July 2006

Sri Lanka’s candidate for the powerful post of United Nations Secretary General vowed yesterday he would continue his campaign despite reportedly poor showing in the so-called straw poll conducted among Security Council members last week.

Dr. Jayantha Dhanapala, former UN Undersecretary General in charge of disarmament, told the Sunday Times that he considered the straw poll as only a preliminary indication process and not a sign of any definitive trend.According to reports from New York, Dr. Dhanapala was placed fourth in the so-called straw poll on Monday after South Korea’s Ban Ki-Moon, India’s Shashi Tharoor and Thailand’s Surakiart Sathirathai.

Dr. Dhanapala who only got five votes of encouragement in the straw polls said the race and the process were continuing and he with the support of his country would intensify the campaign. Diplomatic sources in New York were making an educated guess on how the 15 countries in the Security Council could have voted in the straw poll for Sri Lanka’s candidate.

They said the five encouragements for Dr. Dhanapala were from China, Congo, Ghana, Qatar and Tanzania while those who gave a vote of discouragement were Argentina, Denmark, France, Greece, Slovakia and the UK — with Japan, Peru, Russia and US remaining neutral.

Argentina has for long not voted with Sri Lanka, especially after Sri Lanka’s vote with Britain over the Falklands invasion in the 1980s when the entire Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) bloc voted with Argentina.

Peru had thought to play safe, while Russia appears to have adopted a wait-and-see approach. Japan and the US have opted to stay clear for the time-being, according to these sources.

Under UN Charter rules, the secretary-general is elected by the 192-member General Assembly under recommendation from the Security Council, with the five permanent members – the US, China, France, Britain and Russia – having veto powers on the issue.

Diplomatic sources said the council hoped to have the appointment wrapped up by October.

-Sunday Times


PK Balachandran

Sri Lanka’s candidate for the post of UN Secretary General, Jayantha Dhanapala, is not discouraged by the fact that he finished last in Monday’s secret straw poll among the 15 members of the Security Council.

"The results are not definitive. The poll gives no indication as to what the ultimate choice will be," Dhanapala told Hindustan Times here on Thursday.

The real vote will be taken only in October. 

Dhanapala said that the number of votes in the "No Opinion" category indicated the possibility of changes in his favour at a later date.

"The early front runners may fall out of favour. And current views may not translate themselves into actual votes," he said. 

In the "secret" poll, the UNSC members had been asked to check mark ballot papers, which only read "Encourage", "Discourage" and "No Opinion".

And there was no way of knowing which country voted for whom, and how the five permanent members, with a veto each, voted.

Dhanapala pointed out that all the four candidates had got "discourage" votes and said that this was pregnant with possibilities.

"If one of the voters in this category is a Permanent Member, it may mean a veto," he said.

"Boutros Boutros Ghali got 14 out of 15 votes, but a veto prevented him from getting selected finally," Dhanapala recalled.

In 1996, the US used its veto to stall Ghali from getting the customary second term.

In the latest straw poll, the front runner was the South Korean Foreign Minister, Ban Ki-Moon, with 12 "encourage" votes, one "discourage" vote and two "no opinion" votes (or 12:1:2).

Sashi Tharoor of India got 10:2:3; Surakiart Sathirathai of Thailand got 7:3:5 and Jayantha Dhanapala of Sri Lanka got 5:6:4.

The Colombo-based Daily News on Thursday quoted James A Paul, Executive Director of the New York based Global Policy Forum, which monitors the day to day activities of the UN, as saying that the straw polls were "early exercises" and any speculation based on them would not take one very far.  

However, the US, the most important factor in the United Nations, does not seem to be so dismissive.

Speaking to the media in the UN after the poll, the US envoy to the United Nations, John Bolton said: "The individual candidates who have declared now have to examine these results and decide what their next step is.

And others who have been considering whether to become candidates can look at the results and decide whether they will now enter the race."

Source: Global Order

By Thalif Deen – Inter Press Service

United Nations, 26 July, (IPS): A "straw poll" conducted in strict secrecy behind closed doors — no stenographers, no Secretariat staff — in the 15-member Security Council has left the race still wide open for a new U.N. secretary-general, who is due to take office next January.

The informal poll Monday did not produce a single clear winner because none of the four candidates was able to muster 15 positive votes: a high water mark in Security Council voting.

Still, the front-runner was South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon (with 12 positive votes, one negative vote and two abstentions), followed by U.N. Under-Secretary-General Shashi Tharoor of India (10:2:3); Thai deputy prime minister Surakiart Sathirathai (7:3:5); and Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala of Sri Lanka (5:6:4).

The 15 Security Council members had to check-mark ballot papers which only read "encourage," "discourage" and "no opinion."

Since none of the ballots was colour-coded — and no distinction made between the five veto-wielding permanent members and the 10 rotating non-permanent members — it was a futile exercise to figure out who voted for whom, and who was danger of being vetoed when the real vote takes place in October.

