The UN Secretary General candidature basket seems to be overflowing with candidates from most states of former Yugoslavia (that communist contraption that broke apart in 1990’s) – five (out of six), in fact: Danilo Turk, former President of Slovenia and former UN Assistant Secretary General; Igor Luksic, Montenegro’s Foreign Minister; Vesna Pusic, former Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of Croatia, Vuk Jeremic, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia, former President of UN General Assembly, Srgjan Kerim, former Foreign Affairs Minister of Macedonia and former president of UN General Assembly. The only one missing from this former Yugoslavia club of UN Sec-Gen hopefuls is a candidate from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The United Nations member states sat for three days last week at the East River headquarters and didn’t hesitate in giving the nine official candidates vying for the position of U.N. chief their toughest job interview to date. In the three-day publicly broadcasted informal dialogues, the nine secretary-general candidates answered approximately 800 questions collectively, according to the 1 for 7 Billion Campaign — ranging from their would-be policy concerning the alleged sexual abuse cases within the U.N.’s peacekeeping operations to concrete reform plans for the secretariat they’re hoping to lead.
This was a radical departure from how things were done previously. For the past 70 years, the five veto-wielding members of the Security Council (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and United States) pretty much picked the Secretary General behind closed doors. Given the strong push for a woman to finally lead the UNO and especially from Eastern Europe – wagging tongues whisper – all male candidates noticeably padded their “women’s platforms” with tired old promises of more women representation in key UN positions, some including appointing a woman as their deputy secretary-general and, wouldn’t you know it: Serbia’s Vuk Jeremic even said he would be only too happy to name his selection (woman) ahead of elections! Oh dear, pity nobody asked him to show there and then how many women deputies he had in his past high positions in Serbia and the UN itself (General Assembly)! Jeremic said that a “revitalized United Nations” should be the “centrepiece of global governance” under the leadership of the Secretary General – using big words without really saying what he means; political drivel of a high order.
In an attempt to mitigate their disadvantage on the score that a woman should be the next Secretary General, Igor Luksic of Montenegro promised to appoint a female deputy. Danilo Turk of Slovenia made the argument that geographic fairness was as important as gender equality.
As the incoming Croatian government would have never nominated her, Vesna Pusic was quick to secure a “last minute in office” nomination by the outgoing former government, which was loaded with communist undertones and appalling organisational skills or results. Yet she had the gall to say at East River last week that the first priority for the new UN Secretary-General should be “to make the organization work.” So let’s suppose that the UNO does not work (which I think is a wrong supposition) – judging by her previous performance in high positions of governance, she would not know how to make an organisation work if a solution bit her on the buttocks. She was Deputy-Prime Minister of Croatia that saw hugely gaping divisions and despair in society Croatia had not seen for decades! She could not make modern and democratic Croatia work, how could she even think that she could make the UNO work!
Vesna Pusic said that her native country Croatia, had managed the transition from war to a stable peace, following the Balkan wars of the 1990s, thanks in part to the UN. Yes, but she failed to say that she personally and her political parties walked out of the Croatian Parliament and refused to fight for democracy as opposed to communism in Croatia. No wonder Croatia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Karamarko said last Sunday 17 April that “Vesna Pusic is not their choice for the UN Secretary General candidate and that he personally would never vote for her but that she will have access to technical support of the government,” such as access to diplomatic missions’ buildings etc., while Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic said that his government “will not obstruct her candidacy” and in such a way this may be construed as support.
Saudi Arabia representative was quick to address Vesna Pusic after she shared her views on LGBT rights, highlighting her supposed “attitude” toward the U.N. as an institution and to its members, and cautioned her against “any attempt for the imposition of social values that are not internationally accepted, and that are not commonly recognized on the entire system.” Pusic, after taking a deep breath, argued she has never in her 63 years of existence seen an organization or individual not flawed, adding later that her knowing and acknowledging these flaws makes her even more qualified for the job.
Oh dear, what a misguided fool!
Igor Luksic from Montenegro stressed the importance of promoting women in top U.N. posts and said if the secretary-general is from a country in the developed north, the deputy secretary-general should be from the developing south. And he proposed that the deputy secretary-general be based in Nairobi to focus on implementing the new U.N. goals for 2030 to tackle poverty and preserve the environment as well as key regional issues.
Danilo Turk’s, from Slovenia, priorities for the UN Secretary General are security issues in crisis areas in Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere. Attention should also be devoted to sustainable development and support services, which are responsible for the implementation of the set goals. He also suggested faster appointment of new personnel in the UN, especially when it comes to field work, and simplify the procedure for adopting the budget. A practical vision including that there should be a global framework for dealing with refugee crisis.
Srgjan Kerim, a former Macedonian foreign minister and ex-General Assembly president, stressed the importance of following the unwritten rule of rotation, saying Thursday 14 April it maintains “mutual trust” and promotes needed unity at a time the world is facing many crises.
Other candidates so far are:
Despite the wide range of topics discussed during the dialogues last week, certain subjects were barely mentioned, or perhaps avoided. Syria and what a candidate proposes to do about it if he/she became the Secretary General was, for example, not floated as a question at all. Odd! Really odd given the millions of refugees out of Syria flooding Turkey, Lebanon and Europe…given the well of Islamic terrorist furor spreading into the world from there. July 2016 is the time we may expect to know which candidate has been selected and while there may be more candidates to come I sincerely trust (and I count, if for nothing else, then because my taxes contribute to the UN membership fees my country pays into the UN coffers) the selected will not be Vesna Pusic or Vuk Jeremic. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A.,M.A.Ps. (Syd)