This week, the ambassador of South Korea to the UN told the leading news agency in South Korea that he feels that the first UN Secretary General from South Korea has shown “outstanding leadership” and will be easily elected to a second term later this year.
“The secretary-general is displaying outstanding leadership in key global issues and his clear expression of the U.N.’s position on the recent pro-democracy movements in the Middle East and Africa is being highly evaluated,” [Amb. Park In-kook] said. “Although it is still unofficial, the general consensus (within the U.N.) is that there is no room for doubt regarding his (Ban’s) reappointment.”
This is the most pointless form of political commentary. Of course it’s unofficial. Not to mention substance-less and insulting to both the diplomatic and journalistic professions.
By no truthful measure would any keen observer consider Ban to have demonstrated leadership of any kind, let alone “outstanding,” in response to any key global issue during his term. Whether on climate change, human rights or effective reform of the Secretariat, Ban has been roundly and rightfully criticized for his performance by the media, by governments and by his own officials and staff.
Ban has done well in some inconsequential areas and showed up in places when it was important for him to be seen. He finally called out the Mubarak regime once concessions and pro-government thugs failed to diminish the strength of the protests. This does not constitute leadership. If Russia or China had found any way to defend the Qaddafi regime’s actions to the Security Council last week, Ban would have demurred to them and defended “the U.N.’s position” just the same.
This is not to say that the Ambassador is wrong. Ban may very well coast his way into a second term if he continues to avoid principled confrontation with governments and no other staffers resign in disgust.
I miss Kofi.
(Photo under Creative Commons licence, courtesy of Flickr user megatick.)