Archive for the ‘News’ 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.

Washington Post Columnist Questions Ban for US

September 28, 2006

The Washington Post’s columnist Jim Hoagland:

That warning of the dangers of answered prayers applies particularly to President Bush and his support for Ban Ki Moon, South Korea’s reliably stolid foreign minister, in the highly competitive race to succeed Kofi Annan at year’s end. Bush — pilloried by Third World radicals at last week’s General Assembly opening — may be picking up a lightning rod instead of a shield.

Hoagland reports that the US has committed, at some point, to withdraw its support for Shashi Tharoor:

A shift to voting only for Ban — a move that Bush indicated he would make to South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun at a White House meeting this month — would probably doom the hopes of Tharoor and the other candidates.

Hoagland also mentions our concerns about foreign aid:

South Korea’s generosity in foreign aid and investment decisions may work in Ban’s favor with some nations, it is said in diplomatic understatement in the corridors of the United Nations.

This article suggests that the deal is done. The UK could not sustain a veto unless there was a substantially better candidate.

South Korea to increase development assistance

September 25, 2006

The government of South Korea has announced that it will increase its foreign aid, according to AsiaNews:

Korea spent 0.06 per cent of its Gross National Income (GNI) in development assistance in 2004, which some say is too small for the size of its economy, the 12th largest in the world.

Although South Korea’s spending in development assistance rose to 0.09 percent of GNI last year, it is still far from the United Nations recommendation of 0.7 per cent of the economy.

After Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Ban Ki-moon announced his run for the UN secretary-general’s position, it was pointed out that Korea should raise its development spending to improve its voice in the global community.

So a country has advanced their foreign minister to be UNSG and yet they barely participate in one of the most important parts of the UN agenda, development. And then the year before running for UNSG, they increase their aid by about 50%.

Now in March, South Korea announced that they were increasing aid to Africa by $100m:

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun announced during his trip to Nigeria in March that his country will triple its Official Development Assistance budget for Africa to approximately US$100 million by 2008.

So what countries will receive this money? We know some. $18m was promised to Tanzania, a UNSC member. We know that more was promised to Ghana, another UNSC member. We have heard that substantial aid has been offered to other countries, but we have not been able to document this.

Note that this is not unheard of. A recent study out of Harvard University found that, “on average, a non-permanent member of the council enjoys a 59- per-cent increase in total aid from the United States and an 8-per- cent increase in total development aid from the United Nations.”

It would be interesting to know the country-by-country breakdown of recent increases in South Korean development assistance.

Coup in Thailand

September 19, 2006

This evening, the Royal Thai military launched a coup against Thaksin Shinawatra’s Thai Rak Thai government. According to the AP, they have seized Bangkok and all its media stations and formed a government with King Bhumibol as head of state. This is a sad blow for the Thais, and must fatally ruin Surakiart Sathirathai’s chances to assume the post of UNSG.

Update: The Defense Minister and Deputy Prime Minister for National Security have been arrested. There is an excellent blog with details here.

Ashraf Ghani joins the race

September 17, 2006

FT has the story:

Ashraf Ghani, the former Afghan finance minister, is expected to make a late entry into the race to succeed Kofi Annan as secretary-general of the United Nations, taking the number of formally declared candidates to seven.

Mr Ghani, 57, will declare his candidacy this afternoon in a meeting with Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, who is visiting the US.

I hope to win, through ideas,” Mr Ghani told the Financial Times in New York. “In the public debate so far, I have yet to see a clear articulation of vision, an analysis of the central issues and a programme for change.”

We have heard Ghani speak. He has the ideas. He is all management expertise and ideas and little politics. Indeed, FT quotes one of his acquaintences on this point:

“Ashraf wants to reform the whole international aid system and has some fantastic ideas,” said an acquaintance. “But given that he blows up at even his closest friends, I can’t see him as the world’s leading peace-maker.”

