News Analysis by: Erol Avdovic
|Ban ready for new term|
(UN photo 2010)
New York, (Webpublicapress) -- In order to become the master, the politician must pose as the servant. The UN Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon seems to konow how to do it.
There is no dilemma any more: Mr. Ban wants to run for the second term. Just on the Easter Eve Mr. Ban expressed hope Russia would support him, as news agencies reported - for a potential second term in the top U.N. post. Ban's five year term expires at the end of 2011.
FRIENDS AND FOES
"I'd like to really count on your strong support, leadership and guidance in continuing my work as Secretary General," Ban told Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow.
In his end of the year press conference in December 2010, and first one in 2011, at the UN Headquarters Ban declined to declare his intention, saying to the professionaly courious UN correspondents the most important job for him is to stay focused on current world problems. He also promised - he would do the announcement soon. By the end of April, he newer did offer that "exclusive" to the UN press.
For a while, he was bussy traveling and getting support from China and Russia. Anonimus diplomats were quoted to say - the United States as well and other two permanent members of the Security Council, U.K. and France “have given preliminary pledges of support for a second five-year term for Ban”.
The Secretary General is elected by the 192-nation U.N. General Assembly on the recommendation of the Security Council. In reality, however, it is not even all 15 members of the Security Council, but only the five permanent veto-holding council members -- who decide who gets the top UN job.
It looks like, Ban was procrastinating his announcement to seek another term, only because he wished to nail full support by the UN Security Council permanent five (P-5).
The moment he announce his decision to seek another term, at the UN in New York, we will now Mr. Ban thinks -- he got that support of P-5. For the moment Mr. Ban is focused on Moscow and Bejing.
While in Russia, Mr, Ban got the music for his ears in the words of Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who said his country would continue "trusting, close working contacts with the secretary-general". But Mr. Lavrov also stressed Russia's concerns regarding U.N. mandated use of force, mentioning Libya and Ivory Coast.
WHAT IS THE RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY
Unlike his predecesors Kofi Annan, and especially Boutros Boutros Ghali, who complicated over the issue of intervention in Bosnia in 1995, and Rwanda in 1994, where genocide has occurred under the eye of international community, Ban, as some analysts were suggesting “was on the right side of history”, by supporting the intervention for protection of civilians in Libya and Ivory Coast.
In Russia, Ban was obviously seeking support from a difficult friend. Moscow, has always emphasized the U.N. Security Council should be the chief arbiter of global issues, and the Secretary General should fit under that (security) umbrella. While looking straight to President Medvedev – Ban probably heared the echo of Russian Prime minister, Vladimir Putin's words, who, likened the U.N. resolution on Libya to a 'medieval' call for crusades. Althogh, Medvedev, apparently did not agree with that provocative statement -- Putin's words were wery much in the air.
Russia, China, including Germany, India and Brazil, abstained from voting in favor of the SC resolution that authorized imposing of non-fly zone, but in fact was used for military intervention against Gaddafi”s regime in Libya.
CHARM OFFENSIVE AND HUMAN RIGHTS
Ban Ki-Moon’s “global charm offensive” as some journalists call his bid for reelection, was also very prominent in China, where this Secretary General was traveling four times. He met and priced Chinese communist leaders.
But, “the UN Secretary General must equally remain focused on human rights as his mandate demands”, said John Metzler a professor at St.Johns Catholic University in New York, and columnist for Tribune.
“In his last visit meeting with Chinese President and General-Secretary of the Communist Party, the UN ‘s Ban soft-pedaled human rights issues and moreover curried political favor with Beijing’s Marxist Mandarins”, Metzler reminded.
During his address at Beijing’s Communist Party of China Central Party School, Ban described the assembled cadres as “an eminent group, the future leaders of China”, although, as Metzler said -- the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) comprises fewer than five percent of all Chinese.
However, it is stil not clear - weather Mr. Ban has indeed got the clear cut support frm China for his new UN bid. It seems also, the Chinese do not care much for another Assian candidate for the UN Secretary General, but will not have anything against this one as well. Looks like they act in spirt of old saying: We’d all like to vote for the best man, but he’s never a candidate. So the will go with this one too.
The paradox is that Ban’s own South Koreans could spoil his chanses for the second UN term. According to some news reports and public speculation in his native South Korea, Mr. Ban may consider a run for president there in 2012.
In the mean time, the former South Korean Prime Minister, Han Seung-soo, told Yonhap News agency that listing Ban as a potential presidential candidate may harm his UN reelection campaign. To some – those public speculations sounds like news ballons - preparing a golden reserve, if indeed, Ban does not provide enough support for another UN mandate. The Korean news papers also stated, Ban -- has expressed displeasure over media listing him as a presidential aspirant.
So, while there is no dilemma that Ban would love another UN term, there are doubts weather he will be able to assamble the UN Seecurity Council consensus on himself.
There are also others, outside the Security Council “club”, which are still measuring the support for Ban’s reelection - at least in the public arena.
