The people love Ban Ki-moon

He may have been called a “dilettante on the international stage” and “the world’s most dangerous Korean” by Jacob Heilbrunn in the most recent issue of FP, but it seems that lots of people still like Ban Ki-moon. A new WorldPublicOpinion.org poll has the secretary-general coming in second only to Barack Obama in how much ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
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584200_090630_bankimoon2.jpg
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon just before a press conference June 23, 2009 in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza across from UN headquarters in New York to highlight a global Summit for world leaders and other major events this fall aimed at encouraging a successful outcome to the negotiations for a new global deal on climate change this December in Copenhagen. On September 22 the Secretary-General will convene a Summit at UN headquarters on Climate Change while at the same time New York City will host "Climate Week NYC" - five days of cultural events, workshops, seminars, and other activities organized by NGOs, businesses, artists, and academia, reinforcing the call to action in Copenhagen. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

He may have been called a “dilettante on the international stage” and “the world’s most dangerous Korean” by Jacob Heilbrunn in the most recent issue of FP, but it seems that lots of people still like Ban Ki-moon. A new WorldPublicOpinion.org poll has the secretary-general coming in second only to Barack Obama in how much he is trusted around the world:

 The UN Secretary General generally receives better ratings than most other world leaders who are heads of nations. On average his evaluations across the 20 nations are positive (40% to 35%) and 11 nations express confidence, seven do not, and two are divided. This places him second among the leaders studied, below Obama, but slightly above Merkel.

Views of Ban Ki-moon are particularly positive in Africa and in Asia – nearly all Asian nations give him positive confidence scores led by South Korea (90%). Indonesia is an exception: views are divided. Large majorities in both Kenya (70%) and Nigeria (69%) express confidence in him.

Countries polled in Western Europe have confidence in the Secretary General, including Britain, Germany, and France, but Poland and Russia do not, and Ukraine is divided. A majority of Americans (57%) report little confidence in him, while Mexico leans toward having confidence (38% to 33%.)

You don’t have to go as far as Heilbrunn to argue that this is a bit much. It’s pretty doubtful that most of those saying they trust believe in Ban can explain what he has accomplished. Even the S-G’s defender’s acknowledge that many of his main accomplishments received little fanfare or media coverage. Indeed the very fact that he hasn’t been all that outspoken on many issues (or doesn’t get enough media coverage, depending on your point of view) means that he hasn’t given people much cause to form a negative opion of him. 

On the other hand, as Boonstra notes, “Coming in second behind Barack Obama — whose public speaking, I think we can agree, is a little more inspirational — is not too shabby for the South Korean.” Give the guy his due.

AFP/Getty Images  

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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