Archive for the ‘Profiles’ Category

Road to Turtle Bay: The Multilateral Parliamentarian

June 21, 2006

The last candidate that we will be profiling in our series is both a Sri Lankan Ambassador and a Member of the European Parliament, Niranjan Deva-Aditya.

Deva was born in Sri Lanka and is active in Sri Lankan politics and business. His grandfather was a Sri Lankan Senator and businessman. Deva himself has been active in the peace process in Sri Lanka, and in promoting Sri Lanka abroad.  For that service and others, he was awarded in 2006 the Vishwa Keertha Sri Lanka Abhimani by the Buddhist clergy of Sri Lanka.

Deva also has business links throughout Asia, as a Director of DCSL, a large Sri Lankan-based conglomerate with over 140,000 employees worldwide.

He is Budget Coordinator in the European Parliament with responsibility for some $11 billion in development funds. This brings him in close contact with leaders throughout the developing world. In this capacity, he is one of the leaders of the  joint ACP-EU Parliamentary Assembly, which is meeting this week in Vienna. Yesterday, he, along with a Mauritian MP, published a report on energy policy for the developing world, a long-term interest of his.

Within Europe, he is seen as a bridge between Europe and Asia. He is Chairman of the Europe-India Chamber of Commerce, founder and Vice-President of the European Parliament India Group, Chairman of the EU-Afghanistan Parliamentary Liaison Group, and Chairman of the European Parliament Indonesia Group.

He is also not unknown at the UN. In April 2005 Deva led the European Parliament's delegation to the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, and delivered a paper on the future of the United Nations at the US Council on Foreign Relations. In July 2005 he led the Parliament's delegation to the UN High-level Conference on global aid funding. In September 2005 he was Co-Chairman (with Michel Rocard, former Prime Minister of France) of the Parliaments' Delegation to the World Summit at the UN General Assembly. 

Is Deva a viable candidate? Shashi Tharoor mentioned him in a recent discussion about the next UNSG, when Shashi himself was on a tour for his own candidacy. We believe that the leading candidates are unacceptable for fundamental reasons and that new ones will continue to emerge. Deva has been quite active and his name will likely appear in discussions once the current crop is knocked out. That's how Kofi got elected.

The Road to Turtle Bay: The Economist

June 16, 2006

Kemal Dervis has also been mentioned as a candidate. He is the Secretary-General of the UN Development Program, and is generally considered to be an extremely talented and successful chief of that organization.

Like Shashi Tharoor, he has had a career in international institutions, with a detour as Finance Minister of Turkey in 2001 and 2002 and then a Parliamentarian and leader of a liberal party from 2002 to 2005, when he was appointed by Kofi Annan to UNDP SG.

Prior to his work in Turkey, he spent 24 years working for the World Bank, focusing primarily on Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. He ended his career there with the title Vice President for Poverty Reduction and Economic Management.

Like Shashi Tharoor, Dervis has spent most of his adult life living in the United States and in Europe. His Ph.D. is from Princeton, his undergraduate degree is from LSE, and he taught briefly at the Middle Eastern Technical University and Princeton before going to the World Bank.

Dervis has also served in a number of organizations that have had a clear European focus. For example, European and international networks including the Global Progressive Forum and the Progressive Governance Network. For a sample of his thinking, he wrote this piece which advocates for weighted voting:

It is important to stress that a United Nations adapted to the needs and realities of the 21st century should be the overall institutional setting for both the political and the economic sphere. The current arrangements still reflecting the post Second World War settlement need to be replaced by new ones, based on representation of constituencies, weighted votes and universal participation, and the policies of the institutions must adjust to the needs of today’s world.

Ultimately, Dervis's issue is not that he is not qualified. It is whether he is Asian. Turkey is part of WEOG (Western European and Other Group). The bulk of his experience places him in Europe. His is pro-Washington and pro-Western. Can he get past that with the developing world? Probably his experience at UNDP helps. But is he Asian enough for China? And "developing" enough for everyone else? And what about being a citizen of a NATO country on the Russian border?

