Sunday, June 12, 2011

UN's Ban Gets 2nd Term

Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations is to get a second term.

His announcement of interest in staying on was made on Monday, 6 June, followed two days later by an endorsement from the White House. (It is possible that the State Department was not on board with that decision if we are to read the tea leaves in the report that surfaced immediately afterwards that Hilary Clinton had asked to be nominated to head the World Bank.)

Internationally, all the ducks fell quickly into a row. On 10 June the Security Council met informally (behind closed doors) and decided to endorse Ban as their single candidate for the post for the 2012-2017 period. It is scheduled to meet on 17 June to act formally on the recommendation. The General Assembly is set to rubber stamp that decision a week later.

Ban's second term is proof yet again that nothing succeeds like failure at the UN. Under him the Organization has slid into almost total irrelevance, for where his predecessor Kofi Annan was a consummate diplomat, he has been, as they say at the UN, a bull carrying his own china shop. Almost everything he has touched has blown up into an embarrassment. (A keyword search of this blog will bring to light some of the choicer ones.)

The fact that governments have decided to give Ban a second term without even considering rival claimants for the job is probably an indication that there is little chance of a smooth transition. The international situation is so rife with rancorous tensions that an effort to change the leadership could freeze even its minimal (but essential) functionality.

Ban's second term will begin with two Indian diplomats at supposedly key spots in the UN hierarchy. Ambassador Vijay Nambiar has been his Chef de Cabinet for the last five years, and last month Atul Khare (First Secretary at the Indian Mission to the UN a decade ago), was moved from his post as Assistant-Secretary-General in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to take over as pointman for UN reform. (In charge of "change management" in the current management babble.) In the real-life (rather than organigram) pecking order of the UN neither post has much clout.

A number of top-level changes are expected after Ban's second term begins on 1 January 2012. Stay tuned.

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