The gloves come off

South Korean candidate Ban Ki Moon is coming under wider criticism for development agreements made by South Korea during the course of his campaign.

Such concerns are not new. Ban, who continues in his day job as minister for trade as well as foreign affairs, has strategically visited each member of the Security Council. Critics point out that soon thereafter, a deal is reached benefiting that government. Ban and the Foreign Ministry of course deny any connection.

Chapter 15 posted early on about Ban’s visits to countries and aid agreements that often followed. Most observers however refrained from commenting, unsure if the agreements were in fact related to Ban’s candidacy or coincidental. Such diplomatic deference is no longer the case.

The Times of London led the charge yesterday, to be followed today by articles in the Washington Post and elsewhere, looking deeper into the timing of the visits and the agreements.  A leading Korean paper sums up the allegations as such:

As examples of “aid diplomacy,” the [Times] cites Korea’s tripling of its aid budget for African countries to US$100 million in February, the tens of thousands of pounds it contributed to sponsoring this year’s African Union summit in the Gambia in July, and its donation of $180 million for an education program in Tanzania, a temporary member of the UN Security Council.

Interesting enough, Latvia’s Vaira Vike-Freiberga - who placed third in yesterday’s straw poll - noted in an interview last April concern over the financial aspects of a competitive UNSG selection process.

“I would hate to see the selection of the secretary general being the sort of a process where candidates run around the world looking for financial supporters, where financial supporters affect the selection process and where votes are bought. It opens up a rather horrifying prospect.”

A spokesman for the South Korean government noted that decisions to increase aid to African and other developing countries was made years ago. But even putting aside poor timing in implementing this pledge, the Times’ list of recipient nations (Tanzania, Slovakia, Greece, Peru and others) since Ban’s announcement in February does bear close resemblance to another list.

Giving Ban the benefit of the doubt, however, it would be informative to see a succint but comprehensive list of countries he has visited since his announcement in February.

8 Responses to “The gloves come off”

  1. Ceteris Paribus says:

    I’m so curious about the outcome on Monday. But I hope the world leaders have learned wisely from the history of another field of politics, football, especially from what ROK’s did in an organised way at 2002 FIFA World Cup when an ROK person already held power as a FIFA vice-president. Can the government and people of ROK allow him in good faith to play an independent role as SG in dealing with the North Korean conflict? It’s a big if.

  2. [...] Check out the watchdog blog UNSG.org for the blow by blow, including the scandal surrounding Ban Ki-Moon If you like what you read, Bookmark itThese icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. [...]

  3. breenwillow says:

    With all the stories swirling about how S. Korea “bought” votes, I think something’s being forgotten here. It is the votes from the *permanent* members (US, Russia, China, UK, France) that ultimately make or break the nominee’s chances. Just one veto from any one of these 5 nations will effectively kill the nomination on the spot, and so therefore it would be to these countries that S. Korea would have to coax into getting Mr. Ban the top spot at the UN.

    Most likely, it was mainly because the US and China found him acceptable (for their own geopolitical reasons) that Mr. Ban won unanimously in the straw poll vote. I find it highly unlikely that the permanent members would be swayed to vote for Mr. Ban on the basis of any kind of crude inducements that have been alleged by various news reports. That is not to say that the stories of S.Korea’s promised financial aid to various African countries (as well as a grand piano to Peru) is false. But I believe to imply that S.Korea “bribed” other nations to get Mr. Ban the UNSG job exaggerates and even falsifies the events leading up to Mr. Ban’s ascension as UNSG.

  4. Ceteris Paribus says:

    I am really disappointed at Shashi Tharoor’s graceful retreat from the race. And now we the overwhelming advantage of Ban Ki-moon is undeniable.

    But as is commented somewhere, the door is still open, though slightly. Here, I would like to remind you of the credibility of South Korean government’s pledge to offer financial aid. This is not only for reconfirming the fact but also for urging South Korean government to keep the promise should Ban be successfully chosen next week.

    As far as I know, Seoul made a pledge to offer $50M government aid in response to Indian Ocern Earthquake in 2004, trying to get ahead of other donors. But what did they do afterwards? They decreased inconspicuously the amount of aid to about $6M. Anyway no diplomats will blame Seoul for this, and it is freedom for any country to count on Seoul, though.

    I am actually concerned at South Korean tendency to commit such a fraudulent-like conduct as well as one to abuse the power which is held by their nationals as I mentioned above. Therefore, I think Ban Ki-moon is not suitable option for a leader at UN as long as he is South Korean, however excellent he is.

    I still hope a new candidate comes up banning Ban’s presidency.

  5. Ceteris Paribus says:

    In addition to the above-mentioned, I have to refer to Ban Ki-moon’s comment after the 4th SP to a Korean newspaper: “I will make every possible efforts to increase our national interest and expand our diplomatic presence (from now on)”. Is it the words of the future UNSG, even if this is for a Korean news agency? Unbilievable.

    Unfortunately this comment was not mentioned in the English version, but this indicates exactly their characteristic way of thinking as we can learn from the history. You can translate the Korean version into English and find the comment in the third paragraph.

    http://www.yonhapnews.co.kr/news/20061003/020300000020061003163436K2.html

  6. [...] Check out the watchdog blog UNSG.org for the blow by blow, including the scandal surrounding Ban Ki-Moon Ban Ki Moon, diaspora, india, news, outrage, Politics, Secretary General, SG, Shashi Tharoor, South Korea, UN, UN SG, United Nations If you like what you read, Bookmark itThese icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. [...]

  7. [...] We were just getting the campaign to Draft Bono for UNSG together when they went and chose some politician. We have learned that it is not easy to influence secret, non-democratic elections. :( [...]

  8. [...] The last minuted allegations of South Korean aid packages offered to elected Security Council members found little traction, mostly as it disregarded the more important votes of the Council’s permanent members, as this commenter eloquently pointed out. Mark Goldberg, blogging over at UN Dispatch, suggested the accusation by one conservative U.S. group was simply an ideological smear-job, ”an excuse to tar and feather the new Secretary General, just as they did the last one.” [...]

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