“UNSGslection.org is the website of a campaign organized by a group of Non-governmental organisations calling for a more democratic, transparent and effective selection process that will ensure the appointment of the most qualified candidates as the next Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Among the NGOs are Amnesty International, Third World Network, Equality Now and the World Federalist Movement – Institute of Global Policy. On August 11 a Questionnaire of 14 groups of questions was submitted by them to all four declared candidates. Jayanatha Dhanapala of Sri Lanka was the first to respond followed by India. The responses of the other two candidates are still being awaited.

Here are the questions and answers from Jayantha Dhanapala. The following questions are intended to elicit information on your qualifications, vision, and priority goals as a Secretary-General candidate. In formulating this questionnaire, we have given consideration to areas of particular concern to global civil society groups.

The questionnaire also reflects the selection criteria developed by the UNSGselection.org campaign.

Q: Overview: In what ways have your past experiences, positions, and duties promoted or demonstrated a commitment to the principles of the United Nations?

A: My vision of the UN has always been that of the undisputed centre of a rule-based world order in which sovereign states voluntarily participate. The UN has built and maintained norms that improve the daily lives of people. It must continue to do so to take our world forward to sustainable peace and prosperity.

For five years, from 1987-92, in the senior management position of Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, I led a vigorous effort to re-establish a role for the UN in multilateral disarmament based on UN Charter provisions and past UN resolutions which call for common security at the lowest level of armaments. Disarmament, it must be recalled, was the subject of the very first UN General Assembly resolution and remains a central pillar of the UN.

During my tenure – I revitalized regional disarmament with the Regional Centres in Lima and Lome being re-opened with new Directors; I chartered, and actively pursued, a new course on small arms and light weapons (SALW) culminating in the 2001 Conference on the Illicit Trade in SALW in all its aspects and the adoption of a Programme of Action by consensus:

I gave active leadership to work on Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) ensuring the successful adoption of a Final Document at the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference of 2000; new guidelines on Terrorism and WMD were developed following the tragedy of 9/11; transparency in armaments and arms expenditure was enhanced through a wider participation in the instruments the UN has had for this purpose; the entry into force and implementation of the Mine Ban Convention was fostered and new initiatives were designed and taken by me such as the voluntary surrender of weapons in Albania with the incentive of development projects; and, on my direction, the Department of Disarmament Affairs originated and implemented a Gender Action Plan and a Disarmament and Peace Education programme for Youth.

In addition, as a member of the UN’s Senior Management Team, I contributed towards collective policy formulation and decision-making within the framework of UN principles.

I also undertook public speaking engagements within the US and in many countries (over a 100 official speeches in 6 continents) on general issues involving the UN such as the rule of law, multilateralism, the UN and Civil Society and international peace and security in order to increase public awareness and support of the UN and its principles.

Prior to that, as Director of the UN Institute for Disarmament Research (1987-92) – conducting independent policy oriented research on disarmament and security – I encouraged wider participation in research projects drawing in young researchers from developing countries and empowering the UN to fulfill its role in disarmament and security by expanding the reservoir of ideas and proposals available to the policy makers and diplomatic practitioners.

Finally, as a diplomat of a small, developing country for 27 years, the UN and its principles always figured prominently in my work – including in my participation in numerous forums and the chairing of several international conferences.

I was motivated in this by a deep-seated conviction that the UN was vital for my country’s peace, development and security and for the world. It is a conviction that goes back to my debut in international affairs when I represented my country as an 18 year-old in the World Youth Forum held in the USA.

Q: Peace and Security: In the past two decades, the UN’s peacekeeping operations have grown to become one of its largest and most prominent functions. What aspects of the current debate on peacekeeping, as reflected, inter alia, in the Brahimi Report on Peacekeeping Operations, are especially important for creating more accountable and effective forces in addressing the most severe challenges to peacekeeping and peacebuilding?

