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Global Harmonizer

March 6, 2007

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon spoke to Deutsche Welle about his plans for the global body, Germany's role in the UN and the current conflict over Iran's nuclear program.

The South Korean diplomat wants to build trust within the UNImage: DW

DEUTSCHE WELLE: You have been in office for two months now. What was different than you expected?

Ban Ki-moon: Like my predecessor as secretary general, the last two months have been extremely busy. I have been trying to have this house in order, and I have realized that there are much more conflict issues than I have thought and the world is much wider than I have thought. I have been very much humbled by all the challenges lying before me. But I'm confident that with all help and cooperation from member states, I'll be able to discharge my duties as secretary general.

You said that the United Nations is not united but divided, so what will you do to unite the United Nations?

That is one of my top priorities, to restore trust and gain trust among member states. Unfortunately, we have seen mistrust among the member states, between big and small, between rich and poor countries, and there is some widespread mistrust again between member states and the secretariat. As a secretary general, I try to play a harmonizer's role to bridge the gap.

But how will you balance the interests, as you mentioned, of the developing countries and the other countries, for example, with the United States of America not very confident about the United Nations?

The United States and United Nation's partnership is very important. As secretary general, I would hope that I can expect very active and strong participation of the United States. The United States and United Nations, in fact share the same goals, objectives, peace and security, and harmony and development and human rights and the promotion of democracy. These are the same goals which we are trying to achieve, and therefore I'm confident that the United States will participate. They're a very active member state.

How important do you think the United Nations is today?

United Nations is the only universal global body working for peace and security and human rights and democracy. This is an inter-governmental body of 192 member states. This is center of multilateralism working for peace and security of the world. We need to nurture this only global body so that it can work more [efficiently] and effectively for our global body.

You said that reforms are necessary. Will there be a reform of the Security Council during your term and what kind of role would you like Germany to play in it?

Reform of the Security Council, considering the dramatic changes in international political scenes, is necessary. In fact, there is no doubt that the Security Council should be expanded. But how to expand and who should join as prominent member states of the Security Council, that is the core of this reform agenda of the Security Council. There [were] very intensive discussions among the member states, but unfortunately member states have not been able to agree on single formula. As secretary general, I'll try to facilitate on the basis of objectivity and impartiality to facilitate such ongoing consultations, so that this will be done in a most representative and democratic way.

And again what kind of role can Germany play in this unification?

Germany is a very important country. This is the third-largest of financial contributing countries; It has been participating in many activities of the United Nations -- peace and security as well as developmental strategies. Germany should try to expand in the areas of understandings and support among the member states for their goals of [becoming] a member of the Security Council.

Click on the arrows below to read what Ban Ki-moon has to say about global warming and the US.

Now coming to a very important issue: the topic of climate change. There is no way to prevent global warming -- that's what the experts say -- there's only a chance to moderate the extent. How do you plan to get involved in this topic?

Science tells that humankind's activity has been mostly responsible for this global warming. This is a global issue, therefore we need global action, common actions. Big and small countries' and even social, civil societies' participation is very much necessary. As secretary general of the United Nations, I will try to generate the political will so that the whole international community can take seriously -- and urgently -- measures to prepare beyond 2012, when the Kyoto Protocol will expire. The recent release of an intergovernmental panel report on climate change was a strong reminder that the international community must take urgent action on this.

But what will you expect from countries like the United States which have so far not cooperated in the international efforts to prevent global warming?

I have a sense that even in the United States there is some growing awareness, within the United States, particularly in business communities and the American Congress, that it is a very important issue and the United States should also take part in this very important process. I would hope that the United States government will seriously consider more actively and constructively participating in this process.

Coming to the topic of the continent of Africa: Somalia and Darfur are only two trouble spots. Where do you see the most urgent need for the United Nations to react?

The United Nations has been discussing with the members of the African Union to, first of all, bring political dialog with the Sudanese government and also to deploy African Union/UN hybrid peacekeeping operations. We have been trying to also deliver humanitarian assistance to many refugees. It is said that there are about 4 million people in Darfur who are suffering from these difficulties. And in Somalia, I have been also urging the Somali government to have some promotion of national reconciliation. President [Abdullahi] Yusuf has called to convene a national reconciliation congress. It is an encouraging sign and the African Union has decided to praise AMISOM -- the African Mission in Somalia. We hope that the international community will provide necessary funding to AMISOM operations there.

Coming to another hotspot: How should the international community proceed in the conflict with Iran?

First of all, the Iranian authorities must comply with the Security Council resolution completely. It was regrettable that they have not met the deadlines set out by the Security Council to stop enriching uranium facilities. It is in the hands of the Security Council. I understand that member states of the Security Council are now seriously considering to take further sanction measures. Even at this time, I would sincerely appeal and urge the Iranian authorities to engage in a dialog with the international community led by the European Union.

What do you expect from the United States? What kind of role do you expect the US to play in that conflict?

The United States has been also indirectly participating in this negotiation with the Iranians. They are also a member of P5 [editor's note: The five permanent members of the UN Security Council]. Last week P5 together with the Europeans held very serious negotiations with the Iranian government. We hope that the Iranians will continue in their negotiations on this matter.

What are the three most important goals you would like to achieve during the next five years?

First the priority is to get the house in order through management reform, to make this organization more relevant and more efficient and effective. I'd like to make this organization more accountable and transparent in discharging their work. Then secondly, I'd like to devote my time and energy in seeing smooth implementation of millennium development goals by 2015. Of course my third priority -- but that does not mean in terms of preference -- but another goal or priority will be in helping resolve all regional conflicts which unfortunately we are facing in many parts of the world, particularly in Africa. This needs collective responses and cooperation from the international community. No one country or no individual can do it alone. We need the collective and common efforts to address all these challenges of the international community.

Christina Bergmann interviewed Ban Ki-moon (ncy)

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