimed Mr. Ban’s selection by acclamation to a new term starting Jan. 1.

Mr. Ban announced earlier this month that he wanted a second term. He faced no opposition and was recommended by the Security Council for the new term last Friday.

All regional groups at the U.N. endorsed him, and their chairmen joined in sponsoring the assembly resolution.

Gabon’s U.N. ambassador, Nelson Messone, the current Security Council president, who introduced the assembly resolution, said Mr. Ban has “remarkably and with all objectivity and independence” worked on every continent, to promote peace, justice and international security, “sometimes in particularly difficult and trying circumstances.”

After the vote, the secretary-general was escorted to the podium, where Mr. Deiss told him: “In a complex, difficult international environment, you have strengthened the role and the visibility of the United Nations by adopting reform measures, launching exciting, innovative initiatives, and calling faithfully and constantly for respect for human rights, the rule of law and the other values rooted in our charter.”

Mr. Ban took the oath of office from Mr. Deiss, raising his right hand and holding his left hand on the original U.N. Charter, which was flown to New York from Washington, where it is kept in the U.S. National Archives.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak telephoned Mr. Ban Wednesday to congratulate him on his re-election.

“I’m so proud of the fact that the leaders of not only advanced, but also developing, countries have actively expressed their support for Secretary-General Ban,” Mr. Lee said during a seven-minute phone conversation, according to his office. “All South Koreans are delighted.”

Mr. Ban, a former foreign minister, thanked Mr. Lee for his support and said he is “overwhelmed,” because he thinks his re-election has contributed to improving South Korea’s international status.

Mr. Ban has been criticized for his low-key style, his lack of charisma, and his failure to criticize human rights abuses in powerful countries, especially China and Russia.

But he has won praise for his commitment to climate change, nuclear disarmament and women’s issues, his strong recent backing of pro-democracy movements in North Africa and the Middle East, and for supporting military intervention in Ivory Coast and Libya.