Archive for July, 2006

Dhanapala says France and UK voted against him!

July 31, 2006

Dhanapala’s blog includes an account of his votes:

They said the five encouragements for Dr. Dhanapala were from China, Congo, Ghana, Qatar and Tanzania while those who gave a vote of discouragement were Argentina, Denmark, France, Greece, Slovakia and the UK — with Japan, Peru, Russia and US remaining neutral.

At the same time, there is speculation that the US voted “discouraging” against everyone.

Several other Sri Lankan articles have appeared that challenge the basis for his candidacy. Sri Lanka World reports that the straw poll was a “setback” and reported that:

Analysts said they believed Mr. Dhanapala`s age, a ripe 67 was two years past the UN retirement age and that probably was a reason for the disappointing result.

A South African paper has reported that:

Finally, Dhanapala’s chances were undermined by the fact that Sri Lanka’s new government is not enthusiastic about him.

Dhanapala says that the campaign will go on. We have trouble understanding this decision (along with the decision to republish an article indicating his vetoes). He got two vetoes. His government doesn’t like him. And even his domestic press seem to be turning on him.

His attempts to reach out to the US have been unsuccessful. His attempts at NAM appear to be unsuccessful. What does he want out of this at this point?


Cuba endorses Shashi

July 29, 2006

This can’t help with the US… From the Indian Financial  Express:

Cuba has indicated its support to the candidature of Shashi Tharoor, India’s candidate for the post of UN Secretary General, and affirmed backing to New Delhi’s bid for membership of the expanded Security Council.

With the clear support of Belarus and Cuba, Shashi is not running for the Human Rights vote….

This is also important because Cuba is the next President of NAM. But, especially if Bone is right that the US vetoed everyone in the first round, this could increase the difficulty for US support. And Belarus for European support.

On the human rights issue, our leading candidates seem like pigs in the mud…

Update on Sathirathai and Human Rights

July 29, 2006

GPF has a copy of the letter written by the Asian Human Rights Commission. Some excerpts. It is quite vicious, and if fully documentable, ought to be fatal to Sathirathai:

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has since 2004 studied your candidacy to become the next Secretary-General of the United Nations with interest. To be honest, we are a bit perplexed. Try as we might, we have failed to identify the qualifications upon which you could be elected to the job.

As a Harvard law postgraduate we would have thought that you would understand how important it is to maintain principles for the rule of law and human rights in Thailand, and how these are supported by the international system, specifically the United Nations. However, looking at the record of your government since you served as Minister for Foreign Affairs from 2001 to 2005 and after that as Deputy Prime Minister (with special responsibility for foreign affairs), it is hard to find any evidence of this.

1. FAILED to ratify a key UN treaty against torture: The AHRC has been among other concerned groups and individuals who for some years have been saying that if Thailand’s human rights record is to improve it must join the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. In fact, the ministry that you headed has the primary responsibility for this. But still, inexplicably, Thailand has not signed.

This point is particularly delicious in light of the Human Rights Committee’s report on the US. But we digress.

2. FAILED to implement any recommendations of a key UN body: The AHRC is not aware of any attempt to implement any of the key recommendations that the UN Human Rights Committee made to you in 2005 after your representatives in Geneva tried unsuccessfully to keep all kinds of gross abuses under the carpet.

3. FAILED to cooperate with UN special procedures: We are not aware of a single case of alleged torture, forced disappearance, extrajudicial killing or other gross abuse in Thailand before the UN working groups or special rapporteurs that your government has properly addressed. Furthermore, Thailand has deliberately snubbed the repeated requests of the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions to visit the country, and has also failed to extend standing invitations to UN experts interested to do the same, for no known reason.

In short, we cannot understand how you can contemplate becoming UN Secretary General from a position as Deputy Prime Minister in a government that refuses to join key UN international treaties, fails to consider or implement the sound recommendations of UN international treaty bodies and keeps UN experts at a distance.

