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U.N. chief discusses the challenges of 2012


United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's description of the global body as the "World Cup of Diplomacy" is, in part, an optimistic reflection of the world's chief diplomat, who has been plagued by less opposition and controversy than any of his seven predecessors.

Having been elected without contest to a second five-year term, Ban has outlined his priorities for the future, including lifting people out of poverty, following up on the Arab spring and transitions to democracy, creating jobs for young people and lifting people from abject poverty.

He has had his successes, among them; creating the division of U.N. Women, and establishing two special representatives to deal with violence against women and children; making sustainable development a priority and natural and manmade disasters a focus.

But as the world begins 2012, some of the crises facing the U.N. are more intractable.

A look back at the events of 2011

In 2011, Ban oversaw the U.N. role in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya and participated in discussions when the European debt crisis shook the global marketplace.

But right now in Syria, the U.N. Security Council has been stalemated, stymied in its efforts to deal with a brutal crackdown.

Speaking to CBS News at the dawn of his second term, Ban expressed his frustration:

"What is most important at this time is that President Assad must stop killing his people. It is totally unacceptable that even during the visit of the monitoring team of the League of Arab states, they have been killing people. This is not acceptable," said Ban.

"I am appreciative of the effort of the League to first of all stop the bloodshed and protect human lives. But we have not been able to protect human lives. We continue to pressure the Syrian authorities."

The Secretary-General is unusually frank about his frustration, saying he has "been trying my best," even speaking directly to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

"He should stop killing people. Unfortunately, he has not heeded to the calls of the international community," lamented the diplomat.

Meanwhile, in the area of the world that the Secretary-General knows best as a South Korean, he is aware that the death of North Korea's Kim Jong Il has led many observers to fear that the transition may lead to instability. Comments from the North's National Defense Council, referring to South Koreans as puppets, do not bode well for the relationship of the South with its nuclear-armed neighbor.

Ban said he, too, was "concerned by such strong rhetoric," but he expressed some hope for the future: "As Secretary-General of the U.N., as one of the Korean citizens, I am committed to do whatever I can for the peace and prosperity and eventual reunification. Reunification is an ardent aspiration of 70 million Korean people, therefore I am optimistic that one day, sure, we will have reunification."

On Iran, where tensions have risen over the security of the vital oil shipping channel the Strait of Hormuz, the Secretary-General was resoundingly clear.

"I am most concerned by the recent IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) report, which indicates that there is the possibility of a military dimension of the Iranian nuclear activities, and it is important that Iranian authorities fully comply with relevant Security Council Resolutions."

"The onus is on them to prove the nature of the peaceful uses of nuclear activities," added Ban.

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