Archive for May, 2006

What to do with Resolution 11/1?

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2006

Unlike perhaps most diplomatic events, the discussion during the April 19th session on revitalizing the GA had its moments. Canada reaffirmed its leadership on the issue by elaborating on possible reform and urging practical action. The statement opposed amending Resolution 11/1, suggesting that doing so could divide the membership and weaken the next UNSG’s legitimacy.

But India disagreed forcefullystating

“Resolution 11/1 of 1st February, 1946 belongs to the past. Let the dead bury the dead…[W]hile the Canadian proposal is undoubtedly fruitful for the future, it is a blind alley for the present.”

The Indian ambassador, Nirupam Sen, suggested that Resolution 11/1 gave undue authority to the Security Council to pick a single nominee for the GA to consider, an authority which compromised the officeholder’s responsibility to a “broader UN membership.” Only through discarding Resolution 11/1 and allowing for multiple nominees presented for “direct and actual election” by the GA could a candidate “have the moral courage to resist pressures” from the P5.

Forceful, indeed. Inspirational even. But changes to Resolution 11/1 are not likely to be welcomed by a majority of the GA this year, let alone acted on by the Security Council.

Regardless of this divisive point, there is no disagreement that the wider process is “very confusing and unclear” (U.S. Ambassador John Bolton) or that the issue is “a matter of concern to many delegations” (Japanese Ambassador Kenzo Oshima). 

As discussions get more firmly underway in June or July, the respective presidencies – France and Denmark – may be in a place to implement modest steps forward, such as informal discussions between candidates and regional groups. This single engagement could be implemented this summer with significant impact on the legitimacy of the selection process and of the next UNSG. 

The selection process would have been good when it was enunciated in 1945, Sen said. “Today the secretary general has to do much more…and therefore there is a need for a wider base of legitimacy.”