A: Peacekeeping has been transformed dramatically from the time of Dag Hammarksjold not only in terms of the four-fold increase in the number of missions and Blue Helmets and the cost, but also with regard to the nature of peacekeeping with greater risks peacekeepers are exposed to today. Regrettably there has also been a sharp decline in the quality of peacekeepers with outrageous acts of misconduct.

Also regrettable is the reluctance of developed countries to provide peacekeeping troops. A more rapidly deployable peacekeeping force is a basic necessity with peacekeepers being trained so as to avoid the gross indiscipline that we have seen.

The protection of UN peacekeepers, as with all UN field staff, is a vital obligation of member states and they should not be deployed unless there are reasonable guarantees of their safety. The UN is desperately in need of better early warning capability since member states, while not permitting the UN to develop its own means, do not always willingly share the information they obtain through their ‘national technical means’. Better analysis of the information coming into the Situation Room directly linked to a strengthened Lessons Learned Unit is also needed.

The establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission will, hopefully, fill the gaping lacuna of the past and prevent countries recovering from conflict from sliding back into civil war. But for this a major investment of resources will be necessary. A constituency must be built in all countries in support of UN peacekeeping through national parliaments, the media and civil society and for this purpose the services of retired UN peacekeepers at the officer level would be helpful.

There are several additional areas of peace and security where more work needs to be done, including Chapter 6 initiatives for the peaceful settlement of disputes where the Secretary-General has to be more pro-active. Terrorism has become a global phenomenon requiring enhanced global co-operation in observing the existing international legal norms and finalizing a comprehensive convention.

The arms industry has to be engaged in a dialogue within the context of the Global Compact on conforming to codes of conduct. A radical shift of emphasis from conflict resolution and post conflict disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) to conflict prevention and the peaceful settlement of conflicts such as through greater use of the rule of law and the International Court of Justice will require a raft of measures which the Peacebuilding Commission can be expanded to implement.

Q: Protecting Civilians: The UN Charter opens with, “We the peoples of the United Nations,” yet the organization remains a primarily intergovernmental body. The UN Secretary-General therefore is responsible to both the citizens of the world and the Member States. Where is the threshold between the UN’s (and the Secretary- General’s) obligations to protect civilian populations and to respect national sovereignty?

A: The problem of ‘peace enforcement’ by the UN is a complex one, however altruistic the motives may be. In the wake of the genocides of Rwanda and Srebenica there was the ‘humanitarian intervention’ concept which proved very controversial because of the concept of national sovereignty, the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of countries and deep distrust on how the concept would be implemented.

The ‘responsibility to protect’ concept born out of the Canadian Government sponsored International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty provides a more acceptable means for the UN, through prescribed Security Council procedures, to protect the civilians of a country once their government has shown a demonstrable inability or unwillingness to provide that protection.

A first step was taken in the Outcome Document of the 60th UNGA High-level Plenary Meeting which acknowledged, in addition to the responsibility of each state, the responsibility of the international community, through the UN, to help protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. It urged the UNGA to continue consideration of this concept of responsibility to protect in the context of the Charter and international law.

This provides an opening for detailed procedures to be agreed upon in the future for UN action to protect populations in worst case scenarios as well as in other situations. There are other ways in which the UN can interact directly with the peoples of the world such as through civil society groups and NGOs.

There is also the Global Compact through which the UN co-operates with multinational and other companies to ensure that people benefit from their corporate policies through adherence to multilateral norms over a range of subjects.

I am convinced that speedier responses to situations where humanitarian assistance is needed must be undertaken by the UN and the recent establishment of the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) is most welcome.

Q: Human Rights: The current Secretary-General has written, “[The framers of the UN Charter] decided to create an organization to ensure respect for fundamental human rights, establish conditions under which justice and the rule of law could be maintained, and ‘promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.'” During the past ten years, the Secretary-General has initiated and supported substantial reform of the UN’s human rights machinery in order that human rights could be given its rightful institutional emphasis as one of the three pillars of the United Nations.

