UNITED NATIONS, Jun 22, 2011 (IPS) - Ban Ki-moon, who has been re-elected Secretary-General of the United Nations for a second five-year term beginning next January, dismissed longstanding speculation that he plans to run for the office of president in his home country, South Korea. Asked by IPS whether he will step down as the world body’s chief administrative officer if there is a "resounding call" for his candidacy within the next five years, he said he was aware of news reports and speculation, based on opinion polls, supporting him for president of Korea. "I have said that I am committed to my job as secretary-general mandated by member states," he said.
But since he has just been re-elected for a second five year term with a fresh mandate, he was hoping all that speculation would "fade away," he told a slew of invited reporters, mostly from wire services, at a briefing held in his office.
Guarded in his response, Ban did not, however, flatly declare he has no intentions of running for the presidency in the future - and beyond December 2016, when his second term in office as secretary- general ends.
On Tuesday, he was re-elected secretary-general by acclamation by the 192-member General Assembly, the highest policy making body at the United Nations. And last week, he gained the unanimous support of the 15-member Security Council.
Since there were no other candidates from Asia, the region with claims for the job over the next five years, Ban was re-elected by both bodies, without a vote.
Last year, a former Korean Prime Minister, Han Seung-soo, was quoted as saying that speculation about Ban’s possible run for the presidency would jeopardise a second five-year term as secretary-general. "Repeated mentions of his name in domestic politics would be disadvantageous for him as he performs his role as the U.N. secretary-general," he added.
Since the inception of the United Nations nearly 65 years ago, the post of secretary-general has been held by Trygve Lie of Norway (1946-1953); Dag Hammarskjold of Sweden (1953-1961); U Thant of Burma (1961-1971); Kurt Waldheim of Austria (1972-1981); Javier Perez de Cuellar of Peru (1982- 1991); Boutros Boutros-Ghali of Egypt (1992-1996); and Kofi Annan of Ghana (1997-2006).
Ban began his first five-year term in January 2007.
Addressing the General Assembly immediately after his re-election, Ban said that, with goodwill and mutual trust, "we have laid a firm foundation for the future".
"When we began, climate change was an invisible issue. Today, we have placed it squarely on the global agenda," he said. "When we began to work together, nuclear disarmament was frozen in time. Today, we see progress."
He also said the international community has advanced on global health, sustainable development and education.
"We are on track to eliminate deaths from malaria. With a final push, we can eradicate polio, just as we did smallpox long ago," he continued. "We have shielded the poor and vulnerable against the greatest economic upheaval in generations."
The role of the United Nations is to lead, he said.
"Each of us here today shares that heavy responsibility. It is why the U.N. matters in a different and deeper way than ever before."
"To lead, we must deliver results. Mere statistics will not do. We need results that people can see and touch - results that change lives - make a difference," he declared.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Ban said he plans to reach out to all 192 member states for their views on what should be the priorities of the United Nations for the next five years.
"And I will [give] a more detailed vision of the priorities in September to member states," he said. "Of course, realising a world free of nuclear weapons is one of my continuing priorities. I will do my best to realise the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, and I will continue to discuss this matter with the six-party Member States and other key members."
Ban will convene a high-level meeting on Sep. 22 on nuclear safety and nuclear security.
During that meeting, he will discuss with world leaders how best to strengthen nuclear safety standards and, at the same time, pave a good foundation for the nuclear security summit meeting which will be held in Seoul in March next year.