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Latvian President in race for Annan’s Job
by Amin George Forji
2006-10-09 09:19:37
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Vaira Vike-Freiberga of Latvia at a press conference on Saturday announced that she will be running for the post of UN Secretary General, "Upon the invitation of the governments of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, I wish to announce my candidacy for the position of Secretary General of the United Nations."


Conscious of the fact that she will become the first female secretary General if elected, Vaira Vike-Freiberga said, "The time has come for a woman to be taken seriously as a candidate for this prestigious position…wth my formal decision to run for the post of UN Secretary General, I wish to encourage women all over the world to continue their efforts to challenge prejudices and stereotypes. Half of humankind has never been represented at the helm of the UN. It is time to change this practice, which fails to reflect the structure of the world population,"

"I have made this decision with full responsibility. Today, the UN is at a crossroads and faces two choices: to address the challenges of the 21st century through the combined efforts of all member states, and create effective mechanisms for taking act

ion, or to lose its influence in the international community," she added.

She is also the lone European to announce candidacy, so far. Five other people have announced their intention to run are all from Asia and they are Jayantha Dhanapala, a Sri Lankan diplomat, Thailand’s deputy PM Surakiart Sathirathai, Ban Ki-moon, the South Korean Foreign Minister, Jordanian UN ambassador Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeid Al-Hussein and Indian Shashi Tharoor, who is also the UN Under-Secretary-General for Public Affairs.

Customarily, the post of the UN Secretary General is supposed to rotate on a geographical basis, and it was widely expected that the next candidate will be drawn from Asia. Nevertheless, the US has indicated that they will prefer the post to go to the mo

st qualified candidate irrespective of geographical origin. “Our sense is we're looking for the best athlete for the job. And there's some very good candidates out there...we don't have anyone we're championing at this point,” a senior White House administration official has said about the issue.

According to the Hindu International, "We know there's a tradition of regional rotations and so on, but... we don't want to exclude anyone from any part of the world, but our sense is we shouldn't be looking at it as an entitlement for one group or another but rather as let's look for the absolutely strongest possible leader,'' the official added.

At the press conference, Vaira Vike-Freiberga rejected regional rotation as a barrier to her application saying, "We do not accept the principle of regional rotation as the principal and sole factor in the selection of a candidate... I hope that the choice will be

based solely on the candidates' qualifications...and vision of the future of the UN."

The UN Secretary-General is described in the organization’s charter as the “chief administrative officer”, so, in one sense, this role is supposed to be purely administrative. However, Trygve Lie of Norway who was the Organization’s first Secretary General redefined his role, asserting that his job included speaking on behalf of the world and acting both as global leader and mediator. Ever since, every Secretary General has served as world mediator, using his good offices to speak out on boiling global issues, especially in the mediation of crises.

It is unlikely that two veto permanent members, China and Russia will back Vaira Vike-Freiberga’s nomination. Russia who has indicated that she is not going to support any East European candidate has already accused the former Soviet Baltic state of seri

ously violating the rights of minority Russians. On her part, China has insisted that the next Secretary General must be from Asia.

Vike-Freiberga, 68, has spent most of her life out of Latvia. Her parents went into self-exile with her in 1944 to Morocco, following the military advances of the Soviet forces. She later moved to Canada, where she did her university studies, and became a professor of psychology at McGill University in Montreal. In 1998, she returned to Latvia, and one year later, she was surprisingly voted as president, considering that very little of her was known at the time in her own country. Nevertheless, she worked very hard during her first term to secure her country’s entry into the EU and NATO. She is fluent in English, French and German, and is increasing becoming an influential figure in Europe.

The mandate of the incumbent, Kofi Annan is due to expire at the end of this year.


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George2006-10-07 13:04:06
can we say she has lost the race even before the d-day? What abt popular philosophy that it is not yet time for a woman to be SG of the UN?
Is the UN too strong for women???????????


Asa2006-10-07 18:25:23
The UN isn't too strong for women,she is too weak for the UN.

Alan2006-10-08 11:16:48
The next GS of the UN has to be from Asia

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