The role of the United Nations (UN) has changed with every secretary-general: Dag Hammarskjold stood up to the great powers; Kofi Annan called himself a 'secular pope'; and Ban Ki-moon, the quiet South Korean, has been described by his critics as weak.

While his approach has not been appreciated on some issues, his style has worked on others, like getting aid into Myanmar.
 
So is his style of quiet diplomacy really working? How does he see his role as the UN's secretary-general: Is he there to serve the member states and their governments, or to serve the people of the world?

Ban Ki-moon talks to Al Jazeera's Sami Zeidan about the climate conference in Durban, the importance of the Kyoto Protocol and the impact of climate change. Will world leaders commit to deadlines and legally binding obligations to save and protect the planet?

"We do not have any time to lose...I urged the negotiators to agree on the future of the Kyoto Protocol... People understand the seriousness, but still domestic politics prevail over these gobal challenges. I have been urging that the older leaders must demonstrate their leadership as a global leader, not as national leaders. They should look beyond their national borders, because climate change does not respect any border, does not respect where you are coming from, whether you are coming from a rich or poor country, a big or small country. So this is the global challenge requiring global solidarity, a global solution...There must be a deadline that the international community will have a globally, agreeable, and binding treaty as soon as possible."

The UN secretary-general also shares his views on the issues behind the Goldstone report and the situation in Syria. Ban Ki-moon says that "as the leader of Syria he [Bashar al-Assad] is responsible for all that has happened."

"He is the leader, and has a very important responsibility to protect the lives of his own people, therefore I would urge him again to stop immediately killing his people...it's a totally unacceptable situation. I'm extremely concerned about what's going on in Syria. The Syrian people have genuine aspirations, they have a genuine and legitimate right to live in a country where nobody feels any threat of being killed, and they should have freedom of speech, freedom of assembly... I am disappointed by all he [Bashar al-Assad] has not kept, his promises."

Source: Al Jazeera