Archive for the ‘Organizations’ Category

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, UNSGSelection.org. 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.

Human Rights Council opens today

June 19, 2006

Today, the new Human Rights Council begins operation in Geneva. The new HRC has been held up as an example of reform. However, Human Rights Watch sent a warning on Friday demanding "No Business as Usual".

The new HRC has been held up as an example of reform, and, indeed, there have been a number of important improvements.

There have already been some changes. South Korean candidate Ban Ki-moon has said that North Korea needs to begin to address its human rights record. As the article points out:

The remarks by Ban, who is eyeing the top UN post, represent a departure for South Korea by singling out the North without lumping it with other offenders like Burma. South Korea has been criticized for its passivity over human rights abuses in the Stalinist country on the international stage.

"The government has made progress in its position on the issue by taking issue with North Korea’s human rights record at a global event,” a government official said. South Korea has been absent or abstained since 2003 whenever the UN adopted resolutions on North Korea’s human rights violations.

As previous posts have pointed out (here, here, and here), we are concerned about North Korea and Human rights. If a resolution comes up on Uzbekistan or Egypt, who have also endorsed Ban Ki-moon, will he support challenging their records?

Sri Lanka, India, and South Korea are on the Council. It will be interesting to see how these countries vote over the next several months.

(Another) Central Asian Security Summit

June 17, 2006

The Central Asian diplomats must be exhausted. During the week, they completed groundbreaking meetings at SCO. At the meeting, Iran and India applied for membership to the new regional forum. This weekend they all go to Kazakhstan at the Conference on Interactions and Confidence Building Measures in Asia.

The campaigning is fierce. The Thais are represented by Prime Minister Thaksin. Thaksin reports the support of the Kazakh President:

Mr Thaksin claimed the Kazakh President "renewed" his country's support for Thai Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai in contesting the post of secretary general of the United Nations. Mr Zarbayev made no public statement on the issue.

We are not sure how much to believe that statement. The same newspaper reported several days ago that India was strongly supporting Sathirathai and that the government was delusional about claims of 130 votes for its candidate.

India is also a member of the organization. The Indian candidate himself, is flying to Delhi to meet with senior government officials and generate a strategy. The consensus emerging in the Indian press essentially agrees with our analysis that China and the US are problems for Shashi, while Pakistan is a bad annoyanceThe Indian opposition seems to be solidifying in opposition to Shashi's candidacy over the issue of a UNSC seat.

And South Korea joined this weekend. Ban Ki-moon just came from talks in Moscow.

No news on Dhanapala, but what else is new?

Report on SCO meeting

June 16, 2006

Several days ago, we mentioned that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization was meeting in Shanghai.

A Kazakh was elected SCO Secretary-General. And a number of declarations were released. The main one is here.

It does not appear that much candidate action occurred, but the Chinese press reports that the one of the declarations had good stuff on reform and the UN:

"The SCO holds that the United Nations, the universal and the most representative and authoritative international organization, is entrusted with primary responsibility in international affairs and is at the core of formulating and implementing the basic norms of international law,"

We do note that this formulation excludes human rights or even development from the role of the UN. This is quite fascinating. Of course, with Uzbekistan (which has been known to boil people, kick out the UNHCR, and still endorse Ban Ki-moon for UNSG), Russia, and China as members, human rights might be a problem. Indeed, Human Rights Watch comments on the human rights issues in SCO.

On reform, the declaration says:

"No time limit should be set for the reforms, nor should a vote be forced on any proposals over which there are major differences,"

We suspect that Bolton does not share this view…

Next forum: Shanghai Cooperation Organization

June 13, 2006

On June 15, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization will meet in Shanghai. CFR has a summary of the organization. Kofi Annan has issued a statement praising SCO, which was covered in the Chinese press.

SCO is a 10 year old regional organization for Central Asia, focusing on security, energy, and counter-terrorism. It is, however, interesting that a Central Asian organization is named after a Chinese city on the Pacific. In any case, SCO is seen increasingly as strengthening the hand of China in Central Asia, expanding their influence through investments, oil agreements, security agreements, etc. US consevatives have variously viewed this with great suspicion and as a way to organize anti-Americanism.

With respect to the UNSG race, SCO is a regional grouping without a candidate for UNSG. (ASEAN has Sathirathai. SAARC has Dhanapala, Tharoor, and Deva. And the various Middle East organizations have Prince Zaid. In some sense, Ban Ki-moon is a candidate without a supportive grouping) So far, Uzbekistan has endorsed Ban Ki-moon. Our understanding is that the Kazahks have been quietly advocating for another candidate. This could be an important opportunity for surrogates to discuss their candidates. However, unlike NAM, ACD, and other recent ministerials, there will only be a handleful of countries represented.

It is unlikely that there will be announcements at the end of this. However do look for Foreign Ministers and Prime Ministers traveling to Seoul, Bangkok, and other capitals in the next several weeks if there is followup from these meetings.

The race continues in two fora into uncertainty

May 30, 2006

In the last week, two important meetings have occurred. Perhaps the simplest summary is from AFP:

None of the three [Ban, Dhanapala, and Sathirathai] are highly fancied and there is no certainty that an Asian will be chosen — the United States has said that the best candidate should get the job regardless of where they come from.

First, in Putrajaya, the ancient capital of Malaysia, the Non-Aligned Movement met. NAM will be critical as its membership is a majority of the General Assembly, which, under Canadian, Indian, and other leadership, may express a stronger position. And NAM represents the interest of the developing world, which views itself as getting the short end of the stick in the fight over UN reform. Indeed, in recorded remarks, Kofi Annan said:

“Giving voice to the developing world, to advance a just and democratic international order, have always been NAM’s underlying goals,” said UN secretary-general Kofi Annan.

Second, there was also a meeting of the Asian Cooperation Dialogue in Qatar. One of the topics on the agenda was unifying behind an Asian candidate:

Another issue likely to be discussed is the next secretary general of the United Nations, which the present incumbent, Kofi Annan, has said should be an Asian.

No affirmative news yet about the discussions. Needless to say, the race is entering a stage in which the leader, Ban, will either succeed or fail. If he fails, as the AFP quote indicates may be happening, it is unclear what the next step will be.