United Nations History/Ban Ki-moon

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Who is he?[edit]

Ban Ki-moon (born June 13, 1944) is a South Korean diplomat and the current Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Before becoming Secretary-General, Ban was a career diplomat in South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the United Nations. He entered diplomatic service the year he graduated college, accepting his first post in New Delhi. In the foreign ministry he established a reputation for modesty and competence.

Ban was the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea from January 2004 to November 2006. In February 2006 he began to campaign for the office of Secretary-General. Ban was initially considered to be a long shot for the office. As foreign minister of Korea, however, he was able to travel to all of the countries that were members of the United Nations Security Council, a manoeuvre that turned him into the campaign's front runner.

Childhood[edit]

Ban, the oldest of six children, was born in Eumseong in a small farming village in North Chungcheong, in 1944, while Korea was forcibly occupied by Japan. When he was three, his family moved to the nearby town of Chungju, where he was raised. During Ban's childhood, his father had a warehouse business, but the warehouse went bankrupt and the family lost its middle-class standard of living. When Ban was 6, his family fled to a remote mountainside for the duration of the Korean War. After the war, his family returned to Chungju. The U.S. military troops in Korea were the first Americans whom Ban ever met.

Diplomatic Career[edit]

After graduation from university, Ban received the top score on Korea's foreign service exam. He joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in May 1970, and worked his way up the career ladder during the years of the Yusin Constitution.[6]

His first overseas posting was to New Delhi where he served as vice consul and impressed many of his superiors in the foreign ministry with his competence. Ban reportedly accepted a posting to India rather than the more prestigious United States, because in India he would be able to save more money, and send more home to his family. In 1974 he received his first posting to the United Nations, as First Secretary of the South Permanent Observer Mission (South Korea only became a full UN member state on 17 September 1991).[15] After Park Chung-hee's 1979 assassination, Ban assumed the post of Director of the United Nations Division.

In 1980 Ban became director of the United Nation's International Organizations and Treaties Bureau, headquartered in Seoul. He has been posted twice to the Republic of Korea embassy in Washington, D.C. Between these two assignments he served as Director-General for American Affairs in 1990–1992. In 1992, he became Vice Chairman of the South-North Joint Nuclear Control Commission, following the adoption by South and North Korea of the Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. From 1993–1994 Ban was Korea's deputy ambassador to the United States. He was promoted to the position of Deputy Minister for Policy Planning and International Organizations in 1995 and then appointed National Security Advisor to the President in 1996. Ban's lengthy career overseas has been credited with helping him avoid South Korea's unforgiving political environment.

On Kosovo[edit]

As the Security Council debated Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed the need to ensure the stability of Kosovo, which the United Nations has run since 1999, and the safety and security of its population.

“I urge all to reaffirm and act upon their commitments to refrain from any actions or statements that could endanger peace, incite violence or jeopardize security in Kosovo and the region,” Mr. Ban told an open meeting of the Council, convened at the request of Russia and Serbia.

“My efforts – and those of my Special Representative in Kosovo – are aimed at ensuring that the political and security situation in Kosovo and in the wider region remains stable, and that the population of Kosovo, and in particular, the minority communities are protected,” he added.