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Ban Ki-moon

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Ban Ki-moon

Ban Ki-moon
Ban in April 2015
8th Secretary-General of the United Nations
Assumed office
1 January 2007
Deputy Asha-Rose Migiro
Jan Eliasson
Preceded by Kofi Annan
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
In office
17 January 2004 – 1 December 2006
President Roh Moo-hyun
Prime Minister Goh Kun
Lee Hae-chan
Han Duck-soo
Han Myeong-sook
Preceded by Yoon Young-kwan
Succeeded by Song Min-soon
Personal details
Born (1944-06-13) 13 June 1944
Onnan Township, Injō County, Chūseihoku Province, Japanese Korea[1][2]
(now Wonnam Township, Eumseong County, North Chungcheong Province, South Korea)
Nationality South Korean
Spouse(s) Yoo Soon-taek
Children 3[3]
Alma mater Seoul National University (B.A.)
Harvard University (M.P.A.)
Korean name
Hangul 반기문
Hanja 潘基文
Revised Romanization Ban Gimun
McCune–Reischauer Pan Kimun
Korean pronunciation: 

Ban Ki-moon (Hangul반기문; hanja潘基文; born 13 June 1944) is a South Korean statesman and politician who is the eighth and 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 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. Ban was initially considered a long shot for the office. As foreign minister of South Korea, however, he was able to travel to all the countries on the United Nations Security Council, a maneuver that turned him into the campaign's front runner.

On 13 October 2006, he was elected to be the eighth Secretary-General by the Darfur conflict, where he helped persuade Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir to allow peacekeeping troops to enter Sudan.[4][5]

Ban 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.[6] In 2014, he was named the third most powerful Korean after Lee Kun-Hee and Lee Jae-yong.[7]


  • Early life and education 1
  • Career 2
    • Diplomatic career 2.1
      • Foreign minister of South Korea 2.1.1
  • United Nations career 3
    • Campaign for Secretary-General: 2007 3.1
    • First term as Secretary-General 3.2
      • Cabinet 3.2.1
      • Reform agenda 3.2.2
      • Key issues 3.2.3
        • Global warming
        • Middle East
        • Darfur
        • Myanmar
    • Campaign for second term as Secretary-General: 2011 3.3
    • Second term as Secretary-General 3.4
      • Cabinet 3.4.1
      • Key issues 3.4.2
        • Middle East
        • LGBT rights
        • Syrian conflict
  • Personal life 4
    • Family 4.1
    • Personality 4.2
  • Honors and awards 5
    • Honorary degrees 5.1
  • Criticism 6
  • References 7
  • Further reading 8
  • External links 9

Early life and education

Ban was born on 13 June 1944 in the small farming village of Haengchi, Wonnam Township (-myeon), in Eumseong County, North Chungcheong Province in Korea.[2][8] His family then moved to the nearby town of Chungju, where he grew up.[9] 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 six, his family fled to a remote mountainside for much of the Korean War.[8] After the war ended, his family returned to Chungju. Ban has mentioned meeting American soldiers at this time.[10]

In secondary school (Chungju High School), Ban became a star student, particularly in his studies of the English language. In 1962, Ban won an essay contest sponsored by the Red Cross and earned a trip to the United States where he lived in San Francisco with a host family for several months.[11] As part of the trip, Ban met U.S. President John F. Kennedy.[8] When a journalist at the meeting asked Ban what he wanted to be when he grew up, he said, "I want to become a diplomat."[10]

He received a bachelor's degree in international relations from Seoul National University in 1970, and earned a Master of Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 1985.[10] At Harvard, he studied under Joseph Nye, who remarked that Ban had "a rare combination of analytic clarity, humility and perseverance".[11] Ban was awarded the degree of Doctor of Laws (Honoris Causa) by the University of Malta on 22 April 2009.[12] He further received an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from the University of Washington in October 2009.[13]

In addition to his native Korean, Ban speaks English and French. There have been questions, however, regarding the extent of his knowledge of French, one of the two working languages of the United Nations Secretariat.[14]


Diplomatic career

Ban Ki-moon with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in January 2006

After graduating 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.[11]

Ban's first overseas posting was to New Delhi, India, 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 United States, because in India he would be able to save more money to send to his family.[15][16] In 1974 he received his first posting to the United Nations, as First Secretary of the South Permanent Observer Mission (South Korea became a full UN member-state on 17 September 1991).[17] 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 Nations' International Organizations and Treaties Bureau, headquartered in

Political offices
Preceded by
Yoon Young-kwan
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of South Korea
Succeeded by
Song Min-soon
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Kofi Annan
Secretary-General of the United Nations
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
John Kerry
as United States Secretary of State
Order of Precedence of the United States
as Secretary-General of the United Nations
Succeeded by
Ambassadors to the United States
(in order of tenure)
Succeeded by
Otherwise Nancy Reagan
as Widow of former President Reagan
  • Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, official United Nations profile, statements, reports, press briefings
  • Column archive at The Guardian
  • Appearances on C-SPAN
  • Ban Ki-moon at the Internet Movie Database
  • Works by or about Ban Ki-moon in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
  • Ban Ki-moon collected news and commentary at Al Jazeera English
  • Ban Ki-moon collected news and commentary at The Guardian
  • Ban Ki-moon collected news and commentary at The New York Times
  • Ban Ki-moon collected news and commentary at The Wall Street Journal
  • Ban Ki-moon interview with Dennis Wholey on 23 February 2006
  • Ban Ki-moon's address to the United Nations General Assembly, General Debate of the 63rd Session, 23 September 2008
  • Ban Ki-moon on Sixty Years of UN Peacekeeping, Dublin Castle, 7 July 2009

