15 APRIL 2011


Look at the contrast in the group photos.

During his recent visit to London, after asserting U.N. leadership and his own role in handling the crisis over Libya, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was in the CENTRE of a very distinguished group of leading partners. Right in the middle. Even before the most influential woman of today's international politics, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He was next to the host, almost a co-host.

Contrast it to another group photo in London in 2009, two years ago -- two years after he took over as U.N. Secretary General. It was a meeting on the financial crisis where no practical U.N. proposals nor any role of the Secretary General was perceived. He was placed way in the back, the one before last.

Why do we care?

Because whatever is perceived, Ban Ki-moon is U.N. Secretary General. His exile to "Siberia" in an international gathering hurts all of us. Lack of impact by U.N. erodes its stature and its usefulness. On the other hand, an appreciative central appearance makes us feel hopeful that some role by the U.N. was regained.

The difference is in leadership action.

It is only hoped that those around Ban Ki-moon and the Special Envoys will try to provide him with the real practical support for him to continue making that difference.

A further indication of leadership impact was reflected in the 13 April Doha meeting on Libya where our Secretary General was, once again, in the CENTRE of the high level group photo. Just a photo? It's sometimes worth a thousand words.

Photo Credit: U.N. Photo/Foreign and Commonwealth Office, U.K., U.N. Photo/Evan Schneider, U.N. Photo/Paulo Filgueiras