UN's 'Invisible Man,' Ban Struggles to Prove Himself

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 14, 2009 6:54 AM CDT
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gestures as he speaks to reporters before his departure from Burma earlier this month.   (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)
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(Newser) – Halfway through his term as UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-Moon is best known for his low profile, reports the Wall Street Journal. The Korean is praised in many quarters as a fine administrator with strong principles, but his pronouncements often go unnoticed, to the frustration of UN officials who fear his lack of charisma is bringing back the UN's old image of ineffectiveness when its role is more vital than ever.

"No matter what he does, he just can't make a splash," says one UN official. "Nothing sticks." Ban says his policy of quiet diplomacy gets results, although many saw weakness when he left Burma last week without seeing detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi or wringing any concrete promises from the country's ruling junta. As President Obama prepares a new US strategy to revitalize the UN, Ban says he has no plans to change his style.