External links

  • Encyclopedia of World Biography: Supplement #27 (Thomson-Gale, 2007) pp 29–31

Further reading

  1. ^ pg 493, "Local Administration, Chapter XXIV: Korea (Chōsen)," The Japan-Manchukuo Year Book 1938, Japan-Manchukuo Year Book Co., Kojimachi-ku, Tokyo
  2. ^ a b Eumseong County: "The Birthplace of the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon"
  3. ^ a b c "Official U.N. biography". United Nations. Archived from the original on 11 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-12. 
  4. ^  
  5. ^ Lynch, Colum (17 April 2007). "Sudan To Allow U.N. Force In Darfur".  
  6. ^ "Ban Ki-moon".  
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b c d e f g  
  9. ^ a b c Martin Fackler (22 December 2006). "On His Ancestors' Wings, a Korean Soars to the U.N.".  
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Maggie Farley and Bruce Wallace (9 October 2006). "Aspiring U.N. Chief Is a Harmonizer, Not a Rock Star; South Korean career diplomat Ban Ki-moon may lack charisma, but he has many fans".  
  11. ^ a b c d e Anna Fifield (10 October 2006). "Relentless pursuit brings a challenge close to home; Profile Ban Ki-moon".  
  12. ^ University of Malta (17 April 2009). "Honoris Causa". News on Campus. 
  13. ^ Heim, Kristi (26 October 2009). "A conversation with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon". The  
  14. ^ a b "Is Ban Ki-moon a franco-phoney?".  
  15. ^ a b c "Profile: Ban Ki-moon".  
  16. ^ a b c d e Lee Joo-hee (15 February 2006). "Ban surges toward next career step".  
  17. ^  
  18. ^ a b "Can This Guy Run the U.N.?".  
  19. ^ a b c Warren Hoge (14 October 2006). "South Korean Is Appointed Secretary General of the U.N.". The New York Times. 
  20. ^ a b  
  21. ^ Colum Lynch (29 September 2006). "S. Korean Contender for U.N. Post Has an Edge; Ban Ki Moon's Rivals Complain About His Role in Foreign Aid and Trade Policy".  
  22. ^  
  23. ^ Park Song-wu (14 February 2006). "Minister Ban to Run for Top UN Job".  
  24. ^ "Ban takes 1st Straw Poll". 24 July 2006. Archived from the original on 8 August 2007. Retrieved 28 September 2006. 
  25. ^ "Ban firms up lead in second Straw Poll". 14 September 2006. Archived from the original on 12 June 2009. Retrieved 28 September 2006. 
  26. ^ "Ban slips but holds, Vīķe-Freiberga pushes into third". 28 September 2006. Archived from the original on 12 June 2009. Retrieved 28 September 2006. 
  27. ^ "Ban Ki-moon wins". 2 October 2006. Archived from the original on 4 November 2006. Retrieved 2 October 2006. 
  28. ^ "Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon interview". 26 September 2006. Archived from the original on 4 August 2007. Retrieved 2 August 2007. 
  29. ^ "The Quest for Peace and Prosperity in the Asia-Pacific and Beyond". Ban Ki-moon address to Asia Society (transcript). 25 September 2006. Retrieved 2 August 2007. 
  30. ^ Gamage, Daya (30 April 2010), "UN’s Lynn Pascoe cannot avoid being influenced by US State Department agenda on Sri Lanka", Asian Tribune. Retrieved 7 June 2011.
  31. ^ a b "Enter Mr Ban; The UN's new secretary-general" (PDF).  
  32. ^ "Secretary-General's press conference".  
  33. ^ Beeston, Richard; Bone, James (26 September 2006). "Millions of dollars and a piano may put Korean in UN's top job".  
  34. ^ Lynch, Colum (28 September 2006). "S. Korean Contender for U.N. Post Has an Edge". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-08-02. 
  35. ^ "Shashi Tharoor pulls out of UN race". 3 October 2006. Retrieved 2 October 2006. 
  36. ^ "United Nations Webcast of announcement". United Nations. Archived from the original on 7 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-02. 
  37. ^ Warren Hoge and Choe Sang-Hun (10 October 2006). "Security Council Approves South Korean as U.N. Chief". The New York Times. 
  38. ^ a b c "Mission impossible?—The United Nations".  
  39. ^ "Secretary-General's encounter with the UN press corps (transcript)".  
  40. ^ Julia Preston (3 January 2007). "New U.N. Chief Invites Controversy by Declining to Oppose Hussein Execution". The New York Times. 
  41. ^ a b c Mark Turner (1 February 2007). "Ban's month of muddle: how the new UN chief is struggling to win over the doubters".  
  42. ^ "Statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on the death sentences in Iraq". United Nations. 6 January 2007. Retrieved 2 August 2007. 
  43. ^ "Address at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Q&A (transcript)". United Nations. 16 January 2007. Archived from the original on 11 July 2007. Retrieved 2 August 2007. 
