Imran Khan comes at No 3 in The top 9 world leaders of 2012
1. Christine Lagarde
The first woman to head the International Monetary Fund, Lagarde had
no time to settle in before jumping into the ongoing battle that is the
euro zone's debt crisis. Ranked among Forbes' most powerful people
and most powerful women, the director of the 188-country-strong
financial organization managed to garner an extra $430 billion in
funding from G20 countries this past April, doubling the IMF's lending
In the midst of trying to put out global fiscal fires, the former lawyer and influential French politician — who was named a Chevalier in the Légion d'honneur in 2000 — also manages to raise two sons.
2. Barack Obama
President Obama won another four-year term, by a long shot, in what
was nevertheless one of the tightest, toughest US election races in
years. He also remained surefooted in his decision-making, despite the
Romney campaign's fierce attempts to paint him as a failed leader.
"Obama, 50, showed great skill as a Commander in Chief, sending the
Navy SEALs to take out Osama bin Laden and supervising an orderly
departure from Iraq," wrote Time magazine's Joe Klein.
"But most of all, in the roil of a difficult time, he seemed smart and
steady, trustworthy. Monuments are not often built to politicians who
are merely trustworthy, but they do tend to win re-election."
Time just this week named Obama its "Person of the Year."
Washington Monthly also managed to round up 50 of Obama's accomplishments ... that's more than we can say for most leaders.
3. Imran Khan
Imran Khan has made the jump from cricketer to activist-politician
look seamless. Now the head of Pakistan's Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) party,
Khan has become the face of the anti-drone movement in his home country.
Though data on drone-related deaths is scarce, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates
drones — key tools of US military strategy in the region — have caused
between 474 to 884 civilian deaths since 2004, including the killings of
Khan refuses to stand for the continued use of drones in Pakistan,
leading a high-profile march by over 1,000 people in October. He
continues to speak out against the violence, and his anti-drone push is a
central part of his campaign for president.
More from GlobalPost: Imran Khan interrogated by US immigration over drone stance
4. Hillary Clinton
Touted as the most traveled secretary of state (though it depends on how you're counting, the Christian Science Monitor pointed out),
Clinton has certainly clocked her fair share of overseas visits — to at
least 111 countries, at last count — and dealt with a veritable bevy of
international crises during her years in office.
From the ongoing bloody war in Syria, to the Sept. 11 attack on the
US consulate in Benghazi, to the eight-day conflict between Gaza and
Israel, Clinton has risen to some thorny challenges. She also managed to
earn meme notoriety (Texts from Hillary, anyone?) and reach her 10th year as Gallup poll’s most admired woman.
And no matter what her mileage, she's definitely winning in the "most requests to run for President in 2016" contest.
More from GlobalPost: Nancy Pelosi joins the list of political figures to back Hillary Clinton in 2016
5. Kim Jong Un
The new supreme leader of North Korea, aka the son of Kim Jong Il,
has had quite the year in the spotlight for the head of such a reclusive
state. For one thing, there was his marriage to Ri Sol Ju. Then there
were all the rocket launches, mostly failed, and the ensuing
international hoopla. And of course, that's not even counting the Onion
nomination as "Sexiest Person of the Year" — which was taken amazingly seriously by Chinese and South Korean media.
Kim Jong Un also won TIME's "Person of the Year" poll, garnering 5.6 million votes.
Not too shabby for his first year in the hot seat.
6. Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her brave
activism against widespread slaughter of protesters fighting the
oppressive rule of Myanmar's dictator U Ne Win. This year, however,
marked a big shift for Suu Kyi and her political party, the National
League for Democracy: The party won a majority of seats in parliamentary
Suu Kyi also received accolades in the US for her work, accepting the
Congressional Gold Medal — Congress's highest award for civilians — and
the Atlantic Council's Global Citizen Award.
We can only wonder what 2013 will bring.
More from GlobalPost: Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar opposition leader, in the US for talks with Clinton, award from Congress (VIDEO)
7. Mohamed Morsi
The jury is still out — quite literally — on Egypt's first
democratically elected leader since the ousting of Hosni Mubarak. Though
he made an impressive showing after elections, he reignited furious
protests in Cairo when he issued a controversial decree placing himself
above the powers of the judiciary. There were also accusations that he
had his opponents captured, detained, and beaten, according to The New York Times.
He also, however, proved to be a skilled political broker in the
Middle East, producing a peace deal between Israel and Gaza after the
two sides saw their bloodiest conflict in years.
As Egypt prepares to vote on a new constitution, which itself has
sparked considerable protest and opposition, Morsi is certainly not
stepping out of the limelight any time soon.
More from GlobalPost: Morsi's decree upheld as presidential spokesman softens stance, protests continue
8. Hugo Chavez
Chavez added another six-year term to his almost 14 years as
Venezuela's president in October, and continues to be one of Latin
America's most-watched politicians. However, his battle with cancer has
only gotten more intense, and for the first time, the powerful leader
has considered the possibility he may need someone to carry his torch.
The future of Venezuela remains to be seen, but Chavez's mark on the country — and the world — has certainly been made.
More from GlobalPost: Series: Venezuela's Vote
9. Bashar al-Assad
This year, Syria's President Bashar al-Assad has been facing the
greatest threat to his dictatorship since he took office in 2000,
following his father's death. The embattled leader has been locked in
one of the region's bloodiest clashes since the uprising against him
began in March 2011. The world has stood divided over the conflict,
which has left around 40,000 people dead. But the tide may be shifting. According to the Telegraph, even Russia, one of Assad's staunchest allies, has admitted that his rule may be waning.
The president has denied ordering violence of any kind against Syrians, saying only a "crazy person" would kill his own people, BBC News reported.
"There was no command, to kill or to be brutal," Assad said. "I don't
own them, I am president, I don't own the country so they are not my
The battle against Assad continues to rage on as 2012 comes to a close.