Archive for February, 2006

Ramos-Horta on the Shortlist

Saturday, February 11th, 2006

ABC Asia Pacific is confirming, as reported on this blog last week, that José Ramos-Horta, Foreign Minister of East Timor, is on the “short-list” of UNSG candidates.

Portuguese Foreign Minister Diogo Freitas do Amaral says he has been told by Portugal’s ambassador to the UN that Mr Horta’s name was on the shortlist.

Could Ambassador João Salgueiro be the colleague with whom U.S. Ambassador Bolton reportedly spoke about Ramos-Horta being the United States’ fall-back candidate?

Join the Press Corps

Thursday, February 9th, 2006

What would you like to ask Surakiart Sathirathai, Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga or José Ramos-Horta?

As candidates speak on the issues currently facing the UN, including reform challenges, development goals and terrorism, this is your chance to submit a question for UN beat reporters and civil society groups to pose to the candidates.

Questions could include:

  • What qualifies her or him for the office of UNSG?
  • What will he or she do to restore trust in the UN?
  • How can the UN address the growing divide between North and South; the U.S. and other governments; and/or the West and the Islamic world?
  • What should be the proper balance between management and diplomacy in the SG’s job description?
  • How would he or she make their selection more transparent to the global public?
  • Other questions remain, of course, and we invite you to help us ask them. Post here questions and issues you’d like see addressed by the candidates.

    Holbrooke in WaPo

    Friday, February 3rd, 2006

    In this morning’s Washington Post, Richard Holbrooke summarizes the past few month’s events in the virtually unfollowed UNSG campaigns.

    Almost invisible to the general public, a major international election campaign is underway. It is the equivalent of primary time now, and candidates are flying quietly into New York, Washington, Beijing, Paris, Moscow and London, meeting with foreign ministers and other officials with little or no fanfare, and slipping out of town again, often denying they are running for anything at all. Although most Americans have not yet heard of any of the candidates, the winner will instantly become a major world figure.

    The job they are running for is, of course, secretary general of the United Nations…

    Holbrooke provides the necessary emphasis on the challenge arising to Asia’s turn in the regional rotation from Eastern Europe, and expertly underscores it in terms of Chinese foreign policy.

    I seriously doubt that the Asians, having allowed Africa to hold the position for 15 straight years (Boutros-Ghali and two terms for Kofi Annan), and not having had an Asian secretary general for almost 40 years (since U Thant of Burma in the 1960s), will allow the brass ring to pass them by again. Especially for China, the next S-G — who would be the first Asian in the post since Beijing took over the Chinese seat in 1972 — offers a major opportunity that coincides with their newly assertive diplomacy throughout the world. And remember: No one who is not acceptable to both Beijing and Washington can get this job

    Holbrooke reminds us of dark horse candidate Kemal Dervis (from Turkey), head of the UNDP since August, in the context of the Asia’s geographic reach. Well respected by all, his candidacy may provide an out to those who have committed to an Asian candidate (Turkey is technically in Asia) as well as the East Europeans (of which Turkey desparately wants to be the newest member). Of course, Mr. Dervis’s spokesman is making it known that his boss is not a candidate for the post.

    Joining the no-longer-whispering crowds, Holbrooke also suggests that the selection of Annan’s succesor will take place much earlier than in previous turnovers, perhaps conveniently at the start of the UN General Assembly 61st session in September.

    Though profiling the broadly known “front-runners,” Holbrooke reminds readers not to assume one of these will be The One. As mentioned elsewhere, he suggests that either Goh Chok Tong, the former prime minister of Singapore, or Prince Zeid Raed Hussein — “the deft and elegant young Jordanian ambassador to the UN” — may emerge as the compromise candidate. (Both Asian by the way!)

    Glimpse in the Dark

    Thursday, February 2nd, 2006

    In the next day or two, will launch a new page that will track each Security Council member’s position on the selection process and rumored candidates.

    On this note, I offer a sample… A colleague engaged in the ongoing UN reform discussions has shared the insider news that U.S. Ambassador John Bolton informed a fellow ambassador that, failing a viable East European bid for the post, the U.S. fall-back candidate could be José Ramos-Horta, currently the East Timorese Minister for Foreign Affairs & Cooperation. This could be the the first glimpse into where P5 governments may end up.