UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon picked up support for his proposed reforms on Friday, dropping a proposal to downgrade the UN disarmament chief and providing details on his plan to split the overburdened UN peacekeeping department.
Ambassadors emerging from a closed-door meeting with the UN chief on Friday were much more positive about his reforms than they were after an initial meeting on Feb. 5 -- but Ban still faced questions about the chain of command in the field in UN peacekeeping operations with two departments instead of one.
Ban, who took over as UN chief on Jan. 1, was confronted with a barrage of questions when he presented the proposals and was criticized by some ambassadors for trying to push them through quickly -- without going through the normal committee and budget procedures in the General Assembly.
"I think the atmosphere is clearly much better," Pakistan's Ambassador Munir Akram, head of the powerful Group of 77, which represents 132 mainly developing countries and China, said after Friday's meeting.
Germany's UN Ambassador Thomas Matussek, whose country holds the EU presidency, said "everybody supports the secretary-general" but many ambassadors expressed "a certain dissatisfaction" with the way the proposals were presented "and said they expect from him more transparency in the future."
In his speech to envoys from the 192 UN member states, which was released to reporters, Ban said: "I have taken account of your concerns and revised my proposals." He said he would also submit the reforms for full General Assembly consideration.
Ban initially wanted to merge the important UN departments dealing with political affairs and disarmament, both currently headed by undersecretaries-general, but was forced to abandon that idea because of opposition from developing countries.
He then agreed to keep the portfolios separate, but proposed that the Department for Disarmament Affairs become part of the secretary-general's office and be headed by a high representative with the lower rank of assistant secretary-general. That also drew widespread opposition, from developing countries as well as some developed countries who viewed the proposal as downgrading disarmament.
"Having heard strong views from member states," Ban told the ambassadors on Friday "I am ready to propose that the high representative would be appointed at the rank of undersecretary-general."
Ban said the high representative would report directly to him and be part of the top policy decision-making process in the UN Secretariat -- which would be a new and upgraded responsibility for the disarmament chief.
"The fact that he intends to keep it at undersecretary-general level certainly goes to dispelling ... some of those misgivings now," said Japan's UN Ambassador Kenzo Oshima. "And the fact that the secretary-general takes disarmament issues more closely into his hand is a move for the better in terms of strengthening the UN involvement on disarmament issues."
Pakistan's Akram said he expects the General Assembly to adopt a resolution broadly supporting the disarmament plan "very soon" as Ban requested.
But Akram said he would reserve judgment on the proposal to create a Department of Peace Operations and a Department of Field Support, both headed by undersecretaries-general, until after a committee meeting next week.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative
‘SUICIDE’: Media reports said Park Won-soon went missing on Thursday after a staff member filed a sexual harassment claim against him this week Seoul mayor Park Won-soon, viewed as a potential candidate for the 2022 presidential election, was found dead of an apparent suicide hours after he was reported missing, police said, adding that he was the subject of an undisclosed investigation. In a note he is thought to have left behind on his desk, Park offered his apologies. “I thank everyone who was with me in my life. I apologize to my family for only making them suffer from pain,” according to the note that was released by his office yesterday. Park, in his letter, asked to be cremated and have his remains spread
RISKY BUSINESS: The Chinese firm has stockpiled 500,000 pieces of 5G equipment not covered by US sanctions, but fears a wider ban could be announced in the UK Huawei Technologies Co believes it can supply 5G hardware unaffected by US sanctions to the UK for the next five years, sidestepping the expected conclusion of British emergency review on Tuesday. The company has stockpiled 500,000 pieces of kit, but fears a wider ban on its equipment is to be unveiled to placate rebel British Conservative Party lawmakers, who say that the Chinese supplier represents a national security risk. The British government on Friday said that it was “very likely” that British Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden would make a statement to parliament on Tuesday