- Title: FILE: NOBEL/BAN Ban Ki-moon a potential Nobel Peace Prize winner
- Date: 3rd October 2014
- Summary: RAMALLAH, WEST BANK (FILE - FEBRUARY 1, 2012) (REUTERS) BAN AND ABBAS AT PODIUM
- Embargoed: 18th October 2014 13:00
- Location: Austria
- Country: Austria
- Topics: General
- Reuters ID: LVAAQEM24K9N8W5WSPYRKK1ZODJ8
- Story Text: South Korea's Ban Ki-moon was sworn in as the eighth U.N. Secretary-General on December 14, 2006, pledging to be a "bridge-builder" and to lead a dynamic and courageous United Nations. He took the oath of office in a ceremony in the 192-nation U.N. General Assembly that also honoured the outgoing secretary-general, Kofi Annan of Ghana.
A former foreign minister, Ban was selected by the 15-member U.N. Security Council in October and then approved by the General Assembly as the first Asian head of the organization in 35 years.
Born to a farming family in 1944 - towards the end of the Japanese occupation of the Korean peninsula - Ban moved inexorably up the ranks of his country's foreign ministry, which he joined straight after studying international relations at university, graduating at the top of his class.
He is a fluent English speaker and also holds a master's degree in public administration from Harvard University.
Ban has held a number of posts focusing on U.N. related issues including chief secretary to the President of the General Assembly at United Nations Han Seung-soo during the year of 2001-2002.
His diplomatic career has taken him from Austria to India and he played a key role in transforming South Korea from an impoverished country into one of Asia's tiger economies.
Ban was South Korea's foreign minister from January 2004 to November 2006. Diplomats said he was very popular within the ministry which also handles the trade affairs of a country that has depended heavily on exports to lift it from the ruins of war in the early 1950s.
Quiet and unassuming, Ban has made few false steps during his long career as a Korean diplomat.
But, in an interview with Reuters after his election, he cautioned those who called him low-key not to mistake him for a pushover.
Early on, Ban showed his humorous side when he serenaded the crowd at the U.N. correspondents' dinner by singing to the tune of a Christmas carol, "Ban Ki-moon is coming to town".
If Ban wins the Nobel Peace Prize, he will join an exclusive club that includes Nobel laureates Kofi Annan, former South African President Nelson Mandela, U.S. President Barack Obama and pro-democracy activist who spent 17 years in detention in Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi.
As part of his diplomatic duties, Ban has been quick to offer support to new world leaders. Such as in March 2013, when Ban offered his best wishes to the newly-elected Pope.
"I offer my heartfelt congratulations to Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina who has taken the name Pope Francis on his assumption of the papacy and to all Catholics across the world on this momentous occasion."
Since serving as United Nations Secretary-General, Ban has confronted challenging global issues including global poverty, sustainable development, threats of nuclear proliferation and the ongoing situation in the Middle East.
Ban has been active in engaging both the Israeli and Palestinian leadership in efforts revive long-stalled peace talks.
On Syria, Ban demonstrated his leadership skills when in March 2013, he announced that the United Nations will launch an investigation as requested by the Syrian government into allegations that chemical weapons were used in Syria.
"I would like to announce that I have decided to conduct a United Nations investigation on the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria."
The U.N. chief also visited a camp in neighbouring Turkey where hundreds of thousands of Syrians have taken refuge.
In addition to engaging world leaders on the most volatile global security issues, Ban has also taken the lead on the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, an effort to regulate the $70 billion (USD) global conventional arms trade.
In 2013, Ban called for nations to sign the first treaty aimed at keeping weapons out of the hands of human rights abusers and criminals.
"The eyes of the world are watching arms traders, manufacturers and governments as never before. I call on all governments to bring national legislation and procedures in line with the requirements of the treaty so that it becomes a strong force for security and development for all," he said.
Ban's determination, as well as his compassion, have become part of his leadership style.
In July 2013, Ban welcomed to the United Nations Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl activist who survived a Taliban assassination attempt.
Ban declared the girl's 16th birthday "Malala Day" and supported her call for compulsory free schooling for all children.
"I was so heartened and encouraged by the groundswell of support for Malala. It started with the people of Pakistan who stood up and said, 'I am Malala.'"
Yousafzai was shot in the head at close range by gunmen in October as she left school in Pakistan's Swat Valley, northwest of the country's capital Islamabad, after campaigning against the Islamist Taliban efforts to deny women education.
On January 1, 2012, after unanimous U.N. General Assembly approval, Ban began his second five-year term has United Nations Secretary-General.
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