Kofi break


by Rohin
27th June, 2006 at 1:29 am    

Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General, will be stepping down at the end of this year. Speculation has begun as to who will be filling his eloquent, but ultimately somewhat ineffectual shoes.

Most commentators predict an Asian successor. It has been 34 years since an Asian sat at the helm of the UN, the Burma’s U Thant. Now, as more Western headlines concern the meteoric rise of India and China, Asia’s stature is growing apace. Russia and China, two of the veto-holding permanent members have announced that they will support an Asian candidate.

Kofi Annan himself has stated he would be in favour of a female successor, but he has little sway in the matter. The UN has never been headed up by a woman before, despite being in existence for some 60 years.

So far all the candidates in the running are Asian – and are men.

Thailand’s deputy prime minister, Surakiart Sathirathai; a Sri Lankan diplomat, Jayantha Dhanapala; and South Korea’s foreign minister Ban Ki Moon have been in the race for some time. The most recent entrant is India’s horse, Shashi Tharoor, whose name was announced last week.
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His chances seem slim, primarily because the position of UN SG has usually been reserved for citizens of smaller nations. With India’s immense size and now considerable clout, an Indian SG would be a break from tradition. Pakistan and some other nations have raised concerns about his nomination and Tharoor’s own experience may not help him. For three decades he has been intimately involved with UN operations and the selectors of Annan’s successor may want to choose a fresh face to get away from the undesirable UN image that has grown in recent years.

Tharoor has won the lion’s share of press coverage and is “held in the greatest regard” in the US. He is currently the UN under-secretary general for communications and public information and has the sort of CV that makes you sick – with a doctorate and two masters at the age of 22 and nine books to his name. India’s press has, for the most part, been bursting with joy at Tharoor’s nomination and international status, but not everyone is happy (sorry link seems dead: P R Kumaraswamy, a New Delhi prof, argues Tharoor should down-play his Indianess)
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More news of the race comes courtesy of Chapter 15, a blog dedicated to the race for the next UN SG. Singapore’s PM Goh Chok Tong is thinking about it, Nafis Sadik’s name has been mentioned – who could be successful as a Muslim woman, effectively ticking two boxes. Whatever pans out over the next few months, it seems very likely that Asia will be providing the United Nations with its next leader.


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Filed in: Current affairs,Organisations,The World






23 Comments below   |  

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  1. Leon — on 27th June, 2006 at 2:10 am  

    “Whatever pans out over the next few months, it seems very likely that Asia will be providing the United Nations with its next leader.”

    Leader? What does the General Secretary of the UN actually do!?

  2. mirax — on 27th June, 2006 at 6:18 am  

    Good question leon!

    GCK from Singapore is in the running? First I have heard of it. Wouldn’t rate his chances highly at all despite the China factor. The Thai guy is still ahead.

    Jose Ramos Horta of East Timor is officially in the race.

  3. sonia — on 27th June, 2006 at 10:29 am  

    Figure head.. Will keep an eye on this Chapter 15 blog – looks interesting.

    More women would be nice.

  4. Sid — on 27th June, 2006 at 11:50 am  

    If the Singaporean wins it’ll all have gone Goh Chok Tong.

  5. writer wallah — on 27th June, 2006 at 12:25 pm  

    Come the next 10-20 years we’re going to see the Asian Nations bring a lot more weight to international issues, so it seems fitting almost that UN GS will be someone from the Asian continent.

    I’m not too savvy on Mr Tharoor, but on first impressions he seems like quite a likeable chap.

  6. Sunny — on 27th June, 2006 at 12:55 pm  

    For reasons of political maneuvering an Indian would not be selected anytime soon, but as Rohin said above, someone from a small country in Asia would suffice. Even maybe someone Vietnamese or Thai.

    Just keeps things easy for the big powers to flex their muscles, in this case the USA, without running into any serious opposition backed up by a big country.

  7. sonia — on 27th June, 2006 at 1:06 pm  

    Hey writer wallah – ( sorry everyone else!) unrelated comment – very funny :-) ( just been looking at your blog) ..ive stuck your comment up on mine..( http://shorno.net)

  8. justforfun — on 27th June, 2006 at 1:12 pm  

    If a UN official has his own website promoting himself then I think we should all be worried.

