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New man Ki-moon fails to make a mark in first 100 days
KUMAR ANUJ | Issue Dated: April 1, 2007
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AN ECLIPSE LONG ENOUGH It was almost surreptitiously that South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon bested the rest to become the 38th United Nations Secretary-General on 1 January 2007. By the time you read this, he’ll be reaching the first milestone of 100 days. How’s he doing? His big thing has been reform. On 15 March, the UN General Assembly endorsed Ki-moon’s plans including the designation of a High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, and restructuring peacekeeping functions to improve planning, deployment and response. Basically the Department of Peacekeeping Operations will have a new Department of Field Support. There are nearly 1,00,000 UN peacekeeping forces on the ground in various parts of the world. Ki-moon expects this to increase by 40%.

He says disarmament could be the UN’s principal task in future given the relative failure of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Ki-moon is bang on here. No one wants to be the UN Secretary-General to relax. It’s a high stress job, and fairly limited, given the range of US control. So, Ki-moon has been careful not to upset the West. For instance, the UN was virtually mute when former Iraq President Saddam Hussein was hanged, barely hours after Ki-moon took charge. Again, when International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Mohamed ElBaradei was categorical in puncturing America’s claims that Iran was going nuclear with its weapons, Ki-moon chose to remain silent. To an extent, political diplomacy involves tactful silence.

But there are other areas as well where Ki-moon has been sluggish so far. The United Nations Millennium Development Goals remain severely starved of funds as the First World countries have failed to fulfill their commitment of giving 0.7% of their GDP as overseas assistance. The US, with 0.2% contribution, falls awfully short. Even then, Ki-moon has remained quiet.

Then there are issues like the Hizbollah, Darfur, Kosovo and, most importantly, the nuclear crisis in North Korea. Ki-moon’s first 100 days as the Secretary -General look like a honeymoon in the desert. He’s got the support and even the intent to do good. Mere intentions have, however, barely done the job. Ki-moon had a nickname in his earlier job – Ban-Joosa (Ban, the administrative clerk). He ought to get rid of it fast.
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017