We also cannot understand how you can contemplate becoming UN Secretary General from a position as Deputy Prime Minister in a government that pursues a policy of extrajudicial killings and disappearances against parts of its own population, tacitly endorses the use of torture by its police, has been recognised globally as an enemy of free speech, fails to protect even its own officially-appointed human rights commissioners–let alone the thousands of environmentalists, community leaders, journalists and others with lives at risk in Thailand–and has caused untold damage to the rule of law.

Former Thai FM Attacks Sathirathai

July 28, 2006

Former Thai FM Surin Pitsuwan is attacking Sathirathai for silence on the Israeli killing of UN Peacekeepers:

“When the whole world is up in arms about the deaths of four UN observers in Khiyam, Lebanon, how can Thailand, an aspirant for UN leadership, be so conspicuously silent?” said Surin.

Surin said: “The entire world is up in arms about the issue, strikฌing at the heart of the UN’s peaceฌkeeping role, and we are keeping mum on the case. How could we, in good conscience, claim that we have the interests of the internaฌtional community at heart?”

“The Thaksin government is still at a loss … not for words, but of a sense of international responsibility.

Note that this is not the first time that Sathirathai (or his government or party) has been attacked by his former colleagues. They are suing a former Thai ambassador to the UN for calling Sathirathai unqualified. And recently, there was a criticism of Sathirathai, in particular, for his human rights record.

More on Straw Poll results

July 27, 2006 has a great summary of straw poll results. Several highlights:

Other expert observers suggested that Council members may have been generous with Ban Ki Moon because he is a sitting Foreign Minister as well as with Shashi Tharoor because he is a senior UN official. This perhaps contributed to harsher treatment of the other two candidates. Diplomatic politeness and sense of protocol would not carry high-level candidates past veto votes, however

We have argued that both Ban and Shashi are deeply flawed candidates, and further discussions may yet reveal this. UNSGSelection also said:

The most recent note from the President of the Security Council, Ambassador de la Sablière of France, implied that multiple straw polls could take place (as happened in December 1996). A South Korean official yesterday indicated that the Council would meet again about SG selection only after the sixty-first session of the General Assembly begins in September.

They also mention that no one is obligated to drop out, however, Dhanapala is a bit of a special case. He got 6 “discouraging” votes. He could have, at most, 6 “no” votes. Why would his 4 “no opinion” votes be inclined to flow towards him? And that is assuming that none of the 6 are P5 members. His candidacy is  dead and he needs to stop wasting the time of the Sri Lankan government. Perhaps he can go back to the Peace Secretariat and start fixing the problems that he left in his own country to run for UNSG.

Fallout from the Straw Poll

July 26, 2006

Well, the first straw poll has occurred. It has raised several questions and ended several questions. Let’s consider some:

Is the race over? Ban Ki-moon got 12 “encouraging” votes and one discouraging. We don’t know if that one was from Japan (highly likely) or from a P5 country. If Japan, the game is essentially over. It is unlikely that we will find a candidate with more support.

Will candidates drop out and more enter? There is a distinct possibility, which Bolton raised in his press briefing:

the various candidates consider what the votes were compared with what
they received there may now be decisions either for additional
candidates to enter the race or for one or more candidates in the race
to drop out.

But who? Sathirathai and ASEAN have been quite vocal that he will stay in the race. There has been little activity from Dhanapala. Either one of them dropping out raises the possibility of new candidates emerging. Indeed, one Australian article has characterized this as “Goh’s chance”, if only Sathirathai were to leave the race. Later, a Thai paper, reporting from the ASEAN Ministerial, reported that “The Singaporean government had informed the five permanent members of the Security Council that former prime minister Goh Chok Tong would not run for the post”. And Dhanapala’s leaving might just result in a Deva candidacy. Not to mention the other array of candidates.

What happens next? Dhanapala will regroup or drop out. Sathirathai will “campaign harder”. Ban and Shashi really have their work cut out for them. Because of Ban’s success on the first ballot, Shashi will need to resolve any of his structural problems. It is certainly possible to have a 13-2 versus 13-2 deadlock or somesuch, requiring other candidates to emerge. Finally, new information could emerge. We still have strong concerns about Ban, which may yet come to the fore.

