Update on NGO Engagement

The World Federalist Movement-Institute for Global Policy is also closely monitoring the SG selection process and inviting contributions toward what they hope will be “an agreed list of procedural requirements and candidate criteria” that can be endorsed by multiple NGOs and civil society groups. The broad goals of this effort include a more concrete timetable for nomination and selection, defined candidate criteria, a more transparent nomination process, and public interviews or hearings between the candidates and UN member states and appropriate stakeholder groups.

Those who wish to contribute to this discussion should contact Seher Khawaja, Program Manager.

2 Responses to “Update on NGO Engagement”

  1. rikomatic says:

    It’s great that WFM is facilitating this. I was involved in some initial meetings with some “pretenders to the throne” a few years ago when it looked like Kofi wasn’t getting a second term. It’s interesting imagining what kind of SG would be most acceptable to the NGO community.

    It would be cool to see someone like Shashi Tharoor sitting in the big chair. He’s a long-time friend of NGOs, often quite candid, and smart. Probably these are just the kinds of criteria that don’t suit him for the role.

    The reality is that the big powers really hold all the cards here, with the regional groups having some sway in the final decision. While NGOs might lament our helplessness in impacting this closed door process, there are undoubtedly many more institutional reforms that must be higher up in our list of priorities. I.e. the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council, etc.

  2. jimmy says:

    Outsider might have inside track to lead U.N.
    January 3, 2006
    By John O’Sullivan

    Kofi Annan yesterday entered his final year as the secretary-general of the United Nations. Annan is generally regarded as a man with good intentions. But his time at Turtle Bay in New York has been disappointing both for the world body and for its member-states.

    Annan’s ambitions for the U.N. were almost certainly too high. He claimed for the U.N. Security Council a monopoly over legalizing the use of force that runs counter to the U.N.’s own charter. He sought to expand the world body’s authority over a range of political, economic and social issues. And he encouraged the notion of ”global governance” in which U.N. bodies would act a kind of world executive responsible to a ”global civil society” in the form of non-governmental organizations.

    As U.N. officials were pressing for these ambitious reforms, however, the organization repeatedly failed to cope with the most basic threats to peace and human rights from Iraq to Darfur. Its general reputation was simultaneously undermined by the ”Oil for Food” scandal in which the U.N.’s own high officials were implicated in a corrupt criminal network run ultimately by Saddam Hussein. And at his last press conference of 2005 Annan himself was involved in a scene when he refused to answer questions from a Times of London correspondent about his son’s purchase of a Mercedes seemingly on favorable terms reserved for high U.N. officials.

    It is almost certainly too late for Annan to rebuild a substantial legacy of achievement. In the year left to him, he will inevitably be preoccupied with basic reform of a body that is generally agreed to need a financial and organizational ”house-cleaning.” The new secretary-general, who takes up the position in early 2007, will have to revive the U.N. in a more fundamental and political sense. Who should that be? And why?

    In the first place, there is an informal understanding that the next secretary-general is ”Asia’s turn” — the last three having been African, Latin American and European.
    U.S. Ambassador John Bolton has made clear that the United States does not necessarily accept this understanding. He is entirely right in theory. But because the Asian countries seem to feel strongly about it, he is likely to accept an Asian candidate provided that he is also the ”superior administrative officer” that the United States wants.

    The Asian requirement rules out some attractive candidates such as Alexander Kwasniewski, the retiring Polish president, and Vaira Vike Freiberga, Latvia’s former head of state. Kwasniewski in particular would have been popular with the United States and the European Union because the former youth communist leader had intervened decisively in the 2004 Ukraine crisis to prevent Russia’s man stealing the election. For that very reason, however, Russia is against his candidacy (and also Vike-Freiberga’s). And with two strikes against him, even the eligible Kwasniewski is likely to miss out.

    If it has to be an Asian, then, what considerations will determine which one? Well, it cannot be someone strongly opposed by one of the permanent five members of the Security Council (The United States, Britain, France, Russia, and China) or, in this instance, a major Asian power. That probably dooms the South Korean foreign minister, Ban Ki-Moon, because China is believed to oppose him. But it leaves a very strong list of contenders still in the field.
    Some will fall at the next fence:

    Are they part of the large U.N. bureaucracy? Until recently, being part of the large overlapping world of U.N. agencies and NGOs would have been a strong advantage since a successful candidate would already know the system he needed to control. Annan was himself a senior U.N. official running the U.N.’s peace-keeping division when he was elected.

    Today, however, the United States is not alone in thinking the candidate cannot come from an organization that failed to detect the vast ”Oil for Food” scandal.

    If so, then among the candidates ruled out would be Kemal Dervis, a former Turkish finance minister, who was recently appointed to head the U.N. Development Program, and the Indian novelist, Shashi Tharoor, who heads the U.N.’s public relations bureaucracy. Both would be strong candidates in other circumstances — Tharoor in particular has the eloquence to make the U.N. a real force in world affairs again — but this is simply not their year.

    That leaves two remaining major candidates from Asia: a senior diplomat from Sri Lanka, Jayantha Dhanapala, and the deputy prime minister of Thailand, Surakiart Sathirathai. Both have support from Asian countries — 10 member-states of the ASEAN grouping declared for Surakiart recently. But neither looks very strong as a candidate: Dhanapala, in addition to being a U.N. insider like Tharoor and Dervis, would be 68 years old on taking up his post, and Surakiart has been damaged by stories in his country’s press that a former Thai ambassador to Washington warned that he was a weak candidate whose candidacy would damage Thailand.

    Given that neither of the front-runners is exactly a sure thing, the possibility of an outsider emerging ahead of the favorites is real.

    One outsider who might do so is Nirj Deva (full name, Niranjan Deva-Aditya), who is the first person in history to have been born in Asia, to have been elected to a Parliament in another continent (United Kingdom), and to have then been elected to a multinational parliament (the European Parliament). He has the advantage of being a Sri Lankan citizen without being a U.N. insider. He has quietly assembled international support in several continents on the premise that if their ”favorite son” candidates falter, they will transfer to him. And — full disclosure — I have known Nirj as an effective parliamentarian (and friend) for about 20 years.

    Nirj will not be supported by Sri Lanka as long as Dhanapala is still in the race, but he would likely pick up that support if his countryman were to withdraw. Meanwhile, under the rules a candidate does not have to be nominated by his own country — Annan was not nominated by Ghana (which supported him subsequently).

    Nirj will be visiting the United States and other countries soon. He bears watching.

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