- The Washington Times - Friday, October 13, 2006

NEW YORK — The U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution yesterday appointing South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon to succeed Kofi Annan as the next U.N. secretary-general.

Mr. Ban, 62, will become the eighth secretary-general in the United Nations’ 60-year history on Jan. 1, when Mr. Annan’s second five-year term expires. He was one of seven candidates vying to be the U.N. chief and topped all four informal polls in the U.N. Security Council.

Hundreds of diplomats and U.N. staff in the chamber broke into loud applause when Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa asked the 192-nation world body to adopt the resolution by acclamation. She then banged the gavel and said, “It is so decided.”

Mr. Ban will oversee an organization with 92,000 peacekeepers around the world and a $5 billion annual budget. The world body’s reputation has been tarnished by corruption scandals and its outdated practices need reform to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Mr. Annan hailed Mr. Ban as “a future secretary-general who is exceptionally attuned to the sensitivities of countries and constituencies in every continent” and said he would be “a man with a truly global mind at the helm of the world’s only universal organization.”

Mr. Annan recalled that the first U.N. secretary-general, Trygvie Lie, told his successor, Dag Hammarskjold, “You are about to take over the most impossible job on Earth.”

“While that may be true,” Mr. Annan said, “I would say: This is also the best possible job on Earth.”

He said he had only one piece of advice for his successor when he takes over — “try to make full use of the unparalleled resource you will find in the staff of the organization. Their commitment is the U.N.’s greatest asset.”

John R. Bolton, the U.S. ambassador at the United Nations, said Mr. Ban is “the right person to lead the United Nations at this decisive movement in its history, particularly as the U.N. struggles to fulfill the terms of the reform agenda that world leaders agreed to last fall.”

The Staff Union, representing more than 5,000 staff members at U.N. headquarters, welcomed Mr. Ban’s appointment, saying it “provides a fresh start for the organization.”

The union, which has had rocky relations with Mr. Annan, said it looked forward to working closely with Mr. Ban and his management team on U.N. reform.

By tradition, the post of secretary-general rotates among the regions of the world, and most countries agreed that this time it was Asia’s turn. The last Asian secretary-general was Burma’s U Thant, who served from 1961-71.

Mr. Ban has been South Korea’s foreign minister for nearly three years and served as national security adviser to two presidents — jobs that focused on relations with North Korea, which he has said will be a top priority in his new job. During a nearly 40-year diplomatic career, he was posted in India, Austria, the United States and the United Nations.

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