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Contradictory UN Comments Leave Many Perplexed

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Contradictory UN Comments Leave Many Perplexed

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On January 1, 2007, a new era of leadership commenced when South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki Moon replaced Kofi Annan as Secretary General of the United Nations. Mr. Ban was warmly welcomed as he reported to work on his first day. Upon his arrival, CBS News foreign affairs analyst Pamela Falk commented that “there is an expectation that Ban will breathe new life into the organization.”

As Secretary General, Mr. Ban promised to address troubling issues such as the North Korean nuclear standoff, the ongoing crisis in Darfur, mounting violence in Iraq and the deterioration of human rights worldwide. He further indicated this could only be done by first “restoring trust” in the UN, an organization that has been rocked by scandal in recent years. As the world searches desperately for answers to seemingly insoluble problems, Mr. Ban provided a glimmer of hope to many when he promised to confront these issues with the unified support of the five permanent Security Council member nations.

Less than 48 hours after the execution of Saddam Hussein, any illusion that the UN will lead the world into a new era of solidarity in 2007 was quickly shattered when Mr. Ban stated, “The issue of capital punishment is for each and every [United Nations] member state to decide.” His statement is striking because he did not mention public statements made by UN Envoy to Iraq Ashraf Qazi, who just hours before said that the UN adamantly condemns capital punishment—even in cases of war crimes and genocide.

As diplomats scrambled for clarification, a firestorm ensued when Mr. Ban reiterated his feelings later in the day. His assistant explained that the new Secretary General’s personal disagreement with the UN’s official stance was simply Mr. Ban providing “his own nuance.” However, this explanation left many around the world perplexed.  

The world faces an insurmountable paradox: Each of the 192 UN member nations essentially gives “lip service” to international unity while stressing the importance of letting “each and every member state decide.”

Will the United Nations unify the world’s governments under the new Secretary General? Will it ever find the peace and harmony the member nations so desperately seek?

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