  44. ^ "U.N. chief calls for justice in Cambodia".  
  45. ^ "Arrhenius End of Assignment Report" (PDF).  
  46. ^ Julia Preston (6 January 2007). "Tanzanian Woman Is Chosen for U.N.'s 2nd Highest Post".  
  47. ^ a b Julia Preston (4 January 2007). "Mexican U.N. Insider Gets Manager's Post". 
  48. ^ a b  
  49. ^  
  50. ^ Stevenson Swanson (11 April 2007). "Leaders making world of difference\ Higher profile at UN brings new emphasis on issues affecting women".  
  51. ^ Warren Hoge (19 February 2007). "U.N. Chief Is Assuaging Doubts About Leadership". The New York Times. 
  52. ^ Warren Hoge (28 February 2007). "New United Nations Chief Tackles the Agency's Tradition of Patronage Jobs". The New York Times. 
  53. ^ a b c d Maggie Farley (11 April 2007). "Ban Ki-moon learns the hard way".  
  54. ^ "MOFA spokesman slams Ban Ki-moon for rejecting UN bid".  
  55. ^ Colum Lynch (2 March 2007). "U.N. Secretary General Calls Global Warming a Priority".  
  56. ^ Ban urges rapid progress in negotiations on new climate change pact. UN News Centre, 3 September 2009.
  57. ^ Foderaro, Lisa. "Taking a Call for Climate Change to the Streets". The New York Times. Retrieved June 15, 2015. 
  58. ^ "UN Climate Summit". The United Nations. Retrieved 15 June 2015. 
  59. ^ Rocket blast shakes UN chief in Baghdad. Xinhua, 23 March 2007.
  60. ^  
  61. ^ Warren Hoge (3 April 2007). "On Mideast Trip, U.N. Chief Sought to Expand New Role". The New York Times. 
  62. ^ "U.N. blasts Israel for West Bank housing expansion plan". CNN. 10 March 2008. Archived from the original on 14 March 2008. Retrieved 10 March 2008. 
  63. ^ "UN toasts Ahmadinejad win, as 69 said killed in Iran protests", Haaretz. Retrieved 6 May 2011.
  64. ^ "Nobel laureate calls on U.N. chief to visit Iran". Reuters. 11 August 2009. 
  65. ^ "British, French embassy workers on trial over Iran protests". CNN. 9 August 2009. Retrieved 2010-04-07. 
  66. ^ "Iran admits 4,000 June detentions". BBC News. 11 August 2009. Retrieved 2010-04-07. 
  67. ^ Ganji, Akbar (12 August 2009). "Dear Mr Ban, heed the Iranian people". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 7 April 2010. 
  68. ^ "Ban Ki-Moon: I am willing to take any measures for human rights". The Christian Science Monitor. 23 March 2011. 
  69. ^ "Muammar Gaddafi: How he died". BBC News. 22 October 2011. Retrieved 22 October 2011. 
  70. ^ Cheryl Corley (2 August 2007). "United Nations Deploys Peacekeeping Troops to Darfur".  
  71. ^ "Cyclone aid conference opens in Myanmar". CNN. 25 May 2008. 
  72. ^ a b "General Assembly appoints Ban Ki-moon to second term as UN Secretary-General". UN News Service. 21 June 2011. Retrieved 21 June 2011. 
  73. ^ "Ban Ki-moon launches official re-election campaign". Xinhua News Agency. 6 June 2011. Retrieved 22 June 2011. 
  74. ^ "Ban Ki-moon reelection campaign gathers pace". Hürriyet Daily News. Agence France-Presse. 5 June 2011. Retrieved 22 June 2011. 
  75. ^ Patrick Worsnip (17 June 2011). "U.N. council recommends 2nd term for Ban Ki-moon". Reuters. Retrieved 22 June 2011. 
  76. ^ Louis Charbonneau (21 June 2011). "U.N. assembly approves second term for U.N. chief Ban". Reuters. Retrieved 22 June 2011. 
  77. ^ "General Assembly Appoints Secretary-General Ban Ki–moon to Second Term of Office". UN Press Office. 21 June 2011. Retrieved 22 June 2011. 
  78. ^ PTI (22 June 2011). "Ban Ki-moon unanimously elected for second term as UN chief". The Times of India. Retrieved 22 June 2011. 
  79. ^ Crossette, Barbara (4 March 2012). "Jan Eliasson Named Deputy Secretary-General". PassBlue. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  80. ^ a b Christian Ultsch (27 November 2012). "UN chief interviewed on religious tolerance, Gaza, Palestinian status". Die Presse. 
  81. ^ "Concerned at plight of Palestinian hunger strikers, Ban urges solution without delay". United Nations. 18 October 2011. Retrieved 28 June 2012. 
  82. ^ "Criticizing Iranian leadership statements regarding Israel and the Holocaust". The New York Times. 30 August 2012. Retrieved 30 August 2012. 
  83. ^ Omri Efraim (16 August 2013). "UN chief admits bias against Israel". Ynet News. 
  84. ^ Israel ‘disturbed’ by Ban’s recanting comment on bias. Jerusalem Post, 20 August 2013
  85. ^ Ki Moon, Ban. "Message to Human Rights Council meeting on Violence and Discrimination based on Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity". United Nations. 
  86. ^ Summers, Claude J. (3 March 2012). """ Video: Ban Ki-moon: "The Time Has Come. glbtq. Retrieved 25 May 2015. 
  87. ^ Ban Ki-moon (11 December 2012). """Secretary-General's remarks to special event on "Leadership in the Fight against Homophobia. United Nations. Retrieved 25 May 2015. 
  88. ^ Ban Ki-moon (15 April 2013). "Secretary-General's video message to the Oslo Conference on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity". United Nations. Retrieved 25 May 2015. 
  89. ^ "Syria Geneva II peace talks witness bitter exchanges". 22 January 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  90. ^ a b "Ban Ki-moon's family nuptial ties with India". Rediff News. 31 October 2008. Retrieved 5 June 2011. 
  91. ^ "Ban ki-Moon at the World Hindi Conference". Rediff News. 14 July 2007. Retrieved 5 June 2011. 
  92. ^ 반기문 총장 아들 내달 결혼.  
  93. ^ "Correction: Ban Ki-moon".  
  94. ^ "Transcript of Press Conference by Secretary-General-Designate Ban Ki-moon At United Nations Headquarters".  
  95. ^ "Where Are You, Ban Ki-Moon?". The New York Times. September 24, 2013. He’s been called among the worst secretaries general in U.N. history, a “powerless observer” and a “nowhere man”... 
  96. ^ "'"Disquiet grows over performance of Ban Ki-moon, UN's 'invisible man. The Guardian. July 22, 2010. 
  97. ^ "'"The U.N.'s 'Invisible Man. The Wall Street Journal. July 14, 2009. 
  98. ^ "Nowhere Man". Foreign Policy. June 21, 2009. 
  99. ^ "Reply to a parliamentary question about the Decoration of Honour" (pdf) (in German). p. 1446. Retrieved November 2012. 
  100. ^ "Samsung Chairman Lee Receives Van Fleet Award". KBS World. 20 September 2006. Archived from the original on 2014-02-03. Retrieved 2006-09-28. 
  101. ^
  102. ^ Sovereign Ordonnance n° 4251, 3 April 2013.
  103. ^ Ralph Riegel (21 August 2013). "Mandela, Clinton and Geldof among the former winners".  
  104. ^ "Ban Ki-moon praises 'truly historic' referendum result".  
  105. ^ "Honorary doctorate and Public Address - His Excellency Mr Ban Ki-moon". Retrieved 3 September 2014. 
  106. ^ "University Welcomes United Nations Leader at Academic Convocation". Retrieved 29 January 2013. 
  107. ^ "Mongolia a ‘role model’ for other developing countries, Ban says". UN News center. 28 July 2009. Retrieved 3 July 2012. 
  108. ^ "Press Release: Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General to UN conferred with ‘Doctor of Letters’ at Jamia". Retrieved 4 February 2014. 
  109. ^ "Ban Ki-moon, Mayor Michael Hancock announced as Commencement speakers". 30 May 2013. Retrieved 13 June 2013. 
  110. ^ "‘Make the choice of service,’ UN chief tells Georgetown graduates". 16 May 2015. Retrieved 17 May 2015. 
  111. ^ "KU Leuven awards honorary doctorate to Ban Ki-moon". 26 May 2015. Retrieved 28 May 2015. 
  112. ^ "Univerzita Komenského v Bratislave (UK) dnes udelila čestný titul Doctor honoris causa (Dr. h. c.) generálnemu tajomníkovi OSN Pan Ki-munovi". 19 October 2015. Retrieved 19 October 2015. 
  113. ^ a b Colum Lynch (21 October 2007). "Under U.N. Chief, Koreans in Key Posts: Ban Ki-moon Denies Playing Favorites".  
  114. ^ "Investigator says Ban is 'embarrassing' himself", New York Post, 20 July 2010. Retrieved 7 June 2011.
  115. ^ Inga-Britt Ahlenius, End of Assignment Report, 14 July 2010, p. 22. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
  116. ^ a b "Departing U.N. official calls Ban's leadership 'deplorable' in 50-page memo". The Washington Post, 20 July 2010. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
  117. ^ End of Assignment Report, pp. 32, 48 Inga-Britt Ahlenius, 14 July 2010. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
  118. ^ "Ban Ki Moon Joins The North Korea-Security Council Debate". UN Dispatch. Archived from the original on 28 May 2010. Retrieved 25 May 2010. 
  119. ^ Borger, Julian (2012) "UN tribunal finds ethics office failed to protect whistleblower". The Guardian
  120. ^ Lynch, Colum (13 May 2010), "U.N. Head Ban Ki-Moon Refusing Orders from Internal Personnel Court", The Washington Post. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
  121. ^ Chen, M. (17 September 2013), "Ban Ki Moon Accused of Union Busting at UN", Huffington Post.
  122. ^ Rosen, Armin (9 April 2015), "How the UN caused a massive cholera outbreak in Haiti", Business Insider. Retrieved 14 April 2015.
  123. ^ Ingram, David. "U.S. judge rules Haitians cannot sue U.N. for cholera epidemic". Reuters news service. Retrieved 15 June 2015. 
  124. ^ "15-455-cv United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit" (PDF). Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. Retrieved 15 June 2015. 
  125. ^ "Lawyers file appeal against US judge ruling on cholera cases". The Jamaica Observer. Retrieved 15 June 2015. 


