Eastern Europe: Is it or isn’t it?

The common response to Eastern Europe’s regional rotation challenge to Asia in the selection of the next UNSG may have hit a snag this month, one which few people may have noticed.

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton has been the champion of Eastern Europe as a region deserving a shot at the top post. Most observers dismiss the notion, however, pointing to the group’s members’ approved and pending memberships in NATO and the EU. The Daily Times (Colombo) quotes Ian Wiliams, UN Correspondent for The Nation magazine, in suggesting that,

“The East European bloc is a total Cold War anomaly, and with most of its members in the European Union, or trying to get in, it should be folded into the U.N.’s Western European Group immediately.”

The snag came last week with the approval by the General Assembly – a majority of which favors regional rotation – of the new Human Rights Council. Ayca Ariyoruk points out the problem in the latest UN Reform Watch.

“Eastern Europe is acknowledged as a regional group…and has just recently been allocated six seats as a region on the newly established Human Rights Council. So if regional rotation is to be a consideration, contenders from Eastern Europe are as eligible as any, if not more…Thus if it is Asia’s turn, it’s not because the convention of geographic rotation dictates as such, but because China and Russia say so.”

Whether Amb. Bolton or other pro-East Europeans recognized this at the time is unlikely, and, frankly, irrelevant. What is important is whether they would care enough to now point out the implications to the rest of the world. But, if Russia and China (as veto-wielding permanent members) say so, does it matter anyway?

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