Ban Ki-moon, born on 13 June 1944, is a South Korean politician and diplomat who served as the eighth secretary-general of the United Nations between 2007 and 2016. And, on this day in 2023, take a moment to know more about his diplomatic skills and his contributions to ending global conflicts and promoting a greener, brighter future for mankind.
All you need to know about Ban Ki-Moon:
Ban was born on 13 June 1944 in the small farming village of Haengchi, Wonnam Township, in Eumseong County, North Chungcheong Province in what was then Japanese Korea. His family then moved to the nearby town of Chungju, where he grew up.
During Ban's childhood, his father had a warehouse business, but the warehouse went bankrupt and the family lost its middle-class standard of living. When he was six, his family fled to a remote mountainside for much of the Korean War. After the war ended, his family returned to Chungju. Ban has said that, during this time, he met American soldiers.
Ban graduated from Seoul National University in 1970 with a bachelor's degree in international relations. He subsequently went on to complete a Master of Public Administration degree at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 1985. At Harvard, he studied under Joseph Nye, who remarked that Ban had "a rare combination of analytic clarity, humility and perseverance".
Prior to his appointment as secretary-general, Ban was the South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade between 2004 and 2006. Ban was initially considered to be a long shot for the office of Secretary-General of the United Nations; he began to campaign for the office in February 2006.
As the foreign minister of South Korea, he was able to travel to all the countries on the United Nations Security Council, a maneuver that subsequently turned him into the campaign's front-runner.
On 13 October 2006, he was elected as the eighth secretary-general by the United Nations General Assembly. On 1 January 2007, he succeeded Kofi Annan. As secretary-general, he was responsible for several major reforms in peacekeeping and UN employment practices around the world.
Diplomatically, Ban has taken particularly strong views on global warming, pressing the issue repeatedly with U.S. President George W. Bush, and on the Darfur conflict, where he helped persuade Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir to allow peacekeeping troops to enter Sudan.
Ban was named the world's 32nd most powerful person by the Forbes List of The World's Most Powerful People in 2013, the highest among South Koreans. In 2014, he was named the third most powerful South Korean after Lee Kun-hee and Lee Jae-yong.
In 2016, Foreign Policy named Ban one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers for his achievement of helping the Paris Agreement to be ratified and enforced less than a year after it was adopted.
On 20 February 2018, Ban was unanimously elected as the president of the assembly and chair of the council by the members of the assembly and council, respectively, the two governance organs of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), a treaty-based international, inter-governmental organisation dedicated to supporting and promoting environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive economic growth in developing countries and emerging economies.
On 16 October 2018, the Global Commission on Adaptation was launched with Ban as co-chair, together with Bill Gates and Kristalina Georgieva. The commission's mandate to accelerate adaptation by elevating the political visibility of adaptation and focusing on concrete solutions came to an end following its Year of Action in 2020, with its work showcased at the Climate Adaptation Summit hosted by the Netherlands on 25 January 2021.
Ban currently serves as co-chair for the Global Center on Adaptation, which is taking forward the commission's work through its programs. He became the first major international diplomat to throw his weight behind the Green New Deal, a nascent effort by the progressive wing of the Democratic Party in the United States to zero out planet-warming emissions and end poverty over the next decade.