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Tough Love Time for the UN


Tropical Storm Isaac hits Haiti
Fording floodwater in Haiti after tropical storm Isaac passed through the country in late August. Sometimes, the UN can seem to be nearly drowning, too, critics say. LOGAN ABASSI/UN MINUSTAH

Even though Ban Ki-moon just began his second five-year term this year as United Nations secretary-general, names are already surfacing as to his possible replacement when his term is up. Technically, Ban could be appointed a third term, but no secretary-general so far has held three. Most UN academic experts who were surveyed for a recently published Foreign Policy briefing on the topic said it was the moment for a woman to take the reins. “A Woman! For example, Gro Harlem Bruntland, Mary Robinson or Hillary Clinton,” wrote Katie Laatikainen, a political science professor at Adelphi University.

Thomas Pickering, a former United States ambassador to the UN, concurred: “A woman, the best available, selected from the world at large. No more rotation by region and exclusion of good candidates by member states with an axe to grind.”

The Foreign Policy briefing, published in time for the opening of the General Assembly’s annual debate this month, is an exhaustive look at the UN, featuring an essay, “Who Broke the U.N.?” by Madeleine Albright, who was a US ambassador to the UN and a US secretary of state under Bill Clinton; a second essay, “The Point Guard,” by the journalist James Traub on the tenure of the current US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice; and a highly readable survey that sweeps from such topics as what should be the UN’s top priority to whether Palestine should be admitted as a full member to the UN.

In all, it’s tough love time for the UN, which never ceases to amaze its critics and defenders alike.

FP’s U.N. Briefing:

Survey introduction by Madeleine Albright, based on an interview with FP editor Susan Glasser:
Survey results:
On-the-record questions:
Profile of Susan Rice by James Traub:

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Dulcie Leimbach is a co-founder, with Barbara Crossette, of PassBlue. For PassBlue and other publications, Leimbach has reported from New York and overseas from West Africa (Burkina Faso and Mali) and from Europe (Scotland, Sicily, Vienna, Budapest, Kyiv, Armenia, Iceland and The Hague). She has provided commentary on the UN for BBC World Radio, ARD German TV and Radio, NHK’s English channel, Background Briefing with Ian Masters/KPFK Radio in Los Angeles and the Foreign Press Association.

Previously, she was an editor for the Coalition for the UN Convention Against Corruption; from 2008 to 2011, she was the publications director of the United Nations Association of the USA. Before UNA, Leimbach was an editor at The New York Times for more than 20 years, editing and writing for most sections of the paper, including the Magazine, Book Review and Op-Ed. She began her reporting career in small-town papers in San Diego, Calif., and Boulder, Colo., graduating to the Rocky Mountain News in Denver and then working at The Times. Leimbach has been a fellow at the CUNY Graduate Center’s Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies as well as at Yaddo, the artists’ colony in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.; taught news reporting at Hofstra University; and guest-lectured at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the CUNY Journalism School. She graduated from the University of Colorado and has an M.F.A. in writing from Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.

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Tough Love Time for the UN
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9 years ago

Ya learn somtehing new everyday. It’s true I guess!

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