Ban Ki-Moon of South Korea has been sworn
in as the eighth U.N. secretary-general of the United Nations. VOA's Peter
Heinlein at the U.N. reports, Mr. Ban will take over the job when Kofi
Annan steps down at the end of this month.
The grand U.N. General Assembly Hall witnessed one of those
momentous occasions that takes place only about once a decade. It was a
passing of the torch from the seventh secretary-general, the Ghanaian,
Kofi Annan, to the eighth, the South Korean Ban Ki-moon.
After a series of speeches, most of them paying tribute to Mr. Annan's
leadership, the president of the General Assembly, Sheikha Haya Rashed
al-Khalifa of Bahrain, administered the oath of office.
"I, Ban Ki-moon, solemnly swear, to exercise in all loyalty, discretion
and conscience, the functions entrusted to me as secretary-general of the
United Nations," he said.
Mr. Ban placed his left hand on a copy of the U.N. Charter, as he swore
to remain independent of all the world body's 192 member states.
"…and not to seek or accept instructions in regard to the performance
of my duties from any government or other authority external to the
organization," he said.
Moments later, speaking to the packed Assembly Hall, the 62-year-old
former South Korean foreign minister hailed the leadership of outgoing
Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and pledged to set high ethical standards
for an organization that has been battered by scandals in recent years. He
said he would demand the same from all of the world body's employees.
"The good name of the United Nations is one of its most valuable
assets, but also one of the most vulnerable," said Ban Ki-moon. "The
Charter calls on staff to uphold the highest levels of efficiency,
competence and integrity, and I will seek to ensure we build a solid
reputation for living up to that standard. I assure you I will lead by
Mr. Ban was careful to avoid criticizing Secretary-General Annan's
leadership. But in a reference to the world body's flagging reputation, he
called for member states to do better to restore public faith in the
"As we pursue our collective endeavor to reach that goal, my first
priority will be to restore trust," he noted.
Speaking to reporters afterward, he expressed hope that restoring trust
would not eventually turn out to be what he called "Mission Impossible."
Mr. Ban was nominated by the Security Council in October, after a
selection process that spanned several months. The choice was then
unanimously ratified by the General Assembly, making Mr. Ban the first
Asian secretary-general since U Thant of Burma, who completed his 10 years
in office in 1971.