And it is whether he represents a challenge to the current UNSC. Is he right? Probably yes. Is that acceptable? Maybe no.

The Road to Turtle Bay: The Novelist

June 14, 2006

Shashi Tharoor, the current UN Under Secretary-General for Communications Public Information, has been mentioned as a candidate for UNSG. Right after finishing his Ph.D. at Tufts in 1979, he joined UNHCR. Eventually, he worked with Kofi Annan in Yugoslavia. After Annan was plucked by the Security Council to be UNSG, Shashi was brought along as his executive assistant. He has spent his entire working career, 28 years, working for the UN.

Now, Shashi isn't just a spokesman for the UN. He has also written scholarly works and a novel was turned into a Bollywood film. (see his artistic website) He is truly a Renaissance man.

Obviously, Shashi has excellent UN experience, and, as an Indian national, is an Asian (what's more Asian than Bollywood?). Last week he went on a tour to discuss the UN, flying through the capitals of several Security Council members and others (Paris, Moscow, and Brussels where he gave a shout out to another candidate). Now, Shashi says he's not a candidate, and the Indian government agrees. But the unannounced candidates are, well, unannounced, and he's certainly getting to know people.

Now, Shashi may have some problems. We believe that the Security Council will likely recommend a UN outsider. 

He is also from a large country, and one that has an ongoing border dispute with a P5 member. Furthermore, India stands outside the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Hardly a position to authority to speak from on "peace and security". Now, Shashi is fully socailized to the UN and surely thinks that India should not have the bomb, but it could be an issue nonetheless. Especially when Security Council reform is on the table, and India would stand to gain.

So, in conclusion, we think that Shashi is an interesting possibility. He would probably emerge, like his mentor, only as a compromise candidate. The only question is what blockade in the process will require his negatives to be overlooked?

The Road to Turtle Bay: The Nobel Laureate

June 13, 2006

This is the first in a series on the leading unannounced candidates. We are focusing on unannounced candidates because of the apparent failure of the current batch of announced candidates to take off.

Background. The first candidate that we will consider is José Ramos Horta. He is currently the Foreign Minister and Defense Minister of East Timor. He was first appointed Foreign Minister in 1975 when East Timor was briefly independent. Between 1975 and the recent founding of East Timor, Ramos-Horta was the spokesman for East Timor. In 1996, he received a Nobel Peace Prize.

José Ramos Horta

Turmoil in East Timor. Ramos Horta has been mentioned as a candidate for UNSG. His experiences would give him important authority when speaking about peacebuilding and peacekeeping and development. Until the last month East Timor had been considered one of the shining successes of the UN peacekeeping apparatus. He has also spent significant time in the West, living in Lisbon and Australia during his exile. During this time, he was active as a human rights activists. In some sense, he embodies what Ban Ki-moon identified the three pillars of the UN, "development, human rights, and peace and security".

Unfortunately, the shining success of East Timor has fallen apart in recent weeks. 600 soldiers went on strike, leading to gang warfare. Over 100,000 East Timorese fled from machete-wielding bandits into refugee camps, making them again dependent on aid agencies for the basic necessities of life.

Ramos Horta took over as Defense Minister, in addition to Foreign Minister, and may yet become Prime Minister. He is negotiating with the rebels. It is unclear where this will lead. He now claims that the UN will need to be present for another decade, and the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for East Timor has called for $18 million in aid. (Update: According to UN Dispatch, via the New Zealand press, UNDP is increasing this to $28m)

Implications for UNSG Candidacy. Simply put, it would be inappropriate for Ramos Horta to be a candidate while his country needs him. He is clearly a heroic figure and a symbol to developing nations. However, the people of East Timor need quality leaders, and it is not at all clear that there are people in East Timor with his stature. Furthermore, the model of East Timor is tarnished. It is no longer the shining success. However, Ramos Horta may some day be an important candidate for UNSG. But not at this time.