Archive for the ‘Shashi Tharoor’ Category

Uganda and Kenya support Shashi

September 4, 2006

The Indian Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs was in Africa recently and claims to have Uganda’s and Kenya’s support for Shashi Tharoor, reports the Indian press:

Two key African countries Uganda and Kenya have expressed their support to India’s claim for permanent membership of UN Security Council and Shashi Tharoor’s candidature for the post of UN Secretary General.

The support was conveyed to Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi during his visit to these countries which concluded yesterday.

Recently, Ravi has committed India’s support for Uganda’s hydro-electrical sector. It appears that he has also asked both of these countries to help get support from other African Union countries.

Note that last week, there was quite a lot of activity involving Ghana.

Tharoor comments on concerns regarding using UN resources in his campaign

September 2, 2006

In response to an allegation made by one of our readers Shashi Tharoor has clarified his use of UN resources in his campaign. We reprint his statement on our blog below:

My attention has been drawn to this comment. I’d like to clarify to anyone who shares these concerns that my attempts to promote my candidacy are on my own time, using my earned leave accumulated over many years, and including no use whatsoever of the UN’s time or resources. I would have much preferred not to have to campaign, but the campaigns of other contenders left me no choice.

I trust my response reaffirms my commitment to transparency.

Shashi getting support from Mittal Steel

August 29, 2006

Times of India has the story. Laxmi Niwas Mittal, the head of Mittal Steel, will use his network to help Shashi Tharoor:

Mittal plans to use his goodwill among policymakers of at least 17 countries across Africa and Europe, particularly eastern Europe, to drum up support for Tharoor. He also wants to be Tharoor’s bridge to 10, Downing Street, and through it, hopefully, the White House.

This also suggests that Shashi is still having trouble with 2 P5 members.

Apparently Mittal has helped the Indian government in Central Asia to get some oil contracts. The article also says that Shashi has been traveling in Latin America:

Last week, the writer-diplomat called up Deora from South America. Deora, in turn, reiterated Mittal’s support for him.

Shashi lays out more ideas

August 28, 2006

Shashi Tharoor published an article in this week’s Newsweek, a US weekly magazine entitled “What the UN Needs”. (incidentally, we believe Newsweek’s description of Shashi as a “Undersecretary General” is totally irresponsible when he is a nominated candidate and this is clearly a campaign piece”) He focuses on 4 areas:

  1. Making Democracy a Priority. This includes Human Rights, democracy, and good governance.
  2. Bolster the Ranks. That is to say, increase the “operational capacity” with more money and more staff.
  3. Prioritize and Streamline. This is simply focus on its competitive advantages.
  4. Heal wounds. Don’t let the East-West divide be replaced by a North-South one.

We are struck that “reform” and similar issues are viewed as cross-cutting categories, a refreshing change from other presentations. He says this nicely, repeating one of his campaign slogans:

We need reform not because the United Nations has failed, but because it has succeeded enough over the years to be worth investing in. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” The United Nations, where I have worked for the last 28 years, is no exception. If we want to change the world, we must change too.

He concludes with a similar point, also quoting one of his stump slogans:

As our great second secretary-general, Dag Hammarskjold, put it, the United Nations was not created to take mankind to heaven, but to save humanity from hell. That it has, so far, but not all the time and not everywhere. We can do better. Indeed, at this time of turbulence and transformation, we must.

We are struck by the degree to which this is not pandering to US or other interests. It sounds like it merely wants to make the UN a more functional version of what it is. This more modest goal strikes us as more realistic.

