The Road to Turtle Bay: The Economist

Kemal Dervis has also been mentioned as a candidate. He is the Secretary-General of the UN Development Program, and is generally considered to be an extremely talented and successful chief of that organization.

Like Shashi Tharoor, he has had a career in international institutions, with a detour as Finance Minister of Turkey in 2001 and 2002 and then a Parliamentarian and leader of a liberal party from 2002 to 2005, when he was appointed by Kofi Annan to UNDP SG.

Prior to his work in Turkey, he spent 24 years working for the World Bank, focusing primarily on Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. He ended his career there with the title Vice President for Poverty Reduction and Economic Management.

Like Shashi Tharoor, Dervis has spent most of his adult life living in the United States and in Europe. His Ph.D. is from Princeton, his undergraduate degree is from LSE, and he taught briefly at the Middle Eastern Technical University and Princeton before going to the World Bank.

Dervis has also served in a number of organizations that have had a clear European focus. For example, European and international networks including the Global Progressive Forum and the Progressive Governance Network. For a sample of his thinking, he wrote this piece which advocates for weighted voting:

It is important to stress that a United Nations adapted to the needs and realities of the 21st century should be the overall institutional setting for both the political and the economic sphere. The current arrangements still reflecting the post Second World War settlement need to be replaced by new ones, based on representation of constituencies, weighted votes and universal participation, and the policies of the institutions must adjust to the needs of today’s world.

Ultimately, Dervis's issue is not that he is not qualified. It is whether he is Asian. Turkey is part of WEOG (Western European and Other Group). The bulk of his experience places him in Europe. His is pro-Washington and pro-Western. Can he get past that with the developing world? Probably his experience at UNDP helps. But is he Asian enough for China? And "developing" enough for everyone else? And what about being a citizen of a NATO country on the Russian border?

And it is whether he represents a challenge to the current UNSC. Is he right? Probably yes. Is that acceptable? Maybe no.

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