We had some thoughts on Shashi Tharoor's candidacy. We will start with the negatives because, as you know, the UNSG selection process is really more of a deselection process.
India is a big country. Our first thought is that Shashi violates many of the rules of the UNSG selection process. India is a big country. One of the reasons that big countries do not run candidates for Secretary General is that big countries have big interests. A righty Indian blog discusses the question about whether Shashi's candidacy advances India's interests:
Some of the Indian news reports have speculated on why India's ambitions to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council could hurt Shashi Tharoor's chances.
Closer home, the UN's track record on issues strategic to India has hardly been comforting. Pakistan still swears by United Nations resolutions on the Jammu Kashmir issue that it accuses India of not honouring.
India wants a Security Council seat. Current reform proposals would give it a non-veto permanent seat on the Security Council. Could India get the seat while Shashi is the SG? Are they willing to trade a seat at the Security Council for a Secretary-General? Or could Shashi's candidacy be a gambit? Could he be a way to advance India's reform agendas?
India-China relations. India is its own problem in some ways. First, there's a rocky relationship with China. They have a border dispute that has lead to war. Only in the last several years has this relationship begun to thaw. Second, India is a nuclear power outside of the NPT. What does this do at a time that Iran and North Korea have daily headlines in the States?
Shashi is an insider. Will the US tolerate an insider? And he is not just any insider. He was Kofi Annan's executive assistant.
India's General Assembly leadership. On the other hand, this will be the first UNSG race in which the General Assembly has a significant role. India has been a leader in the General Assembly on selection reform. And India has been a leader of the G77 both in the UN and at the WTO. This means that Shashi will have a powerful spokesman in the GA and with the developing world.
India's leadership on Selection Process reform. India has risen to a point of leadership on Selection Process reform. To some extent this puts Shashi in an awkward position. Given India's recent proposal that the Security Council recommend three candidates, one almost wonders: will India's announcement be that Shashi should be one of three candidates recommended by the Security Council? Does Shashi support Indian proposals for Selection Process reform?
In fact, to promote his candidature, Tharoor will now be required to come up with a script for UN reform that marks a qualitative improvement upon Annan's, and, more acceptable to countries like US which will have a decisive say in determining who gets the slot at stake.
Thus far, he has stuck to the spirit of the reform exercise, saying: "The UN needs reform not because it has failed but because it has accomplished enough over the years to be worth investing in."
This is interesting. It is unclear. We will have more on the impact on other candidates later today.