Professor Emeritus, Alabama A&M University
As mutual as the post is, the selection process is still highly political. Despite calls within non-alliance members to make the process more transparent, the decision as to who will be picked is still up to the five permanent members of the UNSC Based on the designation customarily conducted in regional rotation, the 15-member UNSC carries out repetitive straw polls until they reach a unanimous consensus. After several straw polls, they conduct another ballot with colors this time - the permanent members voting on red papers and non permanent members voting on white papers. Process of Selection in General Assembly This ballot will determine which candidates have the support of the key permanent voters. Following the colored ballots which will narrow down the contenders into a single recommendation, the UNSC will hold an official vote for the person to be relayed to the UN General Assembly for a final approval. So far all candidates referred to the General Assembly were approved with a signal of applause. But the future process is likely to undergo change in terms of the regional rotation as well as the omnipotent selection power of the UNSC. Such countries as Canada are calling for the voting process to adopt more transparency and objectivity with reduced power of the permanent members. By regulation, five permanent member countries to the Security Council cannot run for the secretary-general seat and usually a candidate from a middle-sized country gets the job. Once elected, secretary-general of the United Nations is considered an equal to chief administrative office of the UN headquarters and an international civil servant that is liberal from influence from any government or organization. The secretary-general enjoys the courtesy equal to a nation's leader. He is entitled to discuss with all affiliated councils and organizations and adjust and mediate for the prevention of inter-border conflicts by using "good offices" and executing "quiet diplomacy." The United Nations is currently undergoing major challenges and works ahead including inter-state and internal conflicts such as in the Middle East, Southwest Africa and Northeast Asia as well as rising criticism against the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations. There is famine, epidemics and environment issues, as well as the proliferation activities of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and non-state actors' organized crimes. Korea joined the United Nations in 1991. It is the 11th largest financial supporter and 10th largest Peacekeeping operation financer of the UN member states.Korea supports an expansion of participation by middle-sized countries and more balanced power in the decision-making processes of the United Nations. It also steadily backs the efforts achieve the Millennium Development Goals to fight famine, poverty, and alleviation of information gap but is more cautious on human rights issue due to the sensitive relations with North Korea. Other Available Candidates Vying for the post this time is Korea's Foreign Minister Ban Ki Moon; India's Shashi Tharoor, Annan's under secretary general for communications; Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga; Surakiart Sathirathai, a deputy prime minister of the ousted Thai regime; Jordan's U.N. Ambassador Prince Zeid Al-Hussein; and former Afghan Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani. (as of early October, 2006 all the other candidates but Mr. Ban resigned from their candidacy, pledging their support for Mr. Ban for the selection of UN secretary general.)Ban Ki Moon, who has almost secured his position to become the next UN secretary-general with a convincing win in Monday's straw poll, said in Seoul on Tuesday that he is happy to reconfirm the Security Council's support for him, but he also said he has a "strong sense of responsibility." With a broad smile on his face, Ban, 62, told reporters that he will continue to try to get support from all UN member states. He still has two more stages to go through before being officially nominated as the next chief of the global body: a formal vote in the Security Council presumably on October 9, 2006 and the following approval process of the General Assembly within the next 10 days.
Mr. Ban, who currently heads the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry, is expected to visit New York next week to meet leaders of the five regional groups in the General Assembly, ministry officials said. In a telephone conversation, President Roh Moo Hyun congratulated Ban on the good result in the fourth indicative poll, saying it demonstrates the capacity of South Korean diplomacy. All political parties in Seoul echoed the president's remarks by describing it an "auspicious" occasion and the most "heart-stirring" achievement in South Korea's history of diplomacy.
A public service expert in New York also praised Seoul's prominence on the world stage after such a short period of time; the country joined the United Nations in 1991. "The really remarkable fact is the prominence of this candidacy given South Korea's relatively recent arrival at the United Nations," Dennis C. Smith, professor of the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University, told a Korean newspaper. "It is a tribute to the rapid rise of both the country and the candidate in world stature, whatever happens now." Foreign ministry officials in Seoul looked tired as most of them stayed up until they got the voting result at around 6 a.m.
They modestly told reporters that Ban has now "turned the corner." "A formal voting session will take place at the Security Council next week," an official said, asking not to be named. "We also need to get him to pass the General Assembly's confirmation process with an acclamation, following the United Nations' tradition." The ministry has been worried about the possibility that the nonaligned group in the United Nations could stonewall the candidate approval session, demanding the Security Council give a greater say to the General Assembly in the process of selecting the next secretary-general. Exerted Influence by U.N. Security Council
"For instance, some developing nations like India have suggested that the Security Council present the General Assembly with three nominees rather than the one candidate normally submitted for consideration," Brett D. Schaefer, a Jay Kingham fellow in international regulatory affairs at the Heritage Foundation, said in an e-mail interview. However, the concern has apparently dwindled as India's candidate, Shashi Tharoor, pulled out of the UN race right after the Monday poll, a Seoul official who is familiar with the election process said. The five permanent members of the Security Council: the USA, China, Russia, the United Kingdom and France have also opposed the nonaligned group's request.
They worry that such a process could split the membership and weaken the next secretary-general, who would be viewed as lacking the support of all the membership, Schaefer said. Article 97 of the UN Charter states that the secretary-general is to be appointed by the General Assembly upon nomination from the Security Council. But an exception was made by the General Assembly in 1953 when Dag Hammarskjold of Sweden was elected by 57 to 1. The South Korean government plans to choose Ban's successor for the Cabinet when the UN General Assembly officially names him the world's top diplomat, government officials said. If elected, Ban will take office on January 1, 2007, succeeding Kofi Annan.
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