Not quite Koreagate, and as far as we can tell Tongsun Park is not involved, but there is a new chapter in the ongoing bribery of the United Nations apparatus.
Ban Ki-moon, former Foreign Affairs Minister of South Korea, is a leading contender to become the new United Nations Secretary General. This is troubling because he is, frankly, the status quo candidate and is leading in the straw polls, although the lead is not insurmountable.
According to AsiaNews, the government of South Korea may be trying to boost Ban's candidacy through bribery. Last year, South Korea increased its foreign aid budget by 50%, and most of that money has gone to Tanzania and Ghana, both members of the UN Security Council. It is still secret which other countries whose votes are crucial to Ban Ki-Moon's success are receiving additional funds from the South Korean government.
The United States has not yet endorsed a candidate for the Secretary General position. US Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations Kristen Silverberg has said that, “There is not a consensus Asian candidate right now and I don’t see signs of one emerging, honestly, right now…But if there’s an Asian candidate who’s the strongest candidate and meets our criteria, then we are obviously prepared to support that person.”
The United States needs to make a power-play fast, otherwise a Secretary General opposed to UN reform, and hostile to the policy of spreading democracy and human rights, might be elected. So far, only two candidates seem to meet the exacting guidelines that should guide U.S. policy: Nirj Deva and Ashraf Ghani.
Nirj was elected to the European Parliament, where he distinguished himself as a leading Atlanticist. Originally from Sri Lanka, but lately of the UK and Belgium, he has what it takes to unite United Nations member states behind a positive program of reform.
Ashraf Ghani is also very good. He was nominated by Afghan President Hamid Karzai to be UN Secretary General. He served as Afghanistan's finance minister during the crucial reconstruction period, and Emerging Markets magazine voted him Asia's best finance minister in 2003. He has what it takes to strengthen economic development in the poorest UN countries.
Either way, neither are seeking to corrupt the UN system through soft-bribery and both will be massive improvements over the status quo. The U.S. delegation to the UN needs to recognize this as it lobbies member states to vote for the next UN Secretary General.