Bolton pushing for female UNSG?

The Daily Yomuri‘s headline last week, “[U.S. Ambassador] Bolton suggests next U.N. head be female,” may have placed more weight to an off-the-cuff comment by Bolton than it merited. It is quite likely Bolton made the remark (during a Q&A session; it’s not included in the official record), but it’s not news.

Bolton has raised the subject of a female UNSG before – but always in the context of challenging the practice of regional rotation – and specifically Asia’s claim to be next in line. 

“It is our view that we should pick the best qualified person, whatever region of the world that person comes from,” he said….If there is geographic rotation, Bolton asked journalists, “do you believe in gender rotation?” 

“There never has been a woman secretary-general,” the ambassador said.  “If the best qualified person is a woman, we’ll be pleased to support her.”

Michael Roston suggests Bolton’s “progressive” view may be due his annoyance at not being able to make the case for East Europe.  

John Bolton, our man at the UN, is back to employing one of America’s favorite dirty tricks to knot up diplomacy at the institution: propose a policy that sounds progressive, but with which no one else really agrees. At home it makes the US sound exceptional, rather than exceptionalist, and puts the halt on things moving forward via the leadership of others…

This idea clearly ties back to US animosity to the notion of regional rotation determining who will be considered for the next Secretary-General. The US doesn’t like the idea that Asian candidates are all that are out there, and perhaps just doesn’t like the candidates enough, so let’s throw a fit about them being all men in the hopes that a woman is selected instead who is more amenable to our interests.

The woman that Bolton likely has in mind is Latvia President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, whom, along with fellow East European Alexander Kwasniewski, Russia may as well have vetoed already. But to give Bolton the benefit of the doubt, there are a number of Asian female leaders qualified for the post. It’s just too bad none are from “New Europe.”

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