U.N. chief Ban has most pride in cli­mate deal

Sees N. Korean nukes as world’s worst threat

The Washington Times Daily - - DECADE OF LEADERSHIP: UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY - G - Note: An­to­nio Guter­res, the for­mer prime min­is­ter of Por­tu­gal who now serves as the top U.N. of­fi­cial deal­ing with the refugee cri­sis, was cho­sen as the next sec­re­tary-gen­eral on Oct. 5.]

|— U.N. Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Ban Ki-moon says that his great­est achieve­ment at the helm of the world’s big­gest in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion was last year’s cli­mate change ac­cord in Paris, and he ex­pressed open frus­tra­tion that Repub­li­cans in the U.S. con­tinue to ob­struct Pres­i­dent Obama and to politi­cize the sub­ject.

“The de­bate on sci­ence and the de­bate on pol­i­tics as far as cli­mate change is con­cerned is over,” Mr. Ban told The Washington Times in an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view on Sept. 15. “Still, the Repub­li­can Party, they are not con­vinced.

“There should be no po­lit­i­cal con­sid­er­a­tion on this,” he said. “There should be no room for pol­i­tics to get in­volved.”

Mr. Ban, who has been sec­re­tary-gen­eral for a decade and is near­ing the end of his ten­ure, made the com­ments in a wide-rang­ing in­ter­view on top­ics in­clud­ing Syria’s civil war and the mount­ing threat of a nuclear-armed North Korea.

The South Korean na­tive at one point stressed that North Korea’s po­ten­tial use of nuclear weapons now rep­re­sents a graver dan­ger to hu­man­ity and the in­ter­na­tional or­der than any other sin­gle con­flict rag­ing around the world.

“We are talk­ing about nuclear bombs,” he said. “What­ever we see, a con­flict in Syria or South Su­dan or Cen­tral African Repub­lic or else­where, they do not have any nuclear weapons. North Korea has nuclear weapons, and they’ve tested [them] five times suc­cess­fully.

“They have [also] launched short- and midrange bal­lis­tic mis­siles,” Mr. Ban said. “So, it seems that they are in the process of mak­ing smaller, lighter, longer-range bal­lis­tic mis­siles where they can have this nuclear war­head on top.

“They pub­licly, have openly said that their tar­get is to strike the United States with much lighter, longer-range bal­lis­tic mis­siles,” he said. “This is quite wor­ry­ing, a very wor­ry­ing sit­u­a­tion.”

But the sec­re­tary-gen­eral stressed that the win­dow re­mains open for a diplo­matic so­lu­tion with Py­ongyang.

While China and the U.S. are widely seen to be on op­pos­ing ends of the North Korea cri­sis, Mr. Ban said progress made by Bei­jing and Washington on other fronts — specif­i­cally on cli­mate change ini­tia­tives — should serve as an im­pe­tus for the two pow­ers to work to­gether on de­fus­ing the North Korea threat.

China is Py­ongyang’s main ally and fi­nan­cial backer, and U.S. of­fi­cials have for years called on Bei­jing to take a stronger role in dis­cour­ag­ing provo­ca­tions from Py­ongyang. Af­ter heated ne­go­ti­a­tions early this year, Bei­jing joined with Washington on the U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil in adopt­ing ex­panded eco­nomic sanc­tions against North Korea, with the goal of lim­it­ing Py­ongyang’s abil­ity to ex­pand its nuclear weapons ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

“China un­der­stands the se­ri­ous­ness and ur­gency of ad­dress­ing the North Korean is­sue,” Mr. Ban said Thurs­day evening.

He said Chi­nese and U.S. diplo­mats are again in deep ne­go­ti­a­tions at the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil level over how best to re­spond to Py­ongyang’s fifth nuclear weapon test car­ried out this month.

“It’s mainly the United States and China ne­go­ti­at­ing at this time what kind of mea­sures should be taken,” he said, “in close con­sul­ta­tion with the Repub­lic of Korea and also Ja­pan.”

Asked whether the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil should im­pose even more bit­ing sanc­tions, Mr. Ban said, “At this time, the trend or di­rec­tion should be [to­ward] mea­sures which can [send] a tougher, clear mes­sage to North Korea.”

A diplo­mat’s legacy

The 72-year-old Mr. Ban has won praise for push­ing world lead­ers to cut last year’s cli­mate change deal. Although it has not been fully rat­i­fied, the agree­ment is widely re­garded to be a his­toric step to­ward co­or­di­nat­ing more na­tions than ever to engage in dra­matic re­duc­tions of car­bon diox­ide emis­sions.

