My pal Tony Fleming sent me a link to a new blog he is running called “Who will be the next Secretary General?” Although the name sounds like a really bad reality TV show, in fact its a very informative and up-to-the-minute website tracking the selection process of the next UN Secretary General.
Kofi Annan’s term is over on December 31, 2006. Traditionally, the selection of the UN Secretary General has been by a regional rotation, and in theory its Asia’s turn. Thus most of the candidates who have officially and unofficially put their hat in the ring are from that region. But apparently the Eastern European group, not an official UN region, have noted that no one from their region has ever sat in the UN’s top post.
Typically, the selection of the UN Secretary General is clouded in secrecy, similar to the election of the Pope. A bunch of potential names are floated around for a couple of months, the Security Council goes into closed session, and POOF! a new Secretary-General appears. Usually he is the least offensive and most bland of any of the candidates. No permanent member of the Security Council may occupy this position — so no Americans, Russians, Chinese, English or French folks need apply. A woman has never held the post.
Creating a blog to track the selection process on the one hand seems a bit strange, since the whole point is that the selection is done behind closed diplomatic doors. But then again, keeping secrets is not one of the UN’s strong points. It’s nice to have one place you can go to find all the rumors, non-candidates, and punditry around the process. And “Who will be the next Secretary General?” does it in a breezy and entertaining fashion.
Whoever takes charge of the UN will come into an organization in crisis/evolution. It’s a job with few perks and all the blame. You don’t even get your own black helicopter.
For me, I hope that whoever inhabits the 38th Floor moves beyond the rhetoric of “multi-stakeholderism” and “partnerships” and truly opens the United Nations to the citizens’ groups around the world who bring such passion, insight and vision to the organization. To do any less who be a horrible step backward after all that has been achieved during Annan’s term.