Ban firms up lead in second Straw Poll

South Korean candidate Ban Ki Moon reportedly secured stronger support in this morning’s second straw poll for UNSG. Tharoor, Surakiart and Zeid followed respectively, and Dhanapala again finished in last place, again the only candidate to get more “discouragements” than “encouragements.”

  Encourage Discourage No Opinion
Ban 14 1 0
Tharoor 10 3 2
Surakiart 9 3 3
Zeid 6 4 5
Dhanapala 3 5 7

Zeid‘s fourth place showing is a surprise, considering the reception his nomination received from diplomats when announced last week. Davide Barretta pointed out yesterday many of Zeid’s strengths as a candidate perfectly suited to slip past the others and rise to the top of the list. Among them are his perception as “technically Asian, but foreign to the intense regional rivalries.” A expert on the UN suggested to me that the showing may be related to whether other governments do indeed accept Zeid as Asian. As with Dhanapala, his age may also be a factor – at 42, he would be the youngest UNSG if selected.

Tharoor picked up one more vote… in the discouragement column. He maintained his second-place finish with 10 encouraging votes.

In contrast, Surakiart‘s picked up two more encouragements, giving him the “magic number” of 9 votes necessary to win (if he received no vetos). Given this, we can well expect to see Surakiart remain in the race. Could he be wooing the NAM summit in Havana? Even so, could this gain be a false impression, particularly after PM Thaksin’s remarks after speaking with UK and French diplomats at the ASEM summit?

Sri Lanka’s Dhanapala, on the other hand, had three votes – two formerly encouraging, one discouraging – shift over to the “no opinion” column. How to read this? Either he is no longer seen as a serious candidate either way or he’s the archtypical “compromise” candidate. Against the other candidates’ numbers, however, the former seems most likely. The fact that he is 67 – two years older than the official UN retirement age – has been cited as one reason for his poor showings.

Ban’s tally again places him in the unique position of being the one candidate who can claim with certainty permanent member support – 4 of the five in fact. Speculation again will arise as to whether that lone dissenter is Japan (without a veto) or China, whose veto could sink Ban’s candidacy despite his otherwise unanimous support. Or could it be another government entirely?

17 Responses to “Ban firms up lead in second Straw Poll”

  1. mathew says:

    Now that the second straw poll too has shown unenthusiastic support for the candidacy of Dhanapala and Surakiart, it is time Thailand and Sri Lanka dropped out of the SG race gracefully. These two countries could uphold the solidarity of the Non-aligned Movement should they now decide to rally behind India’s candidate.

  2. Mother Earth says:

    Yes Mathew.My inner voice too says,it is the high time for everybody to make way for Tharoor…They have forgotten the basic ideals & aspirations with which UN was founded.They have forgooten that UNO means Organisation to bring interaction with Governments, not Government itself to make way for Prime ministers of any particular nation to the post of UNSG.They have forgotten that 28 yrs of proven commitment & dedication of Tharoor is more valuble than the timely expression of gratitude from Ban ki Moon.Democracy must respect the individual freedom to express their encouragements,but that scope of freedom need not bring disrespect to the Justice itself!

    (comment edited by admin to remove off-topic content)

  3. HelenJC says:

    There is really zero chance that Shashi Tharoor will eventually be appointed Secretary-General. Some countries may not care, but my country (UK) will not be able to vote for a man so closely associated with the massacre at Srebenica.

    Add to that everything the US says about management reform and ST’s own record at DPI and you have a man who cannot be elected.

    He has strong positives but the negatives cannot be overcome

  4. MZ says:

    wait a minute, HelenJC. You’re making it sound as if Tharoor was somehow involved in the massacre, when all the journalists who’ve seriously studied Bosnia have had the highest praise for his integrity and principle on that whole affair. Read David Rieff’s, David Rohde’s or Chuck Sudetic’s books on the subject. And don’t forget Tharoor worked for Kofi Annan at the time, and the UK, an architect of the “safe area” policy, had no diificulty voting for KA twice over….
    As for management reform, what Tharoor has done at DPI — transforming a sclerotic bureaucracy into a streamlined and purposeful Department — is a huge asset, hardly a negative. If Shashi Tharoor is not elected, it will be despite his outstanding record, not because of it.

