Handicapping the UN Sec/Gen race Posted by: McQ
on Saturday, July 29, 2006
We all get a kick out of guessing who's going to win this or that political race here. How about the upcoming opening for Chief Bureaucrat of the UN, er, Secretary General (does that title sound, oh I don't know, too "red" for anyone else?)?
First a pop quiz: Name the last effective Secretary General of the UN.
OK, as it is shaping up it appears, at least from what I've read, that the powers to be feel it is time for Asia's turn in the barrel.
The two leading candidates hale from South Korea and India:
In a straw poll held recently among the 15 Security Council members, the result produced two leading candidates, South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon and Shashi Tharoor, the present U.N. under-secretary, from India.
A foreign minister and a career UN bureaucrat. Guess which way I'd lean.
By the way, I got a kick out of the wording on the UN straw ballot which made these guys the leading candidates:
In an informal poll, council members checked one of three boxes for each candidate: "encourage," "discourage," and "no opinion." The outcome was that no candidate got 15 "encourage" votes.
That is so "UN". Can't check "no", instead you check "discourage" even if discourage really means "no". Heh ...
A couple of folks who didn't fare well in the poll were a Deputy PM of Thailand and a former U.N. Disarmament Chief, also from Asia. Others mentioned as outside possibilities are Kemal Dervis, the Turkish chief of the U.N. Development Program, Jordan's Prince Zeid Al Hussein, and Goh Chok Tong, former prime minister of Singapore.
Of course Dervis and Hussein don't fit the "its Asia's turn" inclination of the UN. They like to share power as equally as possbile whether it makes practical sense or not. Best man for the job? I have two words for you: Kofi Annan. And while I don't know much about any of these guys I feel pretty safe in saying I'm sure mediocrity will probably again prevail.
The writer of the article I cite seems to be sort of leaning in our UN bureaucrat Tharoor's direction. Apparently Tharoor is quite a literary guy and has published a number of books in India. And if elected he has a very specific focus:
If elected, Tharoor has promised to focus on education for girls, because, according to him:
"As the saying goes, when you educate a boy, you educate a person. But when you educate a girl, you educate a whole family."
Yeah, I guess it would be too much to ask that he consider focusing on education for all kids. I mean that way you could "educate a person" and "educate a whole family".
I know, much too simplistic an idea. I'd never make it in the UN.
But back to the writer of the article. He concludes:
If Tharoor could make it to the coveted post of U.N. secretary-general, it would be a refreshing change to have a wordsmith who can use his creative skill to tackle the problems of this complex world.
Oh absolutely. Maybe he could come up with some words other than "deplore", "condemn", "resolve" and "whereas". They use "whereas" a lot at the UN.
Yes what a wonderful thing it would be to have a wordsmith as SecGen of the UN. Since words seem to be the extent of their action and the only weapons they choose to wield, he'd be the perfect candidate.
McQ - Yeah, Turkey is ME, even European in it’s focus. But by UN logic, it is Asian. Just as Egypt is African and Syria is Asian, even though they were once a combined country. Never try to understand UN logic.
It would be a bad mistake for an Indian to become Secretary General. India is an emerging super power with a global presence. Making an Indian Secretary General would either mean a Secretary General strongly at odds with what his own country will be doing in the next 10 years, or India reverts to it’s "Head of All Non-Aligned Nations" "We’re Neutral & Powerless" Victimhood days and supports the National who is bound by job requirements to kiss the butts of every dysfunctional nation on the planet and play "moral equivalency".
It would be a bad mistake for a S Korean to get it when S Korea may be looking to the UN to deal with N Korea.
Better the leader come from a reasonably stable, medium-clout nation that will balance Rising China’s power in the UN.
Goh Chok Tong of Singapore is almost ideal - tons of international experience, tutored by Lee Kwan Yew himself, from a nation that zealously roots out corruption and bribery. Thailand has some good prospects. So too Malaysia. Same with the Philippines and New Zealand.
* Educating girls is the most effective development strategy as numerous studies have shown. It increases general health, lowers birth rates and unwanted pregnancies. Educating girls ends the vicious cycle of poverty. Boys usually already get the parents’ attention.
So, if your funds are limited, prefer the girls, returns are higher. If you manage to educate both boys and girls, all the better.
* Regarding the Sec Gen: Completely irrelevant question. The US, Russia and China are calling the shots. The Sec Gen does not have any real power.