International human rights organizations are critical of Ban Ki-moon for lacking accountability over negligent actions by the United Nations. Scientists and journalists conclusively proved that UN peacekeepers from Nepal were the source of the 2010–13 Haiti cholera outbreak, which has killed approximately 9,000 people and infected more than 1 in 20 Haitians. Ban has declared that the legal immunity of the United Nations before national courts should be upheld, though this does not reduce the UN's moral responsibility to overcoming Haiti's cholera epidemic.[122] Ban is named in a lawsuit challenging UN immunity on behalf of Haitian cholera victims in the U.S. District Court of Manhattan. In January 2015, Judge J. Paul Oetken dismissed the case, affirming UN immunity.[123] An appeal[124] to Oetken's decision was submitted to the Court in May 2015.[125]

In 2013, Ban Ki Moon was accused of undermining collective bargaining rights of The Staff Coordinating Council, the union representing United Nations staff. Ban unilaterally eliminated the role of the union to negotiate on behalf of the employees and terminated talks when the union protested.[121] The United Nations champions the right to collective bargaining as a basic human right in its own charter, enacted as the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949; Article 1.

Former UN corruption fighter James Wasserstrom has also been critical of Ban Ki-moon for attempting to limit the jurisdiction of the UN dispute tribunal following his dismissal from his Kosovo and lengthy appeals process.[119] Ban had refused to hand over confidential documents relating to the case to the UN personnel tribunal, despite repeated orders by the court to do so. In relation to another case, Ban was admonished by Judge Michael Adams for "wilful disobedience" for again failing to hand over key documents in an internal promotions dispute.[120]

During the ROKS Cheonan sinking events, he took the step of demanding action against North Korea for the alleged sinking of a vessel from his country. This was reported by U.N. Dispatch as being unusual, because it is rare for any Secretary-General—and particularly Ban Ki-moon—to comment on the Security Council taking action on an issue as his office had tended to be extremely deferential to the Security Council.[118]

Former UN Under Secretary General for Oversight Services [117]

[113] According to


Honorary degrees

Honors and awards

During his tenure at the South Korean Foreign Ministry, Ban's nickname was jusa, meaning "the Bureaucrat" or "the administrative clerk". The name was used as both positive and negative: complimenting Ban's attention to detail and administrative skill while deriding what was seen as a lack of charisma and subservience to his superiors.[31] The South Korean press corps calls him "the slippery eel", for his ability to dodge questions.[10] His peers praise his understated "Confucian approach",[18] and he is regarded by many as a "stand-up guy"[11] and is known for his "easy smile".[8] After he assumed a post of United Nations secretary general, he is caricatured as "invisible man", "powerless observer", or “nowhere man” for his lack of powerful personality and leadership.[95][96][97][98]


They have three adult children: two daughters and a son. His elder daughter, Seon-yong, was born in 1972 and now works for the [94] His mother is a Buddhist.[9]

Ban Ki-moon met Yoo Soon-taek in 1962 when they were both in high school. Ban was 18 years old, and Yoo Soon-taek was his secondary school's student council president. Ban Ki-moon married Yoo Soon-taek in 1971.


Personal life

Ban has been organizing and moderating the Geneva II Conference on Syria.[89]

Syrian conflict

Ban has told senior managers that homophobia will not be tolerated. He pointed to countries such as Ukraine which has proposed criminalizing public discussion about homosexuality as threatening basic human rights. He further stated that government has a duty to defend vulnerable minorities.[87] In April 2013, he described LGBT rights as one of the great neglected human rights of our time. He also said that religion, culture or tradition can never justify denial of basic rights.[88]

"It is an outrage that in our modern world, so many countries continue to criminalize people simply for loving another human being of the same sex."

During a speech at the UN headquarters commemorating Human Rights Day, Ban condemned countries with anti-gay laws, mentioning 76 countries that criminalize homosexuality. He said:

[86] On 7 March 2012 Ban delivered a speech titled "The Time Has Come" to the

LGBT rights

Throughout 2012, Ban expressed his concern about the continuing Israeli–Palestinian conflict, in particular the condition of the Palestinian hunger strikers in Israeli prisons[81] and the movement restrictions imposed on Gaza Strip residents.[80] On 30 August 2012 Ban criticized the Iranian leadership due to their statements regarding Israel's destruction and denying the Holocaust.[82] On 16 August 2013, Ban Ki-moon admitted that the UN was biased against Israel, stating in a meeting with Israeli students that there was a biased attitude towards the Israeli people and Israeli government at the UN. He described this as "an unfortunate situation."[83] A few days later, he backtracked on the utterance.[84]

The aftermath of the Libyan Civil War and other events of the Arab Spring continued to commanded Ban's attention with the start of his second term. He focused in 2012 on what he termed "intolerance" in the Arab world. After traveling to Vienna to participate in the opening of the KAICIID Dialogue Centre to foster interreligious dialogue, Ban commented, "Many countries in the Arab world including Saudi Arabia are changing. Since the Arab Spring, the leaders have begun to listen to the voice of their people." He was however criticised in the Austrian press for associating himself with a project of Saudi King Abdullah, Saudi Arabia being a location of perceived religious intolerance.[80]

Middle East

Since beginning his second term in January 2012, Ban has focused his public statements and speeches on peace and equality in the Middle East and on equality issues.

