10/14/2006

Less exciting UN under new Secretary General


Xinhua - English: Ban Ki-moon chosen as new UN head

A couple years ago when I was a junior at DePaul University, my friend Danny Bisbing, who was then a sophomore at U of C, and I bought tickets for an event hosted by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations for a speech at the Westin hotel on Michigan Avenue given by the South Korean foreign minister Ban Ki-moon, the man recently selected by the UN Security Council to be the NGO's new Secretary General. I must say, it was close to the most boring experience of my entirely life, with both Danny and myself struggling not to nod off in the middle of his speech, but it was impossible to ignore the substantial presence of South Korean business men and journalists who were beaming with pride for their obviously nervous foreign minister. On substance, Ban impressed us both with his restraint when questioned about the North Korean nuclear issue, showing obvious care when choosing his words so as not to entice the North Korean regime as is consistent with the South's policy of engagement.

He will take over for an administration that has distinguished itself over the last ten years as ineffective and rife with internal corruption under the leadership of Kofi Annan. Despite his obviously questionable ethical approach to his responsibilities as senior diplomat in New York, Annan has won back at least some of my favor with his recent efforts to overhaul the organizations bureaucracy and root out favor-seeking. However, I doubt very much that true reform is possible until a new management takes over in Manhattan.
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