It’s all about Asia

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.

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