Haya in, Zeid out?

Haya Rashed Al Khalifawas chosen as President for the 61st session of the UN General Assembly last week. She will be the first Arab and Muslim woman to chair the United Nations General Assembly, and will be presiding over the selection of the next UNSG. Her election however may have a more direct, and thus far unmentioned, impact on the nominees for the post. 

Welcoming the election, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he was “particularly pleased” that a woman would occupy the post. “I met her yesterday and I found her quite impressive,” he told reporters. “All the Member States are determined to work with her and to support her, and I think she’s going to bring a new dimension to the work here.”

While her election to the top post in the General Assembly reaffirms the ability of women to hold leadership positions the world body, it almost certainly robs the political will from the effort to nominate a female for the top post in the Secretariat. 

Secondly, her election may also knock one of the male candidates out of the running for UNSG. Jordan’s Prince Zeid has been a dark horse for months, and is believed to be supported by both Beijing and Washington. Though there have been years when the heads of the two highest bodies came from the same regional group, Haya’s and Zeid’s high level of similarity (moderate, Muslim and Arab) makes me doubt this would be one of those times. 

At a minimum, the development merits discussion.  

2 Responses to “Haya in, Zeid out?”

  1. HelenJC says:

    Who the President of the GA is has nothing to do with who the SG is. The PGA is only for a year; the SGship is for five years. Haya’s term will effectively be over by next June, only six months into the the next SG’s term, whether it’s Zeid or someone else. There have been many GA Presidents who have come from the same region as the incumbent SG (most SG’s have been SG’s for ten years, so obviously one or more of the one-year PGA’s have come from their region)

  2. […] On Thursday June 15th our new friends in India nominated the current under secretary general for communications and public information, Shashi Tharoor for the next term of UN Secretary General. Yes you heard me correctly we’ll have an extra reason to celebrate this coming New Years, the end of Kofi Annan reign at the UN. China being there usual happy go lucky selves have demanded that the next UN Sec. Gen. be Asian, and what China wants China usually gets in the end. Three other candidates are also in the running now from one each from South Korea, Thailand and Sri Lanka, and according to UNSG Jordan’s Prince Zeid may become a candidate. I was not aware of this but apparently only the security counsel is allowed to vote for the Sec. Gen, and needs at least 9 votes which is actually a bit reassuring. I bring up Mr. Tharoor because he strikes me as the sort of guy the United States may want leading the UN out of it’s culture of corruption. He’s an accomplished author, seems to have the skills for the job, and most of all has some of his views available on the net, including his own website, and of course meets China’s basic requirement, though I’m sure they’ll had more the minute the US expresses any interest in him. […]

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