BY Ray Fleming

BAN Ki-moon is now in the fourth year of his five-year term of office as Secretary General of the United Nations. Most people have difficulty in thinking of anything positive that he has done since he was appointed in January 2007; his particular commitment to combating climate change did not help when the Copenhagen Conference last December was a failure. He acknowledges that he lacks charisma; his English may be adequate for meetings but it is often difficult to understand what he is saying in his speeches. Mr Ban says he will seek a second term and he will probably get it if China and the United States agree on his re-appointment. But the UN needs someone stronger and better able to project his views to a global audience. His predecessor Kofi Annan had his faults but he nonetheless managed to establish himself as a figure of consequence in world affairs. Close observers of UN affairs rate Mr Ban as the worst of all Secretary Generals.

There is a danger that if Mr Ban is just routinely re-appointed the UN will fade even more into the background and be unable to assert its influence when it is needed. The major powers are always ready to ride rough-shod over the UN when it suits them to do so. The Secretary General is the key to seeing that this does not happen and that if it does his (or her) protest is heard and recorded.

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