Ban Ki-moon’s second inning

Ban Ki-moon’s apolitical nature has won him a second-term at the world body. The United Nations secretary-general, however, is apt at real-politicks.

That was squarely evident as he openly came out to support the Arab Spring in the Middle East and Africa. But the fact that he hasn’t been an impediment on the path of major powers’ obsession to lead from the front, thus entailing his office and organisation a mere watchdog status, says it all. Retaining the coveted post and that too unanimously for another term reflects the astuteness and diligence with which the South Korean diplomat has handled the world agenda spanning wars and peace to climate change and recessionary economics.

The soft-spoken emissary, nonetheless, should be credited for strengthening the role and the visibility of the United Nations. His personal intervention in humanitarian crises from Chile to Pakistan and from Honshu to Haiti is, indeed, laudable. Moreover, he has been tactfully dealing with the controversial issue of human rights without making it a personalised agenda.

Aso, Ban’s shrewdness in keeping China and Russia proactively involved and restraining them from exercising their veto power, especially in the case of Libya, is broadly eulogised.

The secretary-general will be poised to assume a leadership role as the resolution for Palestinian statehood is brought before the house. This is the time when a lot of secretarial articulation will be required while dealing with a fundamental issue pertaining the basic parameters behind the creation of a supra-governmental organisation. Whether he follows in the footprints of Dag Hammarskjold and U Thant to exhibit genuine leadership remains to be seen. Though his low-key profile has often been criticised, Ban has been quite vocal on environment and institutional initiatives.

The secretary-general still has to ensure that the lingering debate of reforms at the UN, especially the expansion of the Security Council and the permanent members gets to a logical conclusion. Incidentally, his desktop is heaped with peacemaking issues ranging from the Middle East, to the nuclearised Korean Peninsula. How he manages to make a difference is awaited.

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