Archive for the ‘analysis’ Category

Ban’s trips and aid: A summary

September 29, 2006

The following posts describe BanKi-moon’s travel and aid as we have covered them:

Other people have reported:

  • A maritime agreement with Greece.
  • A piano for Peru.

We have heard of others but have no documentation. We do not want to make suggestions about the integrity of heads of state without at least documentary evidence.


Thoughts on Straw Poll Results

September 28, 2006

UNSG has the results. We will compare with the results of the 2nd round. Some observations

  • Ban did lose one encouragement to a “no opinion”. We assume that this is either the US or the UK, given their current statements.
  • Shashi Tharoor lost two encouragements to “no opinion”. Who is softening.
  • The Latvian did well. We can assume that her support is the 5 Europeans and the US. One more could include Japan. This is a strong performance but completely explicable. Indeed, the real question for her is how to increase her support. We do not believe it is possible without a fundamental restructuring of the race. In any case, what is she after?
  • Zeid, Surakiart Sathirathai, and Dhanapala have failed as candidates. They should get out and stop wasting their countries’ time and money. Sathirathai or Dhanapala exits might open the possibility of other entrances.
  • It is too early to tell about Ghani, but we have trouble imagining him go anywhere.

The real questions to be answered at this point are:

  1. Can Ban be stopped? There are two scenarios where he would not be selected. Ultimately, they both probably must occur.
    • A better candidate emerges. A new ASEAN candidate could introduce this scenario.
    • A fault emerges that gives the US and UK (probably need both) to sustain the diplomatic pressure associated with vetoes. We believe that evidence of vote buying could, under some circumstances, be this issue.
  2. What is Shashi Tharoor trying to get out of this? We have recently heard the theory that he is really running for Foreign Minister of India, where the UNSG race is a gambit to increase Indian leverage for a UNSC permanent seat. In essence, they would stop pushing Tharoor to in exchange for Chinese (and Russian?) commitments to support India’s seat.
  3. What is the Latvian trying to get out of this? We do not have a theory for this yet.

We look forward to seeing how this evolves.

Power of NGOs: Dhanapala and Shashi respond to UNSG questionnaire

August 16, 2006

A number of people have recently expressed frustration with the transparency of the UNSG selection process. For example:

We agree. Fortunately three NGOs have stood up to demand more information. Recently the attacks on Surakiart Sathirathai for his human rights record by the Asian Human Rights Commission (we covered it here, here, here, and here).

Similarly, the Security Council Report has used their insider information to provide analyses of UNSC actions.

But today, a new level has been reached. The Asian Tribune reports that Jayantha Dhanapala and Shashi Tharoor have answered a questionnaire by an NGO, We urge them to continue their coverage of the race and, indeed, oversite of the UNSC’s process. We look forward to more, much more, of this.

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.

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.

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.

Battle of Ideas

July 8, 2006

One of Sathirathai’s advisors at Harvard wrote a piece in today’s Boston Globe. Sathirathai is engaging is the battle of ideas. Some interesting notes:

TODAY’S MOST significant global challenges, whether humanitarian or military, are being addressed by diverse ad hoc coalitions

As different coalitions address Iran’s nuclear program, ongoing violence in Afghanistan or Darfur, negotiations with North Korea, and the spread of AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, multilateralism has been reawakened and redefined.

This echos the “UN is more relevant than ever” that Shashi has been saying. However, he recasts it:

Kofi Annan’s successor will need the vision, experience, and flexibility to resist outdated models of diplomacy centered in New York or Geneva. It will take a courageous leader to recast the UN’s role as one that supports, rather than competes, with this new brand of multilateralism.

This is a clear attack at his other two announced opponents, who are both graduates of the UN system. It also appears to be an attempt to reach out to the US, whose “Coalitions of the Willing” have been much maligned. (it was a Clinton term, we might add)

A strong secretary general with this vision could ease the emergence of patchwork coalitions, helping NATO, the European Union, the African Union, various states, and nongovernmental actors find coordinated roles in a crisis like Darfur. Under such leadership, the UN could become a clearinghouse for influential ideas, instructive experiences, and diverse or even conflicting best practices.

These are new ideas. We assume that Sathirathai will tout his experience in a a multilateral institution — ASEAN! — as proof that he can do this. His experience is grounded in this fragmented world order. It is also clear how this is consistent with China’s positions, especially in an increasingly strengthened SCO.

We have long argued that Sathirathai has no chance (here, here, and here). And we still believe that insiders are not viable. That leaves other candidates. With Ban Ki-moon not in nomination, it is already clear that other candidates must emerge. Dervis, Deva, Goh? Lodhi doesn’t want it. Ramos-Horta just accepted a new job…

Very interesting.

More Process information

July 7, 2006

Security Council Report has a very helpful analysis of the memo circulated by the Security Council on the appointment straw poll process. We believe that the most important points are:

First, the Council seems to have decided to proceed cautiously. Rather than setting out a fully defined set of guidelines, it seems to be leaving open the possibility of successive refinements of the process, as events unfold.

Secondly, the Council has established a clear requirement for nomination of candidates. Candidates will only be considered for inclusion in the “straw ballot” if the name of the candidate has been presented to the President of the Security Council by a Member State. (It is understood that at time of writing three of the four announced candidates have been so nominated)

Fourthly, at this stage the straw ballots will not differentiate between permanent members and elected members. Accordingly, the impact of the veto will remain veiled.

Fifthly, there is nothing in the note from the President of the Security Council which suggests that the field will be limited to the candidates whose names are in the first straw poll.  It seems that it will be possible for additional candidates to be nominated.  This is another matter which seems to be deliberately left open.

Several thoughts occur to us in response to this analysis. They are proceeding cautiously. This is not surprising because there is no guarantee that the current list of formally announced candidates contains someone who will garner the support of the UNSC.

We find it interesting that vetos will be hidden this time. Surely this is an attempt to emphasize equity in the process, at least initially? And surely the P5 are talking? The interesting question is what they do when they get 8 or 10 votes, which would be enough if there is no veto. When do they convert to a process that uses vetos?

Lastly, there are two things in the report that pick out particular candidates. First, Shashi, Dhanapala, and Sathirathai have all been officially nominated. Ban Ki-moon has not. Is he not running any more? If not, what happens to Egyptian support? Egypt is important in both the Arabic world and in Africa.

Second, this makes Deva’s nominations, so far, invalid. What will he do about that?