Race for Next UN Secretary-General Taking Shape

The six official candidates to date to succeed Ban Ki-moon

The six official candidates to date to succeed Ban Ki-moon

Feb. 22, 2016 – There are now six official candidates to succeed Ban Ki-moon and become the ninth secretary-general of the United Nations.

Four of the six declared candidates hail from the Balkans with the former Yugoslav countries hedging that strong trade links with Russia, as well as EU membership in the case of Croatia and Slovenia, and EU accession status, in the case of Macedonia and Montenegro, could see them bridge the West-Russia divide in the UN and get the support of both.

Besides Croatia’s Vesna Pusic, Macedonia’s Srgian Kerim, Slovenia’s Danilo Turk and Montenegro’s Igor Lusik, the two other candidates are Bulgaria’s Irina Bokova and Moldova’s Natalia Gherman.

Bokova, the current director-general of UNESCO, was nominated earlier this month by the Bulgarian government despite much speculation that her compatriot Kristalina Georgieva was Sofia’s favored candidate – the EU budget commissioner is also favored by the Western P5 countries, Britain, France and the US.

But all is not lost for Georgieva as the candidate process does not rule out a UN member state nominating two candidates nor does it stipulate that a candidate has to be nominated by their country of citizenship.

The sixth and most recent declared candidate is Moldova’s Natalia Gherman. UN Tribune was first to write about Gherman as a potential successor to Ban Ki-moon, noting back in April 2015 that Moldova’s strong ties with Russia, its non-membership of NATO, as well as her own pro-EU outlook, could see her emerge as a compromise candidate.

Gherman is scheduled to speak at New York’s Columbia University next week and it is interesting to note in her bio she lists fluency in English, German, Romanian and Russian – but not French, an unofficial requirement of UN secretaries-general. But there’s little reason for her to worry about this as it’s widely known that Ban Ki-moon was taking intensive French classes after his election, and French-languaue reporters still like to test him on his proficiency.

There are no clear favorites yet to succeed Ban and the list of candidates is sure to increase but what is clear so far is that the next secretary-general will come from Eastern Europe – there is no requirement as such but it is the only region not to have had a secretary-general and there is wide agreement in the general membership, if not the P5, that it is Eastern Europe’s turn – and that the UN may well elect its first female secretary-general.

Update: Feb 29, 2016 – Former UNHCR chief Antonio Guterres has been nominated by the Portuguese government. Guterres is a former prime minister of Portugal and served as UN refugee chief from 2005-15, during the worst refugee crisis in UNHCR’s history. The Portuguese government made the announcement on Monday. He is the first candidate to be nominated by a non-Eastern European member state and his candidacy, while popular, is likely to face stiff resistance from veto-wielding Russia.

– Denis Fitzgerald
@denisfitz

Related: Natalia Gherman – Could Moldova’s Foreign Minister be the Next UN Secretary-General?

Croatia Pres. Protests to UNSC Over ICTY Release of Seselj

Vojislav_Šešelj in a photo provided by the ICTY

Vojislav Šešelj in a photo provided by the ICTY

Dec. 2, 2014 – Trust in the UN-backed court prosecuting crimes in the former Yugoslavia is being undermined by lengthy trials that fail to reach a conclusion and this has been compounded by the provisional release of a war crimes indictee who immediately resumed his ultra-nationalistic rhetoric.

These were among the complaints made by Croatia’s President Ivo Josipovic in a letter to Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council following the decision of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia to release Vojislav Seselj.

Seselj was indicted by the court in 2003 on eight counts of crimes against humanity and six counts of war crimes for participating in a “joint criminal enterprise” whose aim was the “permanent forcible removal” of a majority of Croat, Muslim and other non-Serb populations from Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Vojvodina. He surrendered voluntarily to the court that year and was granted provisional release last month due to poor health.

“For the sake of justice and the trust of the general public, and in particular of the victims, in international justice, it is essential that each case end within a reasonable time frame with a court decision — a conviction or an acquittal,” Josipovic wrote in his letter to Ban and the Security Council.

“Too protracted court proceedings, as in the Šešelj case, undermine trust in international  law. The situation is even worse when, as in the Milošević case, the proceedings last so long that death thwarts the conviction. Such cases defeat the cause of justice and international law and result in the loss of citizens’ trust in the international administration of justice,” he added in the letter which was released by the UN on Tuesday.

After his release, Seselj told reporters that the idea of a Greater Serbia would not be abandoned.

The ICTY was established by Security Council Resolution 827 in 1993. The budget for the court, which is borne by UN member states, was $251 million for 2012/13 and the total cost for the tribunal since its inception until when it will shut down in 2016 is estimated at $2 billion.

– Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz