[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Fri Jan 12 04:17:24 UTC 2007
Revisiting Issue, U.N. Chief Clarifies Death-Penalty Stance
Ban Ki-moon, the new secretary general, sought Thursday to change the
impression he left in his 1st public utterance as United Nations head last
week about his position on the death penalty.
"I recognize the growing trend in international law and in national
practice towards a phasing out of the death penalty," Mr. Ban said in a
statement at a news conference on Thursday, his 1st since taking office
Jan. 1. "I encourage that trend."
Mr. Ban, the mild-spoken former foreign minister of South Korea, made
unaccustomed waves last Tuesday when he declined to criticize the death
penalty applied to Saddam Hussein.
His comment appeared to contradict the longtime United Nations stance
against the death penalty and put him at unwanted odds with his
predecessor, Kofi Annan, who frequently cited his opposition to capital
punishment on human rights grounds.
After clarifying his position on Thursday, Mr. Ban told reporters, "Ladies
and gentlemen, thank you for letting me get that off my chest."
But in another instance of his early actions raising doubts, Mr. Ban was
asked about reports that he had not conducted formal job interviews with
some of his appointees to high-ranking management positions. He has said
that tightening the United Nations much criticized management would be a
priority of his administration.
He said that these were "unsubstantiated misperceptions," and that he had
relied on his own associations and conversations with the candidates and
on discussions about their qualifications with others.
"I sincerely hope that instead of judging by what you heard from different
sources that you will judge my appointments on the basis of merit and on
the basis of their performance," he said.
The 3 people mentioned were Asha-Rose Mtengeti-Migiro, the foreign
minister of Tanzania, whom Mr. Ban chose as deputy secretary general;
Alicia Brcena Ibarra of Mexico, Mr. Annans chief of staff, who becomes
under secretary general for management; and John Holmes, the British
ambassador to France, who becomes under secretary for humanitarian
Mr. Ban said he would be demanding "performance targets" of senior
officials, which would be reviewed at the end of the year to measure their
Asked if he would use a scheduled visit to the White House next week to
ask President Bush to close the United States detention center at
Guantnamo Bay, Cuba, he said he agreed with his predecessor, Mr. Annan,
that it should be shut down.
He added that he believed Mr. Bush himself shared that objective. Mr. Ban
declined to give his reaction to President Bushs announcement of new troop
levels in Iraq.
"Broadly speaking, however," he said, "the United Nations would welcome
genuine efforts to improve security for ordinary Iraqis as well as to
stabilize the country through a combination of security, political and
The United Nations presence in Iraq was sharply cut back in 2003 after the
bombing of its headquarters in Baghdad, which killed 22 people, including
the mission chief, Sergio Vieira de Mello.
Since then, the United Nations has provided assistance in drafting a
constitution and organizing elections, 2 functions Mr. Ban referred to in
answering a question about whether he planned to expand the current
"We will continue to participate in that process as much as we can, but
our participation and contribution at this time is largely dictated by the
security situations on the ground," he said.
(source: New York Times)
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