If you were selected as the next Secretary-General, what specific steps would you take to follow through on these processes?

A: The existing gamut of human rights instruments in the UN system does afford protection to individual citizens in countries. More countries should be encouraged to sign the First Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights under which communications are received and examined from individuals who claim that their human rights have been violated.

The Human Rights Council, it is hoped, would exercise its functions to protect the civilians of all countries irrespective of political considerations while the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Secretary-General must also be ready to speak out fearlessly in support of the human rights of individual citizens and groups where they are being violated.

Resolutions on country situations have caused controversy in the past and voting has been on political lines. I would like to see more focussed attention and publicity given to the proceedings of the Committees examining country reports under the various human rights instruments, such as the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) where both Government representatives and NGOs appear before human rights experts.

I would also like to see more attention paid to protecting and promoting the human rights of migrant workers and internally displaced persons. Human rights must also be mainstreamed in the education syllabi of all schools throughout the world and form an integral part of the training of the police and military in all countries. The newly established Human Rights Council has to be monitored and an objective assessment made of its functioning with necessary course corrections made well in time.

Q: Development: What are the main elements of an effective development strategy, and in which areas should ECOSOC, as opposed to international financial institutions, play a leading role? What specific role should the Secretary-General play in promoting the development agenda?

A: We need to await the report of the panel co-chaired by the Prime Ministers of Mozambique, Norway and Pakistan due in September before we arrive at conclusions on how the UN should be restructured in the humanitarian, development and environmental areas.

The enhancement of the role of ECOSOC in particular and closer co-ordination with the international financial institutions, which are themselves being reviewed, and the creation of a sort of Economic Security Council has been proposed.

Given that development is accepted as one of the three pillars of the UN system we need to pursue the goal of sustainable development and the policies that have emerged from the many UN global conferences and summits.

The Millenium Development Goals, adopted by the largest gathering of Heads of State and Government in 2000, represent an accelerated programme focussing attention on achieving eight goals vitally affecting poverty-stricken regions in the world. The Secretary-General needs to be more pro-actively involved in the advocacy and achievement of these goals.

The annual reports of the progress we are making show that, while some advances have been made, we are likely to fall behind especially in sub-Saharan African countries where the poor are getting poorer. We are also not doing well in many regions as far as universal primary education with eight out of ten children out of school living in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia.

The reasons for this are complex. Poverty cannot be eradicated by increased development assistance alone. Not only must individual governments take responsibility for failures in governance and national development strategies, but there are also natural disasters like droughts and floods and systemic problems that have prevented us from reaching our goals.

Conflicts have also had a direct impact on exacerbating poverty and displacing people. We have also not made sufficient progress in establishing the right global climate through partnerships for development with debt relief and access to markets.

The failure of the Doha Development Round in the WTO is especially unfortunate. The UN must convene a major conference by 2010 to assess what can be done collectively to ensure the achievement of the MDGs. Over one billion of our fellow human beings living under $ 1 per day and 30,000 children dying every day from preventable or treatable causes are tragic realities I find unacceptable.

Q: Governance: Given the current criticism of the UN for a lack of transparency, accountability and democracy, what are the key opportunities in the UN system for increased democratic governance, allowing all actors – Member States, international organizations, and NGOs – fair representation while ensuring effective decision-making?

A: The criticism regarding a democracy deficit in the UN system and a lack of transparency arises from power asymmetries among member states, especially with regard to the functioning of the Security Council, as well as from the perceived exclusion of civil society from decision making. The UN is essentially inter-governmental in structure.

We remain in a Westphalian world order. Consequently greater efforts to open up decision-making processes and involve civil society and other interest groups in a consultative role would help improve the governance of the UN provided all member states co-operate. Some member states already include civil society representatives in their delegations.

