Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

Warren Hoge on the candidates

June 7, 2006

This is an excerpt from the transcript of Ban Ki-moon's CFR speech. First, Warren Hoge, the emcee, from the NYT identified a list of candidates that are being taken seriously in NY:

But to give you an indication of the free-for-all nature of the present race, at the moment the people who are being talked about include a Jordanian prince, a Turkish economist, a Nobel laureate from Sri Lanka, Sweden's most accomplished diplomat, two Eastern European presidents, and even, as you all probably know, Bill Clinton. Don't hold your breath on the last one.

Our thoughts:

First, we assume that "Nobel laureate from Sri Lanka" is an error and that he meant something like "a Nobel laureate and a Sri Lankan". We don't know of any Nobel laureates of Sri Lankan origin. So we assume that he means Jayanthana Dhanapala and Jose Ramos-Horta, a Nobel laureate and Foreign Minister from East Timor. However,  East Timor is nearing political collapse and Ramos-Horta's leadership may be needed at home.

Second, it's interesting that Sathirathai is not on the list. The collapse of his country's government has surely had an impact on his candidacy despite recent attempts to revive it. There may also be human rights concerns about the treatment of Muslims in southern Thailand. Similarly, he doesn't mention Shashi Tharoor, who is sometimes discussed as the insider candidate.

Third, we suspect that the world is not about to elect a prince to be the "secular pope" when the spread of democracy is a major theme for at least one of the P5 countries.

Fourth, there are more comments about Kemal Dervis, the Turkish economist. Dervis appears to be a powerful candidate, however one wonders if the Chinese would accept him as an Asian. Turkey is in the WEOG group. However, Dervis has one of the most successful records in International Organizations.

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Sathirathai’s party pushes defamation lawsuits against opposition

April 14, 2006

The UN Secretary General candidacy of Thai Deputy Prime Minister Surakaiart Sathirathai has been stalled due to political problems in his home country. Another one of the problems is that former Thai representative to the UN, Asda Jayanama, has declared his candidacy unsuitable.

So what do they do? They file a defamation lawsuit:

Mr Wichit said the team is reviewing the speech of Asda Jayanama, former permanent Thai representative to the United Nations, against caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai during an anti-Thaksin protest. He said Mr Asda's remarks were defamatory.

During the rally on Ratchadamnoen avenue, Mr Asda questioned Mr Surakiart's ability to compete for the UN secretary-general post.

As the rest of this article indicates, his party is pursuing similar suits against critics of other government officials.

Human Rights and the UNSG

April 6, 2006

So far our posts have focused on horse-race aspects of the UNSG race. Elections among small groups can be very clubby and personality oriented. However, as we indicated in our first post, there are many important issues in this race.

One of them is Human Rights and the new Human Rights Council. TPM's Bolton Watch has an excellent account on the current state of the Human Rights Council (HRC) race:

It’s official: the US will not seek a seat on the new Human Rights Council. The decision was reportedly made last night when Ambassador Bolton visited Foggy Bottom. I suppose the bright side here is that should the US have ran for a seat, but failed to garner the requisite 96 votes, the relationship between the new council and the US would be even more strained than it is now. Bolton won this round, but I do hope that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee grills him on this decision.

 As far as I can tell, the only countries here not deserving a seat are Pakistan, Cuba, and to a lesser extent Algeria–(they are trying, but lord knows it's hard.)  Pakistan and Cuba played spoilers throughout the entire UN reform process, and sought to water down the council's power as best they could.  The only reason they seek membership is to protect themselves from criticism.  It will be a test of the new voting mechanisms to see if these two countries make it.   

Human Rights will be a major issue for the next Secretary-General. And one is left to wonder how the candidates are likely to do on this. So far, of the endorsing countries, there are some serial human rights violators. In particular, China (Sathirathai), North Korea, Uzbekistan, and Egypt (Ban) raise real questions. (For that matter, The Committee to Protect Bloggers has a great article on the crackdown on bloggers in Singapore)

How can these new candidates have credibility on Human Rights and other issues? This raises the important question: What is the UN for?

Sri Lankan Dhanapala appeals to US Conservatives

April 5, 2006

The Washington Times, the conservative Washington, DC newspaper associated with Korean Rev. Moon, reports that Dhanapala met with them to discuss his candidacy:

Mr. Dhanapala was in Washington meeting with State Department officials, members of Congress and think tanks to convince them of his reformist agenda and bridge-building style.

This whole meeting raises interesting questions. What will the role of reform be? And, furthermore, what role will the new UNSG take in the relationship between the United States and the rest of the world. Dhanapala speaks to some of these questions:

Balancing the interests of the United States against those of other nations "does not mean turning a [blind] eye to what is wrong and evil in the world," he said.

What to make of this?

Update: The Dhanapala campaign seems to be using Talking Points Memo, a left-leaning American blog aggregator as another way to get out their message and stories of their travels. Note that all the postings are under the user "AsiaNews"