United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki Moon awarded top honour from NUS

Secretary General of the United Nations (UN) Ban Ki Moon speaks after accepting an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from the National University of Singapore on Aug 30, 2016.
Secretary General of the United Nations (UN) Ban Ki Moon speaks after accepting an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from the National University of Singapore on Aug 30, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

SINGAPORE - United Nations chief Ban Ki Moon received the highest honour from the National University of Singapore (NUS) on Tuesday (Aug 30) in recognition of his humanitarian accomplishments and work in sustainable development, human rights, global peace and security.

The 72-year-old was given an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from NUS at a ceremony held at the Istana, which was presided over by President Tony Tan Keng Yam, who is also NUS chancellor.

Mr Ban, a South Korean, is the UN's eighth secretary-general and the second Asian to helm this post. He took office in 2007 and was re-elected in 2011 to serve a second five-year term, which will come to an end in December this year.

He has been an advocate for climate action and women's empowerment, and has undertaken major efforts to strengthen peacekeeping operations, improve humanitarian response and revitalise disarmament efforts.

He was educated at Seoul National University and the Kennedy School of Government in the United States.

NUS president Tan Chorh Chuan said in a speech that Mr Ban's first encounter with the UN happened long before he began his career as a diplomat.

"As a young child displaced by the Korean War, the sight of the blue flag of the UN symbolised protection, sustenance and, most importantly, hope for a better future."

Professor Kishore Mahbubani, who read the citation for Mr Ban, said one of his key achievements has been to "secure a strong global consensus to act together to save the world from global warming".

"Mr Ban will be remembered for launching the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015," he added.

Prof Mahbubani, who is the dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, also noted Mr Ban's contributions to gender equality through pushing for the creation of UN Women as a separate agency in 2011, and efforts to address violence against women. 

"It is no secret that the job of UN secretary-general is one of the most difficult and impossible jobs in the world," he said. "Mr Ban will be remembered for dealing with so many global crises with remarkable calm and equanimity."