Member states are also inconsistent and selective in advocating and accepting the right of NGO participation. For example NGOs are actively encouraged by some in the human rights area but discouraged in the disarmament, development and environment fields and vice versa by others. This cannot be sustained. The year of the Millenium Assembly saw a number of assemblies of parliamentary leaders, NGOs, religious leaders, business leaders and other segments of society.

These assemblies could be held more regularly and feed their ideas, proposals and energy into the UN system. The regional organizations hold regular meetings with the UN at the moment and that has helped to deepen institutional ties and develop greater co-ordination and synergy.

The same could be done with other groups minimizing the sense of exclusion that is now felt.

Q: Gender: How can the UN better promote gender equality and women’s human rights, both at the Secretariat and at the operational level? What specifically would you do to strengthen both the gender mainstreaming efforts at the UN as well as the gender “architecture,” i.e. the agencies charged with advancing gender equality and women’s human rights? How do you envision reaching the UN goal of 50/50 gender balance in the Secretariat?

A: The inclusion of the gender dimension in the MDGs and in human rights is a clear indication of the priority of gender equality and gender mainstreaming in the UN. Gender equality is a cardinal article of faith for me. My record in DDA which, inter alia, formulated the first Gender Action Plan for a UN Department, is evidence of this. Women are clearly a vulnerable group.

We have to move cautiously where complex cultural issues are involved so that our efforts towards achieving desired goals are not counter-productive. At the UN, the achievement of gender equality in Departments and Funds and Agencies must be an important criterion in performance evaluation of senior management.

Target dates and clear-cut strategies of new appointments and promotions must be set and achieved. If the Secretary-General is a male it would be desirable for the Deputy Secretary-General to be a qualified female At the operational level gender mainstreaming must be reflected through consultation with women’s groups and programmes targeted towards improving the specific situation of women.

The architecture of UN institutions dealing with the gender issue in the UN will be the subject of the report of the High-level Panel on United Nations System-wide Coherence in the Areas of Development, Humanitarian Assistance and Environment and it is wise to await their recommendations.

However while a focal point can help co-ordinate and sharpen the impact of the right gender policies, all parts of the UN system have a role in achieving gender equality and gender mainstreaming which cannot be abdicated.

Q: International Justice: How will you support and strengthen the UN’s and Member States’ commitment to international justice mechanisms such as international criminal tribunals, including the International Criminal Court (ICC)?

A: The establishment of ‘conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law’ is a primary Charter ordained task of the UN. The rule of law is a characteristic that distinguishes civilized human society and the UN must be associated with its development, protection and implementation at all levels national, regional and international.

While sovereign states will reserve their right to participate in treaties, the Secretary-General has a duty to advocate the universalisation of international legal instruments whatever his or her own country’s position may be.

The encouragement of parliamentary, professional and civil society groups, such as Parliamentary Judiciary Committees and National Bar Associations, in support of particular legal instruments and bodies is one way of creating public opinion in favour of international law.

The recourse to the International Court of Justice in the case of disputes must be consistently advocated and where rulings are made their implementation must be ensured.

Q: Environment: How can the UN provide more comprehensive and coherent management and monitoring of the multilateral environmental agreements? How can the UN strengthen a sustainable development-oriented agenda throughout both the Secretariat and at the country level?

A: The issue of the report of the High-level Panel referred to under sections 5 and 7 should be awaited but there is clearly need for a more cohesive and influential role for the UN in co-ordinating and implementing environmental agreements.

The Secretary-General must unfailingly advocate the implementation of the Rio principles and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation in all areas of the world. UNEP must expand its scientific role and monitoring of research on global warming and climate change.

A global policy on energy needs to be formulated including on fuel efficiency standards. UN Secretariats and institutions must set an example by using fuel-efficient vehicles, recycling paper and other material as far as possible, economizing in the use of power in offices and adopting other environmentally-friendly practices.

The conservation of water resources, forests, biodiversity and the protection of the environment from hazardous waste must remain a priority.

