- By Colum LynchColum Lynch is Foreign Policy’s award-winning U.N.-based senior diplomatic reporter. He previously wrote FP’s Turtle Bay blog, for which he was awarded the 2011 National Magazine Award for best reporting in digital media. He was also the silver medal recipient of the 2013 Elizabeth Neuffer Memorial Prize for a three-part series documenting the U.N.’s systemic failure to protect civilians in Darfur, Sudan. Colum’s investigations have uncovered an American spy operation in Iraq, Russia’s monopoly of the $1 billion-a-year U.N. aircraft leasing market, and a Chinese diplomatic campaign to silence U.N. investigators scrutinizing Chinese arms deals in Africa. His deep digs into the U.N. bureaucracy have exposed sexual misconduct by U.N. blue helmets from Bosnia to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and documented monumental dysfunction in the U.N. office charged with rooting out misconduct and corruption. He now devotes his reporting chops to documenting President Donald Trump’s efforts to reorder the international system. Born in Los Angeles, Colum received a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1985 and a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in 1987. Before moving to FP, Colum reported on diplomacy and national security for the Washington Post for more than a decade. He has appeared frequently on national news programs, including the Lehrer NewsHour, as well as on MSNBC, NPR, and the BBC.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon waded cautiously into the Nobel Peace Prize controversy, offering only indirect praise of China’s jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo’s achievement while crediting the Chinese govenrment with steadily improving its human rights record.
Ban’s public statement contrasted sharply from Western leaders like President Barack Obama, who praised Liu "as an eloquent and courageous spokesman for the advance of universal values through peaceful and non-violent means" and called for his release. Ban’s more diplomatic approach to Beijing reflected the risks that confront the U.N. chief, who will need China’s support if he hopes to win a second term as secretary general in 2011.
In a statement made on his behalf by his spokesman, Ban, a former South Korean foreign minister, said "the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo of China is a recognition of the growing international consensus for improving human rights practices and culture around the world."
Ban noted the importance of human rights in the U.N.’s mission and then went on to highlight China’s recent achievements, including advances in human rights. "Over the past years, China has achieved remarkable economic advances, lifted millions out of poverty, broadened political participation and steadily joined the international mainstream in its adherence to recognized human rights instruments and practices," according to his statement.
Ban concluded by expressing his "sincere hope that any differences on this decision will not detract from advancement of the human rights agenda globally or the high prestige and inspirational power of the Award." But there was no appeal to China to order Liu’s release.
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