  5. panda77 says:

    I think the international community should seriously give Shashi Tharoor the chance to prove himself in the race to the SG of the UN. Tharoor is not only the best candidate at this time but more importantly he has the vision necessary for the UN. He has helped the UN gain its credibility again. One has to look only at his experience in peacekeeping, human rights, and more recently Department of Public Information which he transformed it from being a discredited section to a respectable one. Tharoor has the highest credentials among all the remaining candidates, he has given his life at service of the UN for nearly 30 years and has always believed and supported this institution. Unfortunately, it seems again that the Security Council will play by power politics. Again and again this method of choosing the next SG is not very transparent. As a citizen of the world, I just do not think it is appropriate to say that the next SG will be decided by the decision of countries currently in the Security Council. Why should Peru or Slovakia or Ghana or even others decide on this? This again calls for the Security Council to reform, to include new permanent powers like India and Brazil. It is unfair to allow 15 countries to recommend “one candidate”. That is archaic and opaque. The Security Council should send the names of 3 candidates at least to the General Assembly and let them decide. Furthermore, it calls for the civil society, the academics, the NGOs and everybody else to be more involved in the process of choosing the next SG. It should not be some politically backed diplomat whose country enjoys good relations with big powers to get the job. It should be someone who has impeccable credentials, someone who knows the UN from inside, someone who is charismatic and vibrant, someone who could give this boost to the UN, someone who is committed to the UN, who is a skilled diplomat as well as someone possessing good management skills, someone who speaks clearly and in a powerful manner. Someone who is also comes from a country who supports actively the United Nations, big or small it does not and should not matter. In that respect, I see only Shashi Tharoor fulfilling these requirements. If geographical factor matters, then I think Helen Clark would not necessarily be an “Asian Candidate” – although it could be good to have a woman to head the UN, but not just any. New Zealand is nothing close to Asia, it is more European than Asian. As for Mr. Goh Chok Tong, I do not see him as the perfect candidate either, he is not a skilled diplomat, has never given in on the Micheal Fay affair (where the American kid was canned for having vandalised some cars) and I seriously question Singapore when it comes to Human Rights, no matter how sophisticated and Westernised the country can be. There are other names that are worth mentioning like Kemel Dervis, but again he is doing well at the UNDP so let him be there. He is an economist and that is not enough to head the UN. As for Vike Freibarga, she is from Eastern Europe and I do not see the Russians giving in on her. She is the iron lady and that can help. It comes down again to “Who is the right candidate?”. Without a doubt, it is Shashi Tharoor of India.

  6. Mother Earth says:

    Hello anybody can define what is offtopic contents?My words were not off topic contents. They were bitter truths which were difficult to be swallowed.This website was existing since Jan.There was no change in this site.But still it rcvd the elevation to golden standard only ‘these days’ when so assumed off topic insights from Mother Earth,Insha Allah,Worldlight & Dr.were hosted with courage,but removed with a purpose! We are ready to pay the price for our dareness to declare the truths as it is,without being twisted, at this stage of UN.

  7. World Light says:

    Ooof Helen JC.Your country may not be able to vote for a man with Kohinoor(Mountain of Light) Diamond mind,but can keep the India’s Kohinoor on your Queen’s head!
    No one truly responded to NGOS Questions as quickly as Tharoor.If others had understood the job, they wouldn’t have sent their nomination for this post.Probably, they are studying about the job from Tharoor’s answers & then claim it as their answers!
    Kohinoor Diamond as we all call Shashi’s positive mind has only one negative ie Tolerance like Mahaathma Gaandhi!
    UNSG post should be given to those candidate who can lead in fasting without food & water for the maximum days like Mahathma Gaandhi,along with the proper career experience, service to UN.Bcos there are millions of children without food & medicine.It is the primary duty of unsg to see that all the children in this world are fed before he takes the food.So y not keep this race or criteria for selection rather than the encouragements?Think about it seriously.

  8. Tony Fleming says:

    Actually, Jayantha Dhanapala returned a completed questionnaire before Tharoor. This however should not be taken to diminish Dr. Tharoor’s committment to transparency and his shared promptness in responding.

    I do think it is unjust however to accuse the other candidates of studying his responses and then attempting to claim them as their own, both to Dr. Tharoor and to the others.

