The UN General Assembly appointed South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon by acclamation on Friday as the next UN secretary-general, a post he will assume on January 1.
Ban, 62, is the first Asian leader since Burma's U Thant led the United Nations from 1961 to 1971. Asian nations had insisted it was their turn for the job to succeed Kofi Annan, a Ghanaian who has led the world body for the past decade.
The approval of Ban as the eighth secretary-general of the United Nations since 1946 was welcomed by applause from diplomats and hundreds of UN staff.
The 15-member UN Security Council recommended Ban to the General Assembly as the next secretary-general after he comfortably beat six rivals in informal council polls. The General Assembly formally appointed him for a five-year term.
"I will work diligently to materialise our responsibility to protect the most vulnerable members of humanity and for the peaceful resolution of threats to international security and regional stability," Ban told the Assembly.
"The true measure of success for the UN is not how much we promise, but how much we deliver for those who need us most," he said.
He said he was committed to reforming the United Nations, meeting UN Millennium Development Goals, expanding peace operations and dealing with threats posed by terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, HIV/AIDS and other pandemics, environmental degradation and the imperatives of human rights.
"We believe he is the right person to lead the United Nations at this decisive moment in its history, particularly as the UN struggles to fulfill the terms of the reform agenda that world leaders agreed to last fall," US Ambassador John Bolton told the Assembly.