UN Starts Search for Kofi Annan Successor
The UN Security Council has started looking for Kofi Annan’s successor as General Secretary. Predictably, the discussion has already devolved into a spat over which region’s “turn” it is.
AP’s Edith Lederer asserts that, “By tradition, the job of secretary-general rotates by region — and Asian and African nations, who represent the majority of U.N. members, believe it is Asia’s turn to lead the United Nations.” Actually, though, as she reports in the very next sentence, “The Asian group has been courting support from Latin America but has run into opposition from the United States and some European countries who say the best qualified candidate should be selected, regardless of his country.”
U.S. Ambassador John Bolton has argued that in practice there has been no geographical rotation because three secretary-generals have come from Western Europe, two from Africa, one from Latin America, one from Asia and none from Eastern Europe.
Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said “quite a lot of members of the council favor rotation” and most insist on a candidate who is very highly qualified for the job. “If that person is an Asian, then those who argue that it should be an Asian’s turn, then their interest is met,” Jones Parry said. “For those who say the important thing is the quality, provided there is a candidate who actually can do the job and who comes forward from Asia, then that too meets the wishes of those who emphasize the quality.”
Further, the last two Secretaries General have been from Africa: Boutros Boutros-Ghali was Egyptian (on the African continent, although Middle Eastern politically) and Annan is from Ghana. One only has to take a quick look at the previous occupants to see that no “rotation” has been in place:
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Europe, Europe, Europe, Asia, Europe, Latin America, Africa/Middle East, Africa. The pattern is obvious, no?
The bottom line is that the U.N. needs a consensus builder–preferably someone who can repair the growing tripartite rifts between the US-UK-Commonwealth block, the rest of the West, and the rest of the world. That’s perhaps an impossible task and it may well be that there’s an Asian candidate who can do it as well as anyone. But, surely, ability should be the first consideration.