A UN First After 70 Years: Open Campaigning for Secretary-General

It was a week unprecedented in the history of the United Nations. From April 12 to 14, nine candidates for the office of secretary-general were put on a public stage in front of the world to make their cases as to why they should be elected to follow Ban-Ki-moon when his term ends this year. … Read more

The Next UN Secretary-General: Views From UN Watchers

The results of the latest FUNDS survey of global experts, conducted during the winter of 2015-16, contains clear messages about the next United Nations secretary-general: s/he should be a world leader with integrity and political courage who will prioritize UN reform; and the election process should be open and transparent. There is more room for … Read more

A New Plan to Recruit Candidates for UN Secretary-General Emerges

For the first time in United Nations history, officially announced candidates for the secretary-general race, underway this year, will be interviewed publicly in the General Assembly along the lines of a standard democratic election. Mogens Lykketoft, the Assembly president and a Dane, is pushing the “unprecedented transparent process,” as he put it, in selecting the … Read more

A Task for the Next UN Secretary-General: Review the Special Envoy System

When a tough independent report sharply criticized the United Nations in December for its bungled attempts to cover up, or at least ignore, the sexual abuse of children by peacekeeping troops in the Central African Republic in recent years, it named among the people responsible for letting the children down Leila Zerrougui, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s … Read more

The UN General Assembly Grows More Assertive Under a Dane

Corridor diplomacy — private nonmeetings, informal discussions — has been the norm at the United Nations since its founding 70 years ago. It is the preferred method of its most powerful organ, the Security Council, particularly now, as the election of the UN’s next secretary-general for the 2017-2022 term is underway. In this election year, … Read more

New Snags for Women Running in the UN Secretary-General Race

The only official female candidate in the competition so far to become the next United Nations secretary-general may already be in flux. Just a few weeks have passed since the Croatian government sent a letter to the UN nominating Vesna Pusic, a former foreign minister, but her candidacy may be uncertain because of a change … Read more

The UN’s Demands to Stop the Violence in Yemen Fall on Deaf Ears

While the regional coalition led by Saudi Arabia continues its aerial bombardment against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, and as ground troops — from Bahrain, Sudan and United Arab Emirates — join the Saudis in the fray, the pain dealt to civilians, especially children, has been rising ever since the war began in March. In … Read more

The Heart of Pope Francis’s Speech at the UN: Don’t Look Past the Poor

Pope Francis spread his gospel of not forgetting the poor at the United Nations on Friday morning, where he spoke in his native Spanish to the 193 member delegations and heads of state gathered before him at the General Assembly Hall. It was his first appearance at the UN during his first trip to the … Read more

50-50: Bridging the UN’s Gender Gap [Video]

As Colombia leads a group of dozens of nations to promote a woman as the next United Nations secretary-general, when Ban Ki-moon leaves office at the end of 2016, these same voices are also demanding gender equality inside the UN, especially at senior and high-policymaking levels. It’s not surprising that women who work at the … Read more

Ban Ki-moon Shuffles Up to Buffalo, but Why?

BUFFALO — Last Friday, Aug. 14, the United Nations secretary-general took a “summer Friday” and spent the afternoon in Buffalo. Robert G. Wilmer, chief executive officer of M&T Bank, the nation’s 17th-largest, had invited the secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, to the city. The two met while Wilmer was traveling in South Korea, where Ban is from. In … Read more

UN Security Council and Troop Contributors Chided by Review Panel

While restructuring at the top of the United Nations and better strategies and tactics for troops on the ground are issues provoking discussion and controversy after the recent release of a report by a high-level panel on current and future peacekeeping, less attention has been paid to the experts’ admonitions to the Security Council and … Read more

Has Russia Dashed All Hopes for a Female Secretary-General?

Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s ambassador to the UN

Has Russia put the kibosh on the chances that the next secretary-general of the United Nations will be a woman? As Vitaly Churkin walked ramrod-straight in his dark suit to a working-group discussion at the UN on the process of selecting the next secretary-general, he acted as if he owned the place. Some might say … Read more

Eastern Europe Presses Its Claim to the Secretary-General’s Office  

In 70 years of United Nations history, Eastern Europe has been the only regional group in the organization that has never filled the position of secretary-general. Western Europe has had three secretaries-general; Asia and Africa, two each; and Latin America and the Caribbean, one. The 23 nations of the Eastern European region, determined to win … Read more

Now Is the Time for a Female Secretary-General, Says a New Campaign [Video]

Convinced that after 70 years it is time to choose a woman for the United Nations’ top job of secretary-general, a new movement led by an academic spcialist on the organization has been assembled to formally support the election of a woman for the job. The current secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, a Korean, finishes his second … Read more

What Matters Most in Choosing the Next UN Chief? Politics, Geography and Maybe Gender

The post of United Nations secretary-general may or may not be “the world’s most impossible job,” as its first occupant, Trygve Lie, a Norwegian, once described it. In any case, UN members must choose a successor to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon well before the close of 2016. Some potential candidates are already campaigning for the post. … Read more

Burkina Faso’s People, Opposing an Autocrat, Feel Let Down by the UN

The fast-moving people-power coup that ousted a longtime leader of the landlocked West African country of Burkina Faso took not only powerful nations and international institutions by surprise — including the United Nations, France, the United States, the African Union and African regional groups — but also the Burkina protesters themselves. The demonstrations started in … Read more

Can Good Governance Become a Global Development Goal?

British Prime Minister David Cameron had two clear messages when he spoke at a post-2015 global development goals forum on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly last month. The first was his emphatic view that the General Assembly panel’s proposal for 17 Sustainable Development Goals with 169 associated “targets” was too unwieldy and … Read more

At Geneva II Talks in January, It Is Not Enough to ‘Add Women and Stir’

Lakhdar Brahimi

The campaign to ensure women’s equal participation at the peace talks on Syria in January has become more urgent, as certain parties recognize that women are vital in rebuilding and reconciling Syrian society. Yet only a few weeks before the talks are scheduled to start, no commitment has been made as to whether women will … Read more

The UN Helps Journalists in Conflict Areas, but Cannot Protect Them

A Malian soldier fires an AK-47 during fighting with Islamists in Gao

Two radio journalists from France were killed on Nov. 2 outside Kidal in the northern desert reaches of Mali. The journalists, Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, both in their 50s, were kidnapped right in front of a Tuareg official’s home by gunmen and found dead just miles from town, their throats slashed and bodies fresh … Read more

Ban Confirms Chemical Weapons Were Leashed on Syrians, Based on UN Report

Secretary General receives report on chemical weapons use in Syria

The much-awaited report by the United Nations investigative mission on the use of chemical weapons in Syria on Aug. 21 in Ghouta has been handed over to the secretary-general by Ake Sellstrom, the head of the mission; it has not been released to the public yet by the UN but France put it online. In … Read more

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