As Karzai’s Finance Minister, he did a number of tremendous things, but we wonder if his record is too “neo-liberal”. Indeed, FT quotes Hernando de Soto, a favorite economist of the right:

“The UN would be very lucky indeed to get him,” said Hernando de Soto, economist and founder of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy in Lima.

US says consensus candidate needed

September 16, 2006

In a press briefing, US Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations Kristen Silverberg said:

“There is not a consensus Asian candidate right now and I don’t see signs of one emerging, honestly, right now. There are five Asian candidates and they all enjoy some support, so we don’t expect a consensus.

But if there’s an Asian candidate who’s the strongest candidate and meets our criteria, then we are obviously prepared to support that person.”

Silverberg is responsible for vetting UNSG candidates. She also rejected the rotation as necessary. She continued:

The UN isn’t a talk-shop anymore. It’s not just a political organisation in New York. It’s an organisation that has more than 70,000 peacekeepers deployed. It has development and humanitarian programmes all over the world.

So we want somebody who’s going to be a good manager and committed to continued reform of the United Nations. We also want somebody who’s going to share our values – the importance of promoting democracy around the world and a commitment to human rights.

Obviously, this can be seen as boosting the candidacy of Vīķe-Freiberga. However given the Chinese insistence — and the widespread support — of the rotation, this may be instead threatening a veto of Ban. And, again, inviting more candidates into the race.

Niranjan Deva-Aditya nominated by Fiji

September 6, 2006

From a press release from one of Deva’s aides:

It is announced today, 6th September 2006, that Niranjan Deva-Aditya has become an official candidate to succeed Kofi Annan as Secretary-General of the United Nations when he retires at the end of this year. Ambassador Deva-Aditya was nominated by the Republic of Fiji.

It includes excerpts from the letter itself:

I am writing to request you to add the name of Niranjan Deva-Aditya, Ambassador-at-Large of Sri Lanka to your list of Candidates. Ambassador Deva is a unique Candidate – a Sri Lankan citizen with family, roots, and businesses in Sri Lanka – he has become a global personality, making a significant contribution to global politics, aid and development at the multilateral level.

Regarding Dhanapala, a fellow Sri Lankan, Deva says:

Although I am an Asian and a Sri Lankan citizen, I do not seek to be a Sri Lankan nominee, as Sri Lanka fielded an excellent candidate as long ago as December 4th 2004.

Note that Deva claims to have more support and he has recently been to China.

Who else is out there? Annan has been talking about a female successor again.

Immediate consequences:

Dhanapala’s candidacy is even more impossible. To do this, Deva has to have evidence that there has been a collapse of Dhanapala’s support. He already has some support inside his own country.

Three South Asian Candidates. Why? And why have two more candidates entered? What do they know about Ban Ki-moon’s support and Shashi Tharoor’s support that others do not know?

Prince Zeid enters UNSG race

September 5, 2006

Count us surprised. The Associated Press has the most interesting coverage that we have seen. In its coverage, they quote his status as a Muslim candidate:

“We believe there is considerable scope to be given by the Security Council and the General Assembly to a Muslim candidate who is familiar with the UN but not of the UN,” Zeid told The Associated Press.

He said considering a Muslim candidate was especially important in light of recent events, which include the Israeli-Hizbullah conflict, an upsurge in Israeli-Palestinian fighting in Gaza, and Iran’s refusal to suspend its uranium enrichment program.

Note, not much word of “North versus South” here. We still don’t have the announcement and there is nothing on the Foreign Ministry’s website.
What are the implications? Surely the US has expressed dissatisfaction with the field of candidates and support for Zeid in particular. But can a candidate openly supported by the US and royalty go far?

More details soon.

South Korea drops UNSC bid

August 31, 2006

They announced it Thursday, Xinhua has the details:

“We concluded that, realistically, it would be difficult to win two of the most important elections in the United Nations at the same time,” said a foreign ministry official.

“We informed the UN member states of the decision on Aug. 29,” said the official, adding that South Korea will resume its campaign for membership of the council “as early as possible.”

A sign of confidence in Ban Ki-moon’s candidacy?