June 21 (Bloomberg) -- South Korea’s Ban Ki-moon pledged “results that change lives” after being appointed today to a second five-year term as secretary-general of the United Nations by the world body’s 192 member governments.
The General Assembly, acting on the recommendation of the UN Security Council, adopted by acclamation a resolution giving the former South Korean foreign minister a term that will begin on Jan. 12, 2012. Ban, 67, faced no opposition.
“I will work as a harmonizer and bridge builder,” Ban said after taking the oath of office with his left hand on the original UN Charter, on loan from the U.S. Archives. “We must deliver results. Mere statistics will not do. We need results that people can see and touch, results that changes lives, make a difference.”
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told the General Assembly that the Obama administration “renews its pledge of friendship and support” for the UN. She called on Ban in his second term to “reduce bureaucracy, update its business practices, ensure budget discipline, promote transparency, and create a culture of economy, ethics and excellence.”
Ban said his first term put the issue of climate change “squarely on the global agenda” and “shielded the poor and vulnerable against the greatest economic upheaval in generations.” He took credit for delivering aid to Haiti, Pakistan and Myanmar following natural disasters, for protecting civilians amid conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia and Sudan, and for pressing for democracy in North Africa and the Middle East.
His first term was also marked by criticism from human rights groups for failing to condemn abuses in powerful nations such as China and Russia, and from Republicans in the U.S. Congress, frustrated with the pace of his efforts to improve UN management.
“Although we’ve criticized Ban for his handling of human rights issues in the past, especially in places like Burma, China, and Sri Lanka, we’ve recognized a positive change in his approach over recent months,” Philippe Bolopion of New York- based Human Rights Watch said in a statement. “He’s had a much stronger public voice in Ivory Coast, Egypt, Libya, and Syria. We hope that, without the question of a second term looming over his head, Ban will do more to further the human rights of people around the world over the next five years.”
No Ruffled Feathers
General Assembly President Joseph Deiss of Switzerland praised Ban’s “loyalty, discretion and conscience,” attributes that won him support from all of the UN’s regional groups.
“He does not ruffle feathers and, in that sense, in contrast to some of his predecessors, he has had a serene term,” Jeff Laurenti, UN analyst at the New York-based Century Foundation research group, said in an interview. “It is hard to see an outstanding accomplishment of the UN in the past five years that reflects unusual executive leadership, but there is virtually no blunder to fault him on. In the eyes of the key member governments he has been a perfectly serviceable leader of the organization.”
--Editors: Terry Atlas, Steven Komarow
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