And then there were nine…

For a few months, another Asian name – Ashraf Ghani, chancellor of Kabul University and former finance minister of Afghanistan – has been among those contemplated as a possible candidate, but with little discussion in the media or among many close observers. However, with the list of Asian candidates growing daily it seems, he may find himself being discussed as one of several “sleeper candidates” yet to announce.

One report from March cites an official of Kabul University suggesting that Ghani had been “told informally by the UN secretary-general’s office that he is a contender to succeed Annan.” In all likelihood, such a comment (if it were made at all!) was simply reflecting media reports and speculation. 

Scandavanian blogger Draco considers Ghani “the best looking” of the Asian nominees out there, pointing out Ghani’s grasp of development and security issues as key to his possible selection.

Understanding the challenge of the convergence of security and development will be essential for any coming UN Secretary General. Without knowledge of both development and security in practice (and, as Ghani has, also preferrably in theory) there is less of a chance that the UNSG will succeed. The next UNSG will have to deal with development as much as geopolitics — and the other way around. Since most stakeholders seem to focus on either side of the coin diplomatic skills and a sense of urgency for either agenda, and their converging trend, is utterly important.

Ghani, if he could secure a nomination, would be one more on the list of nominees and possible nominees from Sri Lanka, Thailand, South Korea, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Singapore and Malaysia (whew!). Whether Ghani, a celebrity at the World Bank and lauded for his economic leadership in post-Taliban Afghanistan, can secure a nomination from the Afghan government from which he was reportedly oustered for political reasons, remains to be seen.

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