Ban Ki-moon and the Age of Sustainable Development

NEW YORK – The world can breathe easier with the reelection this month of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to a second term in office. In a fractious world, global unity is especially vital. During the past five years, Ban Ki-moon has embodied that unity, both in his unique personal diplomacy and in his role as head of this indispensable global organization.

Winning re-election to lead the UN is no straightforward matter. As head of an organization of 192 member states, the Secretary-General inevitably feels the powerful crosscurrents of global divisions. On almost any issue, the Secretary-General is likely to find himself between contending groups of countries. Yet Ban has inspired global confidence in his leadership to the point of securing an uncontested and unanimous second mandate.

The consensus in favor of Ban’s re-election is all the more striking because it includes the so-called P-5, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the United States, the United Kingdom, China, France, and Russia. These five powerful countries owe their UN pre-eminence to the post-World War II settlement, when they were allies in victory. Under the UN Charter, all five must endorse the election of every Secretary-General. Ban Ki-moon has maintained the strong backing of all five permanent members.

I have the honor to serve as the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Millennium Development Goals. In that capacity, I see the Secretary-General in action in all parts of the world. It is a rewarding experience, one that gives me great hope for ultimate success in resolving global problems such as poverty, environmental threats, and violent conflict.