‘What Ki-moon will be remembered for’– Kayanja
Ronald Kayanja, Director, United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), Lagos, spoke with VICTORIA OJUGBANA on Ban Ki-moon’s successes and what he would be remembered for
In Kayanja’s view, there are two main achievements that can be ascribed to Ban Ki-moon so far. First, he was able to mobilise the world to come up with the 2030 Development Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“You remember that when he came in, we were still with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and unsure of what would happen after the MDGs. But it was during his time that the process of all the world’s thinking about the new development agenda started. And he did that very well. So, one of his legacies was to leave the world with the SDGs, a framework that will change the world.
“Secondly, he has left the world with a framework to sustain the planning. The Paris agreement on Climate Change was among his achievements. The Paris Agreement on Climate Change had witnessed years of discussions and disagreements, with many of the countries not agreeing on a number of things. It was during his time that the world came to a consensus. The Agreement will come into force on the November 3 this year. Really, this is a major breakthrough for the world that all the actors agreed on reduction of hydrocarbon emission.
On the in-coming Secretary-General, Kayanja stated: “Guterres will be implementing this goal. He is helping the world implement the 2030 Development Agenda, as well as the Paris Agreement. This is a very clear agenda for him and that is why in his vision statement, he talked about implementation all through. The other challenge he has to grapple with is the crisis in Syria, Yemen and that regarding refugees.”
On the world’s expectations from the UN, which Ban could not meet, he said: “Ban has met big challenges on the humanitarian aspect, which is really not his fault, because until yesterday, the member-states on the Security Council could not agree. The crisis in Syria has been a major drawback, just like that of Libya.
“Those are the two things he would regret, but it was not within his power to do much. He tried, but the member-states could not resolve these issues, which they are yet to resolve.”
So, what would the UN be expecting from Guterres, when he assumes office?
“The in-coming secretary general has been the head of United Nations Human Rights Council
(UNHCR) before,” Kuyanja said. “So he understands humanitarian problems very well. The world is presently grappling with humanitarian issues, especially with Syrian migrants and refugees. So, we expect him to work a lot on that. However, the most important thing is for him to help the world to implement the Paris Agreement and the SDGs. While proffering solutions to the world’s huge challenges, he said:
“Another major issue is the humanitarian response of the UN. Now, we are even having a crisis in Haiti. So, the UN will be expected to do a lot more of humanitarian work. And because Guterres is really experienced in this regard, he knows all the things to do, concerning humanitarian response.”
Born on June 13, 1944, in Ŭmsŏng, Japanese-occupied Korea (now in South Korea), Ban became the eighth Secretary-General of the UN in 2007. Before then, he 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 from university, accepting his first post in New Delhi, India.
Ban was the foreign minister of South Korea from January 2004 to November 2006. In February 2006, he began to campaign for the office of Secretary-General. On January 1, 2007, he succeeded Kofi Annan. As the Secretary-General, he was responsible for several major reforms on peacekeeping and UN employment practices.
Diplomatically, Ban has taken particularly strong views on global warming, pressing the issue repeatedly with the then United States President George W. Bush, and on the Darfur conflict, he helped persuade Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to allow peacekeeping troops to enter Sudan.
In September 2014, Ban joined demonstrators in the People’s Climate March in New York City, and also called together world leaders for the UN Climate Summit, in preparation for the United Nations Climate Change Conference which held in Paris in late 2015.
He was named the world’s 32nd most powerful person by the Forbes list of The World’s Most Powerful People in 2013, the highest among South Koreans.
In 2014, he was also named the third most powerful South Korean after Lee Kun-hee and Lee Jae-yong.
At age 18, Ban had won a competition that took him to the White House to meet the then United States President John F. Kennedy, a visit he later claimed inspired his public career. He received a bachelor’s degree (1970) in International Relations from Seoul National University and earned a Master’s Degree (1985) from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Ban succeeded Kofi Annan on January 1, 2007, becoming the first Asian to serve as UN Secretary-General since Burmese statesman, U Thant, held the office (1962–71).