December 22, 2016
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s last day in office is 31 December 2016. That day will be the culmination of a decade of service at the helm of the world body, during which his priorities have been to mobilize world leaders around a set of new global challenges, from climate change and economic upheaval to pandemics and increasing pressures involving food, energy and water. In addition, he has sought to be a bridge-builder, to give voice to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, and to strengthen the Organization itself.
Whatever successes or achievements there may be, they are the outcome of joint efforts – not by me alone. The Secretary-General, however capable or willing, cannot do it alone. No single country or person can do it alone without support.
Mr. Ban began his first term as Secretary-General on 1 January 2007, and was unanimously re-elected by the General Assembly to a second term on 21 June 2011.
In his last remaining days at UN Headquarters, the Secretary-General spoke with UN News on a range of topics, including his service with the world body, the impact that war had on his decision to pursue a career in public service, and his next steps.
UN News: When the first UN Secretary-General, Trygvie Lie welcomed his successor, Dag Hammarskjöld, to the job, he said: “Welcome, Dag Hammarskjöld, to the most impossible job on this earth.” You’ve been in the job now for almost ten years. What are your thoughts on that description?
Ban Ki-moon: It has been a great privilege for me to serve this great organization. My motto was that I will make this “most impossible job” into a “possible mission.” I have been trying during the last ten years, devoting all my time, passion and energy.
But frankly speaking, realistically, I may have to leave many things unfulfilled. We needed to have much more sense of unity, much more global solidarity and compassion, but we have not been able to see this. Without Member States’ full support, it has been quite difficult.
But, at the same time, we achieved very important visions – like the Sustainable Development Goals covering all spectrums of life and the Paris Agreement on climate change – these are two very important, ambitious and far-reaching achievements. At the same time, I have been devoting all my efforts to improving gender empowerment. When I first became Secretary-General, there were just a few women staff at the senior level. But I have been trying to appoint as many capable and committed women to senior positions. I hope my successor, António Guterres, will build upon this.
UN News: Looking back at the past decade, what stands out for you as your major accomplishments at the helm of the United Nations?
Ban Ki-moon: Whatever successes or achievements there may be, they are the outcome of joint efforts – not by me alone. The Secretary-General, however capable or willing, cannot do it alone. No single country or person can do it alone without support. In that regard, I am deeply grateful to our dedicated staff who have been working day and night – in many cases, in very dangerous circumstances. Without their hard work, we would not have achieved the Paris Agreement on climate change, we would not have had the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. These are just two very important outcomes of our common work. I hope our staff will continue to build upon these by working together with the Member States.