Human Rights group attacks Sathirathai

July 21, 2006

Will human rights become an issue again? According to one Thai news source, it might for Sathirathai. Some excerpts:

The Thai government is “immoral and dishonest” for promoting Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai as the next UN secretary-general while continuing to enforce emergency rule across the Muslim South, a leading human rights group said.

Surakiart’s bid “should be rejected by all countries with a genuine concern for human rights,” AHRC said in a statement.

Bill Fernandez, AHRC’s executive director, said it was “offensive” to promote a man who held key positions during a time when his government “consistently flouted international law and snubbed the best efforts of UN officials to improve human rights in its country.”

This is not the first time that Sathirathai has been attacked within his own country. His government is currently suing a former Ambassador to the UN for calling Sathirathai unqualified. There have been similar accusations about both Ban Ki-moon and the countries that support him. Our summary is here.

However, the good news for Sathirathai is that he has Pakistan’s endorsement!

The Debate on Deva and the Goh-Deva Strategy

July 21, 2006

There is a quite amusing debate emerging on the candidacy of Niranjan Deva-Aditya over at UNSG. Apparently one of Deva’s Sri Lankan supporters put up an over-enthusiastic website in Sri Lanka, getting some of the details wrong. UNSG pointed out some of these flaws. The Deva campaign clarified.

The interesting questions are, of course:

First, will Deva get nominated? The press release posted on UNSG seems to suggest that they think it is a real possibility. There was also a recent article in the gossip section of a British magazine lists specific countries who support him. What to make of this? Of course, without a formal nomination, from Sri Lanka or another country, it is impossible for him to be a candidate.

Second, Mr. Fleming, over at UNSG argues that there is a “long shot” way for Deva to emerge as a candidate:

“Deva does have one (long) shot. If the straw polls to be taken this month reveal low support for Dhanapala, …”

This is, of course, also the Goh strategy vis-a-vis ASEAN. It goes like this:

  1. The first straw poll happens. Sathirathai’s support is vanishingly small. (as our sources in New York indicate is the case)
  2. ASEAN tries to push Sathirathai out and submits Goh’s name. If that fails, supporters in other countries do this anyways.
  3. At this point, the debate is reconfigured and real compromise can take place.

For this to work for Deva, Dhanapala will have to fail on the first straw poll, which we fully expect. If Dhanapala is taken seriously a week from now, then Deva would have little basis for continuing.

The lesson here in these strategies is that this is a marathon, not a sprint. It is our analysis that the Goh-Deva strategy is viable and that none of the 4 currently nominated candidates will have job on Secretary General on January 1st. But we could be proven wrong next week when the first straw poll happens.

Belarus backs Shashi Tharoor

July 15, 2006

Indian candidate Shashi Tharoor bags the first European endorsement of this race in Belarus. However, affairs aren’t so rosy for Shashi. Belarus, a noted human rights abuser, conveyed its endorsement of Mr Tharoor to the Indian Industry Minister Kumar. On the bright side, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko is very close to the government of Russia. On the dim side, a good part of the world is quite aware of Belarus human rights violations – on the European level, it may be the only thing the Socialists, Liberals, and Centre-Right agree upon – all transnational parties condemn Mr Lukashenko and support the opposition (which is essentially an all-ideology pro-democracy coalition). Shashi will have to explain why he is associating with pariahs in Europe. On another level, this blog finds this development interesting – currently, all the announced candidates who have endorsements from non-home candidates have countries supporting them which have serious human rights problems (Ban has Uzbekistan, North Korea, and Egypt, while Shashi has Belarus). This is a sad development for those of us who believe that human rights is a significant topic for the United Nations.

Bush Accepts Asian!

July 11, 2006

Bush has indicated that he supports an Asian:

We’re really looking in the Far East right now to be the Secretary-General,” Bush said, noting that tradition holds that secretaries general rotate by region.

He also indicated that the current candidates may not be sufficient: 

At another point, however, he said the United States “will work closely with friends and allies to come up with the best candidate.

He also indicated that he would support a Muslim:

Bush said he would not oppose a candidate for secretary-general who is Muslim.

He was replying to a question about the possible candidacy of Jordan’s Prince Zeid al-Hussein, who is Muslim and his country’s U.N. ambasssador.