"These are very early days, the real race may not yet have begun, and the next secretary-general may not yet be in the frame. The dynamics will now change, and let’s see how the situation pans out," a senior U.N. official told IPS Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"I think the only definite or near-definite comment at this stage is that the two lower placed candidates might wish to consider the relative merits of staying in the race or withdrawing with grace," he added.

"I suspect the Thai candidate (who was endorsed by the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN) was hurt by the political turmoil in his home country and his lack of previous U.N. experience or involvement," he added.

Positioning oneself too early has also been damaging in the past. It would be very surprising if his withdrawal does not lead to speculative testing of the waters by others from ASEAN.

"Dhanapala was hurt, I expect, by the lack of perennial unity in South Asia, and his age (67) seems to have counted against him. The flare-up of civil war in Sri Lanka will not have helped either," said the U.N. official, speaking less than 24 hours after the results were announced late Monday.

Speaking from Bangkok, Asda Jayanama, the former permanent representative of Thailand to the United Nations, told IPS that his deputy prime minister should withdraw from the race, making way for "a more qualified ASEAN candidate."

"It is not too late for ASEAN to come up with a new candidate," Jayanama said, "and it has a reason to do so now because of the poor showing of its candidate in the straw polls."

In U.N. circles, there has been considerable speculation that if the Thai candidate falters or withdraws, ASEAN may nominate the former Prime Minister of Singapore Goh Chok Tong.

But the Singapore government has made it very clear that Goh is not an official candidate so far, and that it stands by ASEAN’s endorsement of Surakiart.

James A. Paul, executive director of the New York-based Global Policy Forum, which monitors the day-to-day activities of the world body, said: "I would say that the South Korean candidate may be opposed by Japan, which does not have a veto, so it is possible that his candidature faces no veto."

However, judging from the comments of Security Council ambassadors, Paul told IPS, there is no sense that any candidate is close to election at this point.

"These early exercises nearly always lead to further candidates declaring themselves and early candidates losing steam. It is very much like a papal election, in that the world has minimal information," he pointed out.

Paul also said that "speculation, while amusing, does not get us very far."

At this point, he noted, it is better to take the broad view of the process and recognize that the search is on for a pliant and relatively weak candidate whom all the permanent five (the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia) can feel comfortable with.

Analysing the chances of the two front runners, the senior U.N. official said that with Tharoor there are many things in his favor, but also some problem areas.

"He knows the United Nations well, and has a varied background within the system, including refugees and peacekeeping. Despite almost three decades as a U.N. official, he has not made enemies: not a small trait."

Tharoor, the official said, is articulate, respectful of power and money yet sensitive to developing country aspirations and sentiments, and is a champion of Asia’s rightful place in the U.N. scheme.

"He is also a genuine believer in the ideals and symbolism of the United Nations and has some intellectual heft. But many regard him as lacking in gravitas, without being able to explain just why," he added.

On the South Korean candidate, he said that Ban has the double attraction of having been a former ambassador and a Foreign Minister of his country.

"But will member states want someone from such a deeply conflicted part of the world? Could he stay above the fray each time the Korean problem comes up for discussion at the United Nations?" he asked.

"It would be nice to believe that members vote on the basis of their assessment of what would be best for the organization. A pessimist can always be pleasantly surprised," the official added.

– Inter Press Service (IPS) News Agency-

UNITED NATIONS: The Security Council on Monday held its first secret straw poll on four Asian candidates vying to succeed Kofi Annan, a Ghanaian, as UN secretary general.

According to a French news agency, all four candidates to succeed Annan, whose second five-year term expires at the end of the year, are Asian as the consensus here is that it is now Asia’s turn to assume the world body’s top job in line with an unwritten rule of regional rotation.

The candidates are South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon, Sri Lankan diplomat Jayantha Dhanapala, Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai, and India’s Shashi Tharoor, a UN undersecretary in charge of communications.

The council’s 15 members were presented with three choices in the secret ballot: encourage, discourage, and no opinion.

Ambassadors of the four countries which fielded candidates were informed of the outcome but there was no official announcement on the results.

"The reason we decided not to make the results public was so that the individual candidates could draw their own conclusions," US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton told reporters. "We will see if they draw any conclusion one way or the other once they’ve had a chance to consider these results."

Bolton said the ballot was significant in two key respects: One was the fact that it was held so early in the year with the goal of making a final decision at the end of September or early October.

The second was precisely that it may now lead to a decision "either for additional candidates to enter the race or for one or more candidates in the race to drop out based on their own assessment of how the vote went."

France’s UN Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere, the council president for July, stressed that there was no differentiation between the votes of the five veto-wielding permanent members of the council and those of the 10 non-permanent members.

Both Bolton and de La Sabliere said there was no decision on whether or not to hold another straw poll.

Under UN Charter rules, the secretary general is elected by the 192-member General Assembly under recommendation from the Security Council, whose five permanent members — the United States, China, France, Britain and Russia — have veto power.

In practice, the five permanent members have dominated the secretary general succession process. Bolton meanwhile noted that with all the talk of regional rotation, it was "striking there’s so little talk of gender rotation."

"We’ve had one gender (in charge of the UN for 60 years). Maybe people ought to consider that as well," he added.