To make a comment about the race, we believe that this is the kind of discussion that the UN needs right now and that the campaigns need to be engaging in. This clearly distinguishes Surakiart Sathirathai’s human rights problems and Jayantha Dhanapala’s struggle to assert a basis for his own candidacy by demanding that he is the only Sri Lankan candidate (can he say anything else other than “I’m not dropping out?”, but we suppose that is necessary when parties in your own government are undermining your campaign)

Tharoor on Transparency

August 18, 2006

Shashi Tharoor gave an interview to the South Asian Journalist Association yesterday on Skype. UNSG.org has the link and details (also, SAJAForum). One of the things that has struck us about his interview was his statements on transparency, a subject that is near and dear to our heart and that we’ve written a fair amount on recently. He pointed out that this has been the most transparent UNSG selection process in quite a while. In particular he points out:

  1. The public criteria for nomination.
  2. The open (and notorious?) campaigning across the world. (We have highlighted the trips and actions of Surakiart Sathirathai and Ban Ki-moon in particular. Details here)
  3. Discussion in public fora and private conversations.
  4. An informal, but perhaps solid, timetable.

As the world considers over the next several months how this will continue, we encourage NGOs and the academic community, especially in NYC, to consider these questions.

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…

More on Straw Poll results

July 27, 2006

UNSGSelection.org 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.

Belarus backs Shashi Tharoor

July 15, 2006

Indian candidate Shashi Tharoor bags the first European endorsement of this race in Belarus. However, affairs aren’t so rosy for Shashi. Belarus, a noted human rights abuser, conveyed its endorsement of Mr Tharoor to the Indian Industry Minister Kumar. On the bright side, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko is very close to the government of Russia. On the dim side, a good part of the world is quite aware of Belarus human rights violations – on the European level, it may be the only thing the Socialists, Liberals, and Centre-Right agree upon – all transnational parties condemn Mr Lukashenko and support the opposition (which is essentially an all-ideology pro-democracy coalition). Shashi will have to explain why he is associating with pariahs in Europe. On another level, this blog finds this development interesting – currently, all the announced candidates who have endorsements from non-home candidates have countries supporting them which have serious human rights problems (Ban has Uzbekistan, North Korea, and Egypt, while Shashi has Belarus). This is a sad development for those of us who believe that human rights is a significant topic for the United Nations.

Sri Lankan attacks Shashi

June 27, 2006

It had to begin. Most of the analysis of Shashi’s candidacy has started with the assumption that it entered into a void created by weak candidates. But now,a former Sri Lankan Assistant Foreign Secretary attacks Shashi’s candidacy in the press. We believe that this is the first time that a public figure of a country that is supporting one candidate is publicly attacking the candidacy of another.

We also note timing. Shashi is going to Gambia next week for the AU meeting. And Dhanapala was in Canada to meet with government officials there.

The article asks a series of interesting questions about the problems of an Indian candidacy, for example:

Further the Hindu – Muslims riots which have become an everyday feature in India in recent times will also not lend to Islamic countries supporting the Indian nominee. Then there is the unresolved Kashmir issue; a UN Observer Mission is stationed in Kashmir; what would Tharoor’s position be if a fifth war broke out between Pakistan and India over Kashmir?

But then the real viciousness begins. First that Sri Lanka’s pride was challenged by India’s non-endorsement:

When India did not declare its support for our candidate it was perceived here as another unfriendly act; I was under the impression that we not only shared history but also have common norms, shared values and interests and considering her frequent statements regarding the close relations that exist between our two countries, (”our two countries are inseparable, your territorial integrity and ours are one” etc) to have enthusiastically supported our eminent candidate as if he was their own candidate but now we realize that India had her own agenda and the close friendship they profess to is confined to mere words.

Then he goes on to suggest that Shashi should drop out and India should back Dhanapala:

If India wishes us and the world to accept her as an emerging super power and as the regional power then she should act like one

I do hope that India would test the waters and then gracefully withdraw her candidate if there is even the smallest possibility that he would not make it. She should save herself the embarrassment of rejection by the international community.India should then support Dhanapala as a consensus South Asian candidate or is this too much to expect?

Our sense is still that Dhanapala is a failed candidate, for reasons which we have described here. But interesting nonetheless. This campaign is really entering a new stage.