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U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks to Mali President Boubacar Keita on the sidelines of the U.N. Chief Executives Board meeting in Washington, D.C., Nov. 21, 2014 (U.N. photo by Eskinder Debebe).

Bold or Not, Next U.N. Secretary-General Faces World of Pain

Monday, Nov. 24, 2014

Does it matter who runs the United Nations? There was a frisson of excitement at U.N. headquarters at the start of this month when a consortium of advocacy groups launched a campaign to overturn the “outdated and opaque” process for selecting the secretary-general. But at a time when increasing global divisions threaten to reduce the U.N. secretariat’s ability to improve international cooperation, there are questions about how much impact the post can really have.

The current secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, steps down at the end of 2016. As I have previously argued, Ban took far too long to find his feet at the U.N. after taking office in 2007, but he has improved over time and especially in recent years . He has been a consistent champion of long-term causes, including the battles against global poverty and climate change, while tackling more-immediate crises such as the Ebola outbreak with growing determination. ...

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