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Foreign Affairs Minister Ban Ki-moon Emerges as Possible UN Secretary General Candidate

Foreign Affairs Minister Ban Ki-moon Emerges as Possible UN Secretary General Candidate

Posted September. 23, 2005 07:33,   


It was revealed on September 22 that the government is actively considering Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Ban Ki-moon to be a candidate for the next secretary general of the United Nations who will be elected late next year.

A senior official of the government said on that day, “There is a consensus within the government that Minster Ban is qualified to be UN secretary general in all aspects such as capacity, experience and relations with other countries.”

The official said, “An official decision has not come out yet, but you can say that the government agrees. The consensus was reached at a government committee related to foreign affairs and security early this month.”

It is known that the international community holds him in high esteem because he played an important role to bring about a breakthrough in the six party talks behind the scenes in close cooperation with his counterparts from the U.S., Japan, China, and Russia

The term of UN secretary general is five years. The current UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan was elected in January 1, 1997 and was reappointed. The government supposes that the next UN Secretary General is highly likely to come from Asia according to custom that UN Secretary General is selected by continent on a rotational basis. At the moment, Thailand and Sri Lanka have announced candidates for the position.

The UN secretary general needs the approval of at least nine members of 15 members of the UN Security Council to be selected, and there should be no disapproval from any of the five permanent members (P5. the U.S., Britain, France, China, and Russia) with a veto. By courtesy, the P5 decides and the U.N. General Assembly confirms with a handclap.

The government supposes that an alliance with the U.S. could be a stumbling block to obtain unanimous approval from P5, but we have a chance of success by taking advantage of the fact that the cold war is over and Korea can play role of a bridge between developed and developing countries.

However, the government’s official position is that there is nothing that has been decided or confirmed. The government estimates that if a candidate is revealed at an early stage, he or she could get hurt from checks by competing countries, and that an early election campaign is not helpful in gaining votes.

Minister Ban served as an executive secretary to Han Seung-soo, then President of the General Assembly, in 2001.

Jong-Koo Yoon jkmas@donga.com