(Updates with White House statement in fifth paragraph.)
June 7 (Bloomberg) -- South Korea’s Ban Ki-moon said he will run for a second five-year term as secretary-general of the United Nations, a bid that’s likely to result in his re-election within a month as the U.S. and Asia’s two biggest economies backed him.
“It has been an enormous privilege to lead this great organization,” Ban, 66, said yesterday at a news conference at UN headquarters in New York. “If supported by the member states, I would be deeply honored to serve once more.”
Ban said he expressed his intention in a letter to the governments of the 192 UN member nations and would meet with their envoys within the next two days. The Security Council would first vote to recommend his re-election and the General Assembly would then vote on whether to give him a second term that would begin on Jan. 1, 2012.
Ban is almost assured of re-election because Britain, China, France, Russia and the U.S., the five permanent members of the Security Council, have signaled their support and no opposition candidate has emerged. The eighth UN secretary general, Ban would be the fifth to win election to a second term.
The U.S. announced its support for Ban’s re-election today. “Under Ban’s leadership, the United Nations has played a critical role in responding to crises and challenges across the globe,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement. “The United Nations is an imperfect, but indispensable institution. The secretary-general has made important reforms.”
China and Japan, the second and third-biggest economies in the world, reacted to the announcement by backing the incumbent.
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan sent a message to New York “supporting UN Secretary Ban’s re-appointment,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters today in Tokyo. “We very much appreciate the job he has done in the past five years dealing with problems around the world.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said his government supports Ban’s re-election, according to a statement on the ministry’s website.
France’s Foreign Minister Alain Juppe called Ban’s announcement “very good news.” The “UN and the entire international community can rely upon him, his very solid experience and his authority,” Juppe said in a statement.
Ban made his wishes known initially at a breakfast meeting of representatives of the 53 Asian nations, who unanimously backed his candidacy, according to Pakistan’s Ambassador Abdullah Haroon.
“He is a person who has demonstrated strong leadership and is a person of action and a person with vision of a better world and a better UN,” China’s Ambassador Li Baodong told reporters.
Ban told reporters that in his first term he directed responses to natural disasters in Myanmar, Haiti and Pakistan “quickly and effectively” while “sewing the seeds of peace” in Sudan, Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Ivory Coast. He also pointed to steps to improve UN management that include creation of a department to advocate for women and a requirement of full financial disclosure by senior officials.
Asked about his unmet first-term goals of ending the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan and completing an international agreement to combat climate change, Ban said he was “sorry to tell you that all these major challenges are in process that we will try to accelerate.”
He took credit for drawing attention to climate change and for deploying a joint UN and African Union peacekeeping mission that has “saved thousands of lives” in Darfur.
Human rights advocates who have criticized Ban for failing to admonish world powers such as China for alleged abuses have praised his statements about attacks on anti-government protesters in the Middle East and North Africa.
While Ban’s first term “has too often been disappointing on human rights issues, his recent handling of the crises in the Arab world or Ivory Coast has been more positive,” Philippe Bolopion of New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a statement. “We can only hope that once free from re-election concerns, with his legacy in mind, he will become a more forceful and consistent voice on human rights, including when it means standing up to permanent members of the council like China.”
--With assistance from Takashi Hirokawa in Tokyo and Gregory Turk in Shanghai. Editors: John Brinsley, Bob Drummond
To contact the reporter on this story: Bill Varner in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at email@example.com