Asia’s Challenge

In the Los Angeles Times, Maggie Farley discusses the United States’ (as well as the UK’s) dismissal of the inviolability of regional rotation process for selecting the next SG.

“This organization needs a strong manager, ” said Sichan Siv (U.S. representative to the U.N. Economic and Social Council) who has been helping to vet candidates. “Not a rock star, not a politician, not someone who spends a lot of time on the TV screen. We want someone who gets things done.

“We’ve said that we want the best-qualified person from whatever region of the world that person might come from,” U.S. Ambassador John R. Bolton said in a recent interview. “If it’s an Asian, that’s fine with us. If it’s not an Asian, that’s fine with us too.”

On this point, a China Daily editorial, aware that “[t]he assumption that the job will go to another region has opened up a huge field of possibilities,” appealed to Asian governments,

“…to reach a consensus on who will represent the region to compete for the post. The race should not turn into a game with countries trying to checkmate other nations’ nominees as much as to promote their own. This could lead to paralysis rather than consensus. Agreement can only be reached through negotiations and dialogue, which could be very tough.”

However, the decision by SG Annan to leave departing Deputy SG Louise Fr├ęchette’s position vacant for the remainder of his term will likely increase the intra-regional competition. The Indian government, which had been weighing whether to name a candidate for the #2 spot rather than pursue the top post, is now more likely to field a candidate, possibily nominating UN spokesperson Shashi Tharoor. This would challenge the two declared Asian candidates, Jayanta Dhanapala of Sri Lanka and Surakiart Sathirathai of Thailand, as well as a field of potential others in the region.

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