But Mr. Ban has also been lauded by many for his en­er­getic de­fense of hu­man rights, of­ten pub­licly call­ing out na­tions where abuses are oc­cur­ring and sham­ing lead­ers for turn­ing a blind eye to op­pressed peo­ple around the world.

Still, crit­ics say the sec­re­tary-gen­eral’s no­to­ri­ously low-key style has some­times made his suc­cesses hard to mea­sure. Some also note that he has presided over the United Na­tions at a time when con­flicts rag­ing around the world have spawned the most refugees in decades — par­tic­u­larly as a re­sult of the mul­ti­front civil war that has gripped Syria.

Mr. Ban told The Times that he feels re­gret over the hor­ror of Syria’s war — that it has been al­lowed to carry on for so long. He said the con­flict has been ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to over­come be­cause of a kind of “per­fect storm” of cir­cum­stances that pre­cip­i­tated and un­der­pinned the vi­o­lence.

He lamented that di­vi­sions have played in­side Syria over the regime of Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad, while the re­gion’s na­tional gov­ern­ments have re­mained di­vided and world pow­ers have done the same on the U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil.

He praised Sec­re­tary of State John F. Kerry and Rus­sian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergey Lavrov for con­tin­u­ing to push for a diplo­matic so­lu­tion. “We must not waste valu­able time,” Mr. Ban said, adding that out­side pow­ers must in­crease pres­sure to en­sure that U.N.-backed hu­man­i­tar­ian aid can reach civil­ians in the war zone.

On a more per­sonal front, Mr. Ban pushed back against criticism about his low-key per­sona.

“I am not a per­fect per­son,” he said. “I think I have done, in my own au­then­tic and de­ter­mined way, to con­trib­ute to world peace and hu­man rights,” he said. “I’ve been speak­ing out loud and clear when­ever I saw in­jus­tice and abuse of hu­man rights. I have been speak­ing out.”

What next for Mr. Ban?

With the sec­re­tary-gen­eral slated to step down at the end of the year, talk has been wide­spread over what he will do next. Many be­lieve he will emerge as a lead­ing can­di­date for pres­i­dent back home. South Kore­ans vote in De­cem­ber 2017, and Pres­i­dent Park Geun-hye is lim­ited by law to a sin­gle term in of­fice.

Mr. Ban has be­come more out­spo­ken as his term winds down, say­ing too many world lead­ers have failed to make the wel­fare of their cit­i­zens a pri­or­ity and call­ing for in­sti­tu­tional re­forms to make the United Na­tions it­self a more force­ful voice in world af­fairs.

He told The As­so­ci­ated Press re­cently that too many lead­ers are fo­cused on get­ting elected “by what­ever means.” Once elected, he said, such lead­ers “rule over peo­ple, and they are mostly cor­rupted, and they do not re­spect the voices of the peo­ple.”

Mr. Ban also has called into ques­tion the re­quire­ment that so many is­sues that come be­fore the Gen­eral Assem­bly and the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil re­quire a unan­i­mous con­sen­sus or su­per­ma­jor­ity be­fore a de­ci­sion can be made.

His pro­posal to set a goal of re­set­tling 10 per­cent of the world’s refugees an­nu­ally was wa­tered down in the run-up to next week’s an­nual Gen­eral Assem­bly gath­er­ing be­cause of ob­jec­tions from a small num­ber of states, hu­man rights groups say.

Mr. Ban also leaves as an un­usu­ally spir­ited and un­cer­tain race has bro­ken out over his suc­ces­sor.[Ed­i­tor’s

On Thurs­day evening, the sec­re­tarygen­eral said the se­lec­tion process should play out with­out his in­flu­ence and that he hopes only that the “best pos­si­ble per­son” is se­lected.

But he added that he has fought tire­lessly for “gen­der em­pow­er­ment” dur­ing his time as sec­re­tary-gen­eral.

“Speak­ing plainly, half of the world’s pop­u­la­tion, they are women. But most of the po­ten­tial of women has not been fully ex­plored or uti­lized,” he said. “Of the many re­sources around the world, the least-uti­lized re­source is women and women em­pow­er­ment.”

This ar­ti­cle was orig­i­nally pub­lished Sept. 15, 2016.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.