Key issues

Ban appointed Swedish diplomat Jan Eliasson as his new Deputy Secretary-General on 2 March 2012. He also named Susana Malcorra of Argentina his chief of staff. The appointments were part of Ban's commitment to replace top positions in his group for his second term.[79]


On 17 June 2011, he received the recommendation of the Security Council by a unanimous vote,[75] and, on 21 June, his nomination was confirmed by a unanimous[76] acclamation vote at the United Nations General Assembly.[77] His new five-year term as Secretary-General commenced on 1 January 2012[78] and will end on 31 December 2016.[72]

Ban with leaders of Russia, China, India, South Africa, Vietnam, Venezuela during the Moscow Victory Day Parade, 9 May 2015
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Ban Ki-moon, 11 January 2015

Second term as Secretary-General

On 6 June 2011, Ban Ki-moon formally announced his candidacy for a second consecutive term as Secretary-General of the United Nations.[72] He announced his candidacy at a press conference, following a meeting with the Asian group of countries at the United Nations. Ban Ki-moon's first mandate as the Secretary-General was set to end on 31 December 2011.[73] The five permanent Security Council members supported his candidacy. There was no declared rival for the post.[74]

Campaign for second term as Secretary-General: 2011

Ban Ki-moon flew to Myanmar on 25 May 2008 to guide a conference with international agencies aimed at boosting donations for the nation, which was struck by Cyclone Nargis on 2 May 2008. The conference was initiated after Ban had met with Than Shwe, the leading figure of Myanmar's government 23 May 2008. Ban toured the devastation—especially in the hard-hit Irrawaddy Delta—23 May 2008 and 24 May 2008. Myanmar officials agreed to allow the Yangon International Airport to be used as a logistical hub for aid distribution.[71]


Ban took the first foreign trip of his term to attend the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in January 2007 as part of an effort to reach out to the Group of 77.[38] He repeatedly identified Darfur as the top humanitarian priority of his administration.[53] Ban played a large role, with several face-to-face meetings with Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, in convincing Sudan to allow UN peacekeepers to enter the Darfur region. On 31 July 2007 the United Nations Security Council approved sending 26,000 UN peacekeepers into the region to join 7,000 troops from the African Union. The resolution was heralded as a major breakthrough in confronting the Darfur conflict (although the United States labeled the conflict a "genocide", the United Nations has declined to do so). The first phase of the peacekeeping mission began in October 2007.[70]


The Libyan Civil War began in 2011, the last year of Ban's first term, and dominated his attention and public statements that year. Throughout the conflict, he lobbied for peaceful solutions to the crisis. He frequently spoke out against military action in Libya, believing that a diplomatic solution would be possible and preferable. However, he conceded that if then leader Muammar Gaddafi refused to abide by a cease fire agreement, the international coalition of military forces would have no choice but to intervene to protect the human rights of Libyans.[68] The Gaddafi government was eventually overthrown and Gaddafi killed in the conflict.[69]

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with Ban Ki-Moon, 7 April 2011

Although the 2009 Iranian presidential election was widely disputed, Ban Ki-moon sent a traditional congratulation message[63] to the Iranian president upon his inauguration. He kept silent over the request of Shirin Ebadi to visit[64] Iran after the crackdown on peaceful post-election protests by the Iranian police, which was perceived as a crime against humanity.[65] More than 4,000 people were arrested and nearly 70 were killed, some while being held in prison.[66] In another incident, several prominent intellectuals including Akbar Ganji, Hamid Dabashi, Noam Chomsky went on a three-day hunger strike in front of the UN. The incident was followed by an official request by more than 200 intellectuals, human rights activists and reformist politicians in Iran for the UN reaction.[67] Ban Ki-moon however did not take any action to stop the violence in Iran.

During a meeting of the UN Security Council on Wednesday, 7 January 2009, Ban called for an immediate end to fighting in the Gaza Strip. He criticized both sides, Israel for bombarding Gaza and Hamas for firing rockets into Israel.

Ban Ki-moon criticized Israel on 10 March 2008 for planning to build housing units in a West Bank settlement, saying the decision conflicts with "Israel's obligation under the road map" for Middle East peace.[62]

Ban with Angela Merkel and Dmitry Medvedev at the 34th G8 Summit, July 2008

On his trip, Ban visited Egypt, Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, where Ban attended a conference with leaders of the Arab League and met for several hours with Omar Hassan al-Bashir, the Sudanese president who had resisted UN peacekeepers in Darfur.[53] While Ban met with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, he declined to meet with Ismail Haniya of Hamas.[61]

On Thursday, 22 March 2007, while Ban was taking part in the first stop of a tour of the Middle East, a mortar attack hit just 80 meters (260 ft) from where the Secretary-General was standing, interrupting a press conference in Baghdad's Green Zone, and visibly shaking Ban and others. No one was hurt in the incident.[59] The United Nations had already limited its role in Iraq after its Baghdad headquarters was bombed in August 2003, killing 22 people. Ban said, however, that he still hoped to find a way for the United Nations to "do more for Iraqi social and political development".[60]

Middle East

Ban early on identified greenhouse gas emissions. On 1 March 2007 in a speech before the UN General Assembly, Ban emphasized his concerns about global warming. Ban stated, "For my generation, coming of age at the height of the Cold War, fear of nuclear winter seemed the leading existential threat on the horizon. But the danger posed by war to all humanity—and to our planet—is at least matched by climate change"[55] (referring to Global Warming, see P:GW portal). On 3 September 2009 he further emphasized his concerns at the World Climate Conference in Geneva, when he stated, "Our foot is stuck on the accelerator and we are heading towards an abyss".[56] In September, 2014, Ban joined demonstrators in the People's Climate March in New York City,[57] and also called together world leaders for the UN Climate Summit,[58] in preparation for the United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Paris in late 2015.

