Pur­su­ing peace on the Korean Penisula — and a myr­iad of other goals

The Washington Times Daily - - DECADE OF LEADERSHIP: UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY - G - By Am­bas­sador Joseph R. DeTrani Am­bas­sador Joseph R. DeTrani was the Spe­cial En­voy for Talks with North Korea from 2003-2006. He is cur­rently pres­i­dent of Daniel Mor­gan Academy.

Iwas for­tu­nate to have had the op­por­tu­nity to meet on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions with Ban Ki-moon when he was the Repub­lic of Korea’s min­is­ter of for­eign af­fairs and trade. Dur­ing those meet­ings, it was ap­par­ent to me and oth­ers re­spon­si­ble for ne­go­ti­a­tions with North Korea that Min­is­ter Ban Ki-moon was seized with find­ing a peace­ful res­o­lu­tion of the North Korea nuclear is­sue. He be­lieved strongly that peace­ful res­o­lu­tion of this is­sue would bring peace and pros­per­ity to the re­gion. Min­is­ter Ban Ki-moon’s fo­cus al­ways was the peo­ple in North Korea and the need to en­sure that food as­sis­tance reached the peo­ple in a timely man­ner.

Not sur­pris­ingly, Min­is­ter Ban Ki-moon played a key role when the Six-Party Talks with North Korea suc­ceeded in se­cur­ing the joint state­ment on Sept. 19, 2005. It com­mit­ted Py­ongyang to com­pre­hen­sive and ver­i­fi­able de­nu­cle­ariza­tion in re­turn for se­cu­rity as­sur­ances, eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment aid, and even­tu­ally the pro­vi­sion of light-wa­ter re­ac­tors for civil­ian nuclear en­ergy — once the North re­turned to the Nuclear Non­pro­lif­er­a­tion Treaty (NPT) as a non-nuclear-weapons state.

This fo­cus on North Korea did not change when Ban Ki-moon be­came the eighth sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the United Na­tions on Jan. 1, 2007.

What did hap­pen, how­ever, was that Ban Ki-moon could now ded­i­cate his en­er­gies to other se­cu­rity and hu­man­i­tar­ian is­sues, in ad­di­tion to those in North Korea.

Thus, dur­ing Ban Ki-moon’s 10 years as sec­re­tary-gen­eral, we’ve wit­nessed an ac­tivist Ban Ki-moon mak­ing his pri­or­i­ties in a myr­iad of is­sues: cli­mate change, pan­demics, eco­nomic up­heaval, nuclear dis­ar­ma­ment, women’s is­sues, pro-democ­racy move­ments in the Mid­dle East and North Africa, and bring­ing more at­ten­tion to global food, en­ergy and wa­ter is­sues.

In Ban Ki-moon’s first year as sec­re­tary-gen­eral, he at­tended the 2007 Cli­mate Change Sum­mit and launched the Car­ing for Cli­mate ini­tia­tive. At the U.N. Con­fer­ence on Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment in Brazil in 2012, he got mem­ber states to agree on clear and prac­ti­cal mea­sures for im­ple­ment­ing sus­tain­able eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, tack­ling cli­mate change by im­prov­ing en­ergy ef­fi­cien­cies, ad­dress­ing ocean acid­i­fi­ca­tion, and tak­ing other con­crete steps to end world­wide poverty. In­deed, bring­ing at­ten­tion to the food, en­ergy and eco­nomic crises that peaked in 2008, Ban Ki-moon ap­pealed to the G20 for a $1 tril­lion fi­nanc­ing pack­age for de­vel­op­ing coun­tries.

Ban Ki-moon’s ad­vo­cacy for women’s rights led to the cre­ation of UN Women, which is the United Na­tions’ en­tity for gen­der equal­ity and em­pow­er­ment for women. In­ter­nally at the U.N., he has in­creased the num­ber of women hold­ing se­nior man­age­ment po­si­tions by more than 40 per­cent, the high­est level in U.N. his­tory.

Strength­en­ing U.N. peace ef­forts in con­flict zones was an­other one of Ban Ki-moon’s ma­jor pri­or­i­ties: There are now over 120,000 United Na­tions “Blue Hel­mets” serv­ing in con­flict zones over the world.

Not sur­pris­ingly, Ban Ki-moon’s fo­cus has also been on weapons of mass de­struc­tion (WMD). On Oct. 24, 2009, he pre­sented a five-point plan for nuclear-weapons states to be­come nuclear-free. And this is­sue of nuclear weapons brings me back to my first encounter with Ban Ki-moon, when he elo­quently spoke of the need to peace­fully re­solve the North Korea nuclear is­sue.

In a re­cent As­so­ci­ated Press in­ter­view re­gard­ing North Korea, he said the im­pact of North Korea start­ing a con­flict would have much dead­lier con­se­quences than what we’re see­ing in Syria be­cause this would be a world­wide is­sue. In­deed, dur­ing Ban Ki­moon’s two terms as sec­re­tary-gen­eral, he has worked tire­lessly to pro­mote peace on the Korean Penin­sula.

These ef­forts have failed, mainly be­cause North Korea re­fused to engage di­rectly with Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Ban Ki-moon. For Ban Ki-moon, re­duc­ing ten­sion with North Korea and even­tu­ally re­solv­ing the North Korea nuclear is­sue are key is­sues that will con­tinue to re­quire pri­or­ity at­ten­tion from the U.N. and the new sec­re­tary-gen­eral.

Per­son­ally, I hope that Ban Ki-moon will con­tinue to work for peace on the Korean Penin­sula once he leaves the U.N. and re­turns to the Repub­lic of Korea. I know his in­volve­ment with this im­por­tant is­sue will have sig­nif­i­cant pos­i­tive im­pact.

Strength­en­ing U.N. peace ef­forts in con­flict zones was an­other one of Ban Ki-moon’s ma­jor pri­or­i­ties: There are now over 120,000 United Na­tions “Blue Hel­mets” serv­ing in con­flict zones over the world.

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