A confidential memorandum from Norway’s United Nations Ambassador Mona Juhl to her government delivers a hefty broadside at UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon saying that he is ‘battling to show leadership’ and that he is conspicuously absent in discussions about broad solutions to global crises.
The confidential memorandum, which was given the Highly Confidential stamp at Norway’s foreign ministry, has nonetheless been leaked to and published by one of Norway’s leading newspapers, Aftenposten.
Juhl says that the United Nations is having difficulty in entering the environmental agenda and that Ban’s leadership has been minimal during the global financial crisis.
“At a time when the United Nations and the need for multilateral solutions to global crises is greater than ever, Ban and the United Nations are conspicuous in their absence,” says Juhl.
Political crises are not Ban’s cup of tea either, says Juhl adding that his recent visit to Burma was a clear example of a lack of leadership and inability to deliver on behalf of the United Nations.
“ After a seemingly fruitless visit (to Burma) by the Secretary-General, the United Nations ‘good offices’ will be made even more difficult. (United Nations Special Representative) Gambari will have major problems after ‘the top man’ has failed and the generals in Rangoon will no longer meet him,” says Juhl.
Juhl says that another example of Ban’s weakness was the war in Sri Lanka, where she says Ban was a helpless observer as thousands lost their lives and were driven from their homes.
“The authorities in Colombo refused to receive the Secretary-General during military operations, but he was invited – and accepted an invitation – as soon as the war had been ‘won’,” Juhl says adding that Ban’s ‘moral voice and authority’ have been lacking.
Bland one-term SG
“Common to all of these issues is that a bland Secretary-General lacking charisma cannot be compensated for by high-profile and visible aides. Ban has general chosen special representatives and secretariat chiefs who don’t make much of an impression either – apart from Afghanistan,” Juhl says.
“As you know (Ban) was a conscious choice by the then American administration that did not want an active secretary-general, nor has the current U.S. administration signalled a changed attitude to Ban – although there are rumours that people in Washington are now calling Ban a ‘One-term SG’,” Juhl says adding however, that China is happy with Ban and holds the key to his possible re-election, while Russia is displeased with his handling of Kosovo and Georgia.
The Norwegian ambassador says that most other nations are increasingly negative towards Ban, who is half way through his term.
“Of the many who felt he should be given more time, that he’d get better after warming up and that comparisons with his predecessor’s charisma were unjust, the tone is now that the learning potential has been used up and that (his) lack of charisma is, in fact, a problem,” Juhl writes adding that Ban is given over to fits of rage that even sober-minded and experienced employees are finding difficult to tackle.
Norway’s Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre has declined to comment on the memorandum.
“It is something that we have noted,” Gahr Støre tells Aftenposten.