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1590Security Council challenged on Annan successor

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  • Greg Cannon
    Apr 18, 2006

      Security Council challenged on Annan successor
      By Mark Turner at the United Nations
      Published: April 18 2006 20:56 | Last updated: April
      18 2006 20:56

      Un Kofi AnnanThe United Nations Security Council will
      on Wednesday face a challenge to its monopoly on
      choosing a successor to Kofi Annan, the outgoing

      At a General Assembly meeting, disgruntled second-tier
      nations will ask why the 15-member Council – and in
      particular the US, China, France, Russia and Britain –
      should secretly control the most important decision
      the organisation faces this year.

      Mr Annan’s term ends this year and UN members hope to
      choose a successor by September or October.

      The UN’s top official is traditionally chosen by the
      Security Council behind closed doors, with the
      191-member General Assembly relegated to
      rubber-stamping the decision.

      Canada has spearheaded calls for a fairer process,
      saying recently: “The lack of transparency and
      inclusiveness of the exercise has become increasingly
      notice-able, and the UN process compares poorly with
      the practices of other international organisations.”

      Jan Eliasson, president of the UN General Assembly and
      the incoming Swedish foreign minister, told the FT
      there was a “strong sense” that the General Assembly’s
      role should become “more meaningful and more
      substantial than in earlier elections”.

      “I find it in the interests of the UN, and the next
      secretary-general, [that he or she] be appointed with
      as much legitimacy as possible,” he said.

      New ideas include a process of hearings, briefings by
      candidates to regional groups, or “off-campus’
      seminars in UN-affiliated think- tanks.

      There are also calls for the General Assembly to be
      given more than one candidate to choose from, or to be
      allowed to ask the Security Council to nominate an
      alternative candidate.

      The permanent five are trying to be sympathetic
      towards these sentiments with promises of greater
      transparency without surrendering the current wording
      in the UN charter, which dictates that “the
      secretary-general shall be appointed by the General
      Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security

      In theory, this leaves room for greater General
      Assembly involvement. However, a 1946 resolution
      determined the Security Council should offer only one
      name, and that any debate on the nomination should be

      As a result, the General Assembly has had little
      influence over the choice of secretaries-general for
      most of its history, although in 1950 it extended the
      term of the secretary-general Trygve Lie without a
      recommendation from the Security Council.

      In recent weeks, the Security Council has started to
      brief the General Assembly president on its
      deliberations, hoping to stave off calls for more
      radical reform.

      “This is a consensus-building process. We have to
      forget about the cold war mentality,” says Wang
      Guangya, the Chinese ambassador and current president
      of the Security Council. However, he maintains that
      the charter makes it clear that the Security Council
      should “play the key role”.

      Privately, many diplomats fear it is already too late
      to introduce any real change this time round, and that
      genuine reform will need to wait until 2011.

      Many also expect that the decision over Mr Annan’s
      successor will be dominated by the US and China,
      particularly as the post is expected to go to an