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Ban Ki-moon unanimously elected for second term as UN chief

United Nations: The UN General Assembly has voted unanimously to elect Ban Ki-moon for a second five- year term as the world body`s Secretary General, lauding him for bolstering the organisation`s role and visibility in "trying circumstances."

The 192-nation assembly backed the 67-year-old former South Korean Foreign Minister by acclamation yesterday. Ban`s second term will commence from January 1, 2012.

With no contenders to throw a challenge for the post, the assembly approved the new term by consensus. Ban declared his candidature two weeks ago and received the formal backing by the powerful 15-member UN Security Council on Friday. All regional groups at the UN also endorsed him.

Ban has termed his re-election as a "very great honour beyond expression."

Gabon`s UN Ambassador Nelson Messone, the current Security Council President who introduced the assembly resolution, said Ban has "remarkably and with all objectivity and independence" worked on every continent, to promote peace, justice and international security, "sometimes in particularly difficult and trying circumstances."

After the vote, Ban was escorted to the podium where General Assembly President Joseph Deiss told him, "In a complex, difficult international environment, you have strengthened the role and the visibility of the United Nations by adopting reform measures, launching exciting, innovative initiatives, and calling faithfully and constantly for respect for human rights, the rule of law and the other values rooted in our charter."

The UN chief`s first term has been a mixed bag of sorts.

Ban has faced criticism for not adequately addressing human rights violations in countries like Sri Lanka and China, but has been seen as championing the cause of climate change, women`s rights and more recently speaking out against the crackdown on protesters in the Middle East and North Africa.

His role in backing decisive action by the Security Council in Libya and Ivory Coast has also gone down well with the international community.

Ban`s re-election was welcomed by US envoy to the UN, Susan Rice. "No one understands the burden of this role, better than he and my government is grateful that he is willing to continue to take them on," she said.

"Secretary-General Ban is a leader who listens to the voices of the voiceless," she said.

Among other agendas, the UN chief will oversee `Rio+20` next year, which is being dubbed as the most important environmental summit in recent times.

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