UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced Monday that he will seek a second term as head of the United Nations, pledging to keep leading the world body as a “bridge-builder” at a time of unprecedented global change. His re-election is virtually assured.
The former South Korean foreign minister finally made public what has been the U.N.’s worst kept secret — that he wants a second term — at a news conference to discuss his recent trips to Europe and Africa. In his virtually non-stop travels around the globe, he has been quietly lobbying world leaders for support.
Ban said he had sent letters to the 15-member Security Council and 192-member General Assembly “humbly” offering himself for consideration for a second five-year term. His current term ends Dec. 31.
Though he insisted that he takes nothing for granted, Ban has no opponents and diplomats say he has the backing of the five veto-wielding members of the Security Council — the United States, China, Russia, France, and Britain — who must recommend him. He likely has support from the entire General Assembly, which will probably elect him by acclamation later this month.
The Security Council met privately late Monday afternoon to discuss how to proceed. In the past, the council has adopted a resolution recommendation for candidates for the U.N.’s top job.
Ban won immediate endorsement for his candidacy at a breakfast Monday with the 53-member Asian Group. He said he plans to meet with the U.N.’s other regional groups, from Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and mainly Western nations, in the next two days to discuss his candidacy.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe quickly welcomed Ban’s announcement.
“He has shown courage and determination during a time of crisis,” Juppe said in a statement. “We have no doubt that he will show those same qualities during a second term at the head of the U.N.”
China’s U.N. Ambassador Li Baodong said the Asian Group supports Ban because he has led the U.N. though “stormy weather and troubled water” and enabled the organization to play a “more important role” in peace, development, and international affairs.
The secretary-general “has demonstrated strong leadership, is a person of action, and is a person with vision for a better world and better U.N.,” Li told reporters.
Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Moscow supported Ban for a second term.
U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner welcomed Ban’s announcement, but wouldn’t say whether the Obama administration backed him for a second term. He added that the United States will have more to say in the coming days.
Ban, who will turn 67 on June 13, has been criticized for his low-key style, his lack of charisma, and his failure to criticize human rights abuses in powerful countries, especially China and Russia.
But he has won praise for putting climate change at the top of his agenda, for his commitment to women and nuclear disarmament, and for his recent strong support for pro-democracy demonstrators in North Africa and the Middle East, and for military intervention in Ivory Coast and Libya. ♦