Oxfam welcomes Ban Ki-moon as new UN Secretary General

Published: 18 October 2006

International aid agency Oxfam International welcomed the news that South Korean foreign minister Ban Ki-moon is to become the next Secretary General of the United Nations.

“Oxfam congratulates Mr. Ban Ki-moon on his new post, but we know it’s not going to be an easy job,” said Nicola Reindorp, Head of Oxfam International’s New York office. “Mr. Ban's diplomatic skills will be put to the test as he will have to hit the ground running on a number of dire humanitarian crises. We sincerely hope that he will tell governments what they need to hear, not what they want to hear.”

Communities around the world live in daily fear of armed violence. Oxfam is encouraged by Mr. Ban’s view that the 2005 World Summit agreement on governments’ collective “responsibility to protect” civilians from genocide, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity was a crucial UN reform.

“Millions of innocent civilians continue to be killed, raped, injured, or forced to flee their homes a year after UN members committed themselves to share the responsibility of protecting all civilians from violence,” said Reindorp. “The credibility of the United Nations is at stake and it will be up to Mr. Ban to lead and challenge governments to live up to their commitments.”

Loopholes in current arms export regulations allow sales of weapons that fuel conflict, undermine sustainable development, or contribute to gross human rights violations. This month, the world’s governments have a historic opportunity to vote to begin work on an Arms Trade Treaty. In a massive show of support for the initiative, 77 governments co-sponsored a resolution tabled this week to start work on the Treaty. In the past, South Korea has been supportive of tougher controls on the arms trade.

“Oxfam International urges Mr. Ban to take a leadership role in pressing governments to establish a legally-binding Arms Trade Treaty, an essential measure to bring the international arms trade under control,” said Reindorp.

The world has never been richer, yet the number of people living in extreme poverty is on the increase. Over a billion people struggle to survive on less than one dollar a day and 30,000 people die from extreme poverty every 24 hours. But efforts to eradicate poverty have been more rhetoric than action.

“Poverty will continue to be a major challenge for the international community as leaders of the world have so far failed to take the bold steps needed to reach the UN's Millennium Development Goals,” said Oxfam International Advocacy Director Bernice Romero. “If Mr. Ban puts poverty eradication on the top of his agenda, it could very well make a real difference for millions of people around the world.”

Contact Information

Laura Rusu on + 1 202-496-3620 or + 1 202-459-3739