    Shashi Tharoor always seems a little to uncteous to me, but that justs my prejudice against the uncteous of this world :-)

    Justforfun

  9. Aparita — on 27th June, 2006 at 6:49 pm  

    I never thought of Shashi as uncteous. (Love the word, by the way. I will use it more now.)

    I am not a big fan of some of his writing. His novels are OK. He gives the appearance of being one of those pukka-sahib types – what with the St. Stephen pedigree and the typical elite Indian accent.

    But he is rather intelligent, and has a great track record – he did some brilliant work with UNHCR. I have to dig up more info on him though. Will be back with that…

  10. Rohin — on 27th June, 2006 at 6:58 pm  

    Hello Aparita, I wasn’t around when you arrived. Welcome to la famille de PP.

  11. Aparita — on 27th June, 2006 at 7:07 pm  

    Merci beaucoup. :)

  12. Zak — on 27th June, 2006 at 7:19 pm  

    interesting link chapter 15 thanks sunny..there was a buzz that Pak Prime Inister Shaukat Aziz was in the run or even Benazir Bhutto..

  13. Rohin — on 27th June, 2006 at 8:12 pm  

    “thanks sunny”

    Ahem.

  14. Don — on 27th June, 2006 at 8:40 pm  

    Any chance of a write-in vote for Meechai Viravaidya?

  15. Sunny — on 27th June, 2006 at 11:50 pm  

    Heh, Zak it’s Rohin’s article.

    And btw its “unctuous”, and I had to bloody look up the word to see what the hell you wordy types were on about.

  16. justforfun — on 28th June, 2006 at 9:27 am  

    Sunny – OOPs – sorry for my spelling.

    I’m probably being very harsh on the man and I am sure he does a good job.

    This description is correct and in itself is not my problem with him.
    “He gives the appearance of being one of those pukka-sahib types – what with the St. Stephen pedigree and the typical elite Indian accent.

    It is the self promotion and personality cult PR he uses that I find does not sit well with his full time career as a diplomat/official at the UN as he started after leaving education. If it was an official UN biography and website that was his “face” to the world that would be one thing , but he has is own “official” site which I find odd. Imagine “Sir Humphry” at the head of the British Civil Service having their own website promoting their novels and articles and then combine this with soft focus “photo portraits” – the result – we would all be throwing up in the bucket and laughing our heads off.

    Justforfun

  17. justforfun — on 28th June, 2006 at 9:35 am  

    I just looked up unctuous to see what the dictionary said it meaned. Well I used it in the sort of ” oily self confident smarmy superior patronising way” – equivalent unctuous people

    - Labour – Peter Hain, Geoff Hoon – always getting them mixed up – both are literally far too orange coloured for our good.

    - Conservative – Cecil Parkinson, David Cameron.

    - Liberals – David Steel – he is definately unctuous :-)

    Justfor fun

  18. fatwadodger — on 28th June, 2006 at 10:45 am  

    Pakistan’s ambassador to the UK, a woman (I can’t rememberr her name) has also been put forward

  19. Arif — on 28th June, 2006 at 11:15 am  

    Not Maleeha Lodhi….?

  20. sonia — on 28th June, 2006 at 11:39 am  

    Maleeha Lodhi indeed – has she been put forward already or is it just that pakistan’s ‘thinking’ of doing so -

    http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/7598_1728740,000500020000.htm

  21. fatwadodger — on 28th June, 2006 at 1:13 pm  

    I heard last night from some Pakistani embassy people that she had, but they might have been blagging (as opposed to blogging)

  22. sonia — on 28th June, 2006 at 2:00 pm  

    :-)

  23. sonia — on 29th June, 2006 at 3:17 pm  

    Everyone has a website nowadays! -and politicians/anyone in the government/or institutions like the UN type people jolly well ought to have a blog – so that the public can interact with them. Just see how much fun everyone on CiF has been having writing to Tony.

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