In his first press conference as Secretary-General-designate of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon pledged his commitment to deal with the “daunting challenges” facing the world, from the recent nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to the humanitarian crisis in Sudan’s Darfur region.
Shortly after the 192 members of the General Assembly appointed Mr. Ban to succeed Kofi Annan when he steps down on 31 December, he also outlined to reporters “three main areas” that he will focus on as the eighth Secretary-General of the UN, adding his hopes for a “constructive dialogue” with the media in the years ahead.
“There are daunting challenges to peace, development and human rights,” he said. “A stark reminder was the nuclear test conducted by North Korea earlier in the week. I hope the Security Council quickly adopts a clear and strong resolution on this. The Iranian nuclear issue, the security and humanitarian crisis in Darfur, the Middle East and conflicts in Africa also call for concerted responses.”
Mr. Ban, who is Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea, lamented the “current divisiveness” between Member States.
“I am very aware of the enormous challenges awaiting the next Secretary-General. I see three areas where concerted action is needed: the first is to rebuild trust among all stakeholders. The second is to stay the course with ongoing reform of the Secretariat management. This is key to the revitalization of the Organization... The third is to enhance coherence and coordination. The UN is simply too overstretched for the limited resources available… I do believe that there will be room for some realistic steps.”
Responding to a question on the Middle East, Mr. Ban acknowledged that the issue was still unresolved but repeated the message from his earlier acceptance speech that he was “basically an optimist” and would do his best to “talk with the countries concerned and leaders in the region.”
Referring to the DPRK, he stressed that it is “absolutely necessary that the international community should again send out a very strong, unified and clear message so that North Korea will not have any temptation to engage in any further negative activities which may aggravate the situation.”
“My understanding is that they [the Security Council] have almost agreed on the elements of the draft resolution submitted by the United States. I hope that maybe by tomorrow they will be able to adopt a very strong and clear message resolution so that this can be a concerted and very determined will of the international community.”
He also joked with correspondents about the nickname given to him by some reporters from the Republic of Korea that referred to his ability to avoid giving direct answers to questions.
“Some reporters in Korea when I was serving as Presidential Adviser gave me a nickname which I may or may not like as a ‘slippery eel’ but I can tell you that all the press corps members in Korea have enjoyed working with me.”
“When you serve as a Foreign Minister or Presidential Policy Adviser, sometimes even though you may have something in your mind it would be sometimes very much sensitive to tell everything to the press corps while negotiations are going on. But I always cherish and value the opportunities of engaging with the press corps to give the right directions where the situation is going. This will be my policy.”