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First-ever memoir of former General Assembly President launched at UN

First-ever memoir of former General Assembly President launched at UN

Han Seung-soo at UN Bookshop
With the release of Beyond the Shadow of 9/11: A Year at the United Nations General Assembly, former Assembly President Han Seung-soo today became the first person ever to launch a memoir about the presidency.

“Dr. Han was President of the General Assembly during one of the most challenging periods in recent history. His book reflects lessons drawn from that experience,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who worked as the Assembly leader's Chef de Cabinet during the tumultuous 2001-2002 session.

“It is also an excellent source of guidance for future General Assembly Presidents, and for all of us who work in or with the United Nations.”

Kiyotaka Akasaka, the Under-Secretary-General for Public Information, recalled how Dr. Han’s election as General Assembly president had been scheduled for 11 September 2001. “In Beyond the Shadow of 9/11, Dr. Han describes from his unique leadership position how the United Nations General Assembly responded to this crisis,” said Mr. Akasaka.

“He also shows why the Organization remains an indispensable forum in these times of new and old threats to the world at large.”

“This book provides us with a fascinating inside look at the awesome challenges that running a truly global organization of close to 200 Member States actually involves,” writes Kent E. Calder, the Director of the Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies, in the book’s foreword. “We get a chance to see up close the sheer complexity, the inevitable staff tensions, and the shifting regional coalitions that prevail at the United Nations.”

Dr. Han’s tenure coincided not only with the worst-ever terrorist attack on United States soil but also other major global events, and deals with the UN’s response to global terrorism generally, the war in Afghanistan, the first World Economic Forum held outside Davos, and the Nobel Committee’s decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize jointly to then Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the United Nations.

Mr. Annan asked Dr. Han to receive the Peace Prize in Oslo on behalf of the Organization, the former Assembly President recalled at today’s launch in the UN Bookstore in New York.

At first, Dr. Han declined, insisting that the decision should be made by representatives of all of the UN’s principal organs. A meeting was convened in New York on 30 October and those representatives decided that he should receive the Prize on behalf of the UN.

In the book’s acknowledgements, Dr. Han recalls that while he was writing the memoir, he received the happy news of the birth of his first two grandchildren. “I have faith that the United Nations will offer as much hope to their generation as it did ours.”

Dr. Han is currently the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on climate change, which he said is “one of the most crucial issues facing humanity today.”

His long diplomatic career includes service as the Republic of Korea’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade (2001-02), Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Economy (1996-97), Chief of Staff of the President of the Republic of Korea (1994-95), Ambassador to the US (1993-94) and Minister of Trade and Industry (1988-90).