UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The Security Council unanimously recommended on Friday that Ban Ki-moon be re-elected as U.N. secretary-general, virtually assuring the South Korean diplomat of five more years in the top U.N. job.
The 192-nation General Assembly is planning to meet on Tuesday to formally reappoint Ban, 67, to a second term of office beginning on January 1, diplomats said.
The council decision, originally planned for Thursday, was delayed for one day because one of the U.N. regional groups — Latin America and the Caribbean — had not agreed to endorse Ban, a former South Korean foreign minister.
Diplomats said the group had still not achieved consensus by Friday morning, but the council went ahead with its recommendation. Endorsement by regional groups is considered desirable but is not technically necessary.
“The Security Council ... recommends to the General Assembly that Mr. Ban Ki-moon be appointed secretary-general of the United Nations for a second term,” said a resolution adopted without a vote by the 15-nation council.
Ban’s re-election is a virtual certainty after the Security Council recommendation, which followed agreement by its five permanent members that they wanted him to continue in office. No other candidates have been put forward.
In a statement in Brazil, where he was on a visit on Friday, Ban said he was “deeply honored” by the council’s vote. “I am proud of all we have done together, even as I am aware of formidable challenges ahead,” he said.
At a news conference in Brasilia, Ban pledged, if confirmed for a second term, to broadly continue an agenda of sustainable development, climate change, women’s empowerment, nuclear disarmament and strengthening U.N. humanitarian aid capacity.
“This needs strong support from member states. The secretary-general is just one person,” he said.
Under an unwritten U.N. rule, the job of secretary-general rotates between the world’s regions and may not be held by a citizen of one of the five permanent Security Council members — the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China.
It is normal for an incumbent to serve two five-year terms, although Egypt’s Boutros Boutros-Ghali was ousted after one term in 1996 by the United States, which felt he had performed poorly over the war in Bosnia.
U.N. diplomats see Ban, noted for his self-deprecating manner and imperfect command of English, as a tireless worker and inveterate globe-trotter, but say his tenure so far has a mixed record on the issues he has championed.
Global U.N.-led negotiations on climate change have made little progress, and the U.N. role in combating world poverty has been challenged by the rise of the Group of 20 nations.
Years of U.N. mediation in conflicts from Cyprus to Western Sahara have produced no result so far. But Ban won a success in Ivory Coast this year with a firm U.N. line on election results that led to the ouster of Laurent Gbagbo, who had clung to the presidency despite world agreement that he had lost the vote.
Ban has also won praise for his encouragement of the “Arab Spring” of pro-democracy movements that has swept the Middle East and North Africa, and his personal exhortations to the region’s autocratic rulers not to use force against protests.
Analysts say Ban has proved adept at staying on good terms with important countries and — unlike some of his predecessors — has been particularly sensitive to the wishes of the United States, which hosts U.N. headquarters in New York.
That fact has led to some grumbling by left-wing governments in Latin America and elsewhere. Western diplomats said Cuba and some other Latin American countries were behind the delay in their group’s endorsement of Ban, although Havana’s U.N. mission denied it was responsible.
Ban had a brief run-in with Russia in 2008 over actions seen as backing Kosovo independence, strongly opposed by Moscow. Some Russian officials threatened Moscow might veto his second term, but the row quickly passed.
Additional reporting by Raymond Colitt in Brasilia; Editing by Anthony Boadle