U.S. President United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of South Korea in October 2006. In their early meetings, Ban stressed the importance of confronting global warming.
Global warming

On several prominent issues, such as proliferation in Iran and North Korea, Ban has deferred to the Security Council.[53] In 2007, the Republic of Nauru raised the issue of allowing the Republic of China (Taiwan) to sign the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Ban referenced the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758, and refused the motion. On 19 July 2007, Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian wrote to request admission into the UN by the name Taiwan. Ban rejected the request, inaccurately stating that Resolution 2758 defined Taiwan as part of China.[54]

The Secretary-General of the United Nations has the ability to influence debate on nearly any global issue. Although unsuccessful in some areas, Ban's predecessor Annan had been successful in increasing the UN peacekeeping presence and in popularizing the Millennium Development Goals. UN observers were eager to see on which issues Ban intended to focus, in addition to his declared interest in reforming the United Nations bureaucracy.[38]

Key issues

After the early bout of reproach, Ban began extensive consultation with UN ambassadors, agreeing to have his peacekeeping proposal extensively vetted. After the consultations, Ban dropped his proposal to combine political affairs and disarmament.[51] Ban nevertheless pressed ahead with reforms on job requirements at the UN requiring that all positions be considered five-year appointments, all receive strict annual performance reviews, and all financial disclosures be made public. Though unpopular in the New York office, the move was popular in other UN offices around the world and lauded by UN observers.[52] Ban's proposal to split the peacekeeping operation into one group handling operations and another handling arms was finally adopted in mid-March 2007.[53]

During his first month in office, Ban proposed two major reforms: to split the UN peacekeeping operation into two departments and to combine the political affairs and disarmament department. His proposals were met with stiff resistance from members of the UN General Assembly who bristled under Ban's request for rapid approval. The proposed merger of the disarmament and political affairs offices was criticized by many in the developing world, partially because of rumours that Ban hoped to place American B. Lynn Pascoe in charge of the new office. Alejandro D. Wolff, then acting American ambassador, said the United States backed his proposals.[41][48]

Reform agenda

The appointment of many women to top jobs was seen as fulfilling a campaign promise Ban had made to increase the role of women in the United Nations. During Ban's first year as Secretary-General, more top jobs were being handled by women than ever before. Though not appointed by Ban, the president of the General Assembly, Haya Rashed Al-Khalifa, is only the third woman to hold this position in United Nations history.[50]

Ban initially said that he would delay making other appointments until his first round of reforms were approved, yet later abandoned this idea after receiving criticism.[41][48] In February he continued with appointments, selecting B. Lynn Pascoe, the U.S. ambassador to Indonesia, to become Under-Secretary-General for political affairs. Jean-Marie Guéhenno, a French diplomat, who had served as Under-Secretary-General for peacekeeping operations under Annan, remained in office. Ban selected Vijay K. Nambiar as his chief of staff.[49]

The top position devoted exclusively to management, Under-Secretary-General for Management, was filled by Alicia Bárcena Ibarra of Mexico. Bárcena was considered a UN insider, having previously served as Annan's chief of staff. Her appointment was seen by critics as an indication that Ban would not make dramatic changes to UN bureaucracy.[47] Ban appointed Sir John Holmes, the British Ambassador to France, as Under-Secretary-General for humanitarian affairs and coordinator of emergency relief.[47]

In early January, Ban appointed the key members of his cabinet. As his Deputy Secretary-General, he selected Tanzanian foreign minister and professor Asha-Rose Migiro, a move that pleased African diplomats who had concerns of losing power without Annan in office.[46]


Ban has received strong criticism from the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), which stated that the secretariat under Ban's leadership was "drifting into irrelevance".[45]

On the tenth anniversary of Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot's death, 15 April 2008, Ban Ki-moon appealed for the senior leaders of the regime to be brought to justice. The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia-tribunal, which was established by both the United Nations and Cambodia and which became operational in 2006, is expected to continue until at least 2010.[44]

On 23 January 2007 Ban took office as the eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations. Ban's term as Secretary-General opened with a flap. At his first encounter with the press as Secretary-General on 2 January 2007, he refused to condemn the death penalty imposed on Saddam Hussein by the Iraqi High Tribunal, remarking, "The issue of capital punishment is for each and every member State to decide".[39] Ban's statements contradicted long-standing United Nations opposition to the death penalty as a human-rights concern.[40] He quickly clarified his stance in the case of Barzan al-Tikriti and Awad al-Bandar, two top officials who were convicted of the deaths of 148 Shia Muslims in the Iraqi village of Dujail in the 1980s. In a statement through his spokesperson on 6 January, he "strongly urged the Government of Iraq to grant a stay of execution to those whose death sentences may be carried out in the near future".[41][42] On the broader issue, he told a Washington, D.C. audience on 16 January 2007 that he recognized and encouraged the "growing trend in international society, international law and domestic policies and practices to phase out eventually the death penalty".[43]

When Ban became Secretary-General, The Economist listed the major challenges facing him in 2007: "rising nuclear demons in Iran and North Korea, a haemorrhaging wound in Darfur, unending violence in the Middle East, looming environmental disaster, escalating international terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the spread of HIV/AIDS. And then the more parochial concerns, such as the largely unfinished business of the most sweeping attempt at reform in the UN's history".[38] Before starting, Kofi Annan shared the story that when the first Secretary-General Trygve Lie left office, he told his successor, Dag Hammarskjöld, "You are about to take over the most impossible job on earth".[19]