Coming from a tsunami-affected country I am strongly convinced of the need for effective global systems of early warning of natural disasters and for rapid response systems to help those affected by natural disasters.

Q: Disarmament and non-proliferation: What institutional changes are needed within the United Nations, in particular with respect to the role of the Secretariat, to improve the capacity to respond to global challenges posed by nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, missiles and other means of their delivery, and the risk of their acquisition by terrorists?

A: The threat from weapons of mass destruction remains since there are still some 27000 nuclear weapons of which 12,000 are deployed many of them on hair-trigger alert. And yet, since the end of the Cold War, the public concern over this is at its lowest level. No meaningful nuclear disarmament measures have been taken for several years.

There are dangers of proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons to states as well as to non-state actors – and their actual use by accident or design – despite the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and Security Council Resolution 1540.

A sensitization of world public opinion to the need for a revival of disarmament and urgent action over proliferation of WMD can best be undertaken by the UN’s Department for Disarmament Affairs. The existing disarmament machinery, especially the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament, has been under-utilized and must resume serious work before it is too late.

On conventional arms, with annual military expenditure running at $ 173 per capita or $ 1118 billion in 2005 and the alarming proliferation of small arms and light weapons requires urgent international action through the proposed Arms Trade Treaty and other measures.

Another coalition of dedicated NGOs and like-minded countries that led to the Mine Ban Convention is needed to launch an accelerated process on selected areas in the disarmament field.

Q: UN Reform: The UN has been involved in reform discussions for the past two years.

What do you see as the strengths and weaknesses of the current Secretary-General’s reform recommendations (i.e. “In Larger Freedom,” March 2005)? What are the most important reforms, and what role should the Secretary-General play in promoting those reforms?

A: All institutions must undergo change not necessarily because of wrongdoing. In the UN, the Volcker report and other exposures of malfeasance have made reform more urgent to restore the confidence of the international community in the world body as a repository of noble values and universal principles and to ensure its effective functioning in the future.

This task is unfortunately being undertaken in an atmosphere of deep mistrust among groups and with inadequate consultation with the staff.

The Secretariat’s impartiality as the manager of this change has been doubted making some of its recommendations to be suspect. Reform should not be a battle for the control of the UN. It should be a collective exercise in reviewing the institutions within the UN system, the mandates and the efficiency of the Secretariat, as the machinery to implement the tasks entrusted to it by the member states in a manner that satisfies the interests of all 192 member states.

I have carefully read the many useful reports by governments, task forces and panels of experts of NGOs and others on UN reform. Some reform – such as the review of institutions, their replacement or the establishment of new bodies as well as the review of mandates – are clearly the responsibility of the member states and the Secretary-General’s role can mainly be an advisory one until the main stakeholders take the decisions.

I believe in the importance of maintaining the equilibrium among the principal organs of the UN that is in the Charter. As for Secretariat reform, the Secretary-General as its head must make the recommendations. I have personally experienced the frustration of dysfunctional ‘turf battles’ among UN Departments, Funds and Agencies. There is urgent need for effective and more rigorous oversight mechanisms and a better performance evaluation system for the staff.

Already much of the reform agenda has been accomplished but much remains to be done – as a result of some of the recommendations being presented at different stages – in a time frame that will inevitably spill over into the term of a new Secretary-General. A decompartmentalisation of the Secretariat to ensure more co-ordination, transparency, accountability and efficiency has to be achieved.

The use of Information and Communications Technology must be streamlined within the UN under a Chief Information Officer with due attention to the digital divide that separates some developing countries from the rest of the world.

Q: UN Leadership Roles: How would you distinguish between the roles of the Secretary-General and the Deputy SG? What qualifications would you look for in a candidate for DSG? Do you already have anyone in mind for the post?

A: The Secretary-General is more than the ‘chief administrative officer’ description of the job given in the Charter.