    Let us judge the candidates on their own individual merits, not on some spiritual perception of enlightenment WE might have of them. Such is what constitutes “off-topic” speculation.

  9. mathew says:

    This is hilarious – but to me, world light and mother earth and one Dr. Y all sound like the same person ! Whoever it is, I suggest that you may be doing a service to the candidate you support by just being silent for a while, and look at the events from the sidelines. No offence meant…

  10. Mother Earth says:

    This is ridiculously dumb mathew.same or different,Dr.Yashanvitha had a voice.World light has a vision! To me ,mathew & Tony seems to be the same ‘offtopics’ sideliners.Being there at right time, at right place,with right words for the right mission like guardians of this planet is not at all offence.common man, be active.Enough rest u have enjoyed.

    Dear Tony, spiritual perception of enlightenment would have been necessary to judge the merits of candidate only if their answers were not enough.Dhanapala might have completed it before Tharoor, but not as efficiently as Tharoor,moreover it was hosted only after Tharoor’s.Ban ki Moon didn’t bother to answer! So there are every chance of judging him to be studying.No one is accusing on any candidates as per your spiritual enlightenment. If readers don’t have to judge & leave their reponses on “on topic” realities, then why this site is existing with this headline?

  11. Peter says:

    What is it with Tharoor’s cyber supporter or supporters? He is not a credible candidate in this race. As Helen above notes, he has no chance of winning. And his qualifications? Sorry, but being Kofi Annan’s bag carrier and PR hack for a couple of decades does not count for all that much in my book. His supposed greatest achievement is reorganizing the UN’s Department of Public Information. Big deal! It’s the most substantively irrelevant unit of the UN bureacracy. Good for making media contacts, but that is all. Sure, voters in the Security Council don’t want to offend India so they are not knocking him out yet, but don’t mistake that for any serious support.

  12. MZ says:

    I’ve tried to be objective in my posts but Peter’s comment makes me feel more partisan than I am — reducing Shashi Tharoor’s years in humanitarian work for refugees and peacekeeping to “Kofi Annan’s bag carrier and PR hack” is so unfair as to be offensive to any fair-minded person. A glance at the man’s bio will show that his work in DPI began only five years ago, and he’s running on a 28-year record. What does Mr Ban offer — a lifetime in the service of Korean diplomacy! How does that make him more “credible” than someone who knows the UN and has actually worked for the world, not for his country?Can we focus on the real issue here? We have a choice between a man whose intellectual gifts, reputation for professionalism and record of international service makes him more qualified than almost anybody who’s ever run for the job, and a Foreign Minister who’s never done anything but work for his own government and who will put the world to sleep the moment he appears on TV. What’s better for the UN? Hold on a minute — maybe that’s why the latter is the frontrunner!

  13. Peter says:

    MZ – “years in humanitarian work for refugees” – sorry, but when I read the bio I see he had a middle-level job for UNHCR for a couple of years – a few thousand others could claim just as much distinction. And peacekeeping – not so, unless you call being Kofi’s exec assistant peacekeeping work (then again, maybe it was…).

    I hold no brief for Ban Ki-moon, whose candidacy is of course more a matter of geostrategic manouvering than personal qualities, as these things always are.

  14. Insha Allah says:

    Peter- Why can’t u send your bio? Everybody can discuss & decide whether u are eligible & worthy enough to be a unsg’s bag carrier,PR hack & eventually to run in the race to be a next unsg?

    Dare u say DPI is irrelevent unit just for media contacts.

    Shashi & UNSG posts are made for each other. Public is interested to attend & observe IDPeace vigil every year,only bcos of Shashi, not bcos of the security council.

    I shall come with my world peace flag only if Shashi is unsg in the next coming yrs.Otherwise we are not interested to cooperate with UN in any way.
    Already public chase us, moment we speak about UN messages!

    Thats the reason why Tharoor keep saying to media to uplift & defend its dignity:”We need to reform the UN, not because it has failed, but it has succeeded enough to invest into it”

    He never lets down UNO.But we have always seen UNO letting him down with its own power game.

    UNO IS NOT INDESPENSIBLE TO THIS WORLD ANYMORE, BUT THAROOR IS INDESPENSIBLE TO THIS WORLD.

