Although much of the world is closing temporarily due to the rapid spread of Covid-19, the United Nations Security Council must stay open — meeting physically if possible and virtually if not — in order to fulfill its Charter responsibilities not only to address the threats posed by the pandemic but also to respond to … Read more The UN Security Council Is MIA as the Coronavirus Ravages the World
António Guterres, the United Nations secretary-general, continues to go into the UN headquarters building in New York City to work — even as Covid-19 races throughout the region. “Right now, Guterres is probably the safest man on the planet,” said a former UN official familiar with the security protocol. “He’s working at an empty UN, … Read more In a Crisis, Does the UN Have a Leadership Succession Plan?
Fifty-eight years ago, Dag Hammarskjold, the United Nations secretary-general at the time, set off on a perilous journey across the African heartland. Taking off at 4:51 P.M. from Léopoldville, in the capital of the newly independent Congo, he was due to meet the leader of the secessionist Katanga province. The venue chosen was Ndola, a … Read more Stalling the UN Report on Dag Hammarskjold’s Death Is Regrettable
Sir Brian Urquhart has celebrated his 100th birthday this year. This is an eventful moment. Sir Brian is one of the most notable figures in the history of the United Nations. Urquhart has spent most of his entire life in service to the UN and, in his tenure, embodied the very narrative of the institution … Read more Happy 100th Birthday, Sir Brian Urquhart, Heart of the UN
My clock radio clicked on. The morning news bulletin announced that United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld’s plane was missing. It was Sept. 18, 1961. I was 16. Over the next hours, my mother and sisters and I learned that Mr. Hammarskjöld, accompanied by Dad and 14 others, had flown from Leopoldville, in the Congo, to … Read more The Elusive Truth About the Death of Dag Hammarskjold and My Father
Was it only two years ago that so many people were elated by the appointment of António Guterres as secretary-general of the United Nations? After public debates organized by the president of the General Assembly and informal ones by the 1-for-7-Billion “Find the Best UN Leader” coalition, he emerged as the top candidate in the … Read more The UN Is Under Siege, So Where Is the Secretary-General?
The United Nations Security Council, perhaps needing a change of scenery from its chamber overlooking the East River in New York, is traveling to the southern Swedish coast in April for an annual retreat whose theme this year is “a new narrative on peace operations.” The retreat will be held in a newly renovated farmhouse … Read more In an Unusual Move, the UN Security Council Is Heading to Sweden for a Retreat
Secretary-General António Guterres has set about modernizing some sectors of the United Nations and made impassioned statements about the need to protect human rights. But beyond rhetoric, so far there has been no indication of his modernizing the human-rights sector. We have seen this before. Dag Hammarskjold, a previous secretary-general, undoubtedly believed in human rights, … Read more Has Anyone Seen the UN Secretary-General’s Human Rights Agenda?
As much as this moment of unity among the United States, Russia and other Security Council members coming together on António Guterres as the next United Nations secretary-general is to be relished, it’s not just the who that matters. It’s the what of the job. Unless the big powers are willing to let Guterres play … Read more Dear Mr. Guterres: Please Be a Hammarskjoldian Secretary-General
Thailand said it had no enemies, while Kazakhstan pointed out it had voluntarily given up the fourth-largest nuclear arsenal in the world more than two decades ago. Sweden emphasized it was militarily nonaligned. Italy, the only Mediterranean candidate, said it could ensure geographic balance because it sits at the crossroads of the east and the … Read more Civil and Polite, Nations Participate in First-Ever UN Security Council Election Hearings
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 A UN First After 70 Years: Open Campaigning for Secretary-General
SYDNEY, Australia — As with most innovations at the United Nations, the genesis of the concept of the special representative, or special envoy, of the secretary-general can be traced back to Dag Hammarskjold, the UN secretary-general. Special envoys were dispatched earlier than the Hammarskjold era; they included Folke Bernadotte, a Swede, and his successor, Ralph … Read more Special Envoys: Viceroys of the UN
BERLIN — If you take a close look at the public schedule of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, it becomes evident that he travels a lot to member states, even more than his charismatic and most active predecessor Kofi Annan. Why does Ban travel so often? Some critics suggest that Ban wants to distract public … Read more Ban Ki-moon’s Travels: Escape Hatch or Act of Diplomacy?
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 What Matters Most in Choosing the Next UN Chief? Politics, Geography and Maybe Gender
There have been eight secretaries-general of the United Nations in the 68 years since the first of them, Trygve Lie of Norway, took on this unique global position. All eight — all men — have been very different in character and personality, in their cultural and political backgrounds and in their views of how the … Read more Lonely at the Top: What It’s Like to Be the UN Secretary-General
Frederic Eckhard, the United Nations spokesman for eight and a half of Kofi Annans 10 years as secretary-general, was certainly well placed to write a tell-all account of that action-packed era. But readers of Eckhard’s new book, “Kofi Annan: A Spokesperson’s Memoir,” get that and something more. Along with the insider accounts, there’s the portrait … Read more Kofi Annan: The Back Story
BERLIN — When the United Nations has been fortunate to have a secretary-general who has great charisma and skills in settling conflicts, the world tends to consider him a figure with his own political status and powers. People like this idea because in difficult times they want to have an authoritative mediator, a moral guide. … Read more What the General Assembly Wants From the Secretary-General