[EDITORIALS]A challenge at the UN

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[EDITORIALS]A challenge at the UN

A Korean, Lee Jong-uk, is being named as a strong candidate for the next secretary general of the World Health Organization. Considering the prestige and international influence afforded to the head of WHO, we feel proud that Mr. Lee is named as a strong contender for such a high position in an influential international organization. The public as well as the government should not spare any effort for his success.

WHO is a UN organization that was founded in 1948 for international cooperation in health and sanitation. Its membership includes 191 countries; its budget amounts to $1.1 billion annually; and it employs in its head office more than 3,500 people. Since joining the organization in 1949, South Korea has received a lot of support for the prevention and treatment of diseases, especially controlling polio. Now that South Korea has become a donor nation, Mr. Lee's challenge to head WHO is meaningful.

Mr. Lee is working as a representative of the UN Secretary General and director of tuberculosis at WHO. He is recognized as an international authority on vaccines. Among nine candidates, Mr. Lee is the only one who has more than 20 years of working experience in WHO. In the past a background as an expert with working experience in the UN body was a big plus, but the atmosphere in this election is rather dependent on the rivalry between the advanced countries and developing countries. It is likely that developing countries will demand allocation of regional representation for Africa on the executive board when the board meets in late January. Seoul should mobilize diplomacy to gain support from the WHO executive board.

In line with the growth of national strength, Koreans should become active in various international organizations. Such participation would not only enhance Korea's position internationally but also promote its national interest. About 200 Koreans work for international organizations, but only a handful of them are in high-profile positions. We hope Mr. Lee's effort to achieve a top position in a UN organization will stimulate others to follow in his path.
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