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New UN Secretary General To Replace The Outgoing Kofi Annan

S. Korea's Ban sworn in as U.N. secretary-general

By Betsy Pisik
December 15, 2006

NEW YORK -- Ban Ki-moon was sworn in yesterday morning as the eighth secretary-general of the United Nations, promising to restore confidence in an organization that has been tainted by corruption and ethics violations.

The former foreign minister of South Korea took the oath of the office with his hand on a bound copy of the U.N. Charter, promising "not to seek or accept instructions ... from any government or other authority external to the organization."

He also pledged "to breathe new life and inject renewed confidence into the sometimes weary Secretariat."

Mr. Ban, 62, will become secretary-general on Jan. 1, 2007, succeeding Kofi Annan.

He inherits an organization that has been demoralized by the oil-for-food scandal, a perceived double standard in disciplining errant senior officials and persistent criticism from U.S. conservatives.

In addition, the organization has been nearly impotent in resolving the killing in Darfur and reducing tensions in the Middle East.

Mr. Ban will have to make swift and demonstrable progress on U.N. management reforms, human rights issues and security enhancement to win over skeptical observers -- many of them within the organization or powerful governments.

The next secretary-general said he is reviewing all senior U.N. positions, and plans to make staff appointments starting in January. For the key roll of deputy secretary-general, he said, he is leaning toward female candidates.

Pressed by reporters on how he perceived the organization's role in the Middle East, Mr. Ban sounded strong support for Israel and frustration on Iraq.

He was asked by an Iranian reporter whether Israel's perceived acknowledgement of holding nuclear weapons doesn't destabilize the Middle East.

"The Middle East question is of course the most serious issue with which we must deal," he said.

Mr. Ban pledged to become personally involved in tense challenges such as Darfur, the Middle East and North Korea.