    With such humanitarian,universal man’s spirit world can give birth to another UN

    And there are many N.G.Os & publics around the world who agree with me.

  15. Rights runner says:

    I respond, somewhat late, to a comment by MZ in August. Thank you for sharing more information on Mr. Tharoor’s experience outside of headquarters. I had read some weeks ago his CV on this site several times and there is indeed ref to Bosnia but it was not clear (at least to me) that he was based in the region. Thank you for the clarification. Do you know how many years of his total 28 years with the UN have been spent in field posts, and which ones they were?

    On my other points – that Mr. Tharoor has something of a reputation for being self-serving and even arrogant: these are very subjective comments drawn from a limited pool of people ive spoken with. MZ you clearly respect him and i accept that my own impressions here may well be wrong. His Cv suggests that he is exceptinally bright and has huge capacity for work – in terms at least of output. I hear his novels are very good, and that he has been able to publish so much while doing a full-time job is extraordinarily impressive. My impression, nevertheless, in comparing his CV with that of a number of others in the race or on its margins, is of someone who has not been driven by a burning desire to improve the world about him, but has rather followed a track that was smooth and fast rising. I have little doubt that he is competent in terms of doing things and understanding things. But i personally would like the world to have a Secretary-General who we admire and for whom we have deep respect, whose principles have been unquestioningly demonstrated by his/her life actions. Someone whose ideal UN staff will think of when they take physical risks. The UN cannot rely on great power to shape events, but must instead rely on great statesmanship and the esteem in which the Secretary-General and the Organisation are held. I can think of, for example, three Pakistani ladies who have had prominent UN roles – a former head of the UNFPA (who has now ruled herself out of the SG race), and Ms. Hina Jilani and Ms. Asma Jahangir. I give these three just as examples of people from the region, who are women (as many have noted here, it is high time the post was held by a woman), who are eminently capable, very experienced politically and intellectually, who have had semi UN roles (representing the Secretary-General, …) and whose life work has shown their commitment to the issues at the heart of the UN Charter – including commitments to equality, to non-discrimination and tolerance, to inclusion, to the rights to life and … The latter two have both been imprisoned on many occasions for their work and are internationally respected. Ms. Jilani. for example, has, I read, received awards and recognition from the Blegium, German and French Parliaments, and from President Clinton, among many others. She has repeatedly gone from holding high level positions and then back to grass-roots work, showing clearly her commitment to the issues and not to herself. There are many other Asian men and women whose CVs suggest they are far far more deserving than Mr. Tharoor of this post and would, i believe, do much more to inspire the world and steer the UN forward.

  16. MZ says:

    Thanks for this thoughtful post, Rightsrunner. I think the question is what exactly you think qualifies someone to be SG. It’s not one of who “deserves” the position — being SG is not a reward for courageous human rights work. It’s about running an organization, projecting it to the world, and defending its principles, while being Chief Administrative Officer of the UN. I’m sure Hina Jilani will herself agree that Shashi Tharoor is more qualified to do these things than she is (I believe they know each other well).

  17. Rights runner says:

    Good reply MZ. You-re absolutely right about the ‘deserving’ issue, and also the question you ask about what qualifies someone to be SG. One can imagine a hypothetically very principled person who is an awful manager. While pleading a certain ignorance, my (perhaps illinformed) feeling is that the UN can be ‘managed’ by the Deputy SG, and that the organisation needs at its head someone who first and foremost is respected without question.

    I feel that Kofi Annan has been able to steer the organisation through a period that has been politically very risky for the organisation – he managed to stay close to principles but while also holding the organisation back from taking too great political risks. While my impression is that this was the right thing to do over this past period I also feel that the dynamnic is now changing and that the UN needs to be more assertive in the next few years. Assertive in the sense of taking strong stands on principle and international human rights law, taking pre-emptive stands where this can save lives; being more willing to strongly and publicly express views divergent from those of the Security Council if necessary. For these types of tasks, the organisation needs someone with a very finely tuned political capacity, but also someone who is deeply respected by States and the public. I would instinctively expect to find this latter characteristic in someone who has done a good deal of grass roots work in difficult conditions, who is very much respected by civili society, but who has also gained the respect of Governments. Its not easy to find these sorts of Mandela-like characteristics in a single person.

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