Tags: un | ban | ki | moon

U.N. Chief Remains a Mystery — Even to Staff

By Stewart Stogel   |   Wednesday, 23 Apr 2008 04:27 PM

United Nations — After More than 16 months in office, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon remains somewhat of a mystery, not only to the public (many of whom believe Kofi Annan is still U.N. chief) but embarrassingly, to the world body's staff itself.

Unlike Annan, who was considered distant and aloof from the organization, Ban has gone out of his way to meet U.N. staffers and even lunch with them in the cavernous U.N. headquarters employee cafeteria (eyewitnesses confirm that Ban even pays for his lunch). But despite the "efforts" to "commune" with the U.N. rank and file, Mr. Ban still has a name recognition problem.

Recently, the U.N.'s chief of staff, Vijay Nambiar, sent a letter of "concern" to U.N. employees worldwide, a copy of which was obtained by Newsmax.

In the letter dated March 31, 2008, Nambiar writes, "Dear Colleague, I address you in a matter of some delicacy. Ever since taking office, the Secretary-General has had to cope with the question of ensuring clarity and accuracy in the recognition of his name . . .

"This is not an unusual problem, but it remains a matter of some frustration, that despite the passage of a year and some months, there still remains some confusion on this score. Many world leaders, some of who are well acquainted with the Secretary-General, still use his first name mistakenly as his surname and address him wrongly as Mr. Ki-moon or Mr. Moon."

Then the chief of staff directs, "I am sending this clarification to all of you to help avoid confusion and possible embarrassment both to the Secretary-General and to his various interlocutors. I would request that you disseminate this appropriately and discreetly among staff and public authorities and institutions informally . . ."

It's unclear whether word reached Africa, where Ban is now on tour, but so far, there has only been muted reaction from the U.N. staff.

However, one recent newspaper report on a Ban European trip, repeatedly referred to him as "Mr. Moon" and his wife as "Mrs. Moon."

No word from the White House or the U.S./U.N. mission on the dilemma.

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