Next UN Chief Promises to End "Crisis of Confidence"

Newly elected United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon addresses the General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York

The next United Nations secretary-general has promised to end a "crisis of confidence" and heal divisions hampering the work of the world body.

South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon, who takes over from Kofi Annan on January 1, said rebuilding trust in the UN must be a top priority.

While globalisation posed an increasing number of problems that only the UN could effectively tackle, "the organisation itself has been hampered by a divisiveness that has deepened and hardened over the years," he said in a speech.

"Indeed, many deplore that the UN is suffering from a 'crisis of confidence', between member states, between the membership and the Secretariat, and over the effectiveness of the system to deliver on its promises."

The political will of member states could not be forged in an atmosphere of mistrust and suspicion, Ban told a lunch marking the 61st anniversary of the world body.

"As secretary-general, I will leave no stone unturned in my endeavour to dispel the bitter atmosphere and shore up the trust and confidence among all stakeholders."

The term of outgoing secretary-general Kofi Annan was marked by bitter disputes over the US-led invasion of Iraq, and by the Iraqi oil-for-food scandal allegedly involving a senior UN official.

Ban, reiterating his campaign themes, pledged to push internal UN reform to enhance accountability, "in particular over the decisions and actions of senior managers."

He added: "Greater transparency and accountability is also required for the expanding system of UN procurement."

The incoming secretary-general also stressed the need to reduce overlap between the work of different UN agencies and to streamline operations to deliver services better to the neediest.

Ban called for renewed political will to achieve the Millennium Development Goals on fighting poverty by the 2015 target year, including innovative thinking on development financing.

But, he said the main responsibility for development rested with individual governments, adding "good governance is key to sustained economic growth and social progress."

Donor countries would be urged to honour pledges of support.

Ban, a 62-year-old career diplomat, said the new Human Rights Council must become the world's leading force to promote rights "rather than falling victim to the same kind of divisiveness that had discredited its predecessor."

He described the situation on global peace and security -- one of the UN's three pillars along with development and human rights -- as "precarious indeed."

Iran's nuclear programme -- which the West suspects is designed to build bombs -- and North Korea's nuclear test threatened the global non-proliferation regime, he said.

"Tehran has not so far responded to the Security Council demand that it suspend all enrichment-related activities, and the road to a peaceful resolution on this issue seems tortuous."

The security and humanitarian crisis in the Sudanese region of Darfur, the flare-ups in the Middle East and conflicts in Africa also called for concerted responses, Ban said.

As secretary-general, he added, he intends to seek an active role in finding a peaceful settlement of the North Korean nuclear issue.

Ban, only the second Asian secretary-general since U Thant in 1961-71, promised to listen to suggestions on better ways to get things done.

"And fully in line with the national character and values of my home country, I will do so with humility, honesty and our trademark 'can do' spirit."

Source: AFP

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