South Korean Diplomat Seems Assured Of Succeeding Annan at U.N.

Daily News Article   —   Posted on October 3, 2006

(by Benny Avni, UNITED NATIONS – With the blessing of all five permanent members of the Security Council, South Korea’s foreign minister, Ban Ki-moon, yesterday was assured selection as the eighth U.N. chief.

The 15-member council is set to officially vote to recommend Mr. Ban as its preferred candidate for the post of secretary-general next Monday, after which the recommendation will in short order be brought to a vote by the 192 members of the General Assembly.

Once confirmed, Mr. Ban is expected to replace Secretary-General Annan at the helm of Turtle Bay starting January 1, inheriting an organization beset by corruption, patronage, inefficiency, and acrimony between its members.

Mr. Ban was in Seoul, South Korea, yesterday, but the second runner-up for the job, Indian candidate Shashi Tharoor, withdrew from the race and congratulated the victor, saying, “It is clear that he will be our next secretary-general.”

Other Turtle Bay diplomats from America, China, and other nations praised the 62-year-old South Korean diplomat after what amounted to a coronation by the key players at the council. After an earlier poll at the council last week, France’s ambassador to the United Nations, Jean Marc de la Sablière, said the member nations had achieved “more clarity” on the leading candidates. But yesterday, he told The New York Sun that the choice is now “totally clear.”

After hinting for weeks that others might yet join the race, in which six men and one woman had run for the post with the backing of their governments, the American ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, yesterday said that if a last minute candidate joined now, the person would “obviously receive fair consideration. But one could ask why didn’t they come in before.”

Mr. Bolton said he has known the Korean foreign minister since the early 1990s, when Mr. Ban headed the American desk at the Foreign Ministry in Seoul. “We know and respect him,” he said.

China’s ambassador to the United Nations, Wang Guangya, said that, while Mr. Ban might be “low-key” in manner, he will also prove “firm” and “decisive.”

“Sometimes Asians show their quality in a different way,” Mr. Wang said.

Firmness and decisiveness might be needed if Turtle Bay is to regain its reputation for honesty and fair dealing. Mr. Annan’s deputy, Mark Malloch Brown, acknowledged yesterday in Brussels that structural changes proposed by Mr. Annan had mostly fallen by the wayside, “largely blocked by the wider political tensions and splits between groups and individual member states.”

But a sharp reminder about failures at the top of the bureaucracy came when the secretary-general’s spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said yesterday that Mr. Annan had finally disclosed his personal finances to the United Nations.

Previously, while Mr. Annan demanded his senior staff fill in a financial disclosure form, he had excused himself from transparency on the grounds that he was technically not an employee.

Mr. Annan handed his disclosure form to the ethics office on September 22, Mr. Dujarric said.

The move followed pressure from the press and overturned the secretary-general’s previous position, which suggested that his failure to fill in the form was intended to protect the privacy of his successors.

Only one member of the Security Council registered a “no opinion” on Mr. Ban in yesterday’s secret ballot, which is viewed as the prelude to a decisive vote on Monday.


As in three previous Security Council “straw polls” conducted since July, members were asked yesterday to mark next to the names of the seven hopefuls whether they “encourage” or “discourage” the candidacy or whether they had “no opinion.”

For the first time yesterday, white cards were allotted to the 10 elected members and blue cards to the five permanent council powers who maintain a potential veto.

Only one, non-permanent member voted “no opinion” on Mr. Ban’s candidacy yesterday.

Ten members voted to encourage Mr. Tharoor, while three discouraged him and two had no opinion.

One of Mr. Tharoor’s three negative votes, however, came from a permanent member, which would suggest the possibility of a veto. The remaining candidates were far behind.

“I don’t know where I fell short, except in the vote tally,” Mr. Tharoor said.

Reprinted here with permission from The New York Sun. Visit the website at