Thursday, 18 February 2016

Election race for UN Chief

As the campaign for the next Secretary General of the United Nations heats up, the career of Boutros Boutros-Ghali, who died on 16 February, should prove instructive. The Egyptian who held the UN’s top job in 1992-96 was one of the most experienced diplomats to have held the post. That counted for nothing once Boutros had quarrelled with Washington, which vetoed his second term, and he became known in Africa as the UN chief who withdrew peacekeepers from Rwanda as the genocidaires started the killing.

For this year's UN election, an impressive list of candidates is emerging: two Bulgarians, Kristalina Georgieva (Budget Commissioner at the European Union) and UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova (favoured by Russian President Vladimir Putin); the UNDP Administrator, New Zealand's former Prime Minister Helen Clark and Susana Malcorra, Argentina's new Foreign Minister.
In the spirit of regional alternance, it is meant to be Eastern Europe's turn to hold the post and there is strong support for the UN, at last, to appoint a female SG.

Some are pressing German Chancellor Angela Merkel to run. Not only can she match the other contenders' experience, she has the influence to get deals done. Incumbent Ban Ki-moon came to the SG's office a decade ago pledging to focus all his efforts on ending the mass slaughter in Darfur. As Khartoum blocked his moves, a new wave of conflict in the Middle East further diluted his efforts.

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