In the “race” for a new secretary-general, hopes for the United Nations’ first female leader have been dealt a setback in recent “secret” U.N. Security Council straw polls of various contenders.
Forget reform. It’s all about appearances at Turtle Bay after Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon concludes his second term at year’s end.
Irina Bokova of Bulgaria, the controversial director-general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), reportedly came in third in a straw poll a few weeks ago; she finished fifth in Aug. 5 polling, according to The Independent. Both polls put former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres at the top. He’s the former U.N. high commissioner for refugees.
Ms. Bokova, who’s frequently mentioned, has enough baggage for a two-year cruise. At UNESCO, she came under Washington’s fire for accepting the Palestinian Authority as a member.
Meanwhile, at least four Security Council members have joined the “Group of Friends for a Woman Secretary-General.” Ultimately, the council will choose a candidate to recommend to the U.N. General Assembly later this year, possibly by October.
None of the contenders to date is regarded as a true reformer — someone who will fight for transparency and crack down on fraud. At this point, unfortunately, a change in leadership doesn’t suggest a much-needed shift in direction at the United Nations.
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