He is the embodiment of all its values, its chief diplomat and the moral compass. He must be the consensus builder and harmoniser among the various groups in the UN membership; the creative source of ideas that serve the people of the world; the chief executive officer of the entire UN system who can be both the international civil servant par excellence accountable to the 192 member states and yet the leader of the world’s most universal body motivating his staff through example and advocacy of UN ideals and principles.

This requires extensive diplomatic experience and a close knowledge of the UN system and its internal operation. Neither a total insider nor a total outsider would fit this role adequately.

Moreover, to adhere to Article 100 of the Charter, the national of a small country with the minimum of accompanied baggage in terms of external disputes with other countries, would be more credible and acceptable than nationals of large and powerful countries with nuclear weapons and/or locked in historical, territorial and other international disputes.

The Deputy Secretary-General (DSG) has authority delegated by the Secretary-General and could undertake the day-to-day administration of the organization as the Chief Operations Officer plus any other area of work entrusted to him or her by the Secretary-General. The DSG must pay close attention to the maintenance of ethical and efficiency standards among the staff while ensuring that staff morale remains high safeguarding staff security and good working conditions.

As stated in Section 7 if the Secretary-General is a male the DSG should preferably be a qualified female. Since public diplomacy is an important task, especially with the major contributors to the UN Budget, the DSG can share this responsibility with the Secretary-General.

Q: South versus North – Mediating Role of Secretary General: Progress on key issues is often undermined by tension between developed and developing countries.

What role can the Secretary-General play in addressing that divide? What experience do you have that would aid you in the considerable task of achieving the compromises and building the consensus necessary for meaningful action?

A: The end of the Cold War brought closure to decades of the contest between East and West opening fresh opportunities for a world order based on the principles of the UN Charter.

However tensions between the developed and industrialized countries of the North and the developing countries of the South have lingered and resurfaced over the UN reform debate and the stalemated Doha Development Round of the WTO.

A world permanently divided between the rich and the poor is a deeply insecure and unsustainable world.

This poses a challenge for the Secretary-General to bridge the gap while retaining the confidence of both groups. While being a diplomat of a developing country, which is a functioning democracy and a pioneer in adopting market driven economic policies in 1977, I have the credibility to launch a dialogue between the North and South.

My diplomatic track record is also that of a consenasus builder with my Presidency of the NPT Review and Extension Conference in 1995 standing out.

My tenure as Permanent Representative of my country to the UN office in Geneva gave me a close knowledge of the issues and my work on disarmament and development helped me understand ground realities in developing countries other than my own.

Excellent relations with the donors, with the international financial institutions, with academia, NGOs and other actors in the development community are vital to achieve success in this area crucial to the alleviation of poverty, the upliftment of human rights and the elimination of conditions that contribute towards conflict and terrorism.

Q: Role of NGOs/Civil Society: What role should civil society and other non-state stakeholders play in the work of the UN? Do you support a greater consultative role for NGOs in intergovernmental decision-making processes, or a decreased role? What measures should a Secretary General take to improve UN-civil society relations?

A: This subject has been partially addressed in section 6. I have consistently advocated a prominent, consistent and active role for NGOs in the UN and in my closing address to the 1995 NPT Conference I acknowledged the ‘encouragement, ideas, public support and advocacy’ contributed by the NGOs and the increasing integration of their expertise and resources within and among states in the UN context.

I am currently a member of several NGOs who work productively with the UN and have therefore seen the relationship from all perspectives. Appropriate screening and monitoring procedures are always a prudent precaution in admitting NGOs to a consultative role in the UN and reviewing their performance.

As a citizen of the South I am acutely conscious of the fact that resource constraints and, in some cases, inadequate political space prevents civil society in developing countries from playing a more active and independent role in the UN.

A more level playing field is needed. NGOs and civil society in all countries have also a major role to play in the public diplomacy needed to support the UN. The Secretary-General must be personally identified with important NGO and civil society events. -The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.