Ban Ki-moon with the President of Russia Vladimir Putin in Moscow on 9 April 2008

First term as Secretary-General

On 9 October, the Security Council formally chose Ban as its nominee. In the public vote, he was supported by all 15 members of the council.[37] On 13 October, the 192-member General Assembly acclaimed Ban as Secretary-General.[19]

In the final informal poll on 2 October, Ban received fourteen favorable votes and one abstention ("no opinion") from the fifteen members of the Security Council. The one abstention came from the Japanese delegation, who vehemently opposed the idea of a Korean taking the role of Secretary-General. Due to the overwhelming support of Ban by the rest of the Security Council, Japan later voted in favor of Ban to avoid controversy. More importantly, Ban was the only one to escape a veto; each of the other candidates received at least one "no" vote from among the five permanent members. After the vote, Shashi Tharoor, who finished second, withdrew his candidacy[35] and China's Permanent Representative to the UN told reporters that "it is quite clear from today's straw poll that Minister Ban Ki-moon is the candidate that the Security Council will recommend to the General Assembly".[36]

As the Secretary-General election drew closer, there was rising criticism of the South Korean campaign on Ban's behalf. Specifically, his alleged practice of systematically visiting all member states of the Security Council in his role as the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade to secure votes in his support by signing trade deals with European countries and pledging aid to developing countries were the focus of many news articles.[33] According to The Washington Post, "rivals have privately grumbled that Republic of Korea, which has the world's 11th-largest economy, has wielded its economic might to generate support for his candidacy". Ban reportedly said that these insinuations were "groundless". In an interview on 17 September 2006 he stated: "As front-runner, I know that I can become a target of this very scrutinizing process", and that he was "a man of integrity".[34]

Ban struggled to win the approval of France. His official biography states that he speaks both English and French, the two working languages of the UN Secretariat. However, he has repeatedly struggled to answer questions in French from journalists.[14] Ban has repeatedly acknowledged his limitations at French, but assured French diplomats that he was devoted to continuing his study. At a press conference on 11 January 2007, Ban remarked, "My French perhaps could be improved, and I am continuing to work. I have taken French lessons over the last few months. I think that, even if my French isn't perfect, I will continue to study it."[32]

During the period in which these polls took place, Ban made major speeches to the Bush administration as he pursued the position.[30] But Ban also opposed several U.S. positions: he expressed his support for the International Criminal Court and favoured an entirely non-confrontational approach to dealing with North Korea.[10] Ban said during his campaign that he would like to visit North Korea in person to meet with Kim Jong-il directly.[20] Ban was viewed as a stark contrast from Kofi Annan, who was considered charismatic, but perceived as a weak manager because of problems surrounding the UN's oil-for-food program in Iraq.[31]

Over the next eight months, Ban made ministerial visits to each of the 15 countries with a seat on the Security Council.[10] Of the seven candidates, he topped each of the four straw polls conducted by the United Nations Security Council: on 24 July,[24] 14 September,[25] 28 September,[26] and 2 October.[27]

In February 2006, Ban declared his candidacy to replace Kofi Annan as UN Secretary-General at the end of 2006, becoming the first South Korean to run for the office.[23] Though Ban was the first to announce a candidacy, he was not originally considered a serious contender.[11]

2007 Secretary-General candidates[22]
Name Position
Ban Ki-moon South Korean foreign minister
Shashi Tharoor Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations
for public information; from India
Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga President of Latvia
Ashraf Ghani Chancellor of
Kabul University, Afghanistan
Surakiart Sathirathai Deputy prime minister
of Thailand
Prince Zeid bin Ra'ad Jordan's ambassador
to the United Nations
Jayantha Dhanapala Former Under-Secretary-General
for disarmament; from Sri Lanka

Campaign for Secretary-General: 2007

United Nations career

As foreign minister, Ban oversaw the trade and aid policies of South Korea. This work put Ban in the position of signing trade deals and delivering foreign assistance to diplomats who would later be influential in his candidacy for Secretary-General. For example, Ban became the first senior South Korean minister to travel to the Republic of the Congo since its independence in 1960.[21]

In 2004, Ban replaced Yoon Young-Kwan as foreign minister of South Korea under president Roh Moo-hyun.[10] At the beginning of his term, Ban was faced with two major crises: in June 2004 Kim Sun-il, a South Korean working as an Arabic translator, was kidnapped and killed in Iraq by Islamic extremists; and in December 2004 dozens of Koreans died in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Ban survived scrutiny from lawmakers and saw an upturn in his popularity when talks began with North Korea.[16] Ban became actively involved in issues relating to North-South Korean relationships.[15] In September 2005, as foreign minister, he played a leading role in the diplomatic efforts to adopt the Joint Statement on resolving the North Korean nuclear issue at the Fourth Round of the Six-party talks held in Beijing.[3][20]

Foreign minister of South Korea

Ban was unemployed for the only time in his career and was expecting to receive an assignment to work in a remote and unimportant embassy.[8] In 2001, during the 56th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, South Korea held the rotating presidency, and to Ban's surprise, he was selected to be the chief of staff to general assembly president Han Seung-soo.[19] In 2003, incoming president Roh Moo-hyun selected Ban as one of his foreign policy advisors.[16]

Ban was appointed Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2001, not long after the United States had decided to abandon the treaty. To avoid anger from the United States, Ban was fired by President Kim Dae-jung, who also issued a public apology for Ban's statement.[8]


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