Archive for May, 2006

The race continues in two fora into uncertainty

May 30, 2006

In the last week, two important meetings have occurred. Perhaps the simplest summary is from AFP:

None of the three [Ban, Dhanapala, and Sathirathai] are highly fancied and there is no certainty that an Asian will be chosen — the United States has said that the best candidate should get the job regardless of where they come from.

First, in Putrajaya, the ancient capital of Malaysia, the Non-Aligned Movement met. NAM will be critical as its membership is a majority of the General Assembly, which, under Canadian, Indian, and other leadership, may express a stronger position. And NAM represents the interest of the developing world, which views itself as getting the short end of the stick in the fight over UN reform. Indeed, in recorded remarks, Kofi Annan said:

“Giving voice to the developing world, to advance a just and democratic international order, have always been NAM’s underlying goals,” said UN secretary-general Kofi Annan.

Second, there was also a meeting of the Asian Cooperation Dialogue in Qatar. One of the topics on the agenda was unifying behind an Asian candidate:

Another issue likely to be discussed is the next secretary general of the United Nations, which the present incumbent, Kofi Annan, has said should be an Asian.

No affirmative news yet about the discussions. Needless to say, the race is entering a stage in which the leader, Ban, will either succeed or fail. If he fails, as the AFP quote indicates may be happening, it is unclear what the next step will be.

Dhanapala’s failings – a Russian critique

May 13, 2006

On 25th April an article appeared in Komsomolskaya Pravda, which said of Dhanapala (one of the Sri Lankan candidates) "his candidature is problematic because in two years he will be 70, and further he is a UN insider with a poor record on arms control. During his term of office as Under-Secretary-General responsible for arms control, India and Pakistan became nuclear powers while Iran and North Korea remained major threats."

Not only that, he was head of the Sri Lanka Peace Process, which has all but collapsed.

Last week he went with his Foreign Minister to Delhi to beg for Indian support and did not get it.

Dhanapala needs to face the fact that he is going nowhere, and gracefully withdraw and give another candidate his support.

It’s all about Asia

May 2, 2006

Given the previous announcements of Greece, China, Russia, and other Security Council candidates, it is clear that the next Secretary-General will be of Asian origin. It is equally clear that candidates such as Suriakart Sathirathai and Shashi Tharoor are dead on arrival (one for failing to maintain democracy in his home country, the other due to his status as Kofi Annan's protege). Therefore, we have Ban Ki-Moon, who has campaigned astutely (with the notable failure of his overtly eager courtship of the US as evinced by http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=36833), Jayanatha Dhanapala, who, in his year of campaigning, has failed to excite or garner the endorsement of another country, and several unannounced candidates.

This is bolstered by a recent declaration. The 114-member Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), the largest single political coalition at the United Nations, has now joined the Asian Group and the African Group in declaring its public support for an Asian as the new SG.

In a letter to NAM members, the current chair, Ambassador Hamidon Ali of Malaysia, said last week that "the Non-Aligned Movement at its meeting at the ambassadorial level has decided that the eighth secretary-general of the United Nations, who will succeed Kofi Annan of Ghana, shall be selected from a state member of the Organization (NAM) from the Asian region."

Even though South Korea is part of the Asian Group at the United Nations, the NAM decision rules out their support for the South Korean candidate, Ban ki Moon because Seoul is not a member of the Non-Aligned Movement. Ban's apparent support for the war in Iraq is another potential Achilles' heel.

It also rules out their support for a Turkish candidate (nor is Turkey even a member of the Asian Group at the UN).

In the scuttlebutt section, the Indian foreign ministry is apparently reassuring politcians that Shashi Tharoor will not be their candidate for UNSG. Sources from China have apparently doubled-back on the reputed endorsement of Suriakiart Sathirathai as UNSG due to the recent situation in Thailand, and the foreign minister of a major Muslim country has had an extremely favourable meeting with one of the unannounced candidates.