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
Bureaucracies do not have a great reputation, and the United Nations bureaucracy is no exception. They are seen as inefficient, cumbersome and rigid, adjectives that are also routinely associated with the UN Secretariat. At best considered a “necessary evil,” bureaucracies tend to attract scorn rather than analysis. The UN Secretariat, however, is different. Although it … Read more Who Says the UN Is Boring? Intrigue Always Abounds in Its Inner Core
António Guterres was sworn in as the ninth United Nations secretary-general on Dec. 12 in a low-key ceremony played out in the General Assembly Hall, featuring moving tributes by ambassadors to the 10 years that Ban Ki-moon has led the UN, a job he hands to Guterres on Jan. 1. Among other remarks, Guterres pledged … Read more At Swearing-In, António Guterres Pledges Gender Parity at 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
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