The U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution Friday appointing South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon to succeed Kofi Annan as the next U.N. secretary-general.
Ban, 62, will become the eighth secretary-general in the U.N.'s 60-year history on Jan. 1 when Annan's second five-year term expires. He was one of seven candidates vying to be the U.N. chief and topped all four informal polls in the U.N. Security Council.
Hundreds of diplomats and U.N. staff in the chamber broke into loud applause when assembly president Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa asked the 192-nation world body to adopt the resolution by acclamation. She then banged the gavel and said, "It is so decided."
"The new Secretary General, as a South Korean diplomat, has been deeply involved in the issues related to North Korea and the nuclear threat and he will, therefore, play a pivotal role in the crises that face the Security Council," said CBS News foreign affairs analyst Pamela Falk from the U.N. on Friday.
Ban will oversee an organization with 92,000 peacekeepers around the world and a $5 billion annual budget. The U.N.'s reputation has been tarnished by corruption scandals and its outdated practices need reform to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
Annan hailed Ban as "a future secretary-general who is exceptionally attuned to the sensitivities of countries and constituencies in every continent" and said he would be "a man with a truly global mind at the helm of the world's only universal organization."
Annan recalled that the first U.N. secretary-general, Trygvie Lie, told his successor, Dag Hammarskjold, "You are about to take over the most impossible job on Earth."
"While that may be true," Annan said, "I would say: This is also the best possible job on Earth."
He said he had only one piece of advice for his successor when he takes over — "try to make full use of the unparalleled resource you will find in the staff of the organization. Their commitment is the U.N.'s greatest asset."
U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said Ban is "the right person to lead the United Nations at this decisive movement in its history, particularly as the U.N. struggles to fulfill the terms of the reform agenda that world leaders agreed to last fall."
The Staff Union, representing over 5,000 staff at U.N. headquarters, welcomed Ban's appointment, saying in a statement it "provides a fresh start for the organization." The union, which has had rocky relations with Annan, said it looked forward to working closely with Ban and his management team on U.N. reform.
By tradition, the post of secretary-general rotates among the regions of the world and most countries agreed that this time it was Asia's turn. The last Asian secretary-general was Burma's U Thant, who served from 1961-71.
Ban has been South Korea's foreign minister for more than 2½ years and served as national security adviser to two presidents — jobs that focused on relations with North Korea which he has said will be a top priority in his new job. During a nearly 40-year diplomatic career, he was posted in India, Austria, Washington and at the United Nations.