Source: Global Order

David Smith
Sunday July 23, 2006
The Observer

The United Nations should recruit stars such as Bono and Bob Geldof to inject the kind of passion seen in the Make Poverty History campaign, according to one of the leading candidates to succeed Kofi Annan as its secretary general.

Jayantha Dhanapala, a senior adviser to the Sri Lankan President, said he would like to give Tony Blair an ambassadorial role similar to that of Bill Clinton after he quits Downing Street.

The UN security council is due to hold a ballot this week on the four Asian official candidates to replace Annan, who will have completed two five-year terms as secretary general when he steps down at the end of this year. Asian countries have argued that it is ‘their turn’ to claim the top UN job on the ground of regional rotation. US President George Bush recently supported their claim.

At the Sri Lankan High Commission in London, Dhanapala told The Observer: ‘Africa is a continent where we are lagging behind most and I think we need to have a major effort on behalf of everybody to do what people like Sir Bob Geldof and Bono and others are so passionately involved in. We need to see that passion writ large through the United Nations in order to bring the people who live below the poverty line above the poverty line.

‘Coming, as I do, from a developing country, I feel very strongly committed to moving on that. It is a tide that will lift all boats.’

Dhanapala, a former UN under-secretary-general for disarmament affairs, has worked with Hollywood actor Michael Douglas in Albania and Sierra Leone, and praised the recent activism of actress Angelina Jolie. He continued: ‘We have Bill Clinton already using his enormous energy and charisma. He came to Sri Lanka just after the tsunami and I know he had a tremendous impact on the people because of his very genuine compassion for the suffering of the people. I’m sure that Tony Blair, if his services are available, would be used by the UN for similar purposes.’

The 67-year-old, regarded as too old by some critics, admitted that the UN has a credibility problem after several scandals. The other Asian candidates are Shashi Tharoor of India, the UN’s under-secretary general for communications and public information, Surakiart Sathirathai, deputy prime minister of Thailand, and the South Korean foreign minister, Ban Ki-Moon.

Volcker commission report on UN oil-for-food

Useful links
UN website
Wikipedia: Kofi Annan

(Source: Global Order)

COLOMBO: Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera yesterday categorically stated that no other Sri Lankan’s name has been put forward for the post of UN Secretary General.

Former Peace Secretariat Chief and Advisor to the President Jayantha Dhanapala has been officially announced as Sri Lanka’s candidate.

At a news briefing held yesterday, Minister Samaraweera said: "Sri Lanka has only one candidate and that is Jayantha Dhanapala. His candidature has already been submitted to the UN Security Council by the Government of Sri Lanka. We have not heard of any other Government nominating any other Sri Lankan for the post of UN Secretary-General."

The Minister was responding to a media query as to whether the candidature of another person claiming to be a Sri Lankan has been announced for the Secretary General’s post. -Rasika Somarathna

Source: http://www.dailynews.lk/2006/07/20/news06.asp

"Considered by many in the diplomatic community to be the front-runner, the former Under Secretary-General for disarmament knows how to navigate the UN inside out," notes the Foreign Policy Journal.

Dhanapala began as a private sector executive, but became a career diplomat in 1965.

He went on to serve in key capitals such as London, Beijing, Washington, with accreditation to the UN.

He had represented Sri Lanka in most of the major conferences of NAM, Commonwealth, UNCTAD, ILO and WHO among other organisations.

He was hand picked by Kofi Annan to take on the challenging job of Under Secretary General to re-establish the Department of Disarmament after the UN reforms of 1997 (1998-2003).

During his tenure he piloted the UN role in arresting the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, anti-personnel landmines, conventional weapons, and weapons of mass destruction while reinforcing existing norms and norm-building in other areas.

He also broke new ground both in-house in taking managerial initiatives in gender mainstreaming and in work-life issues, as well as in the disarmament field by innovating the exchange of weapons for a development programme in Albania and other areas, and also in the cross-sectoral linking of disarmament with development, the environment and peace education programmes.

Dhanapala’s UN plans

• Eliminating Terrorism.

• Enhancing international cooperation.

• Creating dialogue among civilisations and promoting compromise and tolerance to enable people to understand and respect each other’s cultural values by ensuring religious freedom.


He has published four books and several articles in international journals, and has lectured in many countries.

He was awarded a MacArthur Foundation grant to research and write his book on "Multilateral Diplomacy and the NPT: An Insider’s account" published by UNIDIR, Geneva in 2005.

His contributions towards the international community are widely recognised through the receipt of several awards including: Georgetown University, Washington DC, the Monterey Institute of International Studies, the Ploughshares Fund and the School of International Service of American University, Washington DC for his work in diplomacy and disarmament, and was the Global Security Institute’s first recipient of the Alan Cranston Peace Award in 2002.

Dhanapala has also received several honorary degrees including Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) by the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka (2000), Doctor of Humane Letters Honoris Causa by the Monterey Institute of International Studies, USA (2001), Doctor of Science in the Social Sciences by the University of Southampton, UK (2003), Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) by the Sabaragamuwa University, Sri Lanka (2003)

Source: Global Order

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