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Ban Ki-Moon Prepares to End His Term as U.N. Chief


Ban Ki-moon will finish his term as Secretary-General of the United Nations at the end of December.

He spoke with VOA recently about his 10 years as the U.N’s top official.

As Secretary-General, Ban has traveled the world trying to prevent and end conflicts. He has campaigned in support of development and to reduce the effects of climate change. He also has met with refugees, victims of natural disasters and the leaders of many countries.

Ban says historians will be asked to judge his years as the U.N.’s chief. He is very satisfied with his efforts to end poverty.

“I’m confident that by 2030, all the people will be in a much better way in living in a healthier, more prosperous, and more peaceful world. This is my hope.”

Ban is also pleased with diplomatic efforts leading to the Paris Climate Accord, which took effect in November. The agreement is designed to help fight rising temperatures.

“It required a lot of political mobilization and it required building, forging a stronger partnership and raising the awareness of the government leaders and business leaders and civil societies.”

Under Ban’s leadership, the United Nations has worked to improve women’s rights and end the use of execution as punishment for criminal activity. The U.N. has also fought violence and discrimination against members of the LGBT community. But Ban says there is much work still to be done.

“When it comes to continuing crisis in Syria and elsewhere -- South Sudan, Yemen, Central African Republic and elsewhere -- we have to show unity of purpose and solidarity for the people. Often I have been shocked by the lack of empathy of some world leaders.”

Before becoming Secretary-General, Ban served as South Korea’s foreign minister. He is worried about the increasing tension between South and North Korea. The tension has resulted from the North’s nuclear and missile tests.

Ban tried to go to North Korea last year, but the country’s leaders cancelled his visit just before he was to arrive.

“It was a unilateral cancellations. I really tried to do whatever I can to contribute -- to first of all reduction of tensions on (the) Korean peninsula and also promote reconciliation between the two parts of Korea.”

Many people have talked about what Ban will do after the end of his term as Secretary-General. He is 72 years old. But he has a lot of energy and is known to work long days. Some observers believe he will campaign for the South Korean presidency in 2017.

The country’s current president was recently impeached. If she leaves office, a new presidential election could take place soon.

Ban says South Korea has, in his words, “resilient and mature” democratic institutions. He believes the country will survive the current crisis. He would not confirm or deny that he plans to campaign for the presidency.

“When I become a civilian, private citizen, then I’ll have to discuss this matter with the leaders of Korean society, my friends, my family.”

I’m Christopher Jones-Cruise.

VOA United Nations Correspondent Margaret Besheer reported this story. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted the story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

prosperous – adj. having success usually by making a lot of money

forge – v. to form or create (something, such as an agreement or relationship) through great effort

LGBT – acronym lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender

empathy – n. the feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions; the ability to share someone else’s feelings

unilateral – adj. involving only one group or country; action taken by one side of a dispute without the agreement of the other side or sides

promote – v. to help (something) happen, develop or increase

reconciliation – n. the act of causing two people or groups to become friendly again after an argument or disagreement

impeach – v. to charge (a public official) with a crime done while in office

resilient – adj. able to become strong, healthy or successful again after something bad happens

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