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Ban pledges action, not words

The newly-elected United Nations chief says he will use the Asian virtue of modesty to lead the world organisation.

india Updated: Oct 14, 2006 11:48 IST
DPA

Ban Ki-moon, who was elected UN secretary general, said he would use the Asian virtue of modesty to lead the world organisation, but warned that modesty should not be viewed as weakness.

"Asia is also a region where modesty is a virtue," Ban, currently the South Korean foreign minister, told the 192-nation UN General Assembly, which appointed him by acclamation Friday to succeed Secretary General Kofi Annan for a five-year term beginning Jan 1.

"But modesty is about demeanour, not about vision and goals," Ban said. "It does not mean the lack of commitment or leadership."

"We should be more modest in our words, but not in performance," he said. "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."

Ban has been viewed as a weak leader since the moment he was first endorsed by the UN Security Council in July in a preliminary selection vote. Ban said he has the inner strength to hold the job.

The 15-nation Security Council gave Ban the lead through five consecutive votes and then recommended that be named secretary general by the General Assembly.

Ban, 62, will be the eighth secretary general since the establishment of the UN in 1945.

Ban will be the second Asian to hold the post. The first was U Thant of Burma in the 1960s.

"As secretary general, I will make the most of the authority invested in my office by the Charter of the UN and the mandate you give me," Ban told the assembly.

"I will work diligently to materialize our responsibility to protect the most vulnerable members of humanity, and for the peaceful resolution of threats to international security and regional stability."

In his remarks welcoming Ban, Annan pointed out that he, too, was elected by the General Assembly on a Friday the 13th in 1996. Annan served two five-year terms beginning in 1997.

Annan called Ban, "a future secretary general who is exceptionally attuned to the sensitivities of countries and constituencies in every continent, a man of truly global mind at the helm of the world's only universal organisation."

Annan said the UN top leadership may be the most impossible job on earth, but it is also "the best possible job on earth".

Ban had spent more than 35 years in government service, mostly in the foreign ministry. South Korea has emerged in the past decades as an industrialized country on a par with developed nations in the West.

He has held posts in New Delhi and Washington and headed the department of American affairs in the foreign ministry.

He was appointed national security adviser to the South Korean president in 1996, became a vice minister in 2000 and has been involved intensely in Asian affairs and disarmament.