U.N. defends Ban Ki-moon against rights criticism

UNITED NATIONS Mon Jan 24, 2011 5:09pm EST

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks during a news conference at Masdar Institute of Science and Technology in Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, January 17, 2011. REUTERS/Jumana El-Heloueh

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks during a news conference at Masdar Institute of Science and Technology in Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, January 17, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Jumana El-Heloueh

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UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations defended Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday against charges he has failed to speak out on human rights, saying that Ban had achieved positive results around the world.

The criticism of Ban's rights record comes at a difficult time for the former South Korean foreign minister, who is widely expected to run for a second five-year term as the U.N. chief. His current term expires at the end of 2011.

"The record shows that the Secretary-General has achieved results both through quiet diplomacy ... as well as public pressure," U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said.

The head of New York-based Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth, said in the group's latest annual report that Ban has been "notably reluctant to put pressure on abusive governments."

"Ban's disinclination to speak out about serious human rights violators means he is often choosing to fight with one hand tied behind his back," Roth said, adding that China, Sudan, Myanmar and Sri Lanka were examples of countries where Ban had failed to condemn repressive actions.

Human Rights Watch released its latest report on Monday.

Haq cited Sudan's conflict-torn western Darfur region and the freeing of a jailed gay couple in Malawi as examples where Ban's "quiet diplomacy" had achieved results.

Ban appointed a panel to advise him on how to achieve accountability for any war crimes or human rights violations committed during the final months of Sri Lanka's quarter-century war against Tamil Tiger rebels that ended in 2009. Haq said the panel would soon present a report to Ban.

The secretary-general faced criticism last year when he failed to mention human rights or the jailing of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo during a meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao in China last year.

Ban never congratulated Liu or called for his release.

Last week the former head of the internal oversight office of the United Nations, who quit last year accusing Ban of poor leadership, said his re-election would be an embarrassment.

Inga-Britt Ahlenius of Sweden, who led the U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services until last July, repeated criticism from her end-of-assignment report that the world body was "falling apart" and "drifting into irrelevance" under Ban. The confidential report was leaked to media at the time.

(Editing by Christopher Wilson)

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Comments (2)
jalee wrote:
Where has he really had success? The UN is becoming more and more ineffective!

Jan 24, 2011 5:10pm EST  --  Report as abuse
CraigGourley wrote:
Ban-Ki Moon kept praising the president of Sri-lanka who is being heavily criticized by the Human rights group for war crimes and crime against humanity. In 2009 over 50,000 civilians were massacred within 4 months, UN response was to stop counting the deads after 7000 (and that is a positive results?) UN under Ban-Ki Moon and Vijay Nambiar became irrelevant. If the UN’s name to be restored, Ban-Ki Moon should be tried for complicit in the war crimes, and there should be an independent investigation to clear UN’s reputation.

Jan 25, 2011 8:04am EST  --  Report as abuse
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