ARE SCANDINAVIAN AGAINST
Although not a single Scandinavian country curently serve at Security Council, traditionaly their voices are well respected at the UN an broader global community; and it looks like some of them are not symphatetic to the current UN boss.
Inga-Britt Ahlenius of Sweden, who led the U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), and quit her duty last year accusing Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of poor leadership, said his re-election would be “an embarrassment”.
"If my report, which is read and known by all in the secretariat ... becomes widely known, I think it would be pretty embarrassing if he was re-elected. Because that would show that the superpowers could not care less whether the U.N. is a relevant organisation or not," Ahlenius said to the Reuters.
Presenting a book on what she called the "decay" of the United Nations, she said "mismanagement of the U.N. secretariat affected the organisation's ability to carry out its tasks".
According to same media source, Ahlenius said, “while Washington appeared comfortable with Ban, some member states were critical of him”. She hoped her report, and book if translated into English, would make other countries see her way.
But, diplomats still give the South Korean U.N. chief a good chance of re-election since he has avoided big conflicts with key powers and chiefly with the United States and China.
“Ban is really good with all of as and rember the name of our ambassador reguraly”, a Bosnian diplomat said to Webpublicapress.
Bosnia and Herzegovina, together with Lebanon, Gabon, Nigeria, South Africa, Columbia, Portugal, Brazil, India and Germany, are 10 non-permanent member states of the Security Council that will vote in December 2011 to (re)elect the UN Secretary General.
So far only one country that publicly opposed Ban Ki-moon’s reelection for the top UN job is Shrilanka.
It is widely believed that Ban Ki-moon has a solid support among Muslim countries. He was always “on time” in his public criticism of “dangerous trends” of intolerance targeting Muslim. Mr. Ban was also fast to condem recent desecration of the Quran in Florida, stressing that “such actions cannot be condoned by any religion.”
While last year, a fierce debate was raging in Germany over the integration of the country's 5 million immigrants, and Chancellor Angela Merkel's remarks -- that the concept of multiculturalism had 'absolutely failed' in Germany, in a speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, on October 19 – 2010, Ban warned “a dangerous trend is emerging, (as) a new politics of polarization”.
“Some play on people's fears”, Ban said, while Horst Seehofer, a German conservative was publicly agitating, his country should not accept more migrants from “alien cultures, such as Turks and Arabs”.
Ban Ki-moon was not hesitant to point the finger in the European Parliament: “Europe's darkest chapters have been written in language such as this”, adding “today the primary targets are immigrants of the Muslim origin”. He also stressed: “Europe cannot afford stereotyping that closes minds and breeds hatred, and the world cannot afford a Europe that does this”.
NEW MEDIA FOR THE NEW GAME
“As on all levels at the United Nations, the SG’s talk is right, yet the actions are something else”, said to Webpublicapress James Reinl, UN based correspondent for Abu Dhabi daily “The National”, making those comment after one of his recent trip to Haiti. Reinl is not alone among some 200 journalists who are covering UN on the “daily basis” or less, pointing Ban was not sincere enough regarding his re-election intentions.
Those which seems to be forgotten, or even underestimated by Mr. Ban in his campaign are actually - journalists. There is a feeling among UN based correspondents, their professional curiosity was not addressed properly by UN the Secretary General, on wather he already knew that he will run for a second term, while playing ambiguity to them.
Even more, looks like Mr. Ban does not pay enaugh attention of social media and rising power of their independent opservation. But they did pay close attention on him.
As one blog recently analyzed – “Ban’s abysmal track record – the disastrous UN relief effort in Haiti alone would be enough to bring him down …” The Ivory Coast, where “UN peacekeepers were watching from a distance, seemingly unable to prevent the slaughter of thousands of civilians by the followers of the two dictators, Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara”, and Libya, where “Mr Ban took the ‘principled’ decision of siding with the trio of Western powers that could easily help him to stay on for another term” are added to that observation by blogers.
And Afghanistan, where, the UN was presiding over one of the biggest corruption scams in the world, the accusations were echoed even by deputy chief of UN Mission, former US ambassador Peter Galbraith. His tough words were only to be added to those accounst. In an recent interview with Webpublicapress, Mr. Galbraith did not spare Ban Ki-moon at all, saying he does not deserve US support for the second UN term.
Bloggers even suggested, the pressure on Ban Ki-moon “had started to build when the now former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva made it known last year that he is eyeing the post of the UN Secretary-General with interest. Mr Lula da Silva is a cunning operator, a man who has managed to persuade the world that Brazil is actually a fast growing economy, and as such he would be able to master enough support for himself to get the UN top job”.
Latin America did not have its UN top job representative since Javier Pérez de Cuéllar of Peru, was the UN Secretary General from 1992 to 1991.
Probbably now we may, at least better understand why Mr. Ban was procrastinating his public announcement -- that he will indeed seek a second mandate as a Secretary General of the United Nations.
As they say in politics: The truth is not (always) determined by majority vote! Talking with the words of popular sayings, it is also true that “we live in a world in which politics